In my column two weeks ago I urged people to vote for the candidate with whom they agreed most in the 2012 Presidential Election. The most common reaction to this was, “People like you are the reason Al Gore wasn’t elected president.” This indicates that many on the left actually think the U.S. would be a significantly different, if not better, place if Gore were elected.
This is a myth that Democrats and left-leaning wishful thinkers propagate. They do so by projecting their own values on the candidate who might have been instead of examining Gore’s stated positions in 2000 and applying them to events that took place under Bush to determine what would have been. Gore was a weak candidate in the areas that mattered during the Bush Years (foreign policy, free trade, financial regulation, etc.). Throughout the 2000 campaign Gore promoted what can best be described as a blueprint for what would become The Bush Doctrine.
Bush was our most crass Commander-in-Chief in recent memory as well as the worst we’ve had since Herbert Hoover. Christopher Hitchens put it best when he wrote that the then Governor of Texas’s eyes were so close that a monocle could have sufficed. With this in mind, do not mistake my argument against Gore as one in favor of Bush.
Gore and Bush did hold a number of significantly different positions. For example, Gore ran as the openly interventionist candidate who supported Clinton’s imperialist policies, whereas Bush promoted a bizarre isolationism throughout the campaign.
One might think Gore would’ve responded less forcefully than Bush when confronted with faulty intelligence that claimed Saddam Hussein had WMDs. Think again: “Iraq’s search for WMDs has proven impossible to completely deter, and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power. We know that [Saddam] has stored away secret supplies of biological weapons and chemical weapons throughout his country.” Gore made his views on intervention in Iraq even clearer in the 2000 Presidential debate at Wake Forest University when he said, “We have maintained the sanctions [against Iraq]. I want to go further. I want to give robust support to the groups that are trying to overthrow Saddam Hussein.” The idea that Gore would not have declared war on Hussein in light of these comments, and when faced with a post-9/11 environment that included overwhelming public support for invasion, is an inane one.
One of the most overlooked scandals of the Bush Presidency was Bush’s decision to force his religious views on the Schiavo family. Bush tried to block the Schiavos’ decision to remove their clinically brain dead family member from life support. I admit it is impossible to know exactly how Gore would have acted in Schiavo’s case; however, since The Left feels fit to assume Gore would have acted in accordance with every liberal’s conscience, it is equally possible that Gore would have acted more similarly to Bush than today’s Democrats are willing to admit. For example, Gore was against federally legalizing assisted suicide.
Gore’s own religious beliefs were fervent to say the least. Democrats are quick to forget Gore’s incessant droning on about what he saw as the importance of faith-based organizations in providing civil services. I don’t know that Gore was foolish enough to oppose stem cell research, but he was enough of a rube to agree with Sarah Palin on the importance of abstinence based sexual education. It is this same sort of evangelical ideology that led Bush to make many of his own blunderous decisions.
Recently Barack Obama came out in support of gay marriage (pun fully intended). There is no indication that Gore would have ever allowed his position to “evolve” in the same way. Gore was clear that he opposed gay marriage on religious grounds. A belief in an afterlife such as the one Gore feared, where Bush relaxes in heaven while Obama burns in eternal hellfire for their respective stances on gay marriage indicates Gore’s skewed sense of morality. In that same Wake Forest debate the moderator asked both candidates their positions on gay marriage. Bush said, “I’m not for gay marriage. I think marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman. I appreciated the way the [Clinton] administration signed the Defense of Marriage Act.” In an act of politically motivated bigotry, Gore responded by saying, “ I agree with that, and I did support that law,” before he gave tepid support to “civic unions.”
George W. Bush was our country’s worst president. Had Al Gore been elected, however, he would have been at least as bad in the ways that most negatively affected our country. It’s time for partisans on the left to let go of what would have never been and instead pressure today’s Democrats to adopt the stances for which they so willingly delude themselves into believing Gore stood for.
S.D. Seppinni is a senior in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters from a Young Curmudgeon appears alternate Mondays this semester.