Wrong by 123rf.com
The first decade of the 21st century is one that America may wish it could start over. On January 1, 2001 this nation started down a path that would lead to many egregious actions by its leaders while great opportunities fell by the wayside. We can't reverse history but we can use a fictional scenario to imagine how things might have been under different leadership that could have taken the nation in a totally different direction.
So let's turn back the clock back to November 7, 2000 and recreate that contentious presidential election featuring Bush versus Gore. And in this fictional scenario let's say that in this election the Democratic candidate, Al Gore, handily defeated the Republican G.W. Bush. Now, what if that had actually happened? How different would America be today?
We should recall that on January 1, 2001 as America entered the 21st century this nation had the wind at its back and was looking forward to a future filled with endless opportunities. At that time America was doing well; the economy was in good shape even though the stock market was still in the throes of the "internet bubble", the nation was not involved in any major military conflict and, believe it or not, the nation had a budget surplus of $230 billion.
So to continue this scenario, former V.P. Al Gore Jr. was inaugurated on January 20, 2001 to become our 43rd president. We should recall that Gore would probably have won that election except for the deceitful decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to "select" Bush as president. Would Gore have been a good president? Well, let's just say this. He or almost any intelligent, well-grounded candidate would almost certainly have possessed better sense, better judgment and better wisdom than Bush, the orchestrator of this wasted decade.
Now let's fast forward to the period just before the tragedy of September 11, 2001 and try to think about how that dastardly crime might never have occurred. Imagine if a President Gore had been given the explicit warnings that Bush had received about an impending attack on America by Osama Bin Laden. It is very likely that he and his advisers would have taken appropriate actions to prevent it. How many presidents would have ignored such a distinct warning? Only one.
But let's say that for various, unknown reasons the president would not have been given any warning and, as a result, the attacks on the WTC occurred. What would have followed? I doubt very much that Gore would have lost his bearings and sense of reasoning, and would have recklessly and preemptively invaded and occupied an entire nation, Afghanistan, with a massive military force to go after a relatively small group of suspected terrorists.
It's more likely that he and his advisers would have used appropriate U.S. intelligence agencies to identify and locate the terrorists and then dispatch American Special Forces to go after them. It is entirely conceivable that, with more intelligent thinking replacing reckless rush to judgment, that more than 100,000 U.S. troops would not have been mired down in that quagmire for over ten years; that hundreds of billions of dollars would not have been wasted.
How about Bush & Co.'s use of 9/11 and the contrived, fraudulent case involving Saddam Hussein and his supposed cache of weapons of mass destruction? I think we can safely say that this ludicrous event in American history would never have happened; that is, it would not even have been considered by any other sensible-thinking president who occupied the White House at that time. Just think; a few hundred thousand innocent civilians would not have needlessly died, 4,481 U.S. troops would not have died and 32,195 would not have been grievously wounded. Up to $1 trillion of taxpayer dollars would not have been wasted on an illegal, immoral war.
Guantanamo would not have been used for prisoners and torture/water boarding crimes would never have been committed. There would have been no renditions in which suspected terrorists or criminals were transported to other nations for torturing.
Yes, we need to call this period in America's history the wasted decade; a time when we needed to move into the new century with a sense of purpose and direction. So many problems to be solved and so many opportunities for meaningful accomplishments for this nation and society that were not addressed.
What might a different president with a different mindset and agenda have done to take America in a completely different direction? Obviously, the country would not have been saddled with massive costs of war and out of control national deficits. So here are the areas that should have been addressed and properly funded.
Our system of education was in need of a complete overhaul with a renewed emphasis on math and science, both of which fuel the nation's creativity and innovation engine and lead to greater growth and prosperity. This government had completely forgotten that education of its citizens should be at the top of the list of priorities and, as a result, America saw a precipitous drop in world academic rankings. This condition should have been remedied, but it wasn't.
The beginning of the 21st century would have been the perfect time to develop a world class system of universal health care based on a single payer concept that would assure all Americans with equal health protection at reasonable costs. It would have greatly diminished the role of the medical insurance industry and its emphasis on profits above service to customers. It didn't happen.
Our rapidly deteriorating infrastructure, once the best in the world, needed repair and rebuilding because of its critical importance to the country's commerce but this government was not willing to appropriate the needed funds. This was the time to develop high speed rail between cities, reduce interstate traffic and substantially improve urban transit systems. The need still exists today.
America needed to create new industries to reinvigorate its declining manufacturing sector and generate millions of new, badly needed jobs for unemployed workers. And what better way to do it than through the development of new sources of energy, from solar panels and wind power. Development of alternate fuels and electric cars was crucial in reducing our dependence on imports of foreign oil. A great opportunity was missed.
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