Imaging America If Al Gore Had Become A President
What if Gore had won?
I think the lots would be different; the role of the President is definitely not overstated. His or her influence on all aspects of government is of grave importance. Each President guides the country in political ideology depending on their popularity and what they do. An Al Gore president might have created another Democratic Era. Although I am in no way able to say this with any certainty, foreign policy would be completely different as the Clinton administration expressed multilateral-ism while the Bush administration infamously display unilateral actions across the world. I doubt people around the world would hate us less during a Gore presidency.
Just knowing the effects of and cost of the wars in the Middle East as well as increased military operations around the world greatly inflated the deficit and debt with arguably has caused a lower standard of living as the burden is greatly placed on lower classes. The purchasing power of the people (excluding the top class) is exemplary of the decay of the middle class.
The recession would not be as “great” as the Bush administration only sped up and made the recession worse through policies. This might stem from my view that the success of the nation is dependent on the welfare of its people, not merely the aggregate capital. The income equality would still grow under the increasing size of businesses and the business ethic. But Bush embodied a reinstatement of Reagan and Reaganomics simply by being leader of the Republican Party. The rich got richer and everyone else got poorer. I doubt we would have seen the “Bush tax cut” and I suspect Gore would have been held to the fiscal constraints Clinton and the Republicans hammered out. If that were true, we would have retired the national debt last year.
The housing market would not have crashed but the flip side of that is we wouldn’t have seen the Bush White Hot Housing Economy TMI think we would have seen a harder push towards alternative energy and about now we would have seen a pretty good payoff. But mostly, we never would have had a national conversation about torture being right, we might have kept our dignity and probably would be in held in a far higher level of respect by the rest of the world than we are now.
For the first several months of his presidency, President Gore enjoyed a world that had generally settled into a post-Cold War attitude that some historians were calling the Pax Americana. Domestically, his agenda was doing well, as he had secured Social Security in the promised “lock box,” and there were serious discussions among business leaders not about if America would join the Kyoto Accord, but when.
The economy was sputtering, but there was nothing to indicate that a bit of stagnation wasn’t expected, and his financial team assured him that they were well-prepared for any issues that might arise. On September 11, 2001 the naivete of the Gore administration ended. President Gore was meeting with the leaders of a farmer’s group lobbying for more ethanol subsidies when the call came in from his national security adviser. The meeting ended immediately and the president, already in DC, was sent to a secure location deep underground. Vice President Lieberman, as part of a delegation to Israel, was out of country, and was sent to an IDF-protected safe location.
As President Gore was addressing the nation that evening, his team was at work trying to find the culprit, while at the same time VP Lieberman’s delegation was being prepared to be spirited back to the US by an aerial armada of Air Force and Navy planes. The next day President Gore visited the New York site, as well as the site in Pennsylvania and the Pentagon. In front of the smoldering wreckage of the Pentagon attack President Gore vowed to organize an international coalition to “find the cowards that hurt us.” Many remarked that President Gore, on that day, for the first time seemed to connect with the American people.
As evidence mounted that a terrorist organization known as al Qaeda were the definitive culprits, the US ambassador to the UN made the case for military action before the security council. A resolution was passed, and plans were drawn up for a NATO-backed attack on Afghanistan that would rely heavily on bombardment and airpower to punish the regime most closely associated with al Qaeda. Special forces would then be placed on the ground to seek out the heads of the al Qaeda organization for prosecution on American soil.
Domestically, President Gore found himself dealing with a profoundly wounded economy. It was hoped that he would be able to deliver another speech, this time before ringing the bell to re-open Wall Street, that would inspire confidence in the resilience of the world’s financial markets. This was not the case. His stayed demeanor made him seem aloof, and the markets floundered, seeking a strong guiding hand.
The offices of the Secretary of the Treasury, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, and the Vice President were tasked with reinvigorating the economy. The military action in Afghanistan captured several al Qaeda leaders, as well as several Afghani leaders. US intelligence was able to extract significant information from these men, before they were brought to trial, that prevented several other planned attacks. Still, it was felt that the US lacked a strong, unified, domestic protection service, so the Department of Homeland Security was created in early 2003 to coordinate intelligence, law enforcement, and border security into one overarching structure tasked to prevent another 9-11.The 2004 elections saw a wooden, but generally-liked president with an approval rating in the 60’s confronted by challenger running on fear, and perceived inadequacies of the current administration.
The current administration simply pointed to a stable, if slightly deflated economy, positive upticks in some economic indicators, and a lack of further massive attacks as successes. President Gore was re-elected with a comfortable majority. In his second term, healing a damaged economy took center stage, as Afghanistan faded in public memory. Because of the focus of the administration on domestic economic concerns, several problems were detected before they got completely out of hand. A hurricane, a potential housing crisis, and a problem with the banking sector were addressed, or at least patched over enough to be passed on to the next administration.
