Blue Skies in Camelot: An Alternate 60's and Beyond

So, some people claim. Remember, this was 1975, only three years after Allende was "couped out by the CIA" in Chile. Personally, while I acknowledge that the CIA was mixed into Australia's politics in the day (re: Nugen-Hand Bank), ultimately, Gough's dismissal was very much a home-grown affair. Australian politics is a complex mix and Kerr's (the Governor-General) exercise of the GG's "reserve powers" was very much unknown territory for everybody concerned. While not unconstitutional it was new territory. No GG had exercised those powers before. Gough was also much an agent of his own demise. If he hadn't hesitated for a meal of Steak and Chips (French Fries to our American cousins) on 11 November 1975, he would have dismissed Kerr himself (which was in the powers of the PM). Kerr had taken illegal advice from the Chief Justice of the High Court, Sir Garfield Barwick and the leader of the Opposition - Malcolm Fraser. The end result of was that the Gough got given the sack. Fraser went on to win the General Election that was called as a consequence.

That Fraser had manufactured the circumstances which had resulted in Gough's sacking went by the wayside to the Australian public. We ended up with a Liberal (Tory) conservative government and an economic downturn until Bob Hawke (recently deceased and another great Australian PM) was elected in 1983. I was 15 years old when Gough was given the sack and I will always remember the shock that went through my household upon receipt of the news. Republicanism received a real boost as a consequence but the Liberal (Tory) conservative PM in 1999 cleverly structured the Referendum to make sure it was defeated.
All true. I often wonder what could of been if in 1999 we had chosen to become a Republic. How different things now would be
 
All true. I often wonder what could of been if in 1999 we had chosen to become a Republic. How different things now would be
Australia would be basically the same it is today. The only real difference would that we, the Australian people would elect the President/Governor-General. How that would be achieved would be either through direct election (which would never be favourite with the Parliament) or indirectly through the Parliament (which obvious would be favoured by Parliament). Perhaps the Indigenous "Voice to Parliament" might also occur. However, both those these are far in the future of TTL.
 
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Australia would be basically the same it is today. The only real difference would that we, the Australian people would elect the President/Governor-General. How that would be achieved would be either through direct election (which would never be favourite with the Parliament) or indirectly through the Parliament (which obvious would be favoured by Parliament). Perhaps the Indigenous "Voice to Parliament" might also occur. However, both those this are far in the future of TTL.
Yes of course.
 
President_Lincoln, I note only one mention of Australia or New Zealand throughout your complete history, thus far. Why? Are we so unimportant to the world that you only see us as mercenaries, siding with the UK in it's fight against Communism in Rhodesia?

Australia is far, far more than just that. It is the home of (arguably) the best Cricket team, the best Rugby team and the best tennis players. It is home of the "fair go for all", where governments work for the betterment of all, no matter which side of politics they hail from.

IOTL Gough Whitlam was perhaps our greatest Prime Minister, taking us into the 1970s and ending 23 years of Liberal Party rule. He was deposed of course, though muck raking and a crooked Governor-General doing the bidding of Buck House and the Liberal Party leader, Malcolm Fraser.

Since then we have supported IOTL numerous pieces of US military adventurism and ended the occupation of East Timor by Indonesia. We were one of only three economies not to suffer a recession during the GFC (Global Financial Crises) and we bailed out the Asian economies when they collapsed. We have not had a recession ourselves in over 40 years.

Surely we deserve at least an occasional mention?

Apart from that, it is a great time line and I have enjoyed reading it from the start to the finish over the last fortnight.
@Rickshaw, thank you for your kind words and absolutely fair critique about the timeline thus far! I want to apologize in the strongest possible terms for the lack of attention paid to Australia and New Zealand so far in Blue Skies in Camelot. I am so pleased to have you as a reader and several other readers from the Land Down Under as well. Welcome aboard! :)

You bring up some excellent points about your home country, and I want to offer not just my apology, but an attempt to rectify the situation as well. Having now been made aware of the deficit of ANZAC-focused updates, I plan on writing one as soon as possible and posting it either next (and editting the last chapter's preview to reflect this change), or just after the next coming update. Australia is not just a beautiful country with a fascinating history and a rich cultural landscape, it is, as you mention, something of an economic powerhouse and indisputable sporting juggernaut! :D

