Geoff Cook: Why I Need a Citizen’s Voice
[This Engaged Citizen post by Geoff Cook originally appeared on October 16, 2008.
To Geoff and the five hundred other people becoming naturalized citizens this morning at Veterans Memorial Auditorium: Congratulations and welcome to America.]
In a strange twist of coincidence, Tuesday, October 14, I went to ICE in Providence to take my citizenship exam. The coincidence? Monday the 13th was the 18th anniversary of my arrival to work on a winter program at a “summer” camp. I would never have guessed then that I would still be here now!
So why am I becoming an American citizen? Let’s be honest: there really is nothing wrong with being English. The ladies certainly love the accent (will I lose that if I pass?), and it certainly helps with my eccentricities. But after 18 years, I need to belong.
America is truly a great place, if you forgive the amount of people who are unable to make a decent cup of tea, and the American people have very big hearts. It’s a shame you Americans sometimes forget that. If I were driving in front of you on I95 during the rush hour, you might kill me to be in my space, one car ahead, but if I came to you and told you I needed $10 for a meal, you’d find a $20, give it to me, and never expect it back.
I don’t believe the USA has such a bad rap around the world as the media portrays. Of course, some friction comes from America sometimes forgetting its place in history. I was reading in a local newspaper about one of the oldest single room school houses in America being relocated in Portsmouth, RI. It dates back to the 1700s! Old? I smile. My old school back in England dates back to 1558, and some of the original buildings still stand! (I suspect some of the teachers I had were hired by the first headmaster.)
Sometimes, it’s true, America acts like the overweight uncle who comes to the barbeque, breaks things, and makes the children cry. How nice it is, though, to have that uncle by your side. By nature, this is a peaceful country; don’t bother us, and we have no need to bother you. Always there to help in a crisis. Even when your enemies have an emergency, the USA has mobilized relief supplies and sent them to help those in distress.
So why Citizen Geoff? In a few short weeks this nation, my adopted home, will go to an election. I really need my voice to be heard. So many issues are at stake. Immigration, for one, with which I have first-hand knowledge. I’ve been through the system, and for that reason, I don’t see why illegal immigrants should get a fast track or amnesty. I played by the rules, it isn’t hard, and on a local level none of these immigration advocates have done anything for me. As for the governor’s executive order regarding eVerify, well, I felt no more or less fear than before the order was enacted.
Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac. Once again, the honest people, the working stiffs are getting stuck with the bill, ($700 billion) because the bleeding hearts wanted to help, insisting that everyone should be able to own a home. Why can’t people understand that there will be haves and have nots? It’s an unfortunate fact of life, but with hard work and some common sense it doesn’t take much to be a have. And how much have Dodd, Obama, Franks, and Reed skimmed off the housing industry? I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for the investigations into their culpability.
The direction of the country. I moved from a country with socialist values. I know my parents, who were both active union and Labour Party members, will be spinning in their grave, but the American system truly offers the opportunity to make your dreams come true. Away from my parents’ influence, I have finally had the chance to realize that Thatcherism was a good thing. Having seen the state of the British healthcare system, and how the U.S. government efficiently runs everything from Amtrak to the Post Office to Freddie Mac, I’m of the opinion that this country cannot afford government controlled health. It’s bad enough that the government has its fingers in the banking system.
The tentacles of state need to be removed from the lives of public citizens, and I hope my tiny voice will be part of the larger chorus. Change is a good thing, but I don’t want Barack’s type of change. See you in the voting booth!