The Gore Years

In every presidential election, you can rest assured that pundits, politicians, and activists will proclaim the upcoming election as “the most important of our lifetime.” By definition, however, there can only be one of those, and as important as this year’s race is, 2012 is not it. I am quite certain 2000 was the most critical presidential election I have lived through, or will ever live through.

Things are so bad right now, and have been so bad for so long, that it is easy to forget just how great it was for almost everyone during Bill Clinton’s presidency (January 1993 to January 2001). Here are just some of the numbers:

  • The economy grew at a rate of 4.0% per year, and grew for a record 116 consecutive months.
  • During Clintons’ eight years in office, 22.5 million jobs were created (92% in the private sector)—again, a record for any president.
  • The nation’s unemployment rate dropped steadily for eight years until it hit 4.0% in January 2001 when Clinton left office.
  • The economic gains were felt at every socioeconomic level. Dramatic gains were made in median family income and the poverty rate was slashed by 22%.
  • Fiscal year 2000 produced a surplus for the third consecutive year, and the largest one in history—$237 billion.
  • 53 of our brave men and women in uniform died—22 in Somalia (1993); 4 in Haiti (1995); and 27 in Yugoslavia (1999). While I would never celebrate the death of a U.S. troop, how many of us wish that only 53 our servicemen and women died from 2001 to 2009 instead of the 12,000 that actually did (not counting the countless more wounded physically and emotionally).

These are important numbers that should not be forgotten. Unfortunately, many in this country went into the 2000 election thinking that the miraculous gains we had made over the past eight years in nearly every area of life was the new normal. Many in this mindset further believed these gains were not so much the result of any policy put into place by an elected leader, but more a reflection of how much God blesses us, or how much we deserve it because we work so darn hard. We learned very quickly just how good we had it and how quickly things can change.

In the next couple of years, the United States would experience the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history; we would become entangled in two long, drawn-out, costly wars that may likely produce no benefit to our country; the largest surplus in U.S. history would become the largest deficit in U.S. history; and we would enter the first of many recessions that were followed by “jobless recoveries.”

Would things really have been different had Al Gore been elected in 2000 rather than George W. Bush?

Yes.

Most significantly, I believe it is likely that 9/11 would not have happened if Al Gore had been president. I routinely get scoffs from people when I suggest this (and I do as often as I can), but there is very compelling evidence to support this; and it is getting stronger as more and more evidence that the Bush Administration has tried to keep secret gets declassified. If one is interested in the evidence, I suggest he or she check out this and this. These articles highlight how the Clinton/Gore Administration approached terrorism very seriously while the Bush Administration ignored numerous threats and warnings in order to focus on an outdated Cold War model of warfare.

Even if Gore had been unable to prevent 9/11, no one can reasonably argue that Gore would have invaded Iraq. If Gore had gone into Afghanistan, we can again be sure that mission would not have been run by the likes of Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, and would have looked much different. I have no illusion that it would have gone well (assuming Gore went in at all), but it certainly would not have lasted his entire presidency.

Foreign policy aside, we also know Al Gore would not have signed into law the two greatest contributors to our debt (other than the wars discussed above)—the Bush tax cuts and Medicare Part D, a huge giveaway to pharmaceutical companies. There are also the environmental disasters under Bush, the deregulation of banks and polluters, and who knows what medical gains were lost while Bush blocked research of stem cells. I haven’t even started talking about what Gore would have done as president—only what he would not have done. Saturday Night Live took this idea and made a very funny skit back in 2006 (admittedly taking this idea to a humorous extreme).

We can debate all day as to what kind of president Al Gore would have been, but an objective look at the numbers will tell any observer that no president (other than possibly Hoover), has overseen such a dramatic decline in America as President Bush. And while Gore would not have been perfect, we did not need him to be perfect in order for 2000 to be the most important election of my lifetime. He could have been average—say a Carter or a Nixon—and 2000 still would have been a more significant election than anything else we will ever live through. George W. Bush was just that bad for our country, and we should never forget it.

– Dylan

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One Response to “The Gore Years”

  1. Gore also would not have signed the 2005 energy bill brokered by Cheney and Halliburton that explicitly exempted oil and gas (see, e.g., fracking) from the Clean Water Act…the levels of groundwater pollution are becoming immense.

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