I would also like to take this opportunity to inform you all that while I will continue my goal of 1 update per week moving forward, as you have probably already noticed, this goal is proving more difficult than I had anticipated given my recent change in schedule. I am currently completing my final semester at University and because of an excellent but grueling internship, I am often getting home quite late and too tired to write/contribute much more than maybe a few hundred words at a time. I will try to make up for lost ground over the weekends, but seeing as I do have a small, but happy social life and other hobbies (D&D, especially), it may take 2-3 weeks for me to get a new update out for the forseeable future. Thank you all for your readership and patience. Do not worry. Blue Skies will continue!
 
@Rickshaw, thank you for your kind words and absolutely fair critique about the timeline thus far! I want to apologize in the strongest possible terms for the lack of attention paid to Australia and New Zealand so far in Blue Skies in Camelot. I am so pleased to have you as a reader and several other readers from the Land Down Under as well. Welcome aboard! :)

You bring up some excellent points about your home country, and I want to offer not just my apology, but an attempt to rectify the situation as well. Having now been made aware of the deficit of ANZAC-focused updates, I plan on writing one as soon as possible and posting it either next (and editting the last chapter's preview to reflect this change), or just after the next coming update. Australia is not just a beautiful country with a fascinating history and a rich cultural landscape, it is, as you mention, something of an economic powerhouse and indisputable sporting juggernaut! :D

I would also like to take this opportunity to inform you all that while I will continue my goal of 1 update per week moving forward, as you have probably already noticed, this goal is proving more difficult than I had anticipated given my recent change in schedule. I am currently completing my final semester at University and because of an excellent but grueling internship, I am often getting home quite late and too tired to write/contribute much more than maybe a few hundred words at a time. I will try to make up for lost ground over the weekends, but seeing as I do have a small, but happy social life and other hobbies (D&D, especially), it may take 2-3 weeks for me to get a new update out for the forseeable future. Thank you all for your readership and patience. Do not worry. Blue Skies will continue!
No worries Mr President we understand real life gets in the way. I for one am excited to see the Australian New Zealand update as well as what has changed for both countries in Blue Skies.
 
@Rickshaw, thank you for your kind words and absolutely fair critique about the timeline thus far! I want to apologize in the strongest possible terms for the lack of attention paid to Australia and New Zealand so far in Blue Skies in Camelot. I am so pleased to have you as a reader and several other readers from the Land Down Under as well. Welcome aboard! :)

You bring up some excellent points about your home country, and I want to offer not just my apology, but an attempt to rectify the situation as well. Having now been made aware of the deficit of ANZAC-focused updates, I plan on writing one as soon as possible and posting it either next (and editting the last chapter's preview to reflect this change), or just after the next coming update. Australia is not just a beautiful country with a fascinating history and a rich cultural landscape, it is, as you mention, something of an economic powerhouse and indisputable sporting juggernaut! :D

I would also like to take this opportunity to inform you all that while I will continue my goal of 1 update per week moving forward, as you have probably already noticed, this goal is proving more difficult than I had anticipated given my recent change in schedule. I am currently completing my final semester at University and because of an excellent but grueling internship, I am often getting home quite late and too tired to write/contribute much more than maybe a few hundred words at a time. I will try to make up for lost ground over the weekends, but seeing as I do have a small, but happy social life and other hobbies (D&D, especially), it may take 2-3 weeks for me to get a new update out for the forseeable future. Thank you all for your readership and patience. Do not worry. Blue Skies will continue!
Thank you for your kind words. I look forward to seeing the article about the land Downunder and Sydney's Breakwater. ;)
 
Thank you for your kind words. I look forward to seeing the article about the land Downunder and Sydney's Breakwater. ;)
It might be interesting in an ANZAC update to see how much the struggle of Australia's First People for basic human rights was informed by the potentially much stronger (and arguably more successful) path of struggle for America's First Nations ITTL in the 1960s and 1970s in addition to the inspiration they drew IOTL from the Civil Rights movement. And also how this might have crossed 'the Ditch' to NZ in the Maori rights movement (which admittedly I don't know much about).
 
