After a day of driving, flying, and riding shuttles, we finally reached our hotel in Boston, put the luggage in our room, and then went to the restaurant/lounge named “Two Doors Down.” We seated ourselves at the bar and ordered adult beverages and panini sandwiches. Three young women came in and the fellow to our left moved next to us so they could sit together. We started a conversation with him and learned he was one of the 6,000 neurologists in Boston for the convention that had tripled the price of hotel rooms.

Alejandro is a Mexican national and described his home town as being roughly equidistant from Brownsville and Laredo, Texas, in Eastern Mexico. He bemoaned the corruption in his own government and told us it’s well understood in Mexico that cartel money is corrupting the border areas of the USA much as it already has corrupted all levels of government in Mexico. As we talked, it was stunning to me that we had so much in common and thought so much alike.

Alejandro told us his country’s president was a ‘stupid’ man and attributed his election on the lack of involvement of his countrymen who do not have the ‘culture of participation’ that Americans have. He told us the entire country had been ‘conquered’ by only a few hundred Spanish because there was no sense of country and that lack of identity continued to this day in the rural areas. Voting is not viewed as a duty or privilege, and it is common for politicians to purchase votes in poor neighborhoods. He told us that many lived in 15-20 square meter shacks with tin roofs that covered only part of the house. After elections, many of those shacks sported a couple shiny new pieces of corrugated roofing. I asked whether those who purchased the vote had any way of knowing they’d gotten what they paid for. Alejandro answered they had no reason to doubt because the people didn’t know or care who’s elected. To them the government is remote and irrelevant, but the cartels are present among them every day. The people readily sell their votes for small handouts.

He told us of the anxiety he feels for his family’s safety because, unlike us, he was not allowed to own a gun. When criminals come to his neighborhood, he will be helpless as will his neighbors. He recalled that ‘our’ Thomas Jefferson(*) had said it’s a good thing when the government fears the people. He also knew of the observation that democracy would fail as soon as the people found they could vote themselves a handout from the national treasury.(**) He told us that jobs in Mexico were handed out as rewards for ‘friends’ and taken from those who didn’t have connections. The government there has no interest in improving the economy because widespread poverty facilitates their continued hold on power and partnership with criminals working across the border. He again said he wished his countrymen were informed and involved like Americans. Those who read ‘Another View’ know well my own responses.

We also talked about the chaos on the border and established that neither of us saw a solution to the ‘immigration problem’ as complicated. The only explanation for it not being done was that neither side had an interest in ‘solving’ the problem because the chaos facilitates the corruption that lines pockets on both sides of the border.

Having ‘solved’ so many problems, we wished Alejandro an enjoyable visit, paid our tab, and retired. What will remain with me is the conviction that solutions are not that elusive when ordinary people become involved and informed and focus on values they have in common rather than their interests. I was touched that others think better of Americans than we think of ourselves these days. We have to recognize that there are among us those who profit and profiteer by perpetuating division, dependency, and chaos. It’s not in their interest to fix problems but rather to exaggerate their significance and pander to competing interests rather than apply common sense and common values to devising equitable solutions. It’s time we commit to each other that those who peddle division, envy, and hate be relegated to obscurity, and elect adults who readily elevate the common good above personal and party ideology. (*) Widely attributed to Jefferson but in fact sourced to John Basil Barnhill circa 1914. (**) In various forms from Alexander Fraser Tytler, Alexis de Tocqueville, and even Ronald Regan. See especially Fr aser_ Tytler


Another View is provided by a group of concerned citizens that meet each week to discuss issues of public interest.

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