Time heals all wounds. That's an old proverb.
But how much time? It probably depends on the wound. For now, no one can say that the United States is over the 9/11 attack. The attack, the Afghanistan war, and the Iraq war, have left a scar that will grow up and grow older with us, year after year, President after President.
It's hard to find an American anymore who didn't lose somebody close to them in the past seven years. Either you knew a firefighter or a work acquaintance who died in the World Trade Center, or you know a soldier who went overseas to a war they're never coming back from. Some of us have lost children, or siblings, parents, or spouses. And now we have to figure out, without any help at all, whether how we vote in the 2008 election will mean we lose more people. And if so, how to vote right.
The United States is a land of fractured lines and jittery nerves. There are staunch war supporters. Attack forever! That is the way to stay safe. There are the war protesters. Never attack again! That will give no one a reason to attack us. There is the 9/11 Truth Movement. They think we were all fooled. They may even be right, but the mob frenzy makes it hard to tell. No two people seem to agree anymore on what happened, what the right thing to do is, or even whether it will happen again.
This makes the 2008 election one of the most decisive ever. The voters who come to the polls today won't be the same ones who lightheartedly picked a candidate and shrugged prior to 2001. They come with a purpose. They will clutch their ballots in their hands, not even very sure if they can trust the government with their vote any more, and they will not reveal their decision until the last minute. Possibly because they don't know that decision themselves until the last minute.
Lack of trust in government is everywhere. It used to be that the public questioned mainly the fiscal policy; as long as they had jobs and houses and cars, they were happy. But the past seven years have shown us a side of our government that some of us are shocked about. There is the question of torture; unspeakable a decade ago, but now it's just one more check-box on the polls. Are you pro-torture or anti-torture? Should we build a wall around the United States? Should we allow spies in our homes? Should we abandon everything but the military, and become a nation at permanent war forever? Does anybody have rights? Any rights at all?
And is there really that much difference between the parties anymore? Many say that there isn't; we have two right wings and no left. The Libertarian party is where the lefties are, now, and they're down for the count. The Democrat and Republican side are the same side, with some check-boxes different. Unless you're talking gay marriage; then nobody, not even the farthest-left Libertarian, will disagree. We are decisive on eliminating gayness from our society, and at least that will rid us of gay terrorists.
The United States, as a nation, will have its collective temperature taken this November, 2008. It is impossible to tell what will happen. But one thing is certain; by December, 2008, we will, at last, know what we were thinking. We hope that we can look back on what we were thinking, and be proud of ourselves.