It might be interesting in an ANZAC update to see how much the struggle of Australia's First People for basic human rights was informed by the potentially much stronger (and arguably more successful) path of struggle for America's First Nations ITTL in the 1960s and 1970s in addition to the inspiration they drew IOTL from the Civil Rights movement. And also how this might have crossed 'the Ditch' to NZ in the Maori rights movement (which admittedly I don't know much about).
A small part, as far as I know. It was important in that it helped formulate the "Freedom Rides" in the early 1960s - where university students travelled around New South Wales by bus to show that Indigenous Australians were being unfairly and illegally discriminated against. It stirred up a lot of anger, revealing the hypocrisy of a lot of Australians.

A much larger part was played by South African under apartheid. Australia was very critical of the RSA in OTL. When the South Africans attempted to rebuff that criticism by pointing out how badly we treated our Indigenous Australians, the Australian Government put in place the 1967 referendum that recognised them as being citizens. A referendum it should noted which was not expected to pass but did. The Australian people were well aware of the rough deal that colonisation had dealt the Indigenous Australians and decided to put it right. The referendum granted them full citizenship rights and universal suffrage (before the referendum, individual states had their own laws on voting but they weren't universal across the country). Since 1967, the Indigenous Australians have traveled more and read more.

In New Zealand they had the Waitangi Treaty. A treaty signed between the warring tribes and the English settlers in 1840. The English however gave the Maoris one version of the treaty, translated one way and themselves the other which favoured them. The Maoris took the white settlers to court in 1960 and since then it has formed the basis of a great deal of Kiwi law.

A treaty is something missing from Australia. Terra Nullius meant that a treaty was impossible. Indeed, when John Batman (yes there was an explorer named Batman ;) ) signed a treaty between himself (as a representative of the Crown) and Indigenous Australians in the colony of Victoria it was later rescinded because of Terra Nullius which held that because Indigenous Australians were nomadic they didn't own the land. Terra Nullius was overturned by the Mabo case (Eddie Mabo was a Torres Strait Islander who brought a case against the Australian Government over land he owned). Since then, we have had Native Title legislation passed that brings the concept of well, native title into the existing land title system in Australia.

There has been a lot of racism downunder and a lot of scaremongering as a consequence. Some at least of that has faded. Australia Day however remains a bone of contention and the lack of an Indigenous Australians' "Voice to Parliament". Australia Day or Invasion Day as many Indigenous people prefer to call it, commorates when the first settlers came ashore in Sydney in 1788. However it wasn't celebrated nationwide until 1988. 1 January 1901 is the date that Australia as a nation was created through federation. Before then it was just six separate colonies. IMO we should be celebrating 1 January not 26 January. Leave 26 January to NSW. It is their foundation day.

The "Voice to Parliament" is more problematic. The Australian Federal Government called Indigenous Australians together and they met at Uluaru (Ayres Rock) in 2017. They were asked basically what they wanted and they come up with a demand for recognition to be included in our Constitution and a "voice to Parliament". They were flatly, outright refused by the same Government that called them together! The Liberal Party Government will forever live in infamy IMO because of their outright refusal to listen to the very voices they called together! Since then a great many rumours, innuendo and outright lies have flown about, about what the Voice to Parliament would be. The Indigenous Australians were asking merely to be conferred with over legislation that might affect them. They were not asking for a separate chamber or anything like that. Recognition will come eventually and hopefully also a "Voice to Parliament".
 
A small part, as far as I know. It was important in that it helped formulate the "Freedom Rides" in the early 1960s - where university students travelled around New South Wales by bus to show that Indigenous Australians were being unfairly and illegally discriminated against. It stirred up a lot of anger, revealing the hypocrisy of a lot of Australians.

