A True October Surprise (A Wikibox TL)

Title Card
All right, so what the hell is this?

It's my first "proper" TL of sorts. I figure that after six years, I should really get around to making one.

Okay, but why a "wikibox TL"? Are you too much of a special snowflake to do a regular TL instead?

No, just too busy with both school, other projects and with a healthy amount of self-doubt about making a full-fledged TL.

And apparently multiple personality disorder.


Speaking of which, this isn't a TLIAD, TLIAW or whatever, so why are you doing the TLIAD opening thing?

Because I thought it would be easier to explain what this TL's gimmick is in the TLIAD tradition than doing a boring normal opening post.

So what's the gimmick? Is it infoboxes?

Got it in one.

Great. What about them?

Every TL post will have one.

Why didn't you just put this on the Alternate Wikipedia Infoboxes thread then?

Because I don't want to clog it up with an infobox series...again.

Why the change of heart Mr. Makes An Infobox Series With 27 Entries?

Mostly that this is (hopefully) going to be a bit more in-depth than my normal works there. Also, because all the cool kids are doing it.

The cool kids are also doing their homework instead of working on a weird schizophrenic dialogue on the Internet.

Sshhh. No more tears, only Humphrey.

You need help.

Yes, yes I do.
Part 1: United States presidential election, 1968
...Going into the final week of the 1968 presidential campaign, the Nixon campaign seemed assured of a victory. Polls showed the former Republican vice president ahead of Vice President Humphrey and with enough wiggle room to prevent George Wallace's third-party bid from throwing the election to the House. Humphrey had the misfortune to run as the nominee of a party whose primary season included the primary challenge to an unpopular sitting president, the assassination of one candidate and a chaotic convention where Chicago police beat protesters outside on national television. Cities were aflame, American involvement in Vietnam was growing more unpopular by the day and President Johnson had prevented Humphrey from voicing his own anti-war opinions (and contradict Johnson's own public statements) until far too late in the campaign.

Then, President Johnson made an announcement on Halloween.

The Texan said that "peace was imminent" in Vietnam and that both North and South Vietnam had agreed to come to the table to negotiate an end to the war. Johnson announced that he had, in light of this, agreed to halt the bombing campaign against North Vietnam while talks were going on. Without the baggage of the war around Humphrey's neck, the "Happy Warrior" shot up in the polls, surpassing Nixon for the first time since the campaign began.

Decades after the election, it emerged that Anna Chennault, a member of the American delegation to the peace talks and Republican Party official, had been told to expect to act as a conduit to the South Vietnamese in order to impress upon them that a Nixon victory could preserve South Vietnam's independence and to help delay or scuttle peace talks until after the election. Why Chennault was never given the go ahead is up for debate among historians. Some say that Nixon, for all of his willingness to use whatever means to get ahead, balked at violating the Logan Act that prohibited private citizens from negotiating for the United States. Others that President Johnson learned of Chennault's affiliation with the campaign and conveyed a message to his fellow ruthless politico threatening to expose what he reportedly described to aides as the Republican candidates' "attempt at treason".

The reason for Nixon not to use Chennault as intended by the campaign, as mentioned, may never be known. But the results speak for themselves.

Last edited:
Part 2: Humphrey Presidency (1969-1972)
President Humphrey inherited quite a mess from his predecessor and left-wingers who plugged their nose to vote for him following the "October Surprise" were dismayed by his holdover of several Johnson appointees in the cabinet, notably moving Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford over to the State Department. In addition, in the interim between Election Day and Inauguration, South Vietnam's President Nguyen Van Thieu publicly backed out of talks with North Vietnamese leaders, a final humiliation to Lyndon Johnson. Thieu's brief departure from talks did not last long, as Humphrey, well aware of the anti-war mood his country was in, put pressure on the South Vietnamese leader, threatening to reduce American troop presence and assistance to barebones levels to force Thieu back into the talks. Negotiations lasted the better part of 1969, but finally a series of agreements were reached between North Vietnamese leader Le Duan and Secretary Clifford.

