In some ways, those who predicted apocalyptic disaster as the result of Y2K were right. No, our computers did not stop working. No, the millennium did not lead to the end of the world. But we did experience a disaster nonetheless.
Despite winning the majority of the popular vote, Al Gore was denied a recount in Florida and, as a result, the White House. Consider, for a moment, the implications of the Supreme Court’s decision to award George W. Bush the presidency.
That unpopular decision led to almost all of our most intractable problems.
Let’s begin with 9/11. A Gore administration likely would have continued most of the policies of the Clinton administration, including its attempt to kill Osama bin Laden and destroy al Qaeda with a cruise missile (a strike derided by Bush as “sending a million dollar missile to blow up a camel tent”). Unlike Bush, President Gore almost certainly would have listened to warnings by counter-terrorism experts of an imminent strike in the US using hijacked airliners.
And without 9/11, we wouldn’t have become mired in the 10-year war in Afghanistan which has cost us trillions of dollars.
Moreover, it’s highly unlikely that a Gore administration would have falsified evidence in order to justify the invasion of Iraq, leading to a second war costing trillions more dollars.
As for our economy, Gore would have continued the Clinton administration’s policies which led to budget surpluses – surpluses that were on track to eliminate the national debt by the end of 2012. The Bush tax cuts, which added hundreds of billions of dollars to the debt, never would have happened (at least, not until the debt was nearly paid off).
As vice-president, Al Gore led the successful Reinventing Government Program that streamlined the federal government and cut wasteful spending. He likely would have continued that program as president, continuing to down-size government.
Bush, on the other hand, oversaw the largest increase of the federal government in history!
Finally, Gore almost certainly would have led efforts to stem climate change at a time when smaller changes could have had great and lasting effects. But thanks to Bush, Richard “The Dick” Cheney and all of their oil buddies, it now may be too late to avoid the predictable devastating effects of runaway carbon emissions.
Remember this the next time you hear Teapublicans complain about the budget deficit, the escalating national debt, and the cost of clean-up efforts following storms made worse by climate change.