I’m going to admit something to you now that I usually do my best to avoid admitting. I’ve voted Democratic. Not too long ago even. Back in the heady days of the dotcom boom, I was riding high working in Silicon Alley, and things were great. Not just for me, things were great for the guy working at the deli. Things were great for my friends in the ‘hood. Everyone, from the porter at the gym, to my drugged-out friend with no skills seemed to be doing well; lifted directly, or indirectly, by the huge cash infusion that fed the rush to make money out of this new thing called the Internet.
By the end of the ’90s, things had started to go south, but we all knew that good times don’t last forever, at least those of us with a passing knowledge of the economic cycle. And when it came time to vote in the 2000 election, I, a man in his mid-20s, less interested in public policy than making something of myself, voted for Gore/Lieberman against Bush.
Like me, Lieberman was Jewish, and fairly moderate, or at least what passed for moderate in those days. The idea of a Jewish VP gave me a deep sense of pride. I didn’t really know much about Gore other than his wife’s involvement in the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) back in the ’80s (I was a big fan of the bands she wanted to censor), but Gore was part of the Clinton team and whether Clinton was responsible or not, the economy had been rocking and rolling through most of his presidency. I just wanted to keep things going as they were. I’ve never been moved much by social issues, but I’ve always been a big believer in capitalism, and the idea of some scrappy underprivleged kid being able to make something of himself merely by working harder and smarter than everyone else. Because, in fact, that was my own story. And to be honest, when Bush was elected, my mainstream media-fed understanding of the facts told me we were in deep trouble.
In fact, we were, but not in the way I thought. Some nine months after taking office, we were attacked by terrorists, and the buildings that I grew up sketching as doodles on the back pages of my school composition books were knocked down, along with nearly 3,000 of my fellow New Yorkers. Like most, I sat on my couch watching the events unfold on TV for days. The company I worked for in lower Manhattan was closed, because everything below 14th street was shut down; unheard of for a city that never slept before. We were, for the first time in my adult life, in a serious war for our survival.
As the reality of the events of 9/11 became clear, my feelings towards Bush started to change. Here was a man who understood just how badly we were hit, and he vowed to do something about it. I came away from his famous “megaphone” speech moved. Perhaps it was because he was pandering to me, but I felt this man had his heart in the right place and understood that we needed to fight for our way of life and our very lives.
I supported Bush fully when he wanted to go into Afghanistan; after all, the Taliban was there, and they helped the terrorists who attacked us. When Bush pressed to go into Iraq, I supported that too, just as I supported Clinton’s decisionto go into Iraq in 1998, just as I supported Bush Sr’s decision to go to into Iraq in 1991. To be honest, all the anti-war rhetoric being spewed at the time just seemed like partisan nonsense; I definitely didn’t recall any anti-war movement in 1998 or 1991, not to mention the endless UN resolutions pointing to Hussein’s nefarious endeavors. I recalled the Seinfeld episode in the ’90s, in which Kramer almost shits himself when he thinks he sees Saddam Hussein on a city street; everyone seemed to understand that this was one evil son of a bitch. Post 9/11, and with the broken-window theory in mind, such a despot clearly couldn’t exist anymore. Yet for whatever reason, the Democrats whom I had previously voted with seemed all of a sudden to have a real problem with our aggression in Iraq. I may not be the smartest guy in the world, but this seemed blatantly and needlessly partisan; disingenuous, especially given the new problem of Islamic terror that we were now dealing with.