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THE HIDDEN COSTS OF SEPTEMBER 11, 2001


I have to watch every time I see the replay of the press coverage of September 11, 2001.  Watching the replay of the events of that horrible morning always brings out the reflective side in me.  As I watched again this morning I was thinking about how the nation has responded over the past eight years.

The nation responded predictably in the days and months after those planes flew into those buildings and changed the way we thought about our nations place in the world.  Initially, we all reacted in horror and fear.  Eventually that fear turned to rage.  The desire to strike back set in to our national soul within a very short period of time. 

Within the leadership of our country there were those that were ready to react immediately.  Fortunately cooler heads prevailed and our leadership prepared a very well-thought out plan to eliminate the threat.  Initial actions taken by the CIA and military in Afghanistan were highly effective and deadly.  The actions taken early on in Afghanistan killed, captured or drove out a significant number of Taliban fighters.  The goal in Afghanistan was to remove the country as a safe haven for those who would plot against our country.  In many respects it was a successful campaign.

As a result, the United States of America experienced a significant wave of good-will from most regions of the world.  The rest of the world tended to be behind us.  Alas, the good-will didn’t last.  Actions taken, and attitudes expressed from within the leadership of our country gradually eroded the positive feelings that the world expressed.

Now, as I watch the replay of the events of September 11, 2009, I am beginning to wonder if that the events of that fateful day triggered a series of attitudes and events that have resulted in a significant change in the way the leadership of the country is viewed by their constituencies.

The last two national elections could probably be classified as significant seismic events with regard to the removal of a political party and replacement by another.  For the most part, the Republican Party had its’ head handed to it in both elections.  If you are a Republican, the last two elections have to be considered catastrophic events that significantly reduced your party’s power and influence in national politics.  If you are a Democrat, the last two elections brought about your rise to power in very dominating and overpowering ways.  The voice of the people of this country was heard very loudly and very clearly. 

How is it that a party with the political clout of the Republican Party lost the power they worked so hard for?  The answer is very simple.  A significant majority of the people in this country viewed the actions of the Bush Administration, and the Republican-controlled Congress as not representing their best interests.  The backlash against the Conservative movement in this country was incredibly quick, overwhelmingly aggressive, and nearly fatal politically.  The country basically just grew tired of it.  Conservative fatigue set in.

I am not sure if the events of September 11, 2001 were all that related to where the two parties stand in the eyes of the majority of Americans today.  I am sure that the events that rocked this country as it reacted to that day have contributed significantly to our political environment today.

When the people cease to believe in the reasons for starting a second war, political influence is diminished.  When the body count steadily rises, and the financial costs of war start affecting the population, doubt begins to set in.  When the country views the behavior of  certain members of its’ armed forces and intelligence agencies as torture they begin to question their leadership.  When there are continued efforts at taking power from one branch of leadership and giving to the Executive Branch people begin to fear dictatorship.

When basic human rights are eroded by puposeful inconsistent legal analysis, we begin to fear that personal liberties are disappearing.  When we see constant examples of extreme ideologically-motivated  political behavior we begin to doubt the sincerity of the words of our leadership.  When we see our enemies using examples of our behavior to recruit and motivate young people to give there lives up as suicide bombers we realize that it is time for a change.

 When we realize the gradually-eroding response of our leadership to the threat from those who would harm us, we come to the conclusion that it is time to try something different.   America spoke very loudly about their distrust of the party in power by removing them from power.  In doing so, the country ushered in a new group of leaders in an effort to right the wrongs of the previous leadership and set the United States on a different path.

As I think of the morning of September 11, 2001 I can’t help but wonder that if those in national leadership that day, had responded in ways that are more consistent with our way of life, in ways that we believed in, that the seismic events of the next two elections might have been very different.   You can argue all day long over whether or not the country is safer because of the actions of the Bush Administration.  You can not argue over the fact that the majority of people in this country grew weary of their leadership.  While 9/11/2001 may not have been the start of the reduction of conservative influence in this country, the behavior of conservatives in power since that fateful day have brought us to where we are today.  This country needs two viable political parties.  We are still paying for the events that began on September 11th 2001.

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