Saturday, July 16, 2011

Al Gore and George Bush: Was there a real difference?

I was discussing with an adult who works at the NIH about Ralph Nader. The adult said: "Ralph Nader caused Al Gore to not be President." I responded: "Well, what about the Supreme Court's ruling?" He said in return: "It was Nader. That's why I don't support Nader anymore." That conversation inspired me to write this article about the 2000 election. First I'll go into the positions of both candidates (Bush and Gore). Then I’ll compare them later on.

Before I get into analysis of Democratic and Republican candidates in 2000, I’d like to address an issue that rattled the elections that year. Some say, including my dad, that Ralph Nader was saying that Al Gore and George W. Bush were very similar and that’s why you should vote me (gaining Mr. Nader over a million votes). Politifact did a review of the statements by Mr. Nader, who wrote in an editorial for the New York Times: “I have indicated that there are 'few major differences' between the two parties not that there is 'no difference between Mr. Gore and Mr. Bush,' as Mr. Kennedy wrote. Second, I have never said that I would vote for George W. Bush, whom I have strongly criticized across the country, if forced to choose between him and Al Gore." This got the idea in people’s heads that Mr. Nader was saying they were the same candidate. Mr. Nader implied that he thought Mr. Bush and Mr. Gore equally objectionable. In a news conference in 2000 he said: "It doesn't matter who is in the White House, Gore or Bush, for the vast majority of government departments and agencies. The only difference between Al Gore and George W. Bush is the velocity with which their knees hit the floor when corporations knock on their door.” Four days before the election in Philadelphia, he repeated the same thing: “It's a Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum vote. Both parties are selling our government to big business paymasters. ...That's a pretty serious similarity." At the end, Politifact concluded: So no, Nader never explicitly said "it doesn't really matter whether Gore or Bush is president." But his talk of "Republicrats," "Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum," and "one corporate party" left many people — friend, foe and impartial observer alike — with the impression that that's what he believed. We find Nader's statement that he "never said" it to be Barely True. To disprove or prove Mr. Nader’s statements, I looked at the funding of both of the candidates.

I wanted to have a view of how both candidates for President in the 2000 election got their funding. I started with the Federal Election Commission first, saying that by September 30th, 1999, George W. Bush had about $57 million in recipts, $19 million in dismebursements and about $37 million on hand. Al Gore had about $25 million in receipts, $14 million in disbursements and $10 million on hand. But that isn’t enough to prove Mr. Nader’s statements about both political parties. In on article by Common Dreams, it says certain actions by Mr. Bush, a Texas oil man, are for “the benefit of...corporate and fundamentalist sponsors.” But that’s not enough to show specifically who Mr. Bush’s sponsors were. The Miller Center wasn’t that specific either, stating: “Although new to national politics, Bush was practically anointed as the Republican standard-bearer by the GOP establishment in early 1999 after he proved to be a one-man fundraising machine that scored a record $68.7 million the year before the election.” I looked and looked for another article or articles about who exactly donated to his presidential campaign. I couldn’t find any exact articles. But I did find an OpenSecrets report of the 2004 election that stated that corporations such as Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch as well as other big companies were some of major donors to Mr. Bush’s campaign against the Democrats (John Kerry and John Edwards) that year. Finally I found a site that exposed Bush’s contributors in the 2000 election. Luckily the website’s creators had grabbed an OpenSecrets report from that year and from other analysis concluded that “[the] Agribusiness [gave] Bush $2,148,624...[the] Oil & Gas [industry gave] Bush $1,463,799...[the] Construction [industry gave] Bush $3,472,82...[the] Real Estate [gave] Bush $3,661,372...[the] Automotive [industry gave] Bush $1,019,581...Drug companies [gave] Republicans/Bush 73% of $13,800,000...The ten corporations that funnelled the most soft money into Bush’s campaign, according to FEC data, are as follows: AT&T directed 62% of its $4,479,653 in soft money donations to Republican groups...Seventy-six percent of UPS’s $2,662,994 in soft money went to Republican groups, along with a whopping 79% of Philip Morris’ $2,565,880. Verizon Wireless funneled 63% of $2,874,921 to Republican groups. MBNA America Bank put 82% of $2,193,550 into Republican campaigns. Enron...gave 76% of $2,015,853 to Republican warchests, mostly through the RNC. Merrill Lynch devoted 74% of $2,000,025 to Republican groups. Pfizer Inc...diverted 84% of $1,810,572 to Republican campaigns. Bristol-Myers Squibb gave 84% of $1,751,442. Fedex gave 65% of $2,095,328...Dell Computers executive Michael Dell...personally donated $250,000 to the RNC...Afinity Group, Inc chair Stephen Adams has...invested $1 million in soft money in Bush’s campaign...Aurora Capital Partners chair Gerald Parsky...[has] personally given $200,000 to the RNC...Cisco CEO John Chambers...gave $310,000 in soft money; Charles R. Schwab of Charles Schwab Investments...gave $270,000; and Leach Capital’s Howard Leach...gave $120,000.” That sounds like he was in with the Big Corporations. But that’s not all.

