Alternate History: If Gore Had Won, Who Would Be President Now?

This started as an attempt to annoy a somewhat too Obama-struck Democrat on Facebook, but I think the question is an interesting one to play with at this point:

Imagine that Gore had been given Florida in the 2000 election and was thus elected president. How would subsequent history have been different? Who would be president now? (Would anyone outside of Illinois have heard of Obama?)

I’ll provide my initial thoughts in the comments in order to keep the playing field level.

31 Responses to Alternate History: If Gore Had Won, Who Would Be President Now?

  1. – Gore would have started his term highly unpopular and completely obstructed in congress, though the Republicans would have also got a black eye for responding childishly.

    – As sitting president, Gore would have received a major bump in popularity after the 9/11 attacks, and with strong VP leadership from Leiberman (remember when he was a Democrat?) he would have sent US troops into Afghanistan.

    – Desperate to clear up the and 9/11 recession, the Gore administration would have strongly supported the low interest rate policies of the Fed, and would have taken the opportunity to push “homeownership for all”. The real estate bubble would have thus begun inflating.

    – I think it’s a toss up whether Gore and Leiberman would have led us into Iraq in the wake of 9/11 and Afghanistan, but for the sake of this exercise I’ll say they wouldn’t have, but would instead have pushed a much strong nation building effort in Afghanistan — and ended up in an identical morass to Iraq there. (Indeed, if anything, it would have been worse since Afghanistan is a much harder country to rebuild than Iraq.)

    – Budget surplusses would have been gone by 2002 as a result of the war in Afghanistan, falling tax revenues due to recession, and one or two major spending initiatives supported by the Gore administration (I’d guess a prescription drug benefit and a climate change initiative).

    – Barack Obama would have made it to the US Senate, and remained fairly unremarkable there, as Gore began his second term with a razor thin majority. His opponent in 2004 would have been John McCain, with a promise to bring new strategy to Afghanistan and end the war.

    – In 2008, Hillary Clinton would slugged it out against Lieberman in the Democratic primaries, and won. But she would have been beaten in the general election by Jeb Bush — the first Republican president in 16 years and the second Catholic to hold the office. He would have been aided by a collapsing construction/real estate economy, which the GOP would successfully blame on Fannie and Freddie.

  2. Eric Brown says:

    – Assuming 9/11 happened, we would have gone to Afghanistan — we would have been in and out quickly because of liberal pressures and Republican criticism of the handling of the conflict. The mission might not have been accomplished; other strategies of fighting terrorism would be considered. This is, again, assuming that we were actually attacked.

    – We wouldn’t have gone to Iraq.

    – Our deficit would be much better off than it is now.

    – There would be a strong pro-Roe majority on the Supreme Court.

    – Gore would have climate change and environmental regulation as a strong central focus of his governing.

    – Gore would have lost the presidency in 04.

    – The Democrats would have taken Congress in 2008.

  3. restrainedradical says:

    – Gore’s speech following 9/11 is reenacted in school plays for centuries.

    – Gore invades Afghanistan and, without the distraction of Iraq, Bin Laden is captured and executed. The Gore Republicans are born.

    – Gore passes some carbon pricing legislation which further improves American standing around the world. Carbon pricing spurs innovation and we are on track to be completely energy independent by 2012.

    – Gore enjoys another surge in popularity after his awesome display of leadership during Katrina.

    – Gore appoints two liberal supreme court justices. The partial-birth abortion ban is ruled unconstitutional and hope of overturning Roe v. Wade is lost for another generation.

    – In 2008, Romney-Hutchison defeat Lieberman-Kerry.

  4. Personally, I don’t see how one could assume anything other than that 9/11 would have happened. The first three Al Qaeda attacks against the US during the Clinton administration had all been successful, and planning for 9/11 was already under weigh in Nov 2000.

  5. Donald R. McClarey says:

    I think Gore would have been a bad man to have at the helm in a crisis. I think he would have attempted to treat 9-11 as a question of law enforcement with some Clintonesque futile cruise missile strikes. I think the Republicans would have done well in 2002 and ousted Gore in 2004. If the economy had gone South in 2008, I suspect the Republican incumbent would have lost in 2008, perhaps also with the Democrats retaking the House and Senate.

  6. Kyle Cupp says:

    The real question: would he have made An Inconvenient Truth?

  7. Donald R. McClarey says:

    Probably not Kyle, but after his term he might have written an autobiography, An Inconvenient President.

  8. Rick Lugari says:

    Gore’s speech following 9/11 is reenacted in school plays for centuries.

