I’ve been asking myself this question a lot these days. Certain things would indeed be different. There are two that come immediately to mind.
The first is the war in Iraq. I just don’t believe a Gore administration would have gone. He wouldn’t have been so heavily influenced by neo-con thinking like George W. Bush evidently was. I also think that he would have been more likely to conclude that we needed to focus on the war in Afghanistan instead of needing to broaden the scope of the war on terror as Bush did.
This means that we would have a viable military option on the table to check Iran’s nuclear ambitions. It also means that Iran wouldn’t have benefited from all the chaos in neighboring Iraq in the first place. Lastly, we wouldn’t have spent the enormous sums of money we did there, or aroused such ill will in the Arab world.
The second is on fiscal restraint. Gore might well have pushed an expensive new healthcare entitlement. This would likely have been leavened with compromise with Republicans assuming it got through at all. But I can’t see him pushing for over a trillion dollars worth of tax cuts as Bush did. When taken with the enormous expenditures in Iraq, our budget deficit would probably be less than what it is today.
I do believe that the financial crisis would have happened no matter who was in office. The roots go back years. Subprime mortgages would have existed if Gore were elected. Lehman and other financial institutions would have been over-leveraged. Remember, the collapse is worldwide. It happened in countries with heavy regulatory schemes in continental Europe too.
But the spending done to get us out of the economic difficulties would not have created the huge deficit we have now I think. So there you have it. I think America might well be a better place if it had a President Gore instead of a President Bush in 2000.