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Bush justices may blur the separation between Church and State, overturn Roe v. Wade, and eliminate affirmative action. Related Gully Coverage

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U.S. Election 2000
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bush and gore heads

Clay heads of George W. Bush and Al Gore at Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum in London. The winner gets a wax casting and a body.

Election 2000

Bush vs. Gore:
What's At Stake For You

by Kelly Cogswell

NOVEMBER 6, 2000. The outcome of the U.S. Presidential election on Tuesday, November 7th may affect the daily life of Americans, and of millions all over the world, more than any other election since Reagan captured the White House in 1980. Here's how:

The Constitution
The next President may decide how the Constitution will be interpreted for the next generation. Three justices in the nine-member Supreme Court are over 70 years of age and may retire soon.

George W. Bush, the Republican Party candidate, will replace them with conservatives who may further blur the separation between Church and State, overturn Roe v. Wade (a woman's right to choose an abortion), eliminate the remaining affirmative action programs for women and racial minorities, and be hostile to environmental law, and labor, gay, and other civil rights.

Al Gore, the Democratic Party candidate, has promised to appoint liberal justices who will uphold a woman's right to choose an abortion, and who are more likely to support and enlarge all other civil rights.

The Rules of the Game
protesters against transgenic foodsWhether Americans will or will not eat genetically engineered food, can join a union, not just in theory, but in practice, and can even breathe freely depends to a great extent on the federal government's ability to curb corporate abuses against consumers and workers. That ability may soon be curtailed (Bush), or maintained or even enhanced (Gore).

The Clinton administration pursued a much more vigorous regulatory approach than the Reagan and Bush, Sr. administrations. Gore has vowed to maintain that approach and ratchet up regulation in some areas, like the environment and labor; Bush is expected to cool federal regulatory zeal across the board.

A Bush administration will not enforce antitrust laws vigorously. It will end the government's lawsuit against the tobacco industry, and allow oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic Wildlife Preserve. And it will be more sympathetic to business than to labor on everything from changes in labor laws regarding new hiring and compensation, to making it even harder for unions to organize.

The next President will decide how laxly or aggressively the 54 government regulatory agencies will behave—ranging from the Department of Labor to the Securities and Exchange Commission to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration. He will also be able to make about 6,000 appointments in those agencies, in effect reshaping them according to his philosophy.

The Pursuit of Happiness
Except for the death penalty, which they both support, Bush and Gore are polar opposites in issues vital to the pursuit of happiness by many Americans.

Bush opposes abortions except in cases of rape and incest, or to save the life of the pregnant woman. He has vowed to cut federal funds for family planning services and ban overseas aid for organizations that provide any abortion-related service, including information about abortion. Bush opposes quotas and racial preferences.

Gore supports a woman's right to have an abortion without exceptions. He also supports affirmative action programs to help women and minorities gain education and employment opportunities.

steve may, gay reservistGore backs federal "hate crimes'' legislation to punish crimes motivated by racial, religious, ethnic, or sexual orientation intolerance. He would end the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military and allow queers like Arizona lawmaker Steve May to serve openly. He supports same-sex civil unions and has worked for passage of ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would outlaw sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace nationwide.

Bush opposes federal "hate crimes" legislation. He also opposes same-sex civil unions, and would keep "Don't ask, don't tell." Bush has been evasive when asked whether he supports ENDA or not, even claiming at the October 11 debate that he did not know what it was about. When it was explained to him, he finally said, "I support equal rights, but not special rights." Since "special rights" is the conservative code for gay civil rights, the implication is that he does not support the federal act to end discrimination against gay people in the workplace.

Bush would begin to privatize Social Security by allowing younger people to set aside part of their payroll taxes for personal savings accounts that they would then invest in the financial markets. Gore would use the government's projected budget surplus to reduce the national debt. He would then use the interest savings in the federal budget to extend the life of Social Security.

george bushThe centerpiece of Bush's economic plan is a dramatic tax cut of $483 billion over five years and a phasing out of the estate tax. Both measures will benefit mostly the wealthiest segment of the population and Wall Street brokerage firms. Bush would also increase child credits. Gore promises targeted tax cuts for middle- and lower-income Americans, including more tax credits for families with three or more children, and tax breaks to help finance college education.

Bush says that his huge tax break will stimulate the economy, which will benefit all Americans. Gore counters that it will trigger inflation, and possibly a recession, and that it will prevent Bush from paying off the national debt, perhaps even increase it. Gore says his emphasis on paying the debt, smaller tax breaks, combined with increasing some social programs, is the prudent course.

Most economists agree with Gore that paying off the national debt is the #1 priority, but criticize both candidates for planning to spend on tax cuts (Bush) or increased social programs (Gore) a hypothetical surplus that, even on paper, is already vanishing.

The World
Both candidates are internationalists (Gore much more than Bush) and free traders, and both plan to pour more money into the military. The most striking difference between them is that Gore views national security as including human rights, the environment, and health issues worldwide, while Bush's more traditional view excludes them.

george bushGore is willing to deploy U.S. troops abroad for peacekeeping purposes, or to deal with humanitarian emergencies, prevent genocide, counter ethnic strife, and other multilateral tasks. Bush is opposed to all of this; he would generally use troops only to counter a direct threat to more narrowly defined U.S. military or economic interests, particularly, any threat to the oil flow from the Gulf.

Another difference is that Gore supports multilateralism and the U.N.—working with others to tackle global problems—while Bush prefers for the U.S. to go solo. In this vein, Bush denounces the Kyoto global warming treaty, and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, both of which Gore defends. And, unlike Gore, Bush wants to deploy a national missile defense system and abrogate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty even if the Russians continue to object. Bush will also pull out U.S. troops remaining in the Balkans.

Related links:

For more details on candidates and issues, go to the NGLTF Elections Center 2000.

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