President Gore ended his term with popularity in the mid to upper 60’s, not a Reagan or a Clinton, but it was generally agreed that he handled a tumultuous decade as well as could be expected. The next President broke new ground, beating out her primary rivals with an aggressive tone and experience. President Hillary Clinton assumed the presidency during an economic lull, with lackluster economic performance and a deficit of three trillion dollars.
Although DC was hardly in the grip of a bipartisan love-fest President Clinton managed to not significantly increase the national debt while simultaneously weathering a global recession better than expected. With the beginning of her second term, health care was again on the agenda, with Medicare +10 being advanced as the preferred solution.
We avoided Iraq, and by having our agenda focused on domestic issues we headed off the housing and banking crises, and avoided adding several trillion dollars to the deficit. If Gore is in the White House, Rumsfeld and Cheney are not in their respective positions. Assuming 9/11 happens (which seems reasonable), then during the subsequent war in Afghanistan we are not tied to a doctrine of minimizing boots on the ground (supported by Rumsfeld and Cheney), which increases the likelihood of nabbing Osama bin Laden at Tora Bora soon after 9/11.Whether or not bin Laden is snared at Tora Bora, the Gore administration is much less likely to go to war with Iraq – there is still some neoconservative influence in the White House, certainly, but Gore and his administration don’t enter the White House in 2000 with the intention of toppling Saddam eventually, unlike Bush and his Cabinet .
Without the invasion of Iraq tying up assets, money, and manpower, the U.S. presence in Afghanistan is overwhelmingly stronger. Provinces that have a heavy Taliban presence receive a much stronger U.S. garrison. If bin Laden is captured, the U.S. may pull out as early as 2004-2005; if he isn’t, they may still linger for years and years, but the Taliban doesn’t get the encroaching foothold it built up in the years preceding Petraeus’ surge because the surge troops are already there. There’s not much a Gore administration can do to prop up or clean up Karzai and his administration, but there are plenty of decision points where the U.S. can exit early and much more triumphantly.
Even with all the Iraqi-destined troops in Afghanistan, the Afghan war still costs the U.S. tremendously less than the Iraq war (for starters, fewer locals to hire, fewer bases to build, less in logistics, and so on). The national debt is correspondingly smaller, which damages the conservative narrative post-financial-collapse.
In 2004, if Gore hasn’t caught bin Laden, he faces a difficult challenge in re-election. Democrats have historically been weak on national security, and Gore will get hammered on this front if bin Laden’s still on the run. I think McCain would run at this point, since he’s well-positioned to take advantage of the opening with his military resume. Mitt Romney probably stays on the sidelines; McCain’s veep is probably someone who can connect with the evangelical base, like Huckabee, but as in 2008 it’s going to come down to McCain’s personal taste rather than cold politics.
On the domestic front, Bush’s big achievements were a tax cut and Medicare Part D. The tax cut isn’t likely to happen, or if it does it’ll be less tilted toward the upper class, which puts the gov’t in better footing when the crisis hits. Something resembling Medicare Part D will probably pass, since both Democrats and Republicans want to court the senior vote, but with Democrats handling the legislation Medicare will be able to negotiate drug prices.
Neither John Roberts nor Samuel Alito are named to the Supreme Court under a Gore administration. Whoever their liberal counterparts are, they’re not going to vote the same way on Citizens United or other hot-button issues. The Supreme Court won’t lean very liberal (a Gore administration, like a Clinton administration, is moderately liberal), but they won’t lean conservative either. Assuming Gore is in the White House in 2008 (and not McCain or someone similar), then he’s likely to bail the banks out as well – the bankers are just too well-connected for that not to happen, in addition to the fact that the banks do threaten to bring down the economy with them. However, a stimulus package or some piece of liberal reform legislation is likely to be tacked on, to appease the Democratic base even if no one in the administration is actually a Keynsian (which they ought to be, but that’s a different argument).On surveillance, the NSA is likely to commit many of the same abuses they’re currently in hot water for, but Republicans will have an opportunity to eviscerate their work as the doing of a rogue Democratic president. We’ll see much more libertarian-style ballyhooing of small government from a party not tainted by eight years of hypocrisy while they’re in power. If Gore does catch bin Laden, this leads to a strange flip in which Republicans sell themselves as defenders of civil liberties (and especially the First, Second, and Fourth Amendments), while the Democrats pound their chests on national security.
However, if he didn’t catch Bin Laden by the debates, he’d have lost the election to McCain. Then we would have gone to Iraq and Iran. The Clinton Presidency refused to respond to major terrorist attacks against US Personnel by Al Qaeda (i.e. WTC Bombing, Embassy attacks, USS Cole). It is the failure of the US to respond to these attacks that led to 9/11 happening.
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