So Much for Moving On

Mike Johnson looks toward colleagues after being nominated Republican speaker of the House of Representatives on October 24, 2023.(Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

We’re thinking a lot about 9/11 these days as we consider the implications of the Hamas terror attacks on innocent Israeli civilians earlier this month. Whatever the parallels will be for the Middle East and Israel, we can also reflect on how the 2001 attacks did and did not change life for Americans. Politically, the direct consequences were profound and lasting, but not permanent.

National security and the response to the 9/11 attacks dominated three federal election cycles: 2002, 2004, and 2006. First, the incumbent party was advantaged by national unity and a desire for decisive action. Then, dissatisfaction with the way that action was carried out redounded to the disadvantage of the “in” party. 

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