American Exceptionalism, Dona;ld Trump, Elitism and Class

To be American, (updated with New Facts, New Doors to Open, and Old Truths)

This is updated to 2025 to note the changing of the guard, and the new doors now available to reshape our Republic.

A law student takes his date, a med student, to Ruby Tuesday’s for dinner. In the course of conversation, while being served, the young med student comments that she had also waited tables as an under-grad, mentioning what a tough job it was. Good meal, good conversation, the bill comes to $45, and the law student, with that vise-like mathematical mind only lawyers, New York cabbies and Vegas pit bosses have, lays $9 on the table as a tip. While he is grabbing the coats the med student looks around, dips into her purse and adds three more ones, then heads to the door.

Moral? She is American. No really, that’s it.

Now compare.

An illegal, Juan Pablo Garcia, from Coahuila sneaks into the US in 2002, with help from agents in Mexico, and takes work as gang labor in construction in St Louis. A sharp mind, hard working, and honest, he slips away from the flock…and he does well, keeps his nose clean, and by 2004 brings his family across, sponsored by his gringo boss or NGO, who is “simpatico”. By 2009, with a phony Federal ID number, he starts his own business, and by 2010 is in six figures, and pays his taxes on time. He has 12 employees, 5 of which are illegals, who he pays less than the others and is more strict…unless they are familia.

But He is not American. Nor will his children be. Nor his children’s children, even though these latter will be native-born Americans. And that’s the tragedy of it, unless they run into a “to be American” intervention.

I’m not saying that Juan Pablo Garcia from Coahuila is a bad man. I am simply saying he is not American and his presence in the United States these days no longer requires that he become American. Perhaps throughout the rest of his life he will hold a higher loyalty to the people south of the border who procured his place in America than to the America who made him successful.

There are now millions like Juan Pablo in America. They will never attend a “My**Name**Is**Hyman**Kaplan citizenship seminar telling them about the Founders or the Declaration of Independence. Or be required to. (I designed and taught such seminars in the mid-1990s, and found that they worked.)

Today, there are also countless thousands of Asians from India and that region who are geniuses, having been raised in the English class-tradition, and who will hit the ground running, here, earning mid-six figures when they begin their work here. They also will never learn the meaning of simpatico, or feel that impulse to offer a “reach-around” to youngsters struggling to move up. They will take no notice, no more than they would in Mumbai.

The management staff at Google, and other high-profile data corporations will likely never consider what “being American” even means. Ordinarily, becoming American is a 3-generation process, but as we know from the Ashkenazi bankers who moved here in the late 19th Century, few ever ‘became American” in the sense we speak of here. The banking Schiff family who emigrated here after Civil War never felt the need to learn “to be American”.

But that young med student? Almost any young girl (or guy) who ever hustled tables in college, even of the nitwit variety, knows that in their lifetime they’re going to reach back and extend the hand of “simpatico” to those who come up behind them. It’s an axiom, “The best tippers are those who had been there once upon a time.” That is simpatico…only you will not find it from Juan Pablo Garcia, or from any black-eyed senorita waiting tables in Don Casa Grande, or her children, or her children’s children, unless they have that intervention. Of from Sundar Pichai and hundreds more like him.

As I said, it isn’t that they are mean or insensitive. It is only that this kind of “simpatico” is a practice that is peculiarly…exclusively...American. You won’t find it in Spain or Guatemala. Or London. or Paris. Or Buenos Aires or Dehli. It simply is not a part of their thinking, that they should, once attaining a level of success, reach around, with a handshake, a sometimes anonymous handshake, and whisper ever so gently, “This is America, so thank God you are here.” For all the world, it is family or tribe. For Americans, it is simpatico\; the handshake.

To be American is to say “This is only temporary”. To be everyone else is to say this is “fate”, mala suerte. Joss in China or T-S in Russia. Insha’allah.

In Mexico, “simpatico” is a word that exists between two who suffer a similar pain or indignity. It is inconceivable to them that it should exist between higher and lower classes, no matter how much socialists declare that it is their raison d’etre. I’ve often spoken of the “handshake” that defines being “American”, about one who is finally ascending the hill, still never forgetting to reach around and offer that handshake…and that whisper. It is just one (of other) element of that special condition called “being American.”

Only in America does “simpatico” really mean “simpatico”. And only by “Americans” can it be broadcast.

That is how it is.

First, Thomas Paine and “Common Sense”, and in recent memory, Donald Trump, has reminded us that the “want to be American”-impulse still percolates among the millions who want to come here with simpler dreams, just to be a “senor” and “senora” who can pass on opportunities to their children.

(This photo is why they hate “Mr.” Trump so much.)

This used to be a Republican issue, now it is a “common-sense” citizen issue, and from the core of that thinking a newer political party, just a Thomas Paine outlined may reveal itself..

A friend, David M Poff, has embarked on a new crusade at Substack, “Betraying a Nation”, in multiple parts. I will continued to offer my site to help push this notion forward.

Stay tuned.

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