In six days, Americans will finally go to the polls to elect our next president. People of all ages have called this election the most important in their lifetime. Indeed, both diehard supporters and diehard detractors of President Bush (are there really many diehard supporters of John Kerry?) have staked so much of their emotion into the outcome of this election that neither side wants to imagine what America would be like if the opponent wins.
I am a supporter of Bush’s re-election. With all the challenges he has had to endure and overcome over the past four years, Bush is best suited to lead this country through the next four years ahead.
In 2000, much was made by Al Gore’s campaign about Bush’s inexperience and supposed lack of intelligence. It is true, Bush had only been governor of Texas for six years, and he did not have any remarkable foreign policy experience. So Bush put Dick Cheney on the ticket – a man whose experience in government and foreign policy goes back to the Nixon administration.
Less than eight months after he took office, America was hit with the worst terrorist attack ever to occur on our soil. The sights and sounds were horrifying – airplanes flying into the World Trade Center, the buildings subsequently collapsing, people jumping to their deaths from the upper floors, black smoke rising from the damaged Pentagon. When it was over, more than 3,000 Americans had been murdered – all of them just going about their daily business.
America waited to see the response of its new, untested president. Bush was up to the challenge. In an evening address to the nation, Bush said, “Today, our nation saw evil, the very worst of human nature, and we responded with the best of America…These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed. Our country is strong…We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.”
Three days after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Bush stood atop the rubble at the World Trade Center in New York and bellowed into a bullhorn to a rescue worker, “I hear you, the rest of the world hears you, and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of soon.”
And hear from us they did. Within three weeks of the tragedy, the American military began bombing operations in Afghanistan, designed to oust the Taliban government, which had been harboring al Qaeda and leader Osama bin Laden. Soon afterwards, the Taliban was out of power, many top al Qaeda officials either turned themselves in or were captured, and Afghanistan is now a free country with democratic elections.
Bush saw the attacks of 9/11 as a crossroads for America. We could either continue down the 1990s path of considering terrorism a minor concern and dealing with it chiefly through diplomacy, subpoenas, and law enforcement, or we could bring the full force of America to the terrorists abroad so we would no longer have to fight them on our interests and soil. The former method resulted in 9/11. That is why Bush correctly chose the latter course of action.
However, the War on Terror extends beyond al Qaeda and Afghanistan. In Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Bush saw a nation ruled by a dictator who had and used weapons of mass destruction against his own citizens in the early 1990s, broke a cease-fire agreement with America that ended the Gulf War, and ignored 17 United Nations resolutions since that time calling for him to disarm and provide proof of disarmament. All along the way, Saddam refused to grant full access to weapons inspectors and generally thumbed his nose at nations that let him off the hook in 1991 to begin with.
Bush rightly feared that an unfettered Saddam might be developing new weapons to hand off to terrorist groups such as al Qaeda. If that wasn’t the case, why did Saddam never simply come clean to the world? Realizing that waiting for the enemy to attack before responding got us 9/11, Bush took action against Iraq before they could do harm to us. America, Iraq, and the world is better because of it.
September 11th and the War on Terror have defined Bush’s presidency. He did a truly magnificent job in rallying the country together in the aftermath of the greatest attack on our country that many of us, hopefully, will ever know. For that, I feel a connection with this president that I don’t want to give up.
Bush is by no means perfect. I disagree with him on some domestic matters, but at this crucial point in history, foreign policy and terrorism are the most important issues to consider. We currently have the right man in office to lead us through this struggle. That is why I will proudly be casting my vote for President George W. Bush. This is, indeed, an important election, and I trust the American public to make the right choice.