    This one is particularly funny to me because I don’t picture the type of scene where some lad is wearing a large hat and dramatically orating, “Four score and twenty years…” in front of smiling parents, No, I picture a kid standing nearly motionless and in a monotone and almost robotic fashion performing to a chorus of guffaws, “Today we were attacked. I am prepared to put some of the carbon credits I have mysteriously generated, a $500,000,000 value into a lock box to be delivered al Queda in reparation for our nation’s environmental sins.”

  9. Kyle Cupp says:

    Maybe Bush would have made a pro-oil-drilling movie called A Convenient Truth. Sarah Palin could have then stared in the sequel.

  10. Phillip says:

    Cruise missles would have been lauched at Afghanistan.

    There would be increased law enforcement efforts to stop terrorism without increased surveillance powers.

    American cooperation with the UN would increase with regards to Iraq and Iran with about the same result that we have with Iran now. The world would still dislike the US.

    Terror attacks on the US would increase resulting in decreasing Democratic popularity.

    Anyone-but-Gore wins the Presidency in 2008 with a Republican majority in Congress.

    Sarin Palin would still be gov. in Alaska but, not having run for VP, the liberal press would be stumped for another Republican enemy.

  11. American Knight says:

    BHO wouldn’t have crawled out of the Chicago college of vermin if Ryan could keep it in his pants.

    Gore would be as inneffective as BHO is now where it counts. Democrats are far more experienced at launching protracted wars than Republicans so Afghanistan would have been entered into Soviet-style and Iraq was on the table before 9/11 so Gore would have been pushed into it just as Bush was, although Gore would have been more eager at getting control of all that earth-killing black gold to save the planet.

    Abortions, ESCR and other anti-life measures would have had major expansion.

    The Pope would not have been welcome in DC.

    Morality would have spiraled farther out of control. Other than that it would be the same because the President of the USA is just the current face of the Wall Street-banking-fascist-big business elite. When he doesn’t play ball, they shoot him.

    Housing bubble, artifically low interest rates, high unemployment, rampant inflation of the money supply, crashing stock market, bailouts, stimulus, waste, pork, graft, sensless spending, government expansion, liberal ideological indoctrination at all levels of education, moral decay, etc.

    The Constitution and the Ten Commandments would still be unwelcome in DC.

    The major difference as I see it is that we would have a slow decline into death; rather than the fits and starts we are getting now (Tea Parties, etc.) in reaction to the dramatic slide toward collapse.

    The good news is that it is Christmas time and we have nothing to fear from Republicrats or Democpublicans becuase Christ has overcome the world.

  12. Blackadder says:

    I don’t think things would have gone much differently than they did. Gore would have passed an education bill similar to NCLB, would have passed a prescription drug bill, and a slightly beefier “patients bill of rights” (remember that?). We still would have invaded Iraq. I seem to recall Gore downplaying his climate change advocacy during the 2000 campaign, so I don’t think he would have done much on the issue unless he got a second term (which I doubt). The main difference, policywise, would be that we’d get ESCR funding 8 years earlier than we did.

    Vice Presidents have succeeded directly to the Presidency via election (rather than Presidential incapacity) only twice in our nation’s history, and in neither case did the President in question win re-election. So it’s plausible to think that Gore would have lost to McCain in 2004. I think we would have gotten a surge a year or two earlier than we in fact did, but otherwise things would have played out much the same (I wouldn’t be surprised if we still had Roberts and Alito on the court). Of course the financial crisis would have doomed McCain’s re-election. I somehow think that Clinton would have won the primary in these cirs rather than Obama, but it’s not out of the question that Obama would be president right now.

  13. How in the world did this ever happen? That one nation under God would become so immoral, so idolatrous, so evil no matter who won the Presidency?

  14. Ummmm… Where has it ever _not_ happened? it’s not like other countries at other times have exactly been beds of roses.

    The evils of different times and places are often different, but they’re still evil.

  15. Sad but true, Darwin Catholic. One would have hoped, however, that the United States could have proven the exception to the rule. Alas – ’twas not to be.

  16. restrainedradical says:

    I find it highly unlikely that Gore would’ve invaded Iraq. Bush’s base was behind him on Iraq. Gore’s base would not have been. It takes a particularly hawkish president to preemptively invade a country without evidence of an imminent attack. At most, Gore would’ve lobbed a few missiles.

    Bill Clinton probably would’ve been the first president to visit North Korea if he had a few more months in office. I think Gore would likely have met with Kim Jung-Il.

    If it weren’t for Iraq, I think Bush would’ve won the ’04 election by a landslide. If Gore were president, without Iraq, he could very well have won a second term.

    Gore was less ambitious about carbon emissions regulation during his campaign but we know that he was dedicated to the cause. I don’t know if we would’ve gotten major legislation but I think it likely that we would have gotten some tougher emissions regulations.

