What if . . .

06.16.03

Gore had won the 2000 election?

The game of “what if” can be endless and pointless but it can also be fun. So I was thinking about what might have happened if the outcome of the 2000 election was different. What if the whole Florida ballot scandal never happened and Al Gore was voted into office in 2000?

In light of the events of the past few years, a lot of people might think that this would have been the worst possible thing for the US. But I’m not so sure. Because September 11th, 2001 would have happened no matter who was in the White House. Clearly, the US government had to strike back. Republican or Democrat, no US president could have reacted otherwise to an attack on American soil. The speeches might have been worded differently, but ultimately the reaction against Al Qua’eda and against the Taliban would have been military, just as it was – swift and decisive.

Where the difference might have come in is in events since. Oh sure, you could argue that a Democratic government might not have attacked Iraq. There’s no way to really know but I somehow doubt that’s the case. Faced with the same situation, the same set of facts, and the same military procedures, I have a feeling any government would have come to the conclusion that Saddam Hussein needed toppling. The world is a different place than it was in 2000.

So then what? Right now we have a polarized US – indeed, a polarized world. Bush is, to all but his supporters, only about a step worse than the devil incarnate. The decisions of his government are easily attacked and dismissed as hawkish, right-wing, gun-slinging Texas cowboy acts, when in truth Bush is merely acting on the advice of the experts 99% of the time. But as a Republican, he’s an easy target.

But a Democrat making those kinds of decisions? Well, he’d be a bit tougher to attack, wouldn’t he? For one thing, there would probably be a lot of money directed to CYA reports on politically-correct issues to try to appease the naysayers. For another thing, where would the Left go, after abandoning Gore? To the Republicans?

Ironically, it would probably have been a lot easier for Gore to get United Nations support and backing than it was for Bush. And as a result, the anti-American sentiment that is so heightened right now in Europe and around the world might not be nearly as prominent. It’s one of the paradoxes of politics, that a dovish leader has an easier time making war, just as a hawkish leader has an easier time making peace.

Is this what would have happened if a few hundred ballots in Florida were counted differently in 2000? Short of inventing a time machine and changing the past, we obviously can’t know. There are too many variables. But with the next election coming up in a little over a year, it makes interesting food for thought.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 parallel 06.17.03 at 12:36 AM

You may be correct, but given Gore’s attitude to GWB’s actions over Iraq, you may be optimistic. For example, see http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=4211

It is possible that Gore may just have been playing politics, and that his attitude would have been different if he were president, but even so, to play politics over such an issue indicates that he doesn’t really think it is that serious.

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2 jaz 06.17.03 at 6:59 AM

if gore one it might have put out some of hilary’s burning ambition. After all, he would be the most famous person in the democratic party with a resounding popular vote victory and joe lieberman after him.

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