A much larger part was played by South African under apartheid. Australia was very critical of the RSA in OTL. When the South Africans attempted to rebuff that criticism by pointing out how badly we treated our Indigenous Australians, the Australian Government put in place the 1967 referendum that recognised them as being citizens. A referendum it should noted which was not expected to pass but did. The Australian people were well aware of the rough deal that colonisation had dealt the Indigenous Australians and decided to put it right. The referendum granted them full citizenship rights and universal suffrage (before the referendum, individual states had their own laws on voting but they weren't universal across the country). Since 1967, the Indigenous Australians have traveled more and read more.

In New Zealand they had the Waitangi Treaty. A treaty signed between the warring tribes and the English settlers in 1840. The English however gave the Maoris one version of the treaty, translated one way and themselves the other which favoured them. The Maoris took the white settlers to court in 1960 and since then it has formed the basis of a great deal of Kiwi law.

A treaty is something missing from Australia. Terra Nullius meant that a treaty was impossible. Indeed, when John Batman (yes there was an explorer named Batman ;) ) signed a treaty between himself (as a representative of the Crown) and Indigenous Australians in the colony of Victoria it was later rescinded because of Terra Nullius which held that because Indigenous Australians were nomadic they didn't own the land. Terra Nullius was overturned by the Mabo case (Eddie Mabo was a Torres Strait Islander who brought a case against the Australian Government over land he owned). Since then, we have had Native Title legislation passed that brings the concept of well, native title into the existing land title system in Australia.

There has been a lot of racism downunder and a lot of scaremongering as a consequence. Some at least of that has faded. Australia Day however remains a bone of contention and the lack of an Indigenous Australians' "Voice to Parliament". Australia Day or Invasion Day as many Indigenous people prefer to call it, commorates when the first settlers came ashore in Sydney in 1788. However it wasn't celebrated nationwide until 1988. 1 January 1901 is the date that Australia as a nation was created through federation. Before then it was just six separate colonies. IMO we should be celebrating 1 January not 26 January. Leave 26 January to NSW. It is their foundation day.

The "Voice to Parliament" is more problematic. The Australian Federal Government called Indigenous Australians together and they met at Uluaru (Ayres Rock) in 2017. They were asked basically what they wanted and they come up with a demand for recognition to be included in our Constitution and a "voice to Parliament". They were flatly, outright refused by the same Government that called them together! The Liberal Party Government will forever live in infamy IMO because of their outright refusal to listen to the very voices they called together! Since then a great many rumours, innuendo and outright lies have flown about, about what the Voice to Parliament would be. The Indigenous Australians were asking merely to be conferred with over legislation that might affect them. They were not asking for a separate chamber or anything like that. Recognition will come eventually and hopefully also a "Voice to Parliament".
That’s why an arguably stronger North American First Nations movement ITTL might push its Australian counterpart in a different direction. Many of the systems of control were similar (first disease and massacre, the taking of land and containment on reservations, policies of assimilation and denial of culture) on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.
 
That’s why an arguably stronger North American First Nations movement ITTL might push its Australian counterpart in a different direction. Many of the systems of control were similar (first disease and massacre, the taking of land and containment on reservations, policies of assimilation and denial of culture) on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.
Not quite. There are major differences. Indigenous Australians suffered badly at the hands of the colonists. Disease and and a much lower population density told against the Indigenous Australians taking a firmer hand against the colonists. While their lives were basically shit under the colonial rule it was also easier. Food was easier to find and settlement was easier.

While assimilation was harsh, it was still an easier life than living as (largely) nomadic peoples foraging from the land.

The last Indigenous Australians to actually "come in" from the wilderness only did so in the 1970s. They were located in the Simpson Desert and that region had such a low population that they simply avoided encountering white people.
 
Not quite. There are major differences. Indigenous Australians suffered badly at the hands of the colonists. Disease and and a much lower population density told against the Indigenous Australians taking a firmer hand against the colonists. While their lives were basically shit under the colonial rule it was also easier. Food was easier to find and settlement was easier.
Remember, for good or ill, we're not re-prosecuting what happened IOTL. My interest is where @President_Lincoln has clearly stated ITTL a higher profile of the plight of the American First Nations people (see Johnny Cash's album 'Bitter Tears' [Chapter 54]) and a different, relatively peaceful negotiated outcome of the 1973 Wounded Knee occupation (Chapter 83) that seems to have led a shift toward a stirring of a debate around a permanent treaty with the First Nations. What effect would this have on the Aboriginal civil rights movement in Australia? An earlier push for treaty in the aftermath of Wounded Knee? Less or more freedom rides (copied en bloc from the US Civil Rights movement)? And what would stay the same (land rights, self-determination)?
 
