4 Major Effects of 9/11 on U.S. Political Landscape

by on October 28th, 2014
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The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, changed the entire world. Even though the attacks happened on American soil, the foreign and domestic policies of the United States have been altered irrevocably since then. Whether it is spending in the U.S. government, military objectives or even political views on what needed to happen in the months and years following 9/11, everything changed for the American people.

The consequences of American action or inaction after the terrorist attacks have been several-fold.

Unity is Gone

What was a unifying event in 2001 has led to several divisions in the Senate. The original Patriot Act passed the U.S. Senate with 98 senators approving. When the renewal for the act came up in the spring of 2011, The Associated Press reported three portions of the act passed for renewal by a 72-23 margin.

CNN reports part of the reason may have been amendments attached to the legislation. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) objected to certain gun restrictions listed in the bill that needed 60 votes to pass the filibuster test in the Senate.

With American casualties, a change in leadership in the White House and new tea party influences, the political landscape has changed markedly. When Americans were unified in tragedy, legislation passed quickly and things got done. Ten years later, voters had to wait four months to get the debt crisis solved.

No More Money

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the government has floundered, with a lack of money to keep the United States moving forward with domestic initiatives. President George W. Bush increased the size of the government by creating the Department of Homeland Security. Travel restrictions and airport security increased. There were the matters of two wars.

CBS News reported that all the while Bush continued to push for more tax decreases, including a measure passed in 2003. Vice President Dick Cheney cast the deciding vote to extend the tax cuts for the wealthy until 2010. Those same tax cuts are what President Obama objects to today and is trying to reverse in order to help pay for government programs.

The U.S. Treasury didn’t take in any more money but government expenditures increased for various reasons. The debt ceiling crisis of 2011 was another product of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks because of increased spending. Now, conservative members of Congress want that spending to stop.

Economic Recession

When the United States had less money to spend, the nation was unable to deal with the economic recession as readily as it could have. When banks and automakers needed bailouts, the money needed to borrow from American taxpayers and investors rose suddenly. Instead of spending government funds on things that can help all Americans, large corporations needed to be saved.

When spending on post-9/11 activities such as wars and the military were added to emergency bailouts, the size of the government grew even bigger. American taxpayers were now on the hook for disastrous foreign policy measures as well as propping up banks that caused economic turmoil in the first place.

Ultra-Conservative Backlash

Perhaps the most interesting effect of Sept. 11 on the political landscape has been the tea party movement in the United States. Most platforms of the potential third party in American politics include cutbacks on spending. The difficulty is that many tea party groups, such as the Tea Party Patriots, stand for a strong America with a vital military presence without cuts in Department of Defense spending.

When the military doesn’t cut spending, budget cuts have to come from somewhere. That usually means cuts in domestic spending or other programs the tea party might deem non-essential. The group’s tenets are part of a political landscape that was a backlash even against its own Republican Party, which spent too much money during the war years, notes Forbes.

The problem with America now is that in the 10 years since Sept. 11, 2001, Americans have diverged even further apart now than they have in the past.


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