It Isn't Racism, It Is the Sick Feeling Americans Have
by James Glaser
September 22, 2009
I have just returned from a cross country driving trip to Minnesota and back. It was five days of driving, and a nine day visit in the Twin Cities. I spent time with my mother, my children, and my sisters. It was fun and exhausting at the same time. It is always hard to be away from home. You never truly relax, and you push yourself hard to get more things done in the short amount of time you have.
In truth, I could have stayed for a month if I had really wanted, but the longer I stayed, the more I wanted to get back home. It was strange driving around Saint Paul, the city I grew up in. Even though I haven't lived in Saint Paul for 40 years, it is still my "home town." Driving around brought back all sorts of memories. I would drive by the homes of friends from long ago knowing they no longer live there, but thoughts of the times we had together flooded back like yesterday.
Businesses change, but many buildings stay the same. The old Schmidt Brewery on 7th Street looks the same, although there is no beer brewed there now. In fact, the building is totally empty. Some streets are in better shape, while others are in disrepair. Some nice neighborhoods in my youth seem run down while others have perked up. My daughter Nikky wanted to go have coffee on Western and Dale, and all I could think of was that I had some expensive things in my vehicle, and they might get ripped off. That was then, but now that part of town is "up scale" and everything was fine.
Now if I drive to what was a bit out of town, I am still in town. Urban sprawl has found its way to the country, and you can't find the farms that were once so beautiful to see. Saint Paul is no longer a mainly white city. Yes, there was always a small Black and Mexican part of town, but now the whole town and every business district is integrated. There are people wearing weird clothing, and women who are covered from head to toe. Of course, ethnic restaurants abound.
People tell me there is way less racism than back in the 60's, and that is a good thing. Young adults have grown up while going to school with people of different color, and they have found friendships and a bit of understanding. Not everything is perfect, but it is better.
As a side line on my trip, I talked to people whenever I could about politics and the economy, and I would ask them what they thought about the direction we are headed in. I talked to people in gas stations, restaurants (workers and patrons), art and craft galleries, gift stores, a tire shop, and oil change place. At first, I was writing things down on scraps of paper when I would get back to the truck, but later I was more prepared with a notebook to write in.
What I found is that people are mad. What surprised me was not that they were mad, but that so many of them were mad. It wasn't just a few of those I questioned. It was basically all of them. It wasn't just the poor or the Black or the Southerners or the Northerners or the people from the hills of Tennessee, it was everyone. They were quick to tell me that they are not happy with where our country is going.
I didn't plan to do this survey, it just sort of happened as I got talking to people. Americans are willing to voice their opinion like never before, and that isn't just those on the right. Staunch Democrats are just as upset with what is happening in America as conservatives and independents. They are mad at the President, Congress, Washington, banks, and big business in no particular order. Now, while here in the South I have heard comments that reflect racism, on this trip, I heard nothing about the color of the President's skin.
The number one bitch I heard was that nobody will listen to complaints. The thing brought up was how when dealing with American corporations it is inevitable that you are going to end up talking to someone from Indialike Americans can't handle those jobs. How many thousands of people do you think are now employed in India by American corporations?
People are upset with taxes, too. It isn't just their withholding, which is a lot higher now than in years past. Can you remember when in the fall of the year you could reach the limit on Social Security, and your pay check would see a nice increase? Well that doesn't happen for hourly workers any more. A lot of older workers remember those days.
Small business owners and those thinking of going into a small business are not only upset with all the extra taxes and fees, but the paperwork is overwhelming. Here in Florida, if you have a sales tax number, but for any reason you had no taxable sales in the last accounting period, you still get fined a minimum of fifty dollars if you fail to file or are late with your return. If times are tough, and you have made no sales, a fine is the last thing you need.
Several people mentioned the fact that the ATM machine at their bank asks if they want their transaction in English. Others talked about all the TV and radio stations that are in Spanish. They want to know how those immigrants will ever learn English if they have those stations to depend on.
So many people across the board told me they thought that President Obama lied... just like every other president has lied to us. If he wasn't lying when that Southern Congressman called him on it, he was lying other times. People mentioned him not ending our wars, the cigarette tax increase, the pictures of torture he would and then would not release, and how he has failed to rescind the executive orders that President Bush signed into law which erode our constitutionally guaranteed liberties.
From my talking to a lot of people in seven states, I have come to realize that Americans are sick and tired of Washington, and they are worried, in fact, many are scared about the direction we are headed as a country. People are worried about their jobs or lack of one. They are worried about their future and their children's future. And I think most of all they are sick of being screwed over by every one who is higher on the ladder than they are.
From what I could figure out, most Americans, right, left, or in the middle have a sick feeling in their stomachs about their future and where Washington is taking us.
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