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The American Presidential Election of 2004

Mr. Beat

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The 55th episode in a very long series about the American presidential elections from 1788 to the present. In a post9/11 world, Americans seem more afraid than ever for the 2004 election. #mrbeat #presidentialelectionsinamericanhistory #elections

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The 55th Presidential election in American history took place on November 2, 2004. A lot had changed since the last election. Just 8 months after George W. Bush became President, terrorists attacked the United States. On September 11, 2001, they hijacked four planes, crashing two of them into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and another into the Pentagon building. Passengers of the fourth plane regained control to prevent it from hitting its target, which was likely the White House or the Capitol Building. However, that plane crashed in rural Pennsylvania, killing everyone on board. In total, the attacked killed almost 3,000 people and the terrorists got exactly what they wanted Americans were scared.

In response, George W. Bush took swift action declaring a War on Terror. (clip) Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists, which pretty much gave Bush lots of leeway in going after those responsible for what became known as the 9/11 attacks.

Bush’s main objective was to destroy Al Qaeda, the terrorist group who took responsibility for 9/11. Many believed that the Taliban, the Afghanistan government at the time, was providing safe haven for Al Qaeda. Bush demanded the Taliban turn over Osama bin Laden and other alQaeda leaders hiding out there or face attack. The Taliban didn’t cooperate, so Bush sent troops to invade Afghanistan and overthrow their government. Even today, the United States is still dropping bombs on targets in Afghanistan.

The War on Terror only got bigger. In 2003, Bush sent troops to Iraq to take over and overthrow their dictator Saddam Hussein. So what did Iraq have to do with 9/11? Well, not much, but the Bush administration claimed that Hussein was working with Al Qaeda and that they had weapons of mass destruction. But as it turns out, this was not true at all. The decision to invade Iraq was controversial, with protests in the street similar to the protests against the Vietnam War decades before. The initial overthrow wasn’t as controversial, but after Bush declared “mission accomplished,” basically saying the war was over, our troops stayed there to nation build. (no nation building clip) This proved to be very controversial, because as the United States tried to rebuild Iraq and have them establish a new government similar to theirs, it just wasn’t going so well.

As Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney both sought reelection, there was no end to the Iraq War in sight. Still, they remained popular within the Republican Party, especially after capturing Saddam Hussein, and were both easily renominated.

Many candidates fought for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, but really just three stood out to me as serious contenders. One was John Edwards, a Senator from North Carolina. Another was Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont. Dean was the first candidate to really use the internet to his campaign’s advantage. His support was very grassroots and he had passionate followers. Dean stood out among the crowd because he was one of the few Democrats to actively speak out against the War in Iraq. But the media kept playing this over and over. And eventually his momentum just sort of fizzled out. The frontrunner throughout the Democratic primaries was John Kerry, a Senator from Massachusetts. Kerry was a safe choice for the Democrats he had moderate views like Bill Clinton, but was probably more boring than Clinton. While Kerry had voted for the Iraq War, he had criticized Bush’s handling of it and preferred Bush used more diplomacy and less bombs. By Super Tuesday, no one else had a chance. John Kerry was the nominee. Kerry chose John Edwards as his running mate.

So it was George and Dick versus the Johns. Most of the talk leading up to the election was about foreign policy. On the campaign trail, Bush criticized Kerry as a flip flopper on issues and he tried to convince Americans that he was tough on terrorism. Just like Bush’s dad did with Dukakis back in 1988, Bush Jr. tried to convince Americans that Kerry was just another Massachusetts liberal.

posted by enquissarih