Written by Mathew Manweller
Central Washington University political science professor...
"Election determines fate of nation"
"In that this will be my last column before the presidential election,
there will be no sarcasm, no attempts at witty repartee. The topic is
too serious, and the stakes are too high.
This November we will vote in the only election during our lifetime
will truly matter. Because America is at a once-in-a-generation
crossroads, more than an election hangs in the balance.
Down one path lies retreat, abdication and a reign of.ambivalence. Down
the other lies a nation that is aware of its past and accepts the
daunting obligation its future demands. If we choose poorly, the
consequences will echo through the next 50 years of history. If we, in a
spasm of frustration, turn out the current occupant of the White House,
the message to the world and ourselves will be two-fold:
First, we will reject the notion that America can do big things. Once
nation that tamed a frontier, stood down the Nazis and stood upon the
moon, we will announce to the world that bringing democracy to the
Middle East is too big of a task for us. But more significantly, we
will signal to future presidents that as voters, we are unwilling to
tackle difficult challenges, preferring caution to boldness, embracing
the mediocrity that has characterized other civilizations.
The defeat of President Bush will send a chilling message to future
presidents who may need to make difficult, yet unpopular decisions.
America has always been a nation that rises to the demands of history
regardless of the costs or appeal. If we turn away from that legacy, we
turn away from who we are.
Second, we inform every terrorist organization on the globe that the
lesson of Somalia was well learned. In Somalia we showed terrorists
that you don't need to defeat America on the battlefield when you can
defeat them in the newsroom. They learned that a wounded America can
become a defeated America.
Twenty-four-hour news stations and daily tracing polls will do the
lifting, turning a cut into a fatal blow. Except that Iraq is Somalia
times 10. The election of John Kerry will serve notice to every
terrorist in every cave that the soft underbelly of American power is
the timidity of American voters. Terrorists will know that a steady
stream of grizzly photos for CNN is all you need to break the will of
the American people. Our own self-doubt will take it from there. Bin
Laden will recognize that he can topple any American administration
without setting foot on the homeland.
It is said that America's WW II generation is its 'greatest
But my greatest fear is that it will become known as America's 'last
generation.' Born in the bleakness of the Great Depression and hardened
in the fire of WW II, they may be the last American generation that
understands the meaning of duty, honor and sacrifice. It is difficult
to admit, but I know these terms are spoken with only hollow detachment
by many (but not all) in my generation. Too many citizens today mistake
'living in America' as 'being an American.' But America has always been
more of an idea than a place. When you sign on, you do more than buy
real estate. You accept a set of values and
This November, my generation, which has been absent too long, must
grasp the obligation that comes with being an American, or fade into the
oblivion they may deserve. I believe that 100 years from now
historians will look back at the election of 2004 and see it as the
decisive election of our century. Depending on the outcome, they will
describe it as the moment America joined the ranks of ordinary
or they will describe it as the moment the prodigal sons and daughters
of the greatest generation accepted their burden as caretakers of the
City on the Hill."