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This was written in the Daily Record (Ellensburg's paper) on Wed. Oct.
6, 2004. It was written by Mathew Manweller who is a
Central Washington University political science professor.

The title of the article was "Election determines fate of nation."

"In that this will be my last column before the presidential election
there will be no sarcasm, no attempts at witty repartee. The topic is
too serious, and the stakes are too high.

This November we will vote in the only election during our lifetime
that will truly matter. Because America is at a once-in-a-generation
crossroads, more than an election hangs in the balance.

Down one path lies retreat, abdication and a reign of ambivalence.
Down the other lies a nation that is aware of its past and accepts the
daunting obligation its future demands. If we choose poorly, the
consequences will echo through the next 50 years of history.

If we, in a spasm of frustration, turn out the current occupant of
the White House, the message to the world and ourselves will be
twofold. First, we will reject the notion that America can do big
things. Once a nation that tamed a frontier, stood down the Nazis and
stood upon the moon, we will announce to the world that bringing
democracy to the Middle East is too big of a task for us. But more
significantly, we will signal to future presidents that as voters, we
are unwilling to tackle difficult challenges, preferring caution to
boldness, embracing the mediocrity that has characterized other

The defeat of President Bush will send a chilling message to future
presidents who may need to make difficult, yet unpopular decisions.
America has always been a nation that rises to the demands of history
regardless of the costs or appeal. If we turn away from that legacy, we
turn away from who we are.
Second, we inform every terrorist organization on the globe that the
lesson of Somalia was well learned. In Somalia we showed terrorists
that you don't need to defeat America on the battlefield when you can
defeat them in the newsroom. They learned that a wounded America can
become a defeated America. Twenty-four-hour news stations and daily
trac ing polls will do the heavy lifting, turning a cut into a fatal
blow. Except that Iraq is Somalia times 10. The election of John Kerry
will serve notice to every terrorist in every cave that the soft
underbelly of American power is the timidity of American voters.
Terrorists will know that a steady stream of grizzly photos for CNN is
all you need to break the will of the American people. Our own
self-doubt will take it from there. Bin Laden will recognize that he
can topple any American administration without setting foot on the
It is said that America's W.W.II generation is its 'greatest
But my greatest fear is that it will become known as America's 'last
generation.' Born in the bleakness of the Great Depression and
hardened in the fire of WW II, they may be the last American generation
that understands the meaning of duty, honor and sacrifice. It is
difficult to admit, but I know these terms are spoken with only hollow
detachment by many (but not all) in my generation. Too many citizens
today mistake 'living in America' as 'being an American.' But America
has always been more of an idea than a place. When you sign on, you do
more than buy real estate. You accept a set of values and
This November, my generation, which has been absent too long, must
grasp the obligation that comes with being an American, or fade into the
oblivion they may deserve. I believe that 100 years from now historians
will look back at the election of 2004 and see it as the decisive
election of our century. Depending on the outcome, they will describe
it as the moment America joined the ranks of ordinary nations; or they
will describe it as the moment the prodigal sons and daughters of the
greatest generation accepted their burden as caretakers of the City on
the Hill."
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