Ten years ago, I remember stopping for a red light at a major intersection in Boca Raton a few days after 9/11. I had festooned my car with American flags, and when I pulled up to the light, I realized every person in every direction had done the same thing to their cars. Someone beeped the horn. Then, so did everyone else. For a full three light cycles, through green, red and yellow signals, dozens and dozens of us sat at that intersection beeping our horns and shouting, “USA! USA!”
We were a people and a nation united.
And now, 10 years later, we have devolved to such a state that it seems like we’d rather shoot each other than Islamic terrorists. Personally, I think it’s time, as we remember 9/11, that we remember the kind of country we can be, the kind of country we were in those flag-waving days, before we let our political divisions turn us into a divided America.
My initial rage over the attacks of 9/11 eventually morphed into resolve. At first, I wanted the president to nuke Afghanistan and any other country connected in any way to the attacks. After a little while, when I realized a nuclear response might be a tad extreme, and that it wasn’t going to happen anyway, I figured I could contribute in my own way by entering politics full-time and helping to fight the ideological wars on the home front that I knew had to come.
These last 10 years, I’ve done that to the best of my ability. What I didn’t realize at the time was that one of the gifts I happen to possess, one most valued in the world of politics, is my talent for waging unrelenting, and as some of my critics would say, brutally harsh political warfare. Each of us works with whatever God has given us, and I make no apologies for battling on behalf of conservatism with everything I have.
The images of those planes hitting the Twin Towers, the jumpers and the towers collapsing will be seared into my brain until the day I die. I don’t need a TV network special to remind me of what happened and what I’m fighting for. I remember exactly what happened, and I remember who did it.
But unlike those terrorist killers, I know there’s a line we don’t cross in political warfare. I’ve always approached politics like a fighter entering the boxing ring. For the length of the fight, you try to take your opponent’s head off. But when the bell rings, you shake hands and it’s over. Both men do what they have to do to win the match, but there is very rarely any personal animosity between professional fighters.
Some people, though, don’t seem to get that. My wife and 12-year-old son have been to more than a few tea party rallies, and now a man named Jimmy Hoffa (of all people) wants to “take them out.” My 79-year-old mother is still a registered Democrat, despite decades of attempts by all her children to get her to switch parties. There are some who would claim she is some kind of traitor and not a patriot because she’s a Democrat. They’re wrong.
This kind of political rhetoric goes way beyond getting in the ring with one’s political opponents. This is pre-Civil War type of verbal firepower, and it has been troubling to me.
Make no mistake, I am going to try to defeat every single Democrat (especially liberals) I can in 2012 on the political stage, and I will use every legal means at my disposal to do so, no matter how harsh. But I know the vast majority of Democrats are patriotic citizens who just think differently than I do. They’re not un-American. They’re just wrong, and since I believe them to be dangerously wrong, I am committed to beating them.
If another world war ever breaks out, or Islamic terrorists detonate a weapon of mass destruction on American soil, you won’t be asking the guy fighting next to you about his political affiliations. As long as he’s a fellow American, you’ll know he’s got your back, and you’ll have his.
So in honor of that American spirit, I chose a few TV commercials from right after 9/11 for my remembrance. They recall a time when almost all Americans stood together against much of the world. We would all do well to remember that spirit of unity today, because despite having loyal allies like Great Britain, Israel, Australia and others, when push comes to shove, we Americans only have each other.
God bless you all and God bless America.
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