Divisions weakening democracy
September 8, 2021
In three days, we will mark the 20th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center that killed more than 3,000 Americans who were peacefully going about their business.
As the nation watched in horror, two airliners flown by suicide bombers deliberately crashed into the towers over Manhattan and we kept up with news accounts of massive, frantic rescue efforts for hours until both towers collapsed, sending dust and debris cascading over Manhattan.
The attack launched the U.S. into a war on terror that since then has continued with varying levels of success and failure.
It was the kind of event for which you remember in detail what you were doing when you learned about it.
I was getting ready to drive to the train station for my commute to work near Los Angeles, watching television images of smoke billowing from upper floors of the World Trade Center, and trying to remember the name of that — bin … bin Laden? Was that it? — guy, who had previously masterminded attacks on the Cole, a U.S. Navy vessel, in the Persian Gulf, as well as a previous, unsuccessful attempt on the World Trade Center.
Everybody at work spent most of that day trying to piece together what was happening on the opposite coast. We joined the nation in being shocked, angry and confused by the events unfolding in Manhattan.
That might have been the last time we saw the nation united on a major development.
Today, we can’t unite to fight a common enemy, the COVID-19 coronavirus, and we can’t even agree on who our president is.
Our political parties, which used to be rivals with differing ideas on how to improve the country, now consider the opposing party as the greatest enemy our nation faces.
It seems we have forgotten completely that people hold differing opinions for reasons that are as good as those we have for our own views. In fact, we scarcely acknowledge that our opponents belong to the same species.
Today, it is more important that the other side does not get credit for a good idea, than for the country to benefit from bringing the sides together to enact sound policies from either side.
Republicans and Democrats have recently shown, for example, they are more likely to negotiate with the Taliban than their fellow countrymen of the opposing party.
I see the foundations of our democracy being slowly weakened by divisions that are every bit as destructive as terrorists. I don’t want to see our first-of-its-kind experiment in representative democracy crumble in a cloud of dust and debris, because of our own inability to pull it together.
Steve Hansen writes for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at: