In other words, we can’t simply return to the strategies of the past, for we’re living through an age of fundamental economic transformation. Technology has changed the way we live and the way the world does business. The collapse of the Soviet Union, the advance of capitalism have vanquished old challenges to America’s global leadership, but new challenges have emerged, from China, and India, and Eastern Europe, even countries like Brazil.
Jobs and industries can move to any country with an Internet connection and willing workers. And Michigan’s children will grow up facing competition, not just from kids in California or South Carolina, but also from young people in Beijing and Bangalore.
You know, a few years ago, I saw a picture of this new reality during a visit to Google’s headquarters in California. Towards the end of the tour, I was brought into a room where there was a three- dimensional image of the Earth that rotated on a large flat-panel monitor.
And across this image, there were countless lights in different colors, all around this globe. And I asked what those lights signified. And a young engineer explained that the lights represented all of the Internet searches taking place all around the world. Each color represented a different language.
And the image was mesmerizing: a picture of a world where old boundaries are disappearing, a world where communication, connection, and competition can come from anywhere.
Now, there are some who believe that we must try to turn back the clock on this new world, that the only chance to maintain our living standard is to build a fortress around America, to stop trading with other countries, to shut down immigration, rely on old industries. I disagree.
Not only is it impossible to turn back the tide of globalization, but efforts to do so can actually make us worse off.
So rather than fear the future, we have to embrace it. I have no doubt that America can compete and succeed in the 21st century.
And I know as well that, more than anything else, success will depend not on our government. It will depend on the dynamism, and determination, and innovation of the American people.
We have the best workers on Earth here in Flint and here in Michigan.
We work harder and we work better. Here in Flint, it was the private sector and American workers that helped turn lumber into the wagons that sent this country west.
It was the American worker that built the tanks that faced down fascism and that turned out the automobiles that were the cornerstone of America’s manufacturing boom.
But at critical moments of transition like this one, success has also depended on national leadership, political leadership that moved the country forward with confidence and a common purpose.
That’s what our founding fathers did after winning independence, when they tied together the economies of the 13 states and created the American market.
That’s what Lincoln did right in the middle of Civil War. He pushed for a transcontinental railroad. He incorporated our National Academy of Sciences. He passed the Homestead Act. He created our system of land grant colleges.
That’s what FDR did in confronting capitalism’s gravest crisis, when he forged the social safety net, built the Hoover Dam, created the Tennessee Valley Authority, and invested in an arsenal of democracy.
And that’s what Kennedy did in the dark days of the Cold War, when he called us to a new frontier, created the Apollo program, and put us on a pathway to the moon.
This was leadership that had the strength to turn moments of adversity into opportunity, leadership…
… leadership that had the wisdom to see a little further down the road and around that next corner, leadership that had the courage to challenge conventional thinking and worn ideas so that we could reinvent our economy to seize the future.
And, unfortunately, that’s not the kind of leadership that we’ve seen out of Washington recently. But that’s the kind of leadership I intend to provide when I am president of the United States of America.
AUDIENCE: Obama! Obama! Obama! Obama! Obama!
These past eight years will be remembered for misguided policies, missed opportunities, a rigid and ideological adherence to discredited ideas.
Almost a decade into this century, we still have no real strategy to compete in a global economy……