The three branches of our government have unique duties under the Constitution. The separation of powers provides checks and balances to prevent runaway political influence from disturbing the public welfare.
Sometimes, the U.S. Supreme Court makes a ruling that influences how laws are interpreted and how rights are assigned. Sometimes, the court is asked to rule on constitutional issues such as the validity of presidential elections. During our history, the makeup of the court has shifted and swayed with the political winds.
Decisions by the Supreme Court, Congress and presidents have consequences.
The 2000 presidential race produced considerable drama, especially in Florida, where all election "irregularities" were evident but eventually ignored by the court to facilitate the electoral college “victory” of George W. Bush.
What would the ripple effect have been if all the ballots were counted and recounted in Florida?
Al Gore would have been the 43rd president of the United States. He would have maintained certain Clinton policies such as Workfare and pay-as-you-go budgeting. The budget surplus would have continued to grow and businesses and banking, having confidence in our fiscal responsibility, would have sallied forth to even greater economic growth than the Clinton years produced. The dip in the economy of 2000 would have been shallow and the recovery quick.
There would have been no Bush tax cuts for the rich. The top income tax rate of 38 percent would have remained and the regulations on banking investments would have stayed strong, thus preventing the real estate and hedge fund disasters. There would have been no Medicare Part D that stripped Medicare of its negotiation powers for drug cost control.
So without the Great Recession, assuming Gore got re-elected in 2004, there would have been no vehicles for the multi-trillion dollar debt from Bush era policies.
Perhaps the Saudi nationals would still have crashed into our buildings, but maybe Gore’s intelligence community would have been better at communicating and prevented the disaster of Sept. 11, 2001. Even so, does anyone believe Gore would have ordered the preemptive invasion of Iraq that had nothing to do with the attacks? I imagine the Gore administration would have quickly taken care of Osama bin Laden without adding another trillion dollars to our debt.
President Gore also would not have appointed Sam Alito or John Roberts to the Supreme Court, so we wouldn’t have had a Citizens United decision that has flipped the whole election process into a cocked hat.
This alternate look at consequences of politically motivated decisions is poignant indeed when we view the current mess we’re in as a nation and how divided we are politically and socially. Would there have been a different mess? Who knows? But at least we’d have known our president had been honestly elected and without the shadows of irregularities still being unresolved.
Turner is a retired teacher and industrial engineer who lives near Marble Falls. He is an independent columnist, not a staff member, and his views do not necessarily reflect those of The Tribune or its parent company. "The Voter’s Guide to National Salvation" is a newly published e-book from Turner. You can find it at www.barnesandnoble.com/ebooks. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.