May 2 marked the first anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. Though most people are mourned on the anniversary of their death, this is one instance in which the overwhelming majority of people worldwide are celebrating. This was, after all, the man whose sole mission was the destruction of the United States and its allies. So while bin Laden never stood trial for his crimes, Americans aren’t upset about the way things went. In fact, Americans were not upset about much last year after the news of bin Laden’s death was announced. It was a brief but cathartic respite from the tense political climate throughout the nation, and it’s something we could use more of.
Last year, when the news broke that bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan, there were subsequent reports on the numerous public celebrations that took place nationwide. Indeed, Americans finally felt that justice had been served. Just like after 9/11, when Americans came together to collectively mourn and feel each other’s pain, there was a sense of unity this country hadn’t experienced in years. And this time, it was under more favorable circumstances. Not surprisingly, the nation’s feel-good moment ended just as quickly as it began, and soon enough it was back to the usual partisan state of affairs. What should be celebrated as a victory for the United States, and its military and intelligence communities, has instead become a political battle over whether President Obama deserves credit. There will be plenty of time for arguing as the presidential election campaign heats up; for now, we should try to savor any moment that allows us a break from the fighting.
Although the big issues that dominate the discussion on the campaign trail are crucial to the way this country operates and affect the lives of every American, partisan politics do not have a place in everyday life. When you’re having dinner with your relatives, finishing a project with a coworker or helping out a neighbor, it doesn’t matter if you share the same political views. Even if you know they’re on the opposite end of the political spectrum, you still value them as individuals. It’s no different for the rest of the country.
If Americans have learned anything from the aftermath of 9/11 or bin Laden’s death, it’s the importance of being able to leave the politics at the voting booth. It’s easy to view people with different political beliefs as opponents, but it’s necessary to remember that we’re all in the same boat, especially when it comes to the economy. Progress is made only when both sides work together. When that fails, there’s gridlock, and that benefits no one. And for those worrying when the economy will start booming again, just be patient. Two years ago, many people viewed the hunt for bin Laden as a lost cause, and now we’re looking at it in the rear-view mirror.