‘We Build It Together’

The problem with Elizabeth Warren’s discussion of infrastructure investment on Wednesday night was one of tone and framing. 

On investing in roads, bridges, and the like, she sounded a campfire call: “We build it together,” she exulted.

But that’s not how people think about public services.

Americans pay taxes and expect their government to do mundane things like build a new road or subway line where one is needed. They don’t want to have to think about it much. It’s not about togetherness.

Warren is missing the mark, when there’s a point that does need to be made here. The problem for voters is that the other side doesn’t have much to say on infrastructure, either. Mitt Romney’s keynote speaker, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, cancelled a tunnel project that his state needs – because it would be, well, hard. Putting taxpayer money into a mall and a casino was easier.

Imagine if our forefathers thought that about the Erie Canal. 

— Nicole Gelinas is a contributing editor to the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal. @nicolegelinas on Twitter .

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