I actually am somwhat serious when I ask what LucasArts will do ITTL, because it actually will have something of an effect on how my Thomas-themed supplementary contributions go.
 
Chapter 109
Chapter 109: “Carry On Wayward Son” - Udall’s Cabinet Responds to Crises; the Supreme Court Weighs in on “Cruel and Unusual Punishment”

“To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.” - The motto of the new United States Department of Veterans Affairs, quoting President Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address

As much as President Udall hating falling into cliches, particularly when it came to policy, he knew that during his first year in office, he was going to be walking directly into one about himself and his liberal Democratic allies. Mo was going to expand the federal government. To be more precise than he knew his Republican “friends” would be in their attack ads during the midterms (good Lord, they were already talking about the midterms), the President wanted to create two new cabinet level departments: Energy and Veterans Affairs.

The latter of these was to be an easier sell than the former, Udall knew. Republicans, like any sensible politicians, tripped over themselves to lavish praise on America’s soldiers. A vote against the well being of those who served, when properly advertised as such, had been the death blow to many a promising career in Washington. Freshman Senator Murphy of Texas, easily elected as an LBJ-style Christian Democrat and the most decorated American hero of the Second World War, had broken tradition and come out fervently in support of the creation of a cabinet-level department for supporting the needs of veterans before he’d even arrived in the capital. He was joined by numerous Democrats and Republicans alike, and in the aftermath of MoCare, which had taken a lot of the President’s political capital to see through, Udall could use another “no brainer” like this to help him rebuild his good graces in town. Most importantly to the President, it had the added benefit of being the right thing to do. “Good politics are often inextricably intertwined”, the President was fond of saying. He told Stew and his allies on the Hill to give “Audie any ammunition he requires to see the bill through”, and to find someone responsible to serve as the first Secretary should the position be successfully created. This was swiftly achieved, and a candidate named - a southerner, a former Army captain and veteran of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Rhodesia named Max Cleland. Coming highly recommended by Senator Jimmy Carter of Cleland’s home state of Georgia, the former captain had won numerous medals, including a Purple Heart, for sustaining injuries and tremendous valor during his six tours of duty across three conflicts. A brief meeting for Cleland with the President was warm and cordial, and after the bill for creating the Department of Veterans Affairs was signed into law on July 3rd, 1977, the Captain appeared in front of the Senate in order to be confirmed as the first Secretary in the new position.

...

(OOC: The following segment was written and submitted by @Worffan101. Thank you to him for this wonderful addition to the TL!)

The hearing was a formality at this point, but Max Cleland was almost done with his glass of water anyway. It seemed like every single Senator wanted to put his foot forwards and wax eloquent for a few minutes about how much he loved the military, when they were all already voting to confirm Cleland as the first-ever Secretary of Veterans' Affairs. That much was a foregone conclusion.

Guess some of the bums have re-election campaigns to worry about.

The guy who spoke next, an unassuming little man with a still-boyish face and a trace of gray in his hair, though--he wasn't one Cleland would expect to have trouble getting re-elected. Ever. After all, when you had all the medals for valor the US Army could award, and a few more besides, it didn't matter what the Sam Hill your policies were because just showing up in uniform to get another medal from the Governor of Texas (who had a re-election of his own to worry about) was enough to make every red-blooded American this side of the Canadian border vote for you on general principle.

Then again, Cleland wasn't Senator Murphy, so what the Hell did he know?

