Below is my latest Op-Ed. Please read and share on your social media accounts.
Written by DML
Ryan is a former Trump campaign worker who lives in California and sees the decay of his state accelerating despite the Trump presidency and booming economy. He recently sent me this email:
Ryan writes: “This past week has made it feel tangible that America can’t be saved; not just on paper anymore. The demographics in N. California have reached a tipping point. I mean, they seem night and day in some places near me after just 6 months.
In high school in the Bay Area during the late 90s, it was still a novelty to hear Spanish on the street.
Today, I went to get my daughter her passport. It’s incredibly tedious to get a passport out here. Only certain post offices process them and the wait time is literally about 8 hours just to speak to someone. In 2001 I remember walking in and out.
Every single person waiting for a passport was a foreigner except for me. Halfway through the wait, an 80+ year old veteran hobbles in with a walker and oxygen tank. A perfect metaphor for the future of America. In 10-15 years everywhere will be California.
A few days ago the GOP passed amnesty and cheap labor amendments like 2016 never happened. And Trump? Not a word.
Sure, it’s not all doom and gloom but I just don’t see how anyone can be optimistic for the long term.”
Ryan is not alone in his fears. Not a day passes when I do not get an email from someone voicing a similar concern.
In May 2018, for the first time in years I traveled across the USA. I did this in an RV; we were on the ground seeing everything first hand.
My film team and I traveled from Florida to Ohio, hitting Georgia, Tennessee, West Virginia and Kentucky along the way. Then we went from Ohio to Texas, hitting Indiana, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma in the process.
We then traveled through New Mexico, Arizona, Southern California, Nevada and Utah. Heading back to Florida, we drove through New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma a second time, and then hit Mississippi, Arkansas, and Alabama before arriving back in Orlando.
I share this because we had no choice but to see everything on the street level. Truth is, we had to look hard for the beautiful old style towns that once made America great.
Yes, we found beauty along our travels, and we captured it in our picture book, but at times it felt like finding a needle in the haystack. Simply put, we saw more decay than roses.
Most cities and towns look outdated and lifeless. The investment in homes and buildings appear to be limited to certain areas, while most places in each state are begging for a major facelift. As a side note, I also noticed more people living in tents than ever before.
There has always been ugly-looking towns in America; there have always been homeless people, but what Ryan is explaining, and what we saw happening, is something new. It’s called: the culture shift.
The culture shift in America has driven neighborhoods to change in a way that makes America feel and look different to those of us who have lived in the U.S. for more than 40 years. As Ryan points out, California is no longer what it once was, and most states are following in line.
Sure, the visuals in N. California remain the same as they once were — big parks, big trees, and big waves make the landscape just as amazing today as it did yesterday. It’s what we find going on in the towns and cities surrounding those areas — that’s what makes the decay.
The culture is different in many ways, and none of it is based on skin color. This is not about race, but rather, it’s all about attitude.
Even the merchant to customer experience is much different from when I was a kid. For example, when I was in high school I recall going to DiMaggio’s Pizza Place every day after school. I would place my order and then get into conversation with “Mr. D” as the oven heated my slice of pizza topped with meatballs and peppers.
During the 5-minutes it took to warm my slice, Mr. D would ask me a million questions as he stood behind the counter refilling my small Coke cup at no charge.
We would talk about life, school, girls, sports, and what it was like for him to live in Italy as a boy.
Mr. D’s great tasting pizza and heavy Italian accent was the perfect TV commercial for selling the value of inviting hard working immigrants to come to America.
Make no mistake, Mr D. was fluent in Italian and he was proud of his roots, but outside the parlor was an American flag, and he spoke English at all times. It was the right thing to do, or so he said.
Today, it’s different. What was once the normal is now gone. A conversation between merchant and customer conducted in English is slowly becoming the abnormal, and if you complain about it you get unfairly labeled as a racist.
From coast to coast I witnessed it myself time and time again. Most merchants and counter workers we met are either incapable of, or unwilling to hold a full conversation in English. Like it or not this is part of the culture shift, and I find it to be unhealthy.
Some people, believe it or not, want America to change in a divided direction, and so they will say Ryan’s commentary sounds racist, and that I liked Mr. D because he is white. Nonsense!
One of my first employees back in the 1990s when I operated a computer warehousing business was from the Caribbean. His skin was dark, and he did not practice the same religion as I do. He was a legal immigrant and his accent was heavy, but his ability to speak fluent English was only outdone by his desire to mix in with the American culture.
I recall our first interview. He had responded to an ad I placed for a computer repair technician despite having no experience in the area. But I liked him so much, that despite his inexperience with computers, I put him on the payroll in order to help him make a better life for himself. He was with me for years, and Mary and I ended up inviting him to our wedding.
If I went into DiMaggio’s Pizza for the first time and Mr. D had spoken to me in full Italian, I know I would have walked out, or at the very least never returned for a second visit. My exit would not have been a function of not liking Mr. D because he was an immigrant, or because I am Irish and he is Italian. It would have been a function of not understanding what the hell he was saying to me, and therefore feeling uncomfortable and not welcomed in his establishment.
This divide is sad, and it results in a lack of interest to enhance and invest in one’s town because the thinking is: “It’s too far gone.”
Immigration is a wonderful thing when and if done correctly. That said, we’ve been doing it wrong for a long time, and so if it continues this way, and if Ryan is correct in saying California is the poster example for what America will be in 10-years, then those of us who speak only English have a major problem to address.
Either we learn how to speak Spanish as our primary language, or we perish in the workplace and in our place as townspeople. In other words, we become the minority. This rings true whether you are white, black or brown.
Unfortunately, this problem isn’t being addressed as it should be. I think the smart people realize that tweets can’t undo the fundamental transformation started by President Obama, and punctuated by Congress and cheap labor enthusiasts.