Friday, January 11, 2008
The State of Our Union
The state of our union is at once both regretful and promising. What once seemed like the highest of highs in the nineties crashed and burned early this century. The past seven-plus years have greatly diminished our relationship with the world and each other. But with the record length of a presidential campaign coming towards a foreseeable end, hope looms on the horizon.
Without question, the nineties will be remembered as a time of prosperity and good times. The economy was performing well, people were working, and home sales soared to record numbers. The nineties weren’t all that rosy, however. The popularity of a President incited a wave of hatred towards him and all he represented, and that abhorrence came to a head in the election of 2000.
I hadn’t realized the hate I’d developed towards the other side until the day after results of the election were finally confirmed. I was so angry at the time; I spent several hours putting all my frustrations on to twelve pages of paper, only to be ripped into pieces in the frustration of the helplessness I felt. Although the country had been experiencing good times, there was a certain group of people bonded together to start a movement, playing on the sentiments that would divide the masses by appealing to a segment of the population motivated by the distractive issues that had nothing to do with the nation as a whole, but issues that affected the liberties of the individual. Pundits and politicians alike played on moral issues to divide and conquer. From big-time radio pundits like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, to the rising political players in the ‘neo-con’ movement, the American people flocked towards opposite ends of the spectrum, separating us into the red and the blue. In the moments of haphazard penning, I realized that this marked a turning point in our history. It was an event that would change the way we existed as a nation. The goal of dividing the country in two had been successful.
With the endowment of the presidency to George Bush by the Supreme Court in 2000, the lines had been drawn. Left-Leaning Americans were left in a state of shock as the Bush era forged ahead reversing an agenda that was the complete opposite from anything Clinton had done. At first, it seemed innocuous. The most egregious offense committed by Bush during the first nine months of his presidency was his record length of vacation time. That is, until September 11th.
At the time of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the country became as united as never before. I recall being moved to tears as I witnessed the displays of unity all around me. Flags and banners hung on highway overpasses, the glances of solidarity towards fellow Americans became a source of comfort, and candlelight vigils outside my home with all my neighbors present all gave me the feeling of intense nationalism. I was overwhelmed with love and pride for my country.
In the aftermath, the President had the support of the nation and the world. He had been given the opportunity to take his place among the great leaders in history, to harness the collective energy of a grieving nation to face adversity in the eye and overcome it. Indeed, the world would have been behind him had he’d made the right decisions in achieving justice for what had been done.
Instead, September 11th, 2001 has become a point in time from whence our great United States became disjointed. Far too many controversial and decisive issues have been brought to the forefront to discuss in detail here, but needless to say, the country has been longing for something, or someone, to come along, to take us away from all this madness and bring us together as a country again.
The present campaign for the Presidential election of 2008 began in November 2004. Never before in our history has there been such an eagerness for change so early on in an administration. As we begin 2008 with the knowledge that change is on the horizon, people seem to be getting a little excited, and that’s a good thing. Clearly, the Democratic Party, the party that’s been suppressed for the past twenty-plus years is finally regaining the confidence it needs to right the ship. We have been presented with a group of talented people who all have the ability to right the ship, and we are fortunate to be given the chance to choose from among them. Every candidate on the Democratic side possesses the ability to steer the country back towards unity and prosperity.
In this campaign cycle, we are presented with two clear choices: a group of candidates who promise a redirection from the regretful course we’ve taken, and those who would continue to play on our fears and our divisions to their own ends, leading us further towards the demise of our great society. I am confident that the choice has already been made. The only question left is which person will be chosen to take the lead.
There is a light on the horizon. There is hope that Americans will finally see through all that’s happened the past seven years and look towards the future once again with hope, hope that our time as a beacon for democracy and a champion for human rights has not ended. Of course, not everyone shares this optimism. There are still those out there who wish to continue the great divide for whatever reason. But for the first time in a long time, there is hopefulness. And come November 4th, the outlook is surely promising. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll become the “United” States of America once again.