Shaken and sobering. That's what I remember feeling as we huddled around the T.V. and watched the unfolding of the tragedy in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. Today, I am mystified; not necessarily by the events of the terrible day ten years ago, which irrational and insane as they were. These atrocious acts can be directly tied to extreme fundamentalists with a set of misplaced beliefs and leadership. Angry yes, mystified about them... no.
I'm mystified by how we, as a "United" States have lost our collective resolve to work together, solve problems and do the heavy lifting at "home" to help maintain our National identity and global leadership. Many of our citizens, and nearly all of our politicians have taken almost belligerent sides causing a noticeable deterioration of our government because of partisan politics steeped in vitriol, and border-line fundamentalist beliefs that seem intent to win at all costs for their respective political parties and unyielding institutional positioning. Winning for the sake of beating the other political party must have some almost intoxicating, narcissistic "feel good" elements that blind our representatives to the crippling and deleterious effect on our nation. Both parties are to blame.
How is it, that we were able to have a unified front (albeit short-lived) after September 11, 2001, but now have nearly unbreakable lines in the sand between politics and progress? The professionals (politicians, parties, and special interests) that have supported and encouraged these behaviors and policies have put self-interest above statesmanship. The situation is discouraging and embarrassing.
Ten years ago our elected officials didn't seem to have a problem joining together arm-in-arm, hand-in-hand, vote-for-vote to enter wars, sacrifice lives, and spend hundreds of billions of dollars. Let me ask, were the results of this unified effort a fair return on our "investments"? And this was a unilateral, bi-partisan decision.
Now these same politicians and parties agree that the economy and jobs are our Nation's biggest challenge. But failure of our elected officials to agree, compromise and sacrifice on seemingly lesser matters than 10 years ago seems an impossible task. Today, the previously unified elected bodies are more crippling and in someways more damaging to our country than the terrorist attacks of 9-11.
Let's talk about sacrifice for a moment. How many of our elected officials signed up to go over seas and fight in Afghanistan or Iraq? Yet these same politicians are more than willing, in a unified way, to send others over on their (our?)behalf. How many of our elected officials have had to cut back on their FAT healthcare coverage, and their FAT retirement benefits when they ask the vast majority of the American population to do the same? I find it ironic that our elected officials (Left and Right) are unified in these matters of personal sacrifice (or lack thereof), while they have no problem saying "American's need to make big sacrifices".
After the horror of 9-11 receded, I was proud of how AMERICA rolled up her sleeves, dropped partisan politics and tackled the weighty issues of the day. But today, I'm embarrassed and ashamed at the lack of courage and self-sacrifice shown by our public officials. There bills, votes, filibusters, and vetos pay homage to special interests and our increasingly convoluted party system. Collectively our elected officials appear to have been victims of financial and political extortion. Many of these politicians seem to work ONLY at the will of their institutional political parties, special interests and group think for unwavering social, political and economic demagoguery. Have they forgotten the AMERICA they supported in the days after September 11, 2001?
I remain mystified today, as well as shaken and sad when I look back over ten years and consider all the tragic loss and ultimate sacrifices across the entire spectrum of people and resources that helped make our country great. The few threads of hope and optimism I have for our collective future are eroding because our politicians have taken their eyes off our principled founding of our Nation: "Government of the people, by the people, for the people".
Our elected officials should regroup and start working together to make policy compromises, personal and political sacrifices, and no longer sell their political offices and votes for destructive and counter productive interests.
To honor the victims of 9-11, I ask our Congress, Senate, as well as the Executive and Judicial Branches of the United States Government to rediscover our Nation's pride and heritage; to work with one another for the greater good of our economic and social well being; and by doing so, help our Country reclaim global leadership as a people, united, free and proud. I'm afraid if our Nation (people and elected officials) can't escape the vices of political extortion, narrow-mindedness, special interests, and irrational partisanship then all that was lost on 9-11, and sacrificed since has may have been for naught.