Al Gore also got numerous donations from big companies as well, described on the website I mentioned earlier. For Mr. Gore: “[the] Agribusiness [gave]...$240,350...[the] Oil & Gas [industry gave] $95,460...[the] Construction [industry gave] $920,938...Real Estate [industry gave] $1,213,310...[the] Automotive [industry gave]...$79,085...Drug companies [gave]...23% of $13,800,000 [or about $3.1 million, more than any other big company].” After Mr. Gore decided to concede in December after the 2000 election recount, saying that he welcomes George W. Bush as the President, donors decided to turn their back on him. However, iIn the process more donors were revealed. Brainer Dispatch wrote about this in an article, detailing a few examples of Al Gore donors: “Vinod Gupta, an Internet entrepreneur who contributed $318,000 to Gore and Democratic committees...Trevor Pearlman, Dallas venture capitalist and former trial lawyer who contributed $161,000 to Gore and the Democratic National Committee during this election cycle.” An analysis of the money donated isn’t all that will invalidate or validate Mr. Nader’s widely misinterpreted point in the 2000 election. The political views will prove if both candidates were in one big corporate party or if they were completely different.

First I looked at the Republican candidate in the 2000 Presidential election, George W. Bush. Here’s a list of some of George W. Bush’s political views before he became President (I picked ones that would make a comparison better):
  • Ban partial-birth abortions, and reduce abortions overall. (Oct 2000)
  • No tax money for abortion, but no Pro-Life Amendment either. (Sep 2000)
  • “It’s time for a change” in Washington. (Oct 2000)
  • Make budget biennial; reinstate line-item veto; target pork. (Jun 2000)
  • Local control with consequences if racial profiling occurs. (Oct 2000)
  • Against gay marriage, but leave it to the states. (Feb 2000)
  • Ignored Byrd hate crime bill despite plea by Byrd’s family. (Oct 2000)
  • Death penalty for deterrence, not revenge. (Oct 2000)
  • Death penalty for hate crimes like any other murder. (Oct 2000)
  • Miranda [rights] should be waived in some situations. (Jun 2000)
  • More federal funding for all aspects of Drug War. (Aug 2000)
  • Zero tolerance on disruption, guns, & school safety. (Apr 2000)
  • Improve education with local control, accountability. (Sep 2000)
  • Tax money to religious schools OK, if they’re teaching kids. (May 2000)
  • Better to drill ANWR than import oil from Saddam Hussein. (Oct 2000)
  • Replenish energy supplies with new domestic coal & pipelines. (Oct 2000)
  • Weaken Clean Air [act] (Nov 2000)
  • Internet filters, ratings, & parental monitoring for kids. (Oct 2000)
  • Promote abstinence in schools and via churches. (Apr 2000)
  • Africa’s important but not a priority; no nation-building. (Oct 2000)
  • China is an American competitor, not a friend. (Feb 2000)
  • US should humbly empower other countries, not dictate. (Oct 2000)
  • Less intervention abroad and unilateral nuclear cuts at home. (Sep 2000)
  • Reform UN & IMF; strengthen NATO. (Apr 2000)
  • Regulatory style: like Reagan, get government out of the way. (Oct 2000)
  • Ban soft money, but no public financing of elections. (Oct 2000)
  • Full disclosure and no giving limits. (Mar 2000)
  • No corporate or union soft money. (Feb 2000)
  • Would sign, but would not push, gun restrictions. (Apr 2000)
  • Ban automatic weapons & high-capacity ammunition clips. (Apr 2000)
  • Restrict teenage smoking by tough state & federal laws. (Mar 2000)
  • Give seniors choice, not bureaucrats; give incentives too. (Sep 2000)
  • Be world’s peacemaker instead of world’s policeman. (Oct 2000)
  • Rebuild military so it can fulfill mission to prevent war. (Oct 2000)
  • Gays in military OK; “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” OK. (Sep 2000)
  • Post-Cold War: remove weapons & high-alert; build SDI. (May 2000)
  • Make INS more “immigrant friendly”. (Jun 2000)
  • Put U.S. interests first and execute goals with good team. (Oct 2000)
  • Don’t treat Social Security like it’s a federal program. (Nov 2000)
  • Privatize Social Security to take advantage of stock market. (May 2000)
  • Don’t eliminate gas tax; ask OPEC to increase supply. (Jul 2000)
  • Yes, wealthy get tax relief, but 6M poor will pay no tax. (Oct 2000)
  • All Americans deserve tax relief; no more “fuzzy numbers”. (Oct 2000)
  • No national sales tax or VAT. (Feb 2000)
  • Israel: America should be a stronger friend. (May 2000)