Peace came to Vietnam with the Paris Accords of 1970, and the United States withdrew almost all combat soldiers from South Vietnam by New Year's Day 1971, with guarantees that the communist north would respect the south's sovereignty. By 1972, the only American soldiers in Vietnam were US Navy vessels patrolling South Vietnamese waters at the request of the Saigon government and military advisers who seemingly futilely tried to train the poorly-managed and corruption-infested Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). Despite the precarious situation in South Vietnam, domestically Humphrey had won a huge victory as thoughts of a primary challenge from the left disappeared with the deescalation of American involvement.

The withdrawal and subsequent breathing room in the federal budget saw inflation decrease from 1970 onwards and the president quickly abandoned the "guns and butter" strategy of his predecessor to strengthen the Great Society programs Johnson had enacted. Humphrey then turned to racial injustices that he believed had caused the riots that had plagued cities since the mid-1960s. With strong opposition from both southern and labor-friendly Democrats, Humphrey scrapped a race-based affirmative action program and instead pushed through one based on income, which, despite being a target of extreme vitriol from the right-wing, succeeding in getting white working-class Democrats on board.

Since Harry Truman, liberals had dreamed of a universal health care program for the United States. With the Democrats barely losing any seats in the 1970 midterms, the Democrats began to push for such a system. In negotiations with congressional leaders, it became clear that a fully universal system was a bridge too far for enough of Congress to mean a sure death to such a proposal. During negotiations with congressional leaders, a compromise was reached: the new health care system would expand Social Security eligibility to all children and adults who made less than $20,000 annually, or nearly three times the median income. Humphrey signed the bill on September 23, 1971, effectively bringing health care to every American.


On other fronts, the president similarly followed the public mood. Humphrey signed legislation establishing the Environmental Protection Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) and the Clean Air Act, managing to please both his labor constituency and the growing number of Americans concerned about the environment.

The Supreme Court saw a great amount of change from 1969 to 1972. Chief Justice Earl Warren had announced his intention to retire in 1968 and Lyndon Johnson had briefly pushed for Associate Justice Abe Fortas to become the new chief, but the bid floundered after ethics problems (and Fortas being a pliable Johnson crony) caused the Senate to reject his bid. Humphrey, upon taking office, nominated moderate Associate Justice William Brennan to replace Warren, which the Senate unanimously approved. To replace Brennan, Humphrey picked ex-Congressman Homer Thornberry of Texas, whom Johnson had nominated to replace Fortas during his attempt to make the latter the chief justice. Soon after Thornberry was confirmed by the Senate, Fortas resigned after more ethics scandals were brought to light. Humphrey picked former Associate Justice Arthur Goldberg, who Johnson had persuaded to resign in order to get Fortas on the Court, to replace Fortas, and the Senate approved, making Goldberg the first justice to serve non-consecutive terms on the court since Charles Evans Hughes. Finally, in 1971, Hugo Black died, and Humphrey made history by appointing Shirley Hufstedler to replace him, giving the court its first female justice while replacing John Harlan III with another southerner, Georgian Griffin Bell.
Last edited:
Part 3: United States presidential election, 1972
Humphrey's tenure was not all positive. The president had a very public fight with liberal senators over busing and the ill will generated by this would poison relations between the White House and Congress when it came to dealing with African-American issues through the rest of Humphrey's tenure.

It was in this climate that the Republicans looked to their nominee. California Governor Ronald Reagan, a hard-line conservative, became the presumptive frontrunner, while his New York and Washington counterparts, Nelson Rockefeller and Daniel Evans, became his main opponents alongside Illinois Senator Charles Percy. While Rockefeller, Evans and Percy courted moderate Republicans and had a strong eye towards the general election, Reagan pushed a strong free-market vision to counter what he viewed as Humphrey's "socialist policies" and as steadfastly opposed to state of detente with the Soviet Union following the withdrawal from Vietnam. To the surprise of pundits, Reagan quickly racked up a substantial lead in the party primaries as a result of both a unified right-wing vote and his continuation of the "Southern Strategy" popularized by Richard Nixon. Reagan, unlike the other three candidates, could appeal to southern whites disaffected by the changes the Johnson and Humphrey administrations had brought, more specifically with regards to civil rights.