"Captain Cleland, thank you for your service," Senator Audie Murphy (D-TX) began. "I know most of this chamber's already voting for you so I'll try not to waste your time, but I've got one very important question for you. Recently, the American Psychiatric Association published a new edition of their diagnostic guide, defining the conditions previously referred to as 'shell shock' or 'battle stress' as a mental disorder called Trauma-Associated Psychiatric Syndrome, or TAPS. The United States Air Force estimates that this condition affects millions of veterans of World War 2, the Korean War, and the Cambodia Intervention. I myself suffer from this condition, which led me to a painkiller addiction that I only kicked a decade ago by locking myself in a hotel room and going cold turkey, the most Hellish experience of my post-war career. TAPS causes a great deal of mental trauma to our fighting men, even decades after they leave the battlefield, yet we still know very little about how it can be treated and how it affects the mind. What measures will your Department use to combat this scourge and help our veterans maintain stable, healthy civilian lives?"

He put down his papers, and the intensity of his gaze almost made Cleland look away. Shit. He wasn't ready for a hardball question this late in the hearing, God damn it!

Hokey campaign slogan ("I'll fight for you like I fought the Nazis!") or not, the freshman Senator wasn't playing games, and Cleland scrambled to respond. "Uh, Senator, first of all, thank you for your service," Murphy nodded with a touch of impatience at Cleland's delay, "and, uh, I assure you, Senator, as a veteran myself this newly-defined problem is one I intend to attack aggressively as Secretary. I plan to direct a starter fund of ten billion dollars for the coming year alone," a significant chunk of Cleland's budget, at that, "specifically to research into shell-shock, or Taps or whatever they're calling it now. And as we get a better idea of how to treat it, such treatment will of course be covered by the hospital care services that President Udall wants us to set up. I believe very firmly, Senator, that if a man risks his life for his country, his country owes him a Hell of a lot back for it, and I will move Heaven and earth to ensure that our veterans have the very best medical and mental health care on the planet."

Murphy nodded with satisfaction and leaned back in his chair, but Cleland knew he had one more thing to say.

"And, uh, Senator, I just wanted to say--thank you for sharing your experience. There's a lot of good men who've gone through similar things, and hearing you talk about it...it means a lot."

"Do well by us, Captain," the Senator replied. "That's all I ask."


As Senator Murphy predicted, Captain Cleland was unanimously approved by the United States Senate shortly thereafter, 100 - 0. True to his word, Cleland, on behalf of the Udall Administration, would spearhead millions of dollars worth of effort to research TAPS and develop therapy techniques to help combat its effects.
...

Above: President Udall visits the Bisbee Copper Mine in his native Arizona. As a staunch conservationist, the efficient use of America’s resources was of paramount importance to the new Commander in Chief.

One of Mo’s admittedly “cheesier” slogans on the campaign trail had been his “three E’s” plan, which would form the central focus of his program to revitalize America: Environment; Energy; and Economy. While few could cast doubt on Udall’s chops at environmental policy making during his time in Congress, many wondered if the “liberal icon of the Southwest” could steer similar policy to passage from the Oval Office. Now the head of the increasingly diverse and big tent Democratic Party, the President would need to balance the interests of business-oriented Democrats (such as his own Texan Vice President) with those of his own, more progressive breed. In the end, Mo set out to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he could. He and his brother, Stewart, who had served ably and passionately as President Kennedy’s Secretary of the Interior for eight years, had already directly been involved in the creation of four new national parks, six national monuments, eight seashores and lakeshores, nine recreation areas, twenty historic sites, and fifty six wildlife refuges. Now, with Mo in the White House and Stew serving as his Chief of Staff, the brothers turned their attention to what Mo referred to as “the Crown Jewel” - a bill to save 104 million acres of Federal land in Alaska and protect them for perpetuity.

