In every country on Earth, there are defining moments that changed the course of their history, and in some cases they were monumental enough to affect the entire world, and not always for the better. It is not often though, that a single event instantly transformed a nation or the world, and one might think of the Reformation, Crusades, or the rise of Nazi Germany as examples that changed the world, but developed over a span of time. Eleven years ago today, Americans awoke to the news that commercial passenger jets crashed into the World Trade Towers, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania killing thousands of Americans, and to mark the anniversary of the terror attacks, President Obama proclaimed September 7 through September 9 as 9/11 National Days of Prayer and Remembrance. However, while Americans reflect on the events of 9/11, they should remember that as catastrophic as the attacks were, it was subsequent events that really changed this country for the worse.
Directly after the terror attacks, Americans were naturally shocked, frightened, and anxious to exact revenge on the criminals who killed nearly 3,000 innocent people, and it united the American people despite their differences, and as President Obama said, “We were united as one American family.” Eleven years later, Americans are sharply divided between those who want to recapture that feeling of unity to accomplish progress, and those who want to return to post 911 policies that brought America to the brink of economic collapse and pitted Americans against each other over patriotism. America’s defining moment was not the terror attacks on 911; it was the Bush administration’s response and manipulation that transformed Americans into a terrified and timid people who were influenced to support two wars and economic malfeasance that Americans will be repaying for a generation.
For six years after that fateful September day, the Bush administration was allowed to run roughshod over the people using lies and deception effectively to keep Americans off-guard and always looking over their shoulder instead of watching the country’s leaders. Under the guise of patriotism, the neo-conservatives in Bush’s administration successfully equated dissent with treason and it prevented Americans from asking important questions to hold our politicians accountable to the people. If the people did start asking questions, Bush officials conveniently raised the terror level to remind Americans that their energy was better spent being terrified than demanding accountability and honesty from their leaders. Subsequently, under Republican control, the nation became embroiled in two costly wars, and sat on their hands as Bush instituted unfunded tax cuts that combined with wars will keep the nation’s deficit at unsustainable levels for a decade if nothing changes.
Last month, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) released an analysis that showed the Bush-era tax cuts, and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan account for virtually the entire federal budget deficit projected through 2019, and it should serve as a cautionary tale for America that returning to Bush policies is as calamitous as another terrorist attack. It has been noted by pundits and critics alike that Willard Romney is campaigning on returning to the Bush administration’s policies of unfunded tax cuts and another war in the Middle East, and he is using the same neo-conservative tactics to convince Americans he is the man to lead the country toward another cataclysmic failure.
Romney, like Bush, has traveled around the nation telling audiences that Americans should fear a nuclear Iran to ramp up support for another Mid-East war against another Muslim nation, and both he and his running mate Paul Ryan are proposing massive tax cuts for the wealthy they claim, like Bush, are necessary to boost economic growth and create jobs. The only difference between Bush and Romney is that where Bush used “the terrorists” to frighten Americans into complacency, Romney portrays President Obama as America’s greatest threat by pitting white America against people of color. It is stunning that Americans cannot see the resemblance between Bush’s neo-con divisive tactics and Romney’s, but it seems Americans have, too easily, forgotten how they were manipulated less than ten years ago.
Americans will never forget the events on 9/11 regardless if there are “Days of Prayer and Remembrance” because it was too traumatic, but a large segment of the population are forgetting how they were manipulated with fear and uncertainty on cable news 24/7 that allowed the Bush administration to rob Americans of their rights, commit war crimes, and kill hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis as well as thousands of American soldiers. If Americans would pay careful attention to Romney, and the talk of a nuclear Iran, they would notice he uses the same rhetoric Bush administration neo-cons used to build up support for the Iraq war, and it is no small coincidence that Romney’s foreign policy advisors are the same men Bush used to push the war in Iraq.
If Americans had been vigilant during the early days after the attacks on 9/11, they might have demanded accountability from Republicans who started two wars, handed out unfunded tax cuts, and went on a deregulatory frenzy with little oversight because the people were too busy waiting for the next terror alert or impending attack. Americans cannot forget the events after 9/11 because Romney certainly has not, and his fear mongering, economic plans, and warmongering are precisely the same tactics George W. Bush used to send America close to the brink of economic collapse, and kept America at war for eleven years. Perhaps the lessons of post-9/11 America were not painful enough for some Americans, because it is impossible to support a man like Romney and have any memory going back to 2001-2008. That Romney has any support whatsoever informs that a large segment of the population is either severely memory challenged or too racist to see he is reprising Bush in his bid to win the presidency, and will immediately repeat every bad policy decision Bush proposed including starting a war with Iran and giving massive tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans.
Today, every American should reflect on the events on 9/11, and pay their respect to the innocent victims, but it is incumbent to remember what transformative events led us into the mess President Obama inherited whether it is the crushing debt from tax cuts, two unfunded and unnecessary wars, or neo-conservatives’ patriotism. President Obama said, “Eleven years ago, America confronted one of our darkest days,” and he is right, but America did not confront the subsequent weeks, months, and years that culminated with the Great Recession and two costly wars. If Americans are inclined to pray on 9/11, they should pray that this country never forgets that Republicans used fear, uncertainty, and deception to take us to war and give the rich the keys to the bank, and if they fail to remember, they can look at Willard Romney and see that he is more than a reasonable facsimile of George W. Bush, he is George W. Bush, and he will bring more death and destruction than Bush or the 911 terrorists ever imagined. Americans owe it to nearly 3,000 innocent victims and thousands of American soldiers who perished to remember that as dark as 911 was, it pales in comparison to the endless midnight of 8 years of George W. Bush and the black hole of a Romney presidency.