Al Gore’s positions when he was running to became the next President:
  • Ban partial-birth abortions, except for maternal health. (Oct 2000)
  • Opposes partial birth abortion, but opposes banning it. (Sep 2000)
  • Right to choice, regardless of economic circumstance. (Mar 2000)
  • Wrote in 1984 that abortion is arguably taking a life. (Jan 2000)
  • Paying down debt reduces government intrusion. (Oct 2000)
  • Pay off the national debt by 2013. (Apr 2000)
  • Ban racial profiling by Executive Order. (Jan 2000)
  • Find some way for civic union; but not gay marriage. (Oct 2000)
  • National hate crimes law is needed, absolutely. (Oct 2000)
  • Intensify the battle against crime, drugs, and disorder. (May 2000)
  • Death penalty for deterrence, but carefully. (Oct 2000)
  • Lead a national crusade against drugs. (May 2000)
  • Loosen restrictions on medical marijuana. (Mar 2000)
  • Tougher drug policies; fight drugs in Colombia. (Mar 2000)
  • “Revolutionary plan”: 50% more for public schools. (Jan 2000)
  • Release oil from Strategic Petroleum Reserve. (Sep 2000)
  • For Kyoto; for national parks; against drilling ANWR. (Nov 2000)
  • Abstinence Ed in the context of comprehensive Sex Ed. (Sep 2000)
  • Gore supports vigorous intervention abroad (Oct 2000)
  • Strong defense for world leader; tie defense to other issues. (Jan 2000)
  • Fair trade: standards for child labor & environment. (Aug 2000)
  • Build a rule-based global trading system. (Aug 2000)
  • Spending increase? “Absolutely not”; balance every budget. (Oct 2000)
  • McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform will be first bill. (Oct 2000)
  • Ban soft money and provide free broadcast time. (Sep 2000)
  • Campaign finance reform will be very first bill to Congress. (Aug 2000)
  • Free TV and radio for candidates during campaigns. (Mar 2000)
  • Pledges to add not one new federal position. (Oct 2000)
  • Tough gun laws & so much more, to stop child tragedies. (Mar 2000)
  • Zero tolerance for guns at school; raise age to 21. (Jan 2000)
  • Let FDA regulate cigarettes; fight teenage smoking. (Mar 2000)
  • Build-down military to smaller but more effective. (May 2000)
  • Nation-building is part of world leadership. (Oct 2000)
  • Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is unfair & hasn’t worked. (Sep 2000)
  • Build less powerful SDI; to keep ABM treaty & START III. (May 2000)
  • More immigrants to alleviate labor shortage. (Mar 2000)
  • Voluntary school prayer is ok, if teachers aren’t involved. (Sep 2000)
  • Create Retirement Savings Accounts. (Aug 2000)
  • Tax cuts to benefit middle-class, not just the rich. (Aug 2000)
  • Eliminate estate taxes for the little guy, not the wealthy. (Jun 2000)
  • “Digital Cabinet” of high-tech advisors. (Sep 2000)
  • Broadcasters required to assist with “Democracy Endowment”. (Mar 2000)
  • Create e-government, interactive access for all citizens. (Jun 2000)
  • Internet self-regulation OK: privacy policy on all web sites. (Oct 2000)
  • Regulate Internet privacy & child access, but not content. (Mar 2000)
  • Universal Internet access should be a national priority. (Feb 2000)
  • Genocide is a strategic interest & warrants intervention. (Oct 2000)
  • Don’t let OPEC take advantage of Americans. (Sep 2000)
  • Iraq: support Saddam’s opposition, until he’s gone. (May 2000)

Looking at both lists of political views, it seems there are some differences between both candidates. I created a chart of the views of both the candidates so you can compare them easier (all the red boxed items are ones that are similar)
I believe that on one hand Mr. Nader is right that both parties got lots of funding from corporations as I described earlier, but they were not same exactly. Some positions were completely different, as Al Gore was more in favor of an online government, while George W. Bush didn’t even mention it. It varied. In conclusion, I rate Mr. Nader’s statement as mostly true since there was many similarities on certain issues, however they still aren’t completely the same.

Even Ralph Nader spoke about Mr. Obama in these words: “Well, I think Barack Obama is in training to become panderer-in-chief...And it’s quite clear that he is a corporate candidate from A to Z...He — you know, he’s letting the corporate-dominated city of Washington, the corporations who actually rule us now in Washington, determine his agenda.” (

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