I felt deep joy watching the Iraqi people dancing in the streets on election day. Part of the intensity of my joy was because the path to that moment had seemed so long. The First Gulf War. The long buildup to this war–the intensely frustrating UN stalling, with the inexplicable (and, post-Oil-for-Food scandal revelations, suddenly all-too-explicable) behaviour of nations such as France.
And the fear. I was afraid of a guerilla war that would last for years and resemble the Vietnam War–in actuality, not just in Democratic and MSM rhetoric. I was afraid hundreds of thousands or even millions of people would be killed–in actuality, not just in some biased statisticians’ claims.
But most of all I think what I feared was failure. The consequences of that failure seemed to me to be the emboldening of terrorists all over the world, not to mention the continued suffering of the Iraqi people, and the gloating of America’s enemies. And that idea was the main reason why, on November 2, 2005, I had gone into the voting booth and cast the first Republican vote of my life.
Now, I’ve always been emotional when voting–although I’ve never danced in the street. There is something corny but moving about voting–and, this year, more than ever before. When I voted, I did so with a fervor I’d never felt before, both because it represented a break with my long liberal Democrat past (although I still see myself as a Scoop Jackson/Zell Miller type of Democrat), and because I felt that more was riding on this vote than ever before.
And when I saw the Iraqi people on their voting day, so filled with the joy of long-enslaved people finally tasting freedom, I felt a connection between my vote on Nov. 2 and their votes on January 30.
And I see other connections, too. I think of the Exodus from Egypt–a celebration of freedom if there ever was one–and the Civil Rights movement. I think of all the young US servicemen and women (and those of other countries) who died in Iraq, all the foreign workers beheaded, all the dark dark days, and all those who said during those dark days that this election day would never come, or, if it came, that it would be a disaster.
I think of the people on the doomed flights of 9/11–people whose last sight was the skyline of New York, from a plane flying way too low and way too fast. Or people in the WTC whose last decision was whether to jump or whether to be burned alive. Or people, on another 9/11 flight, whose last decision was to rush the cockpit and take the plane down before it destroyed more people.
All of those people are heroes. But they could not possibly have foreseen that their deaths that awful day would somehow lead to this other day, bringing hope to so many millions who had lived with horror for so many years. The connection between those who died on 9/11 and those dancing Iraqi voters may be circuitous–but the connection is there, nonetheless.