15 years ago I came to the United States looking, as so many others, for the American Dream. In my case the American Dream was not fame or wealth, just the opportunity of living in a country where I could be a good citizen, enjoy rights and comply with duties, walk unafraid in parks, stop at red lights in traffic, those civic virtues De Tocqueville called the “habits of the heart”.
I am happy to report that my American Dream has been essentially realized. I have been extremely happy in this admirable country and have come to fulfill most of my aspirations. I pay taxes, walk unafraid in parks and streets of my neighborhood and love to stop at red lights. I have been living in a wonderland of good civic behavior, as compared to my loved native country, Venezuela, once a wonderful showcase of democracy in its own right, now a nightmare comparable to the worst Hollywood horror movies.
U.S. conditions today have introduced some fractures in my dream. There are events taking place which I see with increasing concern. The first one is the progressive transformation of the political process, long based in bipartisan cooperation and compromises, into one of partisan disharmony and, even, strong animosity. This negative change in political attitudes attacks the very foundations of the country. I never imagined that the U.S. long-existing ability to find rational solutions to national problems could be transformed into distrust and hatred between the two national political parties. Even the system of checks and balances, which made it possible for the nation to overcome national tragedies such as Nixon’s, appears weakened in this new environment of political warfare between the two parties.
And when the nation needed a president who could unify the country with examples of personal equanimity it chose a president who seems to thrive in the promotion of conflict. President Trump’s manner has been one of almost permanent confrontation. His style, including early morning twitters, his aggressive treatment of dissenters and his tendency to utilize valuable presidential time in pursuing personal rancor, has generated tension and confusion among his collaborators and important segments of the population.
The U.S. today faces great problems: massive uncontrolled immigration from poorer countries; significant racial tension; increasing social violence and its link to gun control; foreign threats from different sources. These are all objective threats that require mature leadership to be dealt with but, instead, find a national government in disarray, weakened by lack of statesmanship at the top.
The presidential main task, in times like these, is one of unification. However, U.S. political life has become an arena for confrontation and, even, hatred. This represents a turn for the worse that has no place in any American Dream.
Let us wish that these attitudes will change for the better. It would be very sad that the real enemies of the country succeeded, due to the internal fractures which keep appearing within the government. I sincerely hope attitudinal changes take place, not so much for my sake, now approaching the end of a long and wonderful journey, but for the sake of this great country, where I have found happiness.