By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Can we just be Americans?
Artemis Vourakis


Manteca resident


For just a few minutes, I ask that you not be a Democrat, a Republican, or an Independent, but just an American.  Keep in mind that no man is perfect and no country in the world is perfect.  However, America has been better than any country in the world and has provided more opportunities for its citizens than most.  Yes there are problems, but what country does not have problems.

 I personally have little or no stomach for career politicians (on all sides of the isle) that continue for decades to talk about these problems but yet have no spine or guts to solving them.  One of the real reasons is that no one has the guts to put all issues on the table and collectively come up with a solution.  We have all been bought and sold by these career politicians so that they can continue to be relevant with the same ongoing problems and yet do nothing to solve them.

Take for example education in the inner cities.  What is the excuse of career politicians and leaders for the deplorable condition of their schools that has festered for decades with no change in sight?  I lived in Chicago for 15 years and have been back home for almost 20.  Back then, elementary schools had metal detectors.  During that time, Mayor Daley appointed Paul Vallas as Superintendent of Education.  However, his tenure was cut short because he was starting to make substantial changes and was becoming very popular within the inner city communities and Mayor Daley saw it as a threat to his own political standing. 

Also during my time in Chicago, a young girl from the inner city was hired as my assistant in the law firm I worked for.  She had completed grammar school, high school and business school and yet she did not know the difference between “are” and “our”, “there” and “their” and many other similar sounding words when she was transcribing tapes.  I kept correcting her work but she was fired when I came home for Thanksgiving.


It broke my heart because in all those years that she was attending school, there wasn’t one teacher that took the time to teach her otherwise.  What a crime against that child and her future to work and provide for herself and her child.  That experience was especially heartbreaking because that could have been me.

 I started school not knowing a word of English but Mrs. O’Brien taught me to love reading and writing, Mr. Martin taught me to love math, and Mr. Shaw taught me typing and shorthand.  Even though I did go to Delta College for a little over a year, I had to quit before graduating because of economic reasons.  Little did I know at the time that having learned the basics, reading, writing and math, as well as typing and shorthand, that it would be possible to excel in a career that I loved and enjoyed.


So what good is going to school if you are not taught correctly?  That to me is a crime and a waste of money.  What kind of opportunities will those children have in real life afterwards?  Special needs children are being taught, but children at risk have been continually ignored especially in large cities.  Why is that?  Giving these children a good basic education would give them hope that there is an opportunity for a better life; that they can achieve their dreams; and that their children may not have to live in poverty.  That would be the right thing to do in order for them to achieve the American dream which they have every right to have.


Unfortunately, in the last 20 years that I have been gone, nothing has changed for these children.   No matter how much money is dumped in this failing system, nothing is going to change but only get worse.  Perhaps if changes were made some 20 years ago, maybe we wouldn’t be having the death of George Floyd and the ensuing protests and riots we are facing today.  But again, career politicians in these communities take no responsibility and blame everyone else for these continued conditions and problems.  For those reasons, I am a big advocate for school choice, school vouchers, and charter schools.  Something that all career Democrat politicians and teacher school unions are totally against.  The only person that has publicly and loudly advocated for solving this problem by affording these children school choice, vouchers, and charter schools is President Trump even though he is labeled a racist and does not expect a majority of those communities to vote for him.  He has even said that perhaps these children should be given money directly in order to go to a school of their choice and get out of this broken system.

As an American, what kind of country exactly do you want to leave for your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren?  Do you think that more government control over us with more bureaucrats controlling our lives would be better?  If so, then name me a government agency that you can honestly say is run efficiently.  My experience with career bureaucrats is that they have been in their positions for a lifetime and are not willing to make any changes for the better.  Career politicians promise better wages but at the same time advocate for more taxes.  Having been an employee for half of my career I know that that is a lie because higher wages and more taxes only means that your take-home pay will be less than it was from before.  As a business owner, higher taxes means less jobs, more cost to the consumer, and less incentive to start a new business.  Again, what do these career politicians know about running a business?  They are only interested in maintaining their own careers and retaining control of power.

With the Covid-19 shutdowns, there are a lot of people without jobs and many small businesses have been forced to close.  Many will be facing evictions or foreclosures, and no money to feed their families.  Yet, state and local politicians, in my opinion, have done little or nothing for their constituents.  The State of California is large and diverse and yet the Governor ordered a one-size-fits-all plan for the entire state.  How many city and county leaders, on their own, took the initiative to meet with the business owners in their areas and determine what steps could be taken to safely open, even on a limited basis, and possibly prevent some of the losses of jobs, revenues, and business closures?  In this area, I know of Tom Patti only that even bothered to take an interest. 

In my case, my attempts to safely open my business were ignored by both city and state officials.  With 330 million people living in the United States, President Trump gave each state governor the authority to put together plans with local officials in their states consistent with the federal guidelines and conducive to their own state’s circumstances.  Our governor issued blanket orders and no one took a leadership position otherwise in their areas of representation.  It is unbelievable to me that elected officials in each county basically just sat back and did nothing.  Other than Tom Patti, I don’t know anyone who publicly advocated for businesses to re-open with safeguards in place.  In fact, the county issued an order on a Friday morning to allow restaurants to serve customers inside without regard that food, supplies, employees and implementation of the do’s and don’ts would be impossible to meet on such short notice without prior preparation.  The middle class is the backbone of this country and we will be wiped out unless we unify.  This should not be a partisan issue but an American issue.


Our country has a population of 330 million people and there are a handful of people in the streets that are demanding changes that affect the core of our lives and future generations to come.  Who are these people making these demands?  Are they business owners?  Are they hardworking taxpayers like the rest of us?  What kind of experience do they have in life that gives them the right to demand such changes that will affect the rest of us?  And why is it that elected officials have given them carte blanche to make such demands and in fact willing to meet those demands without a vote of the people?  In fact, those who attempt to protect themselves and their property end up being prosecuted.  Does that make any sense to you?  It sure doesn’t to me.  Do away with the police and we will all become sitting ducks.

Through the hard work, blood, sweat and tears of my parents, I am living the American dream.  Our country is full of kind and generous people and that has been proven time and time again.  This is especially a trying time for a lot of us.  For those that have worked all their lives and have lost everything, I say let’s put aside the hatred and differences and work together to help each other.  We don’t need to fundamentally change our country, we just need to finally address all the existing problems and find solutions so that everyone is afforded the opportunity to live the American dream.  Can we just be Americans?