A few months ago, after more than a decade, I left my job working at a big-box store in my Southern small town. Before working there, I had spent 18 years as a homemaker, until my husband retired from his 24 and a half years in the Army. We moved frequently and at each Army post, I devoted time to volunteering in my community. Presently, I am at home caring for my husband, who is a 100% disabled veteran. I may seek a part-time job at some point, but for now I am unemployed. Neither my blog nor I are in any way connected with any political group or political party.
The main problem I see, from my small window into America as a whole, is not any particular hot button issue, not even illegal immigration, which Donald Trump blasted into the headline-grabbing menace. Trump throws out other people as the cause of our problems, when the real problem is our culture as a whole. The truth we don’t recognize is that the politicians, whom the minuscule portion of the electorate that even bothers to vote for, DO accurately represent us. Yes, they do, they like to promise a lot and deliver very little, but much of America lives the same way. Trump seized on the “making American great again” slogan, but blaming illegal immigrants or the Chinese for our woes rests as self-delusion. America, being all of us, have allowed our culture to decline into factionalized herds of ignorant, rude sheep. I see very little difference between the far-left # movements and Trump, frankly.
The things I observed working in a blue-collar job, humm, let me offer some home truths. There was an endless turnover of employees at my store (typical of retail and fast-food jobs). Many of the new hires were young people and most didn’t last 90-days. A frequent lament, “They aren’t paying me enough to do this!”, began many times within the first week. In fact, many times, I had new hires say this the very first day of work, prompting me to retort, “You haven’t even done anything yet to earn the pay your are getting!” So, the things I encountered very often were young people who either could not or would not follow simple instructions. Many required constant babysitting or they wandered off. Many expressed how working in our store was beneath them and they were destined for better things. And the overwhelming problem I observed was ATTENDANCE – some did follow the proper call-out procedures to inform us they weren’t coming to work, but many didn’t even bother to do that. Another recurring problem was employees calling out from work one day and then expecting to be given more hours later in the week to make up for the hours they missed by calling out – yes, they expected their work schedule to conform to their desires. This is the reality.
Now, nearby my small town is a large agricultural area, with many Mexican workers (lots are probably illegal immigrants too). They live isolated out in that rural area and on weekends some of the farms have old school buses painted white, which transport these workers to our store to shop. Most are men, but there are lots of families too. I’ve often wondered what their life is like living isolated and not assimilated.
Are these farm workers, who will work for less than minimum wage, really stealing jobs from Americans? I doubt it, because when I ran the lawn and garden department in my store, the young employees would high-tail it inside when the temperature was over 100 degrees some days and I found myself working on the patio with an elderly German lady and an older Puerto-Rican man and an old white man, all of whom complained daily about the lazy young people. And as a cultural note, for the oh-so-superior American view expressed by so many wailing about Mexicans, the Mexican families I saw here – the children were invariably dressed nicely with the mothers wearing dresses and the little girls in bright-colored dresses too. I saw hordes of Americans shopping with their kids in pajamas or just a dirty diaper, their hair uncombed, and quite frankly looking like orphans. Of course, often the parents hadn’t bothered to change out of pajamas or comb their hair either, just slid into flip-flops to slouch along.
It’s easy to blame other ethnic groups for America’s problems, but frankly our major problem is we’ve allowed our culture to decline into a disgusting mess of vulgarity, incivility and volatile factions. We’ve lost our shared values and dedication to common American principles. Trump’s brand of vulgarity, touted as being “anti-PC”, offers nothing to emulate or admire. It is possible to express disagreements thoughtfully and respectfully in the public square, without turning it into a mud-wrestling contest. We need to encourage open debate of issues and herein lies the thing, Trump doesn’t argue his points, he just hurls insults, whines and brags about his poll numbers. Poll numbers tell us about what people feel, but what we need is for more people to actually THINK and read more, then decide on issues.
The main problem in America is NOT illegal immigration, it’s US (as in we the people) and until we realize that we’ve allowed our culture to decline into herds of angry, ignorant sheep being herded by a host of political wolves in sheep’s clothing, we remain doomed. To make America great again we need to find our way back to being an America that believes that each of us is responsible for whether we succeed and whether we fail. It begins at the dinner-table teaching our children manners, into the local community, where citizens meet and organize to transform their own communities and then it gains momentum in our civic organizations and political structures. We need to rebuild America from the ground up and quit looking for magical solutions, like his Great Wall of Trump. What we really need is a Great Awakening of our American spirit!
America was built by the sweat, toil and tears of many immigrants who traveled here, often with little beyond the shirts on their backs. They invested every fiber of their being into creating a home here in America. They built America! They organized and funded local schools to educate their children, they took pride in organizing civic organizations and they believed in the power of the individual to determine his/her own destiny. We must be willing to invest every fiber of our being into rebuilding a better, stronger, more vibrant America, one that reflects the hopes and aspirations of those who sacrificed their very lives for our freedom, but first we need to make sure that we know what America means. Making America great again doesn’t start with Donald Trump – it starts with each and every one of us!