Things that might have been…
2000 – Presented with a virtual tie and numerous voting irregularities on Election Day, Democratic Presidential Candidate Al Gore overrules some of his advisors and requests a recount of votes cast within the entire State of Florida. The request is for a larger endeavor than the targeted, Broward and Palm Beach County-only recount pushed by members of the Gore team. When the votes are counted, Gore’s strategy is vindicated as he emerges with a narrow victory in Florida, giving him a clear majority in the electoral college, and the presidency.
1/20/01 – Al Gore sworn in as 43rd President of the United States.
9/11/01 – Terrorists attack the United States, flying airplanes into the World Trade Center in New York City, and the Pentagon in Washington D.C. Another plane, believed headed toward the White House, crashes in a Pennsylvania field after passengers disable the hijackers.
2002-2004 – President Gore initiates and executes military operations in Afganistan aimed at finding and bringing to justice those behind the 9/11 attacks. Gore declares that the military operations will be limited in time and destruction, but the human targets prove elusive and the undeclared war drags on much longer than initially expected.
2004 – With the war in Afghanistan dragging on, and accusations of military incompetence beginning to surface in the mainstream media, Republicans nominate war hero and maverick Senator John McCain for President. In a bid for party unity and a nod to the nation’s 41st President, McCain picks Jeb Bush to be his Vice President, saying that the Bush family’s experience in quickly prosecuting, and exiting, the 1991 Gulf War, will inform his presidency. In another extremely close election, McCain wins the State of Florida by a clear majority with the help of his running mate, that State’s sitting Governor, and defeats Gore in the electoral college to become the 44th President. President Gore wins the popular vote, but loses in the electoral college to become the only candidate of the modern era to fail to win the presidency while winning the popular vote.
2005-2007 – President McCain expands military operations in Afganistan and surrounding areas but resists cries from within his own party to expand the war into Iraq and Iran. Still, McCain has more than he bargained for. The hoped-for Gulf alliance proves fleeting and ineffectual. Initial surges in activity by American forces produce desired results, but clear operational victories become harder to define and pursue as opposition networks become more sophisticated and diverse. Surprise operations by the enemy and growing civilian discontent in occupied areas begin to raise the death toll of American soldiers. After 5 years, the American Military effort seems bogged down.
2008 – Democrats nominate Illinois Senator Barack Obama to run against President McCain. Obama, an African-American who spoke consistently and eloquently against the once-popular war, attracts many new voters to the electoral process and thus forges a victory in November.
2009-2011 – President Obama slowly decreases the American military presence in Afganistan. Horrified Republican legislators, who wish to expand the war in accordance with McCain’s initial troop surges, attempt to block Obama’s domestic legislative agenda in protest.
2012 – Republicans nominate former Vice President Jeb Bush to challenge Obama. Bush promises to expand then end the war, a popular sentiment, though by nature, a hedge. Bush leads in many polls through October. However, Obama’s coalition expands due to continuing efforts aimed at registering young voters. That coalition holds and Obama is re-elected.
2013-2015 – Elected Republicans enjoy growing popularity as President Obama continues to have difficulty enacting his domestic agenda. However, grass-roots frustration within the GOP, stemming from losing two seemingly winnable elections, produces much speculation about the party’s next choice of nominee.
2016 – GOP front-runner and former Vice President Jeb Bush faces a tough fight for the nomination against surprise opposition of outsiders trying to change the party…