Supported chiefly by tried and true allies of Udall’s, Native American tribes, whom Udall had helped in Congress by passing more than 184 bills to their benefit, such as the Native American Religious Freedom Act among others, the Alaska Land Use Bill was widely popular yet simultaneously deeply controversial. While most Americans supported protecting the environment, especially one as breathtaking and pristine as Alaska on paper, most were also feeling the fiscal pinch put on them by the energy crisis of the 1970’s. Mining and drilling interests, particularly oil, were obsessed with the idea of Alaska’s vast, untapped reserves, waiting for their wells should the Federal government sell the land, as the Land Use Bill was trying to prevent. Thrilled by the idea of fresh reserves to tap, the fossil fuel lobby began twisting the arms of Congressmen and Senators, hard, urging them that a vote for the Land Use Bill would be spun to their constituents as the representatives choosing “tree hugging” over “energy independence” and “cheaper gas”. For many, especially more moderate politicians who were already on the fence about the bill to begin with, this threat was potent, and the bill languished in the House’s Interior Committee, which Mo Udall used to personally serve as Chairman of. As if this pressure from big oil weren’t enough, the bill was also vigorously opposed by Alaska’s entire Congressional Delegation - Congressman Don Young, the state’s lone vote in the House of Representatives and a zealous paleoconservative Republican, even went so far as to call the bill “so dangerously close to federal tyranny over the states, it may be unconstitutional!” While of course the law would ultimately side with those in favor of the bill, being that it would only affect federal land and all, the issue still remained of getting the thing through. Both Alaskan Senators, Frank Murkowski (R) and Ted Stevens (R) were also passionately against the bill, believing that its passage would stifle economic development in an already sparsely populated, underdeveloped state. In Alaska itself, the legislation had an abysmal 11% approval rating, and when President Udall officially announced his support for it during a speech in Juneau, boos were heard coming up the street, and several effigies of the President and his Secretary of the Interior, John Sieberling, were even burned by its more vitriolic opponents. Alaskans had been led to believe by the oil companies that opening up the federal land for “exploration and development” would create jobs, and bring thousands of new residents to help support its haphazard infrastructure; preserving it for future generations surely would not. Mo realized that working against prevailing public opinion about the need for economic development above all else to combat the recession, and even violating the will of the majority of the state’s residents would not be easy, yet he persisted nonetheless. Holding among his personal heroes the great Theodore Roosevelt, Udall believed that the time had come to step into the “arena”, use his bully pulpit and do what was right, even if it might not have been popular. It wasn’t going to be easy, but Mo insisted that it was a necessary fight to get into. Perhaps even more so than MoCare, the Land Use Bill was going to be the first major test of the new President’s ability to whip up votes.

As it happened, the President sought an ally in perhaps the most unlikely of places, the Senate offices of a fellow Arizonan, and one of the leading figures of American conservatism, Barry Goldwater (R).


While “Mr. Republican” typically opposed most federal regulation of business on principle, Goldwater was also one of the Senate’s most passionate protectors of the environment, considering clean air, clean water, and unpolluted land to be one of the few “legitimate” areas in which the federal government should intervene on behalf of everyday Americans. A close friend and playful rival of the President, Goldwater was all too happy to take up the fight for the Senate version of the Alaska bill after it had been introduced by Scoop Jackson in May of ‘77. After meeting with Udall in the Oval Office on June 3rd, Goldwater officially endorsed the bill the following day. Given his status as an “elder statesman” and one of the most highly respected members of his party, Goldwater’s support meant a great deal, and helped to move several uncertain Senators in the direction of backing the bill, even if Murkowski and Stevens frothed at the mouth as Goldwater delivered his approving speech. When it became clear that the Senate version of the bill was likely going to pass, pressure mounted on members of the House to act on the issue as well.

Taking advantage of the momentum Goldwater afforded him, the President mentioned the bill several times during his weekly press conferences and made an impassioned speech at Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts on July 12th at a celebration of the birthday of beloved American writer, transcendentalist philosopher, and early environmentalist Henry David Thoreau. In the speech, Udall concluded by declaring why he believed the bill to be so important: “In terms of wilderness preservation, Alaska is the last frontier. This time, given one great final chance, let us strive to do it right. Not in our generation, nor ever again, will we have a land and wildlife opportunity approaching the scope and importance of this one.” Unlike his initial oration in Alaska, this one received vigorous applause, and would go on to be considered one of the great speeches in American conservationist history.

Above: Mo Udall visiting “the crown jewel of the North American continent”, Alaska, as he prepares to push for The Alaska Land Use Act in Congress. If passed, the bill would set aside 104 million acres of pristine wilderness to be permanently preserved as federal land. The 38th President of the United States, Udall would forever be remembered as one of the most accomplished and dedicated conservationists in the nation’s history.

