Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Thoughts on the Aughts

In reality, the first decade of the 21st century starts in January, 2011, but since this is the last year of the ‘00s or “aughts”, it is worthwhile reflecting on how the world has changed since Y2K.

Some may say that the aughts were sculpted by the events of September 11, 2001. But in fact, the persons who had the most impact on the aughts were the five Supreme Court justices who stopped the counting of the votes in Florida which resulted in George W. Bush’s ascendency to the oval office. What would have happened if the votes were allowed to be counted? Would a President Gore have ignored the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing that indicated that foreign terrorists were planning to convert jetliners into homicide bombs? Perhaps not. Or maybe the tragedy of 9/11 was inevitable regardless of how the presidential election turned out. But would a President Gore have subsequently invaded Iraq, resulting in the loss of life, evisceration of the military, and spending that could have gone to provide health care to all Americans? I think not.

If those five justices had allowed the Florida votes to be counted, what would be the legacy of Vice President Joe Lieberman at the end of the aughts? Would he have run for President at the end of President Gore’s second term? Which Joe Lieberman would that be – the one that actively promoted health care reform in the ‘90s or the one that is currently promoting the agenda of the health insurance companies?

One of the first crazy things that George W. Bush did in his presidency, even before 9/11, was to cut off federal funding for stem cell research. What discoveries and cures have we missed out on in the last eight years?

So, all in all, five Supreme Court justices brought us a costly war, a failing economy based on the greed of Wall Street, more uninsured Americans, denigration of science, and an overall lowering of America’s standard of living and moral compass.

Yet, if the five Supreme Court justices had allowed the vote in Florida to be counted, that would most likely have meant 16 consecutive years of a Democrat in the White House leading to a Republican winner in 2008. The intriguing question in this alternate history is what kind of Republican would that be? Would it be a Sarah Palin/Bill Frist ultra-right wing extremist? Or would it be a Christie Whitman/Arnold Schwarzenegger right-of-center person with a more mainstream approach to social issues? What do you think our situation would be going into 2010 if the Florida vote had been counted?

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