When I think back to 9/11, the memories are very clear. It was the beginning of my senior year of college. It’s difficult to picture the United States responding differently than we did. A nation that was bitterly divided over a prolonged presidential election less than a year earlier united against a common enemy.
“A terrorist attack designed to tear us apart has instead bound us together as a nation,” President George W. Bush observed in his radio address days after the attack.
For a little while, anyway.
Disagreements over the Iraq War and the 2004 election quickly tore the country apart again, and they continued to worsen. Barack Obama’s presidency saw unprecedented partisan bitterness. Despite campaigning as a uniter, Obama shunned Republicans during the global recession, passing an expensive and ineffective stimulus plan and a national healthcare plan without Republican support. After losing one-party control, Obama unconstitutionally legislated via executive order instead of making any attempt to work with Republicans on any compromise legislation. He would then go on to use a weaponized government to target conservative individuals and groups and eventually spy on Donald Trump’s campaign and frame him over bogus allegations of Russian collusion. Adding insult to injury, Democrats would go on to shamelessly blame Trump for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Is national unity possible ever again? For over twenty years, I’ve held onto the hope that it could be, and that it wouldn’t take another deadly terrorist attack to do it.
But that dream is over.
In the past month, we’ve seen an unprecedented raid on Donald Trump’s home over a presidential records dispute and Joe Biden’s recent primetime speech, in which he declared half the country enemies of the Republic. Despite all the bitter division that plagued us before, that speech felt like the point of no return. Joe Biden destroyed the soul of America, and it’s impossible to see how we can ever recover from that. Where Al Qaeda failed to tear this nation apart, Joe Biden succeeded.
America no longer stands united. We are two different countries repeatedly proving we can’t coexist peacefully.
On this 21st anniversary of 9/11, we remember the bravery of the first responders at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and of those who took down Flight 93 before it reached its intended target. Many will reflect on the attack on our nation and remember those we lost, and some will offer platitudes about American resolve.
When I look back on 9/11, what I remember most is the way Americans were able to put aside their differences and treat each other as neighbors and fellow citizens. And now I mourn that such national solidarity will never happen again.