An El Pasoan's Nostalgia
Paul grew up in an American military base in Berlin, where his father was a colonel in the United States Army. The youngest out of seven children, Paul has vivid memories of family outings, playing football and kick the can in the yard. Despite not growing up in America during his youngest years, Paul remembers thoroughly enjoying his childhood and experiencing American culture to the fullest.
Paul ended up moving to El Paso in 1981, and mentions that he still longs for the experience of watching the leaves change color and fall off the trees or the first snow fall during winter. Paul experienced a smooth transition from his life in Berlin to El Paso. He remarks that other kids would pick on him by calling him Nazi, and that bugged Paul. “I’m an American,” he would always retort.
One memory of El Paso that Paul vividly remembers is going to and from the movies with his siblings and friends from the neighborhood.
But Paul believes that type of communal, carefree environment that was prominent during the 1980s no longer exists. Neighborhoods are more quiet and houses, at least in El Paso, are more segregated.
Paul does not know completely why this phenomenon has occurred. He cites maybe people have become more private, or have lived here a longer time. He also links it to the United States becoming a more dangerous place to live.
This line of thought — linking the decline of neighborhood communities with a decline in physical security — was a common thread in our conversation. It’s something that Paul extrapolated to current concerns about the Trump Administration’s immigration policies.
Paul’s concern is not just about keeping America safe, but he’s also worried about securing America’s identity: it’s culture and values.
Paul’s thoughts on the potential wall along the U.S.-Mexican border, a mere 10 miles away from his family’s home, struck a similar cord.
Paul’s insight on the wall is interesting, primarily because his rationale for the wall is rooted in his desire to see that the laws are enforced. His remark about his wife, a Mexican immigrant, following the laws and becoming a U.S. citizen after nearly a decade suggested that his reasoning for building the wall isn’t necessarily rooted in xenophobia. It stems from a passion to enforce the rules, to ensure that no one can get on a fast-track to becoming a U.S. Citizen.
It’s clear that Paul supported Donald Trump in the campaign. When asked about what resonates with him about America, he pointed to Trump’s promises to build the wall along the U.S-Mexican border and make America great again.
A man nostalgic for the 1980s, Paul voted for Donald Trump in the hopes he could return America to its “innocent” years – a time when we did not have to worry as much about foreign foes, undocumented immigrants and political years. It only further proves why President Trump’s message was so moving to millions of middle-class, blue-collar Americans, just like Paul.