  17. Pinky says:

    Gore has at times been quite the hawk. That’s the way he positioned himself in his 1988 presidential run, as a Southern pro-defense moderate Democrat. He’s authoritarian by nature. He would have definitely gone into Afghanistan and Iraq, and the Gore version of the Patriot Act would have been much harsher.

    Twelve years of scandal would have caught up with the Democrats. State Senator Barack Obama would have given a minor speech on day three of the 2004 Convention, and won his Senate race. George Allen and Elizabeth Dole would have beaten Gore handily, and have won their second term in 2008.

  18. restrainedradical says:

    In 1988, Gore opposed public funding for abortion and favored school prayer. His views changed when he left the South. He opposed the Iraq War while it was still popular.

  19. Pinky says:

    RR, when the country is attacked, a president toughens up. Any president would. With his Vietnam cred, Gore would have been able to take stronger military positions than Bush was. Also, he was part of an administration that had favored regime change in Iraq and professed belief that Iraq was advancing toward WMD’s. Additionally, the control freak in him (as well as the tech geek) would have loved a super survaillance program in the Patriot Act.

    As for Gore’s opposition to the Iraq War, I don’t know if he really stood for that or not. Gore hasn’t always been a man of principles, as you note. His opposition made him very popular among the left at the time, and returned him to the spotlight as a voice against his old rival.

  20. Blackadder says:

    I find it highly unlikely that Gore would’ve invaded Iraq. Bush’s base was behind him on Iraq. Gore’s base would not have been.

    As it was roughly half the Dems supported the war, that percentage would have been substantially higher if a Democrat were president.

    Gore’s campaign rhetoric in 2000 was pretty hawkish (more so than Bush, actually), and his foreign policy team would have been predominately hawks (Lieberman would have been VP, ferpetessake).

    In general I think we overestimate the extent to which policy depends on who holds office. In theory Republicans are more hawkish than Dems, Dems are more willing to intervene in the economy, etc. In practice what you get is Republicans bailing out auto companies while Democrats double down in Afghanistan.

  21. restrainedradical says:

    I don’t even think Bush would’ve invaded Iraq without Cheney. It took a special set of circumstances that would’ve been very difficult to replicate with Democrats running the show. Bush was surrounded by people who articulated a desire for forceful regime change in Iraq even before 9/11. I don’t think Gore would’ve had many neo-cons in his administration. Without the preexisting focus on Iraq, I don’t think members of Gore administration would’ve pushed for war.

  22. Anthony says:

    Darwin and American Knight’s thoughts ring most true to my ear. The major disasters of the Bush years would still have happened much the same way they did, minus the Iraq war. BHO would not be pesident now, but possibly in the 2012-2020 cycles.

    If there is one good thing that has come of all this, at least for me, it has been to see the GOP for what they are and to hope for a more libertarian-bent party to emerge. I’m not convinced either party can remain as is and survive the next decade. If 2000-2009 was akin to the 1920s then we’re about to enter a bumpy 20-teens.

  23. Blackadder says:

    I don’t even think Bush would’ve invaded Iraq without Cheney.

    I don’t think putting the war down to one person is very plausible. You might as well say that Gore certainly would have invaded Iraq because his VP was Lieberman.

    This was an establishment war. Much of the establishment wants to downplay that fact now, and try to make out that the war was the work of a small cabal, but that’s not what actually happened.

  24. This was an establishment war. Much of the establishment wants to downplay that fact now, and try to make out that the war was the work of a small cabal, but that’s not what actually happened.

    I think that’s a good point. (Honestly, it was kind of a flip of the coin for me whether to predict that the Iraq war would have happened anyway or not — I picked the negative because I thought it was mildly more interesting.)

    I’d also say, that it’s not really shocking or horrifying that this was an establishment war. Wanting to get Hussein out of control of Iraq is hardly a disreputable desire. It was pretty clearly understood that we could manage that — what we were very much mistaken on was our ability to handle what happened in the vacuum that resulted. That’s unfortunate, but hardly surprising given the tendency of those in charge to assume that they can handle things and make them work out well.

    From today’s vantage point, people tend to forget that actually toppling Hussein was done with a minimum of loss to either the US or civilian Iraqis. It was the inability to control the country afterwards that got nasty.

  25. American Knight says:

    War requires money and it is very profitable for those who finance it. They need it to keep going becuase it forces nations to borrow more money from them. Without the unlimited supply of money, most wars would never be fought. When they must be fought, they are fought quickly becuase the aim of a just-war is peace, as in the end of hostilities and God-willing a victory. Conservation of blood and treasure is forced on those who prosecute the war. When human life and human dignity are ignored (one cannot deny that we ignore these things – we may be squeemish and not want to see actual death but we abort 4,000 babies a day so we really don’t give a spit)and paper ,or worse, electronic money buys war materiel then our political masters have no need to end the war quickly. Wars are useful for controlling your own population. All welfare-warfare states need war. Preferably one that is hard to define like a war on poverty, drugs or terror. No objective. Just endless war with the enemy-the-of-the-day. Eastasia, Eurasia, Islamofacist or Tea Partiers, it doesn’t really matter as long as we have war.

