In Context: “Government’s the only thing that we all belong to”
"In Context" is an occasional feature of PolitiFact National and its state affiliates. It is intended to give readers the context of a statement that has received widespread attention.
From GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, Republicans have been denouncing the following line from a video played in September during the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.:
"Government’s the only thing that we all belong to."
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie joined in attacking that statement during a campaign event Saturday in Michigan.
The Republican governor told the crowd at a GOP fundraiser that President Barack Obama "absolutely believes we belong to him. He believes that we are just pawns to be moved around his giant chessboard of government."
The roughly five-minute video in question was produced and paid for by the Charlotte in 2012 Convention Host Committee, officials said. Dan Murrey, executive director of the host committee, has said the video is "completely unaffiliated with the Obama campaign or the Democratic National Committee," according to a Politico article.
With this "In Context" story, PolitiFact New Jersey is not fact-checking Christie’s characterization of the statement. Instead, we’re providing the transcript of both the governor’s remarks and the relevant portion of the video itself.
We’ll let our readers draw their own conclusions.
Here’s what the governor said about watching the Democratic National Convention:
"I watched it and I didn’t find a whole lot noteworthy about it, except for this: the Democratic National Convention, this is what they said about what Democrats believe. They said, ‘Government is the only thing we all belong to.’
Now I want you to listen to that again. I’m gonna say it slowly. I want you to listen to it again. This is what the Democrats under Barack Obama believe: ‘Government is the only thing we all belong to.’
You see, I don’t know. I’m never the smartest person in the room. It’s a great relief, not only to me, but to all of you as well. I’m never the smartest person in the room, and I never got the best grades in school. But this much I understood from my history lessons, that we didn’t belong to the government. The government belongs to us.
You see, you see, the Constitution doesn’t start by saying, ‘We the government,’ does it? It says, ‘We the people.’ All power and authority emanates from the people, and that power and authority, which through that document and our other laws we delegate to the government is the power and authority they have. They belong to us.
You see, that’s what we believed from the founding of our country, but Barack Obama believes something very, very different. He absolutely believes we belong to him. He believes that we are just pawns to be moved around his giant chessboard of government. He’s gonna pick the winners and the losers."
'Welcome to Charlotte!' video
The main character championed in the video is the city of Charlotte itself.
Using modern-day images and historic footage, the video highlights Charlotte’s economy, educational institutions, transportation system and ethnic diversity. The video includes images of the city skyline, workers in a factory, students with their teacher, and a dance troupe performing in the middle of the street.
It also features narration from Jim Hunt, former governor of North Carolina, and former Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt. Here’s what they say, starting a little more than a minute before the statement targeted by Christie:
Hunt: "It’s a great story of progress by investing in people, caring about all people and working together."
Gantt: "I guess the most important thing is that you can come here and you can get involved, and people welcome you and they embrace you. And you can come from Charleston, South Carolina, and in the space of 15 years, be the mayor of the city. Or you can come from a single-parent family and become the mayor here.
That’s always gonna be for me what’s the greatest thing about Charlotte: its people, making it possible."
Hunt: "We are committed to all people. We do believe you could use government in a good way. Government’s the only thing that we all belong to. We have different churches, different clubs, but we’re together as a part of our city, or our county, or our state and our nation."
Gantt: "We are an example of what I think the President of the United States wants to see his country move toward."
Children on a soccer field: "We make it possible!"
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