I knew Mike Root. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is no Mike Root.
My uncle Mike Root died a few days ago. He was not only a great family man, but the personification of American exceptionalism. Mike proved the American Dream is real. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez (aka AOC) is the socialist darling of the moment. You couldn’t find more polar opposites.
This is a teachable moment.
Mike was one of seven children born to my grandparents, Anna and Louis Root, in Brooklyn’s Brownsville neighborhood in the early 1900s. These seven Jewish kids in Brooklyn were born into abject poverty.
Then it got worse. Their father, Louis Root, died of a heart attack. My grandmother was left penniless with seven young mouths to feed. There was no welfare, no food stamps, no Medicaid, no Social Security.
Yet unlike AOC and her socialist friends who want to turn America into Cuba or Venezuela, those seven penniless kids never complained, never protested, never made excuses, never blamed “racism.” All seven young kids got a job to pay the bills. Those seven kids took care of their mother’s bills for the rest of her life.
All seven of those kids went onto achieve pretty darn good lives. Because of American exceptionalism and capitalism, being born into poverty in this country doesn’t mean you are destined to stay in poverty.
But Uncle Mike was the shining star. He started an electronics company, built it into a powerhouse and sold it for a fortune. A kid born into abject poverty on Pitkin Avenue in Brooklyn became a millionaire. Only in America.
It wasn’t easy. As the saying goes, “It takes 20 years to achieve overnight success.” It took years of hard work. He raised three children, two of them “special needs.” He lost his beloved wife, Sonny, to cancer. He found love again with my Aunt Louise. He spent 30 years loving Louise and her children. Mike used his wealth to make sure his two special-needs children (my cousins) were taken care of for life.
I called Uncle Mike a few days ago. He was on his deathbed, dying of kidney failure at the age of 87. Aunt Louise said he was very weak and could talk only for a few seconds. But when he heard it was his nephew Wayne, Mike had a surge of energy. We spoke for 20 minutes.
I’ll never forget his last words. Uncle Mike said: “The Root family was so poor growing up in Brooklyn. We had nothing. But I set three goals: To take care of my family … to become president of a company … and to become wealthy. I made all three goals come true. Only in America. Only with capitalism. God bless America.”
He told me he loved me. Then he fell asleep. Louise took the phone. Those were the last words Uncle Mike ever said to me. He died the next day.
My message to Rep. Ocasio-Cortez: Mike Root is America. You are not. This isn’t a socialist country. Most Americans want to achieve success and financial freedom and use the money to take care of their family. That is the point of life. That ambition is what makes America the greatest and richest country in the world. That attitude lifts people out of poverty. Only capitalism can do that. Socialism cannot. Government cannot.
Mike made it. The poor kid from Brooklyn got rich — all because of freedom, capitalism, opportunity and mobility. Only in America.
Mike Root is the American Dream. Mike Root is what makes America exceptional. Mike Root proves AOC must be defeated, her ideas sent to the garbage heap of history.
As President Donald Trump said in his State of the Union: “America will never become a socialist nation.”