The Presidential Election of 2000 is best known for the lengthy process of recounts and court decisions which eventually gave the White House to George W. Bush. But in reviewing the two candidates, one should reasonably wonder why the election was so close. The real reason why should concern us.
Al Gore, who had served two terms as the Vice President of the United States, ran as the Democratic nominee. The issue voters tend to value most, the economy, favored Gore. So did the relative peace. Gore had tons of experience in public policy – not only through his time as the Vice President, but also eight years in each of the House of Representatives and the Senate.
The Republicans nominated Governor George W. Bush of Texas. He had little public policy experience, just his six years as the governor. But even then, the Texas Legislature only met on odd numbered years and the state Constitution gave much power to the Lieutenant Governor. Before his time in elected office, Bush had run a number of failed businesses.
As the impeachment of President Clinton had taken place just a year before, Bush frequently made mention of how he would bring back “honor and dignity” to the White House. The Clinton scandal for his lie under oath about an affair he had with an intern may have harmed Gore, but not to a great extent.
Gore should have won in a landslide. But he had to claw in the last few days to catch up to Bush, thanks mostly to Bush’s belated confession that he had been guilty of driving under the influence a number of years before.
WHY WAS THIS ELECTION SO CLOSE?
Some observers point out that Gore ran a lackluster campaign. A Slate magazine article which appeared shortly after Election Day elaborated and called Gore out for his stiff personality, his distancing from Clinton and his “angry” populist tone.
But how much of the defeat can be attributed to these problems? So Gore did not always appear to be at ease. He could also be funny. He came across as a much deeper person intellectually than Bush, which I would hope most voters would prefer.
It would have been great for Gore to appear frequently with Clinton, probably the best campaigner of his generation. But if Gore, as reports from insiders have indicated, was indeed furious at Clinton for his behavior, he should be given credit for his sincerity.
He stood by Clinton when it was difficult and shunned him when it would have helped. This speaks well of his convictions and shows he was not a “fair weather”
His focus on attacking corporations may have turned some people off. The Slate article cites Michael Kinsley’s comment on Gore’s tone, that the voters “have never had it so good, and I'm mad as hell about it."
What these three complaints of the Gore campaign suggest is a candidate who did things the hard way. Talking about peace and prosperity all the time would have been much easier. Swallowing his pride and getting Clinton out campaigning for him more frequently could not have been so hard to take, knowing it would have made the difference,
WHAT REALLY HAPPENED?
The fact is, there is no way that Gore could win. Not even losing the popular vote stopped Bush from taking office.
Never mind Bush had avoided service in Viet Nam and had gotten suspended from the Air National Guard. The military embraced him and many retired members of the military supported his candidacy. So did the media, which ignored his many gaffes and substandard English. The media also picked up many criticisms of Gore, accusing him of exaggeration by exaggerating grossly themselves.
On Election Day, thousands of voters were turned away at the polls because their
names had not been added to the voter rolls by Kathleen Harris, Florida’s Secretary of State. She also happened to be a co-chair of Bush’s campaign. Other voters were turned away because they were wrongly labeled as felons. These kinds of problems happened quite a bit in Democratic-leaning
George Bush’s cousin who worked at Fox News convinced his employer to call the election prematurely for him and the rest of the media fell in line, guaranteeing his “win” in public opinion. Members of the military attacked Gore for saying that ballots from people overseas that came in late should not be counted. Gore’s recounts were stopped in the courts, ultimately by a Supreme Court consisting of five Republicans. The vote went 5-4 for Bush.
The real story of the 2000 Election makes sense if we start with an event that took place just eight months after Bush took the presidential oath of office. Popularly known as “9/11,” a group of people who control popular opinion staged a hoax and convinced a majority of the public that a group of terrorists had attacked the United States by hijacking airplanes and crashing them into buildings, including the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The media repeated that “planes hit the towers” and followed the lead of government experts in blaming Al-Qaeda for a terrorist attack planned out years before by insiders. The refrain of “3,000 deaths” convinced the public that the solution for this hoax was to fight two wars for the next decade plus.
The hoax plotters could not afford a president who might have noticed the deception played and told the public. They needed someone who would take orders, blame the patsies he was told to blame and otherwise not cause any trouble to the plan to make war. They found their man in George W. Bush.
Gore’s behavior of doing things the hard way makes sense from this point of view as well. The mere fact that Bush led him in the polls at all was probably a sign to Gore that he was not going to get the job.
Simply put, as I pointed out in a recent article about the 1980 Presidential Election, the people whom we elect are not running this country. We may not know their names, but we know they want war and will do anything to get it.