After completing my first lab session in a freshman-level Intro to Civil Engineering course at the University of Texas on a beautifully clear and crisp Tuesday morning two weeks into my collegiate career, a quick glance at my new and unfamiliar university email inbox showed a new message from my sister with the simple message of 'WTC'. Feeling the fatigue that only an 8am lab explaining the ever-exciting concept of Moment of Inertia can provide, I decided to check the message later and head back to the dorm.
Leaving the CE building, I felt an eerie sense of anxious despair in the crowds of students heading in the various directions. I wasn't quite sure what it was but as I continued walking, I passed a small crew of construction guys reworking a section of sidewalk. They had a radio going and as I walked by, I heard what sounded liked stressed voices and the term 'World Trade Center'.
By now my mind was racing with possibilities. I've always been mildly obsessed with world events and having just had the USS Cole bombing go down on my birthday the previous year, I was already expecting something awful. Continuing to walk through a plaza in the shadow of the iconic Longhorn Tower, I happened to see my dorm roommate walking toward me. Throughout my entire time on the sprawling campus at UT, this was the only time I ever ran into him on campus. And we were both engineering students. He explained the dire situation to me immediately and my first response was "was it bin Laden??" He looked at me with wide eyes and said he had just heard that name on the news. "Who is bin Laden??" he asked me....
Being one of those seminal moments in history, no doubt everyone has a remarkably detailed account of how they endured the events of September 11, 2001. It was traumatic in every sense of the word. But it was also invigorating. Upon hearing the stories of heroism from the first responders and those that led others to safety from within the doomed buildings, Americans recalled our sense of exceptionalism. We remembered why we became the greatest nation ever created, and thus why we had become an enemy of extremists whose ideals were in direct contrast with that of our own.
For a brief time this country was unified. President Bush was our great leader that we could rally behind. I remember hearing so many people who voted for Al Gore and were upset at the way the election of 2000 had gone, admit they were happy George Bush was president at a time like that.
Unfortunately this did not last long. As the reactionary dominoes continued to fall over the next 18 months, we suddenly found ourselves in two wars in lands 99.9% of Americans had never seen. This reality unleashed a lesser acknowledged third war into which our country was thrust. This third war was much closer to home. It was internal.
As a result of the misguided, poorly planned Iraq adventure, new fuel was given to a political movement that had been left dormant for some time: the radical anti-war, socialist/internationalist Left. Credible voice was now given to their cause, which had been for sometime discredited. Self-described moderates who believed invading Iraq was wrong were now being coerced into a much larger and much more complex coalition. A coalition consisting of radical environmentalists, corrupt union leaders, socialist foreign nationals and, most importantly, the mainstream media. They all gathered around the same premise: US foreign imperialism for oil and oppression of lessers had to be stopped.
All of a sudden, every major media outlet from the NBC news to the New York Time was bashing the President, all of his advisors and Republicans in general. Conservatives were called war hawks and torturers (these were the nice terms). All of a sudden, the US was cast as an imperial monster that could not be allowed to continue. American Exceptionalism began to fade from the national lexicon.
So thus began the fight. After coming up short in 2004, the 2006 midterm elections came around and the media conducted an all-out blitz. The economy had recovered well from the post-dot.com bubble recession and people were mostly happy with the condition of the country. The proponents of Leftist agendas had nothing to run on except hyped-up ethics charges on some Republican congressmen and an overall disapproval of the Iraq war. Also thrown in there was some global warming scare tactics to make people believe the Republicans wanted to burn the Earth, even though science has now debunked the man-made climate change scam.
When the election was held, unemployment was around 4.6%. Oil was around $50/barrel. Consumer confidence was near all-time highs. Fast forward through the legislative record of the democratically-held 110th Congress which was put in power as a result of the 2006 election and we begin to see the effects of the Left's agenda. I won't delve too deeply into the details (I'll save that for a later post) but laws enacted and uncertainty created by an increasingly 'liberal' legislature swiftly sent the economy into a downswing. And as people began to lose their jobs, their over-extended lifestyles were no longer sustainable. Hence the foreclosure crisis, leading then to the derivatives crisis with the mortgage-backed securities and default swaps.
Thanks to a complicit media and an all too easy target in a lame duck President who was very unpopular, the country was led to believe Republican "lack of regulation" led to the mess so we elected to go in a new direction and hope for the best.
Two years of Democratic control of the House, Senate and Presidency were quick to yield more ineffective big government solutions that further contributed to our decline. Record deficit spending on the series of economic stimulus, bailouts and new programs were thrust upon us in addition to Obamacare.
The authoritarian manner in which all of this occurred was a leading cause of the eventual awakening of opposition to this leftist swing in government the latter half of the decade. The Tea Party organically sprouted up in response to all of this government overreach. Their message was simple: government had gotten too big and was no longer sustainable at the rate of increase currently projected. More importantly, the government was to be of and for the people, not an authoritative behemoth.
Despite another massive campaign throughout the 2010 election cycle to smear this grassroots movement as a corporate-funded group of white racists, many Tea Party candidates won upset victories, giving the Republicans one of the biggest midterm election victories in US history. And now with the 2012 Presidential election in the balance, the Left is pulling out all stops in their efforts to marginalize what is logically the only movement in politics right now aimed at solving our real problems.
So here we are, ten years after we had the most tragic attack on our country's great, exceptional history. Ten years after we lost 3000 Americans. The real legacy of 9/11 is that it propelled our country not only into the global war on terror, but also an internal war for control of the direction of our country.
I have gone from a college freshman wondering if the Tower was next to get hit to a new father, responsible for the safety and development of a beautiful one month old boy. It is that responsibility combined with an unabiding love and pride for my country that has prompted me to throw my perspective out there. Too much is at stake to sit idly by while the country my son will grow up in is transformed into another failed socialist experiment. Ten years later, I hope we can begin to regain the sense of what made America great in the first place.