By the time Rockefeller emerged as the anti-Reagan candidate (following Percy's withdrawal and Evans' withdrawal after the mysterious disappearance of two of his campaign managers), Reagan had already secured an insurmountable lead in delegates and the 1972 convention was a coronation for the California governor. Reagan worked to appease the moderates within his party by naming Maryland Senator Rogers Morton as his running mate.

Reagan pushed to make the Democrats' long-term control over both the White House (since 1961) and Congress (since 1955) an issue, calling long-term control "dangerous to the democratic fiber of this nation" and blasted Humphrey's economic policies, which he called "socialism in THIS country". Humphrey attempted to project the image of him as a "peacemaker at home and abroad", an illusion to the end of involvement in Vietnam under his watch and the de-escalation of urban and draft riots by the time of the election.

In normal circumstances, Reagan's hard-right views and Humphrey's successful and for the most part, popular economic policies (especially the expansion of Medicare to the vast majority of Americans) would have seen a blowout similar to 1964. However, many voters did feel that Reagan's point about entrenched Democratic rule had merit and Reagan quickly snatched up southern whites with his campaign's dog-whistle ads in the south and Humphrey's abysmal popularity in that part of the country.


Reagan swept the south (aside from a faithless elector who gave his electoral vote to Libertarian candidate John Hospers), the first time the Democrats had been shut out of the south since Reconstruction. But Humphrey had quickly been able to position Reagan as "another Goldwater"- a right-winger too extreme to be handed the reins of power, pointing to Reagan's opposition to the extremely popular Medicare expansion, his aggressive statements about the Soviet Union that seemed more appropriate for the 1950s than the 1970s and painted his economic policies as a throwback to pre-Depression economics that would bring about another Depression.
Last edited:
Part 4: Humphrey Presidency (1972-1975)
Despite a victory over Reagan, Humphrey's coattails were not nearly as long as he had hoped and his party only gained a few seats in the Senate and House. The president hoped to spend the remainder of his second term on domestic issues and solidifying the party for the 1976 election. However, the world seemed to want to intervene.

In early 1973 the Arab nations of Egypt, Jordan and Syria launched a surprise invasion of Israel on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. The war lasted only a few weeks and ended with a complete Israeli victory, with the Humphrey Administration coming down strongly on Israel's side in the conflict. The outspoken support of the American government for Israel in the war angered Arab leaders and those oil-rich nations began to shift their trade focus to the Soviet sphere. As a result, petroleum prices in the United States began to steadily increase from 1974 on.

Humphrey had some success on the world stage, including the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) with the Soviet Union, but became hamstrung by an increasingly fractious Congress, especially following the 1974 midterms that saw Republican gains in both houses and an influx of young Democrats whose headstrong nature and disregard for tradition caused the wheels of legislative machinery grind to a halt. This effectively meant the House leadership had lost its majority on many issues and a bill that ordinarily the president could get passed without much trouble became a series of prolonged and increasingly stressful negotiations with freshmen representatives who only six years ago (before the October Surprise and Humphrey's reversal on Vietnam) were cursing the president as a war-maker. Despite this, Humphrey was able to push through his sixth Supreme Court justice, Archibald Cox, to replace William O. Douglas in early 1975 following the latter suffering a debilitating stroke.

The president's push to keep the New Deal coalition (minus the old southern faction, who had disliked Humphrey ever since he spoke out against segregation at the 1948 Democratic convention) together was not yet complete when he began to make fewer and fewer public appearances as 1974 turned into 1975. Privately, Humphrey had been battling bladder cancer ever since a benign tumor was found on his bladder in 1967 and the stresses of two presidential campaigns and the presidency itself was enough to cause a rapid disintegration of his health. In his final address to the nation at the end of October 1975, President Humphrey, looking gaunt and frail, admitted to having terminal cancer and announced his intent to resign from office at the end of November, giving Vice President Muskie and the nation time to prepare for a change of power.