    Wars are created by certain moneyed interests referred to as the Establishment, which is neither Dem or Rep, but entrenched political interests that never die and thrive in either environment so long as we allow them to with our apathy, fear, greed, material satisfaction and immorality.

    As commander in chief, the President, can exhert his power over the war once declared. When was the last time we actually declared a war?

    Bush is a moral man – misguided? Sure, but relatively moral. Gore is not, he is a typical political opportunist. Gore would have been far, far more hawkish than Bush and the current wussy-in-chief will end up being more hawkish than either of them. We just don’t know who he will attack – maybe us!

    The left always perfers wars more than the right, which is why the neo-con leftists have positioned themselves on the right so that we will get war no matter how we vote.

    The Constitution is dead, long live the State!

  26. Ummmm… AK, that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

  27. American Knight says:

    Sorry if it was unclear – I did not edit it at all. No time now. I will try to get to it today.

    Merry Christmas and a Holy New Year!

  28. Pinky says:

    AK, for over a year now I’ve been saying that the one positive thing about an Obama presidency would be that he’s more likely to get into a direct military confrontation with Iran than McCain would have been. McCain would have been crazy tough, which would have resulted in peace. Obama would/will/is/whatever be incredibly passive, leading to a crisis, an overreaction, and probable war.

    I hope that Iran overthrows its government before that happens, but one way or another that regime’s got to end.

  29. restrainedradical says:

    I subscribe to the cabal theory. Sure, the establishment didn’t like Saddam but it still takes a huge leap to get to preemptive invasion (not just preemptive missile strikes).

  30. American Knight says:


    I agree that was a very poorly wirtten post, but (barring punctuation) it didn’t seem that non-sensical to me. Please let me know where I went astray.

    Allow me to restate some points:

    War is a benefit to an expanding state and allows both for control of the state’s population as well as massive profits for the financiers of the war. So wars are fought not to end but to be perpetual. Drugs, poverty and terror are the types of intangible objectives that yield to perpetual war. This is our current state.

    If we had a hard money (not necessarily gold, just a fixed supply of whatever we use as money) then wars would cost too much to prolong and there would be little profit in it. This is the type of currency our Founding Fathers established depsite the massive interference of the moneyed elites, mostly through Freemasonry. In 1910 the enemy succeeded in changing our monetary system to a fiat system, which leads to expanding state power, perpetual war and marginilazation of true religion, especially Christianity and specifically the Catholic religion.

    Since that time the Presidency has increased in power dramatically, it is effectively codified as a dictatorship and the president has become less and less important – merely a useful figurehead. The real power is hidden and entrenched. Did you notice any major changes in defense and monetary appointments with the regime of hope and change? McCain would have been the same as Obama who is the same as Bush in these areas.

    The difference as others have pointed out is that Obama has a cabal of obvious anti-Americans in his White House, which has made what should already be obvious more visible. With McCain that would have remained hidden to most eyes.

    Iraq was going to happen with Clinton, Gore, Bush, Romney, McCain, BHO or any other acceptable candidate. Iran is going to happen either way too. As Pinky pointed out, BHO is likely to instigate it as wussy-in-chief faster than McCain would have as war-monger-in-chief. The left is far more effective at launching unnecessary wars and extending them while at the same time dividing the country by opposing them. The goal: bring the system down. Reset. Start over with a Marxist utopia. Stupid? Yes. Nevertheless, it is what they beleive.

    The so-called Right is simply making a feeble and hollow stance against the Left. A pathetic distraction for the immoral masses. What they miss is that more of us beleive in Christ than they think. Christ has overcome the world. We win.

    RR, stop falling for pre-emptive. It is perpetual not pre-emptive. War is profitable, creates fear and reduces the population. All of these are noble goals for those given over to selfishness and Satan.

  31. Anthony says:

    The perpetual wars of the United States won’t change either until the money runs out or the ‘right’ finally sees it for what it is. The former is more likely. Those on the ‘genuine’ left are swallowing the pill that liberals love war about as much as granola bars. They’re just hipper and have slightly better hair than your average GOP congressman.

    Eisenhower’s warning about the military industrial complex seems to have come to pass. Its hard to argue otherwise when the U.S. is engaged in a war or two at some point every decade.

    Iran, Yemen, Pakistan, Korea, an African nation… there are far too many opportunities for the war profiteers and corporatists.

    All they need to do is convince the American people they are ‘threatened’ and they’ll get their war in time.

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