Like many Americans, I traveled by plane this Christmas break to spend the holidays with my family.
I was sitting at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, patiently awaiting my departure back to Tampa. The banner headline in the Chicago Tribune that morning was: “CODE ORANGE: Officials Prepare for Threats.” The monotone voice of an unknown gentleman could be heard overhead calmly warning travelers of the heightened alert and to keep an eye open for suspicious activity.
As one of the nation’s busiest airports, the alert meant increased security, longer lines and more delays.
I sat there acting as normal as I could even though I was as nervous as anyone of the other people sitting around me. Even before Sept. 11, airports were nerve-wracking places for many people.
Recently, close to a dozen planes from around the world have been rerouted, delayed, canceled or forced to turn around because of an increase in suspicious intelligence. Armed federal air marshals have been training since Sept. 11 to accompany passengers incognito.
But is it not the case that for all of these reasons we are nervous, safer measures have been taken to prevent another 9/11?
I don’t agree with many of the president’s policies, nor am I close to being a registered Republican. I believe that much of the criticism that surrounds Bush’s homeland security policies are warranted, including a lack of money going to local law enforcement and the shady security around our nation’s cargo planes and major sea ports.
But I feel a lot safer flying today then I did just months after 9/11 when I flew to Washington D.C.
And because many of us — or if statistics are true, not many of us — are going to be voting in 10 months, we are left to figure out the ramifications of all of this politically.
Howard Dean recently quipped that we were no safer today then before Saddam Hussein was captured. Men and women are dying in Iraq, and I believe new terrorists could very well have sprouted because of the war, but have we not made strides in this country?
Democrats trying to indoctrinate voters with their plans for the future can’t be taken seriously if no positive attribution is given to policies of the past.
Much like arguments of all of the candidates for president, negativity is in the air. And it is at this time of increased threats that I ask myself where all this negativity in my own party is taking us?
We are a nation at high alert, at war, both militarily and culturally. We are polarized on every major issue from the war in Iraq to gay marriage.
I will be nervous when traveling because we have been forced to live in that world, but I will not believe that we are less safe.
In November, I plan to vote Democratic because, at its core, the party’s beliefs are aligned with my own.
I can only hope that come election day, the only negativity in the air will be passengers aboard Spirit Airlines who aren’t given in-house meals.
Charlie Eder is a sophomore majoring in political science and journalism.