Commentary by Bill Buchanan
Last weekend saw a plethora of programs commemorating 9/11. We remembered the victims —- those who died trapped in the towers; those who died trying to rescue the people in the towers; those who bravely stormed the cockpit on United Flight 93 to prevent it from being another terrorist missile, sacrificing their lives in the process. We remembered the first responders who risked their lives to help those in need. We remembered the government officials who acted with courage and common sense to reassure a shell-shocked nation.
It was fitting that we offered these tributes on the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attack; the people and events of that day need to be remembered. But there is something else I wish we could remember and retain, and that is the feeling of solidarity that ran throughout our country after the attacks.
Perhaps the only positive thing to come out of 9/11 for me was the feeling that the country was truly united. Whether you talked to friends or to strangers, you could hear the concern in their voices, and there was a palpable feeling of unity. The general feeling was, “Yes, we have been attacked, but we are going to pull through this together.”
And for a while, comfortingly, that was the case. The country seemed as proud and patriotic as I can ever remember seeing it in my lifetime. I’m not talking about the faux patriotism too often displayed by those with a political agenda. I mean real pride in the country, and a commitment to pull together to fight our enemies.
But it seems our nation lost that at some point. I am realistic enough to know that the intense feeling after 9/11 was unsustainable, but we have become so alarmingly divided along political lines that it is damaging our country. There is a troubling trend of non-compromise and political payback that is unhealthy and destructive.
The increasingly polarized political lines have catapulted candidates that would have once been considered fringe players into the mainstream. Where this behavior is concerned, both political parties are guilty.
When the Democrats assumed power, rather than going to work on the troubled economy, they sought to pass a hastily cobbled together health-care plan. Does health care need to be revamped? Of course it does. But it needs to be a well-crafted plan that will be effective and affordable. Who can forget the famous Nancy Pelosi comment, “But we have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.” The Democrats were more interested in sticking it to the Republicans than they were in finding a meaningful solution.
Once the Republicans had the numbers on their side, they responded by almost shutting down the government. That was not about fiscal responsibility regarding the budget. It was about embarrassing their Democratic rivals.
Fanfares, bands playing, flags flying and television specials are all fine. But that is window dressing. If we really want to commemorate the spirit of 9/11, we should put aside petty political games and work for the common good of the country.