I remember a time, four years ago, when our country was truly united. No Democrats, no Republicans, only Americans.
After the controversial 2000 election, which divided our country like no election ever before, our country joined together after the worst terrorist attacks in the history of America. As hard as it is to believe, I remember liking President Bush at the time. Not for his policy decisions or funny smirk, but because of how he responded to the attacks – that is, after he sat in his chair for seven minutes when he was told "our country is under attack." Aside from this inexcusable and pathetic blunder, I thought he was a great leader for America – at the time.
When President Bush threw out the first pitch in Game 3 of the World Series in New York, like many people nationwide, I got chills on my back as he walked out to the mound and gave a thumbs up to everyone. Back then, he appeared resilient and strong, and the strike he threw (with a bullet proof vest on) was very symbolic for the strength of our country. He showed us that he, not unlike all Americans at the time, was not afraid of the "evil-doers" and that, in the end, America will prevail. It was a time where everyone was truly proud to be an American and partisan politics were a thing of the past.
But four years later, in October of 2005, we see that our country is once again divided. Red states v. blue states instead of a red, white and blue nation.
How did this happen? In only four years, how could we go from being patriotically united to politically divided? The answer of course, is George W. Bush.
In the aftermath of 9/11, President Bush made the first of many catastrophic mistakes by using the patriotism from 9/11 to convince the American people to invade Iraq – a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 and posed no threat to us whatsoever.
Granted President Bush invaded Afghanistan and took out the Taliban, which was completely justified, but the big story was always Iraq.
After 9/11, 95 percent of the people in our country would have supported a war against any nation on earth if we believed they posed a threat to us, or if we believed they were in any way involved with 9/11. The patriotism from 9/11 made us all susceptible to supporting drastic, misguided action – which is exactly what happened.
Since all Americans were so angry back then, none of us asked any of the tough questions we should have been asking. For example, instead of asking and adequately researching if Iraq really was a threat to us, Americans from coast to coast simply wanted blood. After all, we had just been punched right in the face; of course we wanted to fight back.
By no means am I blaming the American people for wanting to fight back. In fact, I was among those in favor of fighting back. What I am most angry about is that President Bush took that patriotism and blind support of our government and misused it to invade a country that, in retrospect, we had no business invading.
President Bush used the patriotism that came from 9/11 as ammunition to invade Iraq, and the result has been the division, once again, of a great nation.
Now that we're four years removed from 9/11 and our emotions are at least somewhat in check, we can look at the situation without being emotionally influenced. After 9/11 we wanted blood because we were angry. Looking back, we now realize that we let our emotions get the best of us and Iraq was a mistake.
Unlike four years ago, today our country stands very divided. Today we don't talk about America as a unified nation, but instead a divided nation of Democrat versus Republican, Liberal versus Conservative and Waddingham versus Chapman. Obviously, a big reason for this division is the war in Iraq.
Had it not been for this war, perhaps our country would still be united. As it is, today we are more divided than ever.
I look forward to the day where everyone in our nation is once again united as Americans, instead of divided on political ideologies. However, I hope that it doesn't take another terrorist attack for this to happen. Even more, I hope President Bush doesn't misuse any patriotism he might acquire in the remainder of his term, because we have enough problems as it is.
Tim Waddingham is a senior, double-majoring in political science and speech communication. His column runs every Wednesday.