Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin was on message a couple of weeks ago when she spoke to the Republican National Convention about rugged individualism. It's a favorite theme of the GOP and right-wing noise machine.
We have nothing against rugged individualism, but we do part company with the exalted status the concept gets in the conservative firmament. Among the Tea Party types, the sacred individual can do anything and everything—except when he or she can't.
We were reminded of this recently on the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act, federal legislation that provided land and money to establish agricultural and mechanical schools, including one in Stillwater.
Good ole Abe Lincoln himself signed the legislation—an actual federal government plan (yes!) that improved what came to be known as the Sooner state. Yes, Cowboy fans, until the Morrill Act took effect there was little more than grass and a few shade trees in sleepy Stillwater.
"There wasn't a site—there wasn't anything," OSU's David Peters told the Tulsa World, referring to the establishment of a land-grant college in Stillwater.
Now, of course, OSU is a major university. But establishing and building that university wasn't a one-man project; it was a group project that required federal and state legislation—and money.
Gov. Fallin and her pals like to pretend that all good things come from lonely heroes and heroines who risk their lives and fortunes for the Greater Good. Sometimes that's true.
But Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act because the individual can't do it all.