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Study Of The Us Presidential Election Of 2000 Politics Essay

After a scandalous presidency filled with sexual affairs and near impeachments, America tired of President Bill Clinton’s 1996 term of office and looked forward to new candidates in the 2000 election. Besides the Republican and Democratic parties, there were the major 3rd party platforms: the Green party, the Reform party, and the Libertarian party as well as other small denominations that did not make their way to the presidential ballot. The election of 2000 was almost a major American democratic fiasco and was a close, “epochal cliffhanger” [1] as well as hard-fought battle for electoral votes.

The presidential primary challengers of the Republican party were as follows: George W. Bush, governor of Texas, Steve Forbes, Alan Keyes, Gary Bauer, John McCain, who will show up again in later elections, Orrin Hatch, who withdrew later to support Bush, who is victorious in this election. The Democratic primary ballot consisted of Albert “Al” Gore Jr., former vice president under Bill Clinton, Bill Bradley, and Lyndon Larouche. Al went on to win every state-wide contest, securing him a foothold in the national election. The largest third party that had a role in this election is the Green party, led by Ralph Nader, who beat out Jello Biafra, Stephen Gaskin, and Joel Kovel in the primaries. [2] His threat to Gore was to “steal” votes from the environmentalists that would support have otherwise supported Gore. Both Gore and the Green party were pro-environment. [3] The vice presidents chosen by Bush, Gore, and Nader, respectively, were Richard “Dick” Cheney, Joseph Lieberman, and Winona LaDuke.

When Gore was campaigning, a difficulty he had to deal with was the fact that he still carried the scandalous baggage from his days as Bill Clinton’s vice president. He had to dissociate himself from the inappropriate actions that were done in 1996 and make America see his own personal potential. Bush’s difficulties involved the fact that he had very little experience involving office on a presidential scale, but making Cheney his vice president took care of that.

The main primary domestic issues discussed by the president-elects were gun control, crime, the death penalty, drugs, and the environment. Bush’s views on gun control are that guns should be kept from the wrong people, the government should pay for trigger locks, and the legal age to own a gun should be raised to 21. Gore agreed with Bush on banning some weapons, but he also wanted registration. He also agreed the legal age to own a gun should be raised to 21. His views on crime and the death penalty are also similar to Bush’s in that “tough love” should be used against juvenile delinquents and national hate crime laws should be stricter. To add fairness to the death penalty, they both agree that DNA evidence was needed. Bush was a former alcoholic who used the “power of prayer” to steer him back on track and his views on drugs are very strict and he supports tough anti-drug laws. Gore was also a previous marijuana user, but believed restrictions on medical marijuana should be looser. On the issue of the environment, Gore was pro-environment and wanted to spread awareness of the dangers of global warming while Bush was not as passionate. [4] In each candidate’s campaign, foreign policy was not a largely discussed factor, but included internationalism and maintaining peaceful relationships with other countries. [5] 

While campaigning, Gore and Bush participated in debates on October 3rd, 11th, and 17th of 2000. Their moderator in all three debates was Jim Lehrer from PBS and in these debates, they said what they thought of each other’s leadership abilities and proposed policies. In the October 3rd debate, the president-elects were debating each other’s prescription drug proposals and the discussion became a little heated when Gore stated that Bush’s policy was not going to be brought up as much as his. Bush proclaimed that as a false statement and before too much time had been taken up, Jim had to move on to a new question. Their other debates also contained scenes of disagreement like that one. [6] 

On November 7th, 2000, it came time for America to vote. It was clear from the beginning of vote counting that the election would be incredibly close. However, Florida’s vote was much too close for comfort and the state’s votes had to be recounted. After the second recount, just when it appeared Bush had won, Democrats demanded yet another recount due to hard-to-interpret paper ballots and malfunctioning machines that may have kept Gore from having a fair chance at winning the election. Republicans thought this added recount would be unfair, however, and lawyers began to get involved as well as the Florida Supreme Court. The majority of the Florida legislature was Republican, so they went ahead to name the electors of the state that would be voting for Bush, no matter the vote. [7] 

Both campaigns became distressed at the fact that the election was becoming so convoluted. Bush’s campaigning team decided to take this election’s problems to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court case Bush v. Gore lasted five weeks after November 7th while the people of America bit their nails in anticipation of the results. Finally, the court ruled in favor of Bush, granting him the presidency. The Supreme Court justices made sense out of the confusing Florida fiasco on the principles of the Constitution. The Fourteenth Amendment’s “equal protection” clause was violated when Florida did not have a specialized system for dealing with the confusing ballots.

The results of the election can be seen in the electoral map [8] [on the next page]. It is shown in the electoral table that although Gore received the majority of the popular vote, he did not get enough electoral votes to beat Bush. True to his word, Nader stole popular votes and may have cost Gore the election. Nader didn’t get one electoral vote, but after this election he was regarded as the “vote thief”. Unhappy Democrats and critics viewed Bush’s presidency as illegitimate and wanted the Electoral College done away with, but these mistakes allowed

Florida to make adjustments to their laws and prevent such problems from rising in the next election.

When comparing this election to the previous 1996 election and the future 2004 election, voter turnout is taken into account. From the election years 1960 to 2000, there has been a noticeable decline in voter turnout. The culprit can be generational replacement. [9] A new generation is taking over the polls, but not exactly in the enthusiastic way in which the adults of the 1960s did. The people of the 1960s were going through world crisis’ that gave them the motivation to vote for their leader. Americans in 2000 did not have such worries, thus they did not feel compelled to be involved in the presidential election process. The percentage of voting-age adults out of the population has declined from 50% in 1972 to 30% in 2000. After the 2000 election, there has been an increasing incline, however, in voter turnout and it may be thanks to the increase in youth voters. [10] From 1996 to 2004, the percentage of youth voters increased from 34.9% to 51.6%. Comparing political parties, there have been many republican presidents from 1960 to 2000 and only a few democratic presidents, but the election of a republican president in 2000 makes it seem as if there would be another streak of republican presidents. However, a democratic president was elected in 2008, which makes the political parties of presidents seem random and not really in a “streak.”

The 2000 election left the US to severely doubt the accuracy of previous election machinery and ballots. The impact this election has left on the US is a large one that centers on the efficiency and accuracy of new electronic and online voting. The confusing paper ballots in which the “chads,” or the paper bits that come out when paper is punched with holes, are no longer used and have been taken over by more reliable electronic appliances for faster counting. The 43rd presidential election was filled with its own confusions, uncertainties, and a court case. However, this election’s mishaps were just other mistakes that America has learned from and hopefully will not be repeated.


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