It has been 15 years since the 9/11/2001 attacks. Prior to that day, the United States was not perfect, we were leaving millions behind who did not have access to the Internet, quality education, adequate healthcare at a fair cost, guns were pervasive in our society. Mass shootings were a rising problem. Though, there was a lot of hope. President Clinton had presided over a mid to late 1990’s economy that had everyone believing the 21rst Century was going to be amazing, plus, this Internet thing was really cool. We survived the clocks striking midnight worldwide on January 1, 2000, to no catastrophic end.
Then, in 2000, Al Gore and George. W. Bush faced off. For the most part, it was a pretty standard election. Then partisan bitterness kicked in, when the Florida vote became contested, it was apparent there had been a lot of shady business that allowed President Bush to win. We saw Tom Brokaw, who the world had assumed was simply a robot with a New Castors voice, eat a cracker on national TV. Things were getting crazy. Trying to leave out any feeling here as to right or wrong, the election eventually ended up going to the Supreme Court, where the justices decided that Bush would become the incumbent and eventual President.
Bush was a lovingly incompetent nimrod, he stumbled over words a professional politician should be able to say in his sleep, like Nuclear, and made up new words like “Strategery.” Because things were so good for most us, left or right, we could sit back and kind of say, “ah, shucks, I wish that was out guy up there,” on the left, and the right had a guy they could count on to push their agenda like a mid-year tax refund in 2001, that bought me a new computer before going back to college, thanks Mom!
Then, what happened next would hit us right in our National Achilles heel, the attacks of 9/11./2001. If you were alive and cognizant that day, you probably have a memory that runs through the emotions of shock, panic, extreme fear, intense sadness. It truly was the moment of a generation. For about a week, American’s did what American’s, in the land of the free to be you and me, once did very well, we came together, regardless of party affiliation, or race, or gender, and we gave money, prayers, our hearts to our country. We all love this place, as mixed up as it gets and how far we need to go to fix the many problems we faced then and now.
Then the shit hit the fan. Maybe it was our collective panic. Politicians seizing the moment to make their mark on history, etc. Whatever, but we went a bit insane. We passed the Patriot Act, of which Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin said, “Of course, there is no doubt that if we lived in a police state, it would be easier to catch terrorists. If we lived in a country that allowed the police to search your home at any time for any reason; if we lived in a country that allowed the government to open your mail, eavesdrop on your phone conversations, or intercept your email communications; if we lived in a country that allowed the government to hold people in jail indefinitely based on what they write or think, or based on mere suspicion that they are up to no good, then the government would no doubt discover and arrest more terrorists. But that probably would not be a country in which we would want to live. And that would not be a country for which we could, in good conscience, ask our young people to fight and die. In short, that would not be America.”
From there, we became a War state fighting “Terrorism,” against the “Axis of Evil.” First , we went to Afghanistan, where we quietly still are fighting the same war, and then we were drawn off track into Iraq, a blunder that eventually led to the rise of ISIS. As bad of all of this was, we became distrustful of each other. We quickly lost our shared sense of citizenship that had reigned for first days and weeks after the attacks and became extremely partisan dick heads. Terms like, “Homeland” became American terms. Before 9/11/2001, I’m not sure I’d heard this term about the United States. We created an entire department called “Homeland Security,” to secure the nation against outsiders. We were no longer Democrats and Republicans and Independents, we became two sets of people, as President Bush said, “You’re either with us or against us.”
As it became clear, the wars we began in 2001 and 2003 had no end in sight, and the names of soldiers who were dying thousands of miles away began to mount, the popularity of the war began to wane. But the divisiveness did not stop. Through some strange fluke, President Barack Obama won in 2008, with a basic goal of ending the wars, that still carry on, and restore the cohesion that once was part of the American style of government. To bring back the hope we had as recently as 9/10/2001. As he would often say, “We can disagree, without being disagreeable.” Our government only works when people of different backgrounds and beliefs are able to state their views and find areas where compromise can be made so we can move forward for a common good.
The last 8 years have been defined by our inability to work collectively to find answers to the major challenges of our time. Climate change, guns, race, gender, jobs, infrastructure, college education, are just a short list of the things we do not currently have the ability to face because specifically, the Right, has at a minimum dragged their feet, and at worst been outright racist toward a black president. They have called him a liar during a state of the union speech. They have blocked every attempt at unification. This has lead to our current day. We are precariously close to electing an Autocratic, Megalomaniac president. A man who has played our worst fears of our countrymen and foreign nations against us to increase the level of bigotry and hate to levels not seen in decades in this country. A Trump presidency would not fix anything in America, it would simply pull us further apart at a time in our history when we need to work together. Not unlike any human being, Hillary Clinton is not perfect, but if your excuse for not voting for her is because you just don’t like her. It is not good enough. She has fought for all Americans for her entire career. She might not speak with soaring rhetoric as her husband or President Obama, but she gets policy done. She knows how to work with people in a positive way. We need a professional in office now more than ever. Extremism has been our plight for the last 15 years. It’s time to put aside our petty greivances and work together, again.