Trump City, USA

As a naturalized citizen myself, I’m well aware of the opportunities available to immigrants in the United States. After all, they don’t call this the land of opportunity for nothing, right? And it’s not all about the opportunities available, over the last two hundred plus years, America’s open-mindedness and tolerance have always been at the forefront of the country’s appeal.

Take Rock Hill for example: It’s a small American town, but for me, that’s where it all began. Since starting my first business in 2006, my second business in 2010, and my third business in 2014, the city has been nothing but welcoming, and has played an integral role in my success as a businessman here in the United States. In other countries, people helping immigrants just for the sake of being kind is uncommon to say the least, and in many places unthinkable. But it’s really not surprising that it happens so often here, because let’s not forget, America is and always will be a country founded by and filled with immigrants.

But despite all the wonderful things I’ve witnessed here and my own personal experiences as an immigrant, the rest of the world still has a very generalized view of Americans and the United States as a whole — and it isn’t a positive one. During my 11 years working as a photographer on cruise ships, I met countless travelers who all seemed to share that view. But the question I always ask myself is why? Is it the picture painted by the media in other countries? Is it the movies featuring Americans that give off a bad impression? Or is it the 24-hour news channels constantly updating people on the ridiculousness that is the lives of some Americans? (Yes, I’m talking about you, Kim Kardashian.)

Well, while those things certainly don’t help, I don’t think Kim is entirely to blame. There’s actually another name that comes to mind that I think has a lot more to do with it: Donald Trump. Some of the things that come out of this man’s mouth are just downright despicable — things I would never contemplate saying to or about anyone (even in the drunkest days of my twenties).

Yet somehow, even in today’s world filled with an overabundance of “politically correct” people, he gets away with it. While there are some folks clearly outraged at the bull shit that comes spewing from his mouth on a daily basis, as disgusting as it is, many Americans seem to agree with him. And not only that, but certain media outlets here in the US even glorify his comments, making his words sound like they are universally agreed upon by the American people. Still wondering why people in other countries have a bit of a misconception of America?

So the real question is how do we solve this problem, fix this behavior, and allow people outside of this country to see it for what it truly is: a wonderful land of opportunity. Well for starters, maybe we need another candidate to step up. You know, one that isn’t for banning all outsiders into a country that was founded by, well, outsiders. (Ironic, right?) A candidate that can be held responsible for their inappropriate actions instead of being heralded for it, and one that stands for the principles and ideals this great country and our constitution were founded on.

But the problem and lack of accountability here in the US goes much further than just the presidential candidates. Congress is another perfect example. As of now, Congress has an approval rating of 14 percent. Which I can’t say is overly surprising, since a lot of people aren’t pleased with the way our congressmen and women are “working for us” (if you count taking off over 200 days a year work). But what is surprising is the fact that despite the approval rating of Congress members being so low, their re-election rate is an astounding 90 percent.

That’s right, almost the entire country is dissatisfied with our Congress, yet they keep getting re-elected at an alarming rate. Where else in the professional world is this acceptable? Where else can you do your job terribly, have the people who hired you tell you that you do your job terribly, and still keep that job? The answer is nowhere — there’s not another job on the planet that rewards mediocrity with security.

But that’s where we come in. Instead of mindlessly re-electing the same Congress members that we disapprove of, instead of letting a man be glorified for what can only be described as bigoted and racist comments, and instead of just sitting idly by and doing nothing, we together need to hold ourselves and others accountable for their actions.

For starters, how about we start electing members of Congress we approve of, and backing presidential candidates that don’t discriminate against groups of people based on their color, ethnicity, or religion? Because without tolerance and an open mind, what kind of Americans are we? The issue can be fixed folks — not by a politician, not by Congress, but by you and me.

So let’s all go out and start making a difference today. At the local level, at the state level, and the national level. Let’s take this country and mold it back into what it was supposed to be, and bring meaning back to “the land of the free.” Because even though I may be fairly new as an American citizen compared to some of you, I’ve got a pretty good feeling that with the amount of unnecessary hate and discrimination going on in our country today, our founding fathers would not be pleased.