He wouldn't get the chance.

Last edited:
A very good read but I don't think Humphrey would pick Homer Thornberry. Thornberry was a LBJ crony. I am thinking Archibald Cox
A very good read but I don't think Humphrey would pick Homer Thornberry. Thornberry was a LBJ crony. I am thinking Archibald Cox

I forgot to mention Humphrey's placement of Cox on the SC in his second term to replace Douglas. Edited.

Anyways, Humphrey put Thornberry on the court as a sop to LBJ and his supporters and also because, while Thornberry was an LBJ crony, he believed that Thornberry would be a strong liberal justice especially on civil rights issues and especially to prevent challenges to the president's domestic programs.
Part 5: United States presidential election, 1976
Before Humphrey's death, Vice President Muskie had been the presumed front-runner for the Democratic nomination in 1976, although several others had decided to run, including Alabama Governor George Wallace, who had hoped to run as the anti-Humphrey: a Democrat who could appeal to southerners who had begun to flee from the Democratic Party while still providing the economic populism that saw voters largely continue to support the economic policies of the past Democratic administrations. After Muskie became president, Wallace remained the only remotely viable alternative to remain in the race and despite it being a foregone conclusion that Muskie would be the nominee, his victory or near-victory in some southern primaries (despite his past support of segregation and third-party bid that nearly caused Humphrey to lose in 1968) caused concern in Democratic circles after Muskie clinched the nomination.

The Republicans, like in 1968, had largely rallied around one candidate in the year or so beforehand. Congressman George Bush of Texas struck the right balance of being a Sun Belt moderate with ties to the eastern, more socially-liberal faction of his party (as his father had been a Republican senator from Connecticut) and it took only a few primaries for him to all but be anointed as the Republican nominee. Bush chose Senator Bob Dole of Kansas as his running mate to balance the ticket, at the behest of the Reagan/Goldwater wing of the party.

Muskie and Vice President Robert Byrd (who had been the first vice president appointed under the terms of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment) attempted to run on the social and economic progress made under Humphrey, including Medicare expansion and the Twenty-Seventh Amendment that had enshrined equal protection of the rights of women in the Constitution. But the price of gasoline had doubled compared to what it had been when Humphrey was elected and the gridlock of intra-Democratic squabbles that had characterized Humphrey's relations with Congress after the 1974 midterms had increased voter fatigue with the Democrats, who had controlled both Congress and the presidency for 16 years. This wasn't helped by Wallace's abortive attempts at another third-party run that were only foiled due to Muskie being forced to promise to appoint a southern conservative to the Supreme Court in exchange for Wallace backing the Democratic ticket.

Bush ran on the idea of "Responsible Society", with an emphasis on reining in federal spending on the entitlement programs created by Johnson and Humphrey, easing environmental legislation to allow for more domestic oil drilling, and a temporary moratorium on new spending initiatives, all the while largely leaving the programs made during the Johnson and Humphrey years in place. Bush also criticized the Democrats' foreign policy, including the degradation of relations with the Arab world following the Yom Kippur War, and his accusations that the Democrats had been too weak to "stand up to both the Soviet Union and Red China" on the international stage following American withdrawal from Vietnam.


Voters agreed with the Republican's message of a needed change in the hands of a responsible leader and Bush won by an eight-point margin and won over 400 electoral votes. Bush became the first southern Republican to become president and the first sitting congressman elected since James Garfield nearly 100 years before.
Last edited:
Damn, 16 straight years of Democrats, followed by a very reasonable man. Nice. I assume Roe v Wade (or whatever its equivalent might be called) still went the same way? What does the ideological makeup of the court look like?