On 9/11/01 Osama bin Laden took something away from us and, ever since, George W. Bush has kept us from getting it back.
The something is social trust--the sense of living in a world where we don’t have to be constantly on guard against the malice of unknown people who want to hurt or kill us for no personal reason whatsoever.
Before 9/11, we took for granted social rules that protect us: We could walk safely in front of cars that would stop for red lights, eat food that had passed through the hands of countless unseen people, hand over our children every day to strangers who would protect and nurture them.
We still do all that and more every day, but we can’t board a plane, go to a stadium or walk a crowded street with the same sense of security we had before 9/11.
That’s what bin Laden wanted, and he got it. But, instead of giving us back some of that social trust, Bush has taken away more of it: We can’t assume that those to whom we give power won’t break the law, spy on us or send young people to die half a world away against our wishes and interests.
Last November, we said with our votes that we want back as much of that social trust as we can get. The battle for it is going on now, not in Baghdad but in Washington, D.C.