The President’s “Walden Speech”, as it came to be known marked a decisive turning point in the struggle for the Land Use Bill. Though Alaskans remained furiously opposed to it, everyday Americans around the nation agreed with the President - even in tough times, some things, such as nature’s splendor, deserve to be protected and preserved. With Stew once again running vote whips alongside House Speaker Tip O’Neill (D - MA), the President also made assurances to those politicians influenced by the fossil fuel lobby that he would not, as some more radical activists were calling for, nationalize the energy industry. These, combined with strong public support were finally enough to put the thing over the top. Passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law on September 17th, 1977, the Alaskan Land Use Act assured that those millions of acres of pristine wilderness would be safe from the woodsman’s axe, the miner’s pick, and the oil conglomerate’s drills. In less than a year, Mo Udall had defied the odds and passed two major pieces of liberal legislation despite spirited opposition. The President had, according to the Washington Post, “major Mo-mentum”.

Turning his attention thereafter to the other two “E’s” - energy and economy, Udall next sought to create another new Cabinet level Department which could oversee research, development, and implementation of energy policy at the federal level. This proposed agency - the aptly named Department of Energy, would seek to rectify the current crisis of shortages and high costs while also introducing new, alternative, renewable, and environmentally friendly sources of energy for the American public. Udall hoped to build on the work done by thousands of scientists during the Kennedy years to advance “green” energy sources - solar, wind, geothermal, and safe nuclear to begin phasing out “dirty” sources such as coal and oil. This, once again, was less than thrilling news to the fossil fuel lobby, who had by now begun in earnest their attempt to smear the President as a “radical environmentalist” with no concern for the country’s economic well-being. Famously, Chevron paid former Vice President Ronald Reagan (R - CA) several million dollars to appear in a series of ads questioning the administration’s energy policies. Though these ads served to keep Reagan in the minds of the American public, and probably made for a decent practice run for his all but inevitable bid for the Presidency in 1980, they did little to convince many Americans, who were already angry at the oil companies for their recent suffering at the pump. The necessary legislation for creating and organizing the new Department, as well as giving it oversight of the nation’s nuclear arsenal was passed on October 8th, and it officially opened for “business” on November 11th. Another victory for the Udall Administration. In order to give the Department more bipartisan support, and assuage lingering fears of a “radical hippie” bureau, the President appointed Republican and former Secretary of Defense, Director of Central Intelligence, and Chair of the Atomic Energy Commission James R. Schlesinger as its first Secretary.

Above: Former VP Ronald Reagan (R - CA), as he appeared in the famous 1977 Chevron ad attacking the Udall Administration’s “radical” energy policies (left); James R. Schlesinger (R), the first American Secretary of Energy.

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The first major “setback” of sorts for the new President came near the end of the year, when the Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision in the case Gregg v. Georgia. The 6 - 3 ruling declared that capital punishment was constitutional, so long as statutes which allowed for it provided a bifurcated trial to decide guilt and punishment. This came as a near direct, overturning response to the Court’s earlier decision in 1972’s Furman v. Georgia, which argued that the death penalty must not be imposed “arbitrarily and capriciously”. This incredibly divisive 5 - 4 decision had caused all pending death sentences at the time to be reduced to life imprisonment and made all previous capital punishment statutes void. While Furman had been unpopular with the public, receiving a near spasmodic attack from then Vice Presidential candidate and California Governor Ronald Reagan (R), it was held by opponents of capital punishment as a step in the right direction toward ultimately doing away with the practice completely. Though President Udall was dutifully silent on the Gregg ruling when it was handed down, saying only when asked about it by the press that his administration would “duly enforce the Court’s ruling”, the President was personally devastated by the change in direction from the Judiciary. Capital punishment was an issue which affected the President very personally, owing to an episode he experienced while serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II.


Not yet a qualified attorney at the time, Mo was tasked with representing a fellow airman who was staring down a court martial on charges of murder and desertion. The young Udall argued fiercely in defense of his comrade, but in the end, his inexperience showed and he lost the case. As a result, his defendant wound up being executed, an event which devastated Udall. So haunted by the outcome was the future President, that he carried a newspaper clipping covering the defendant’s execution with him in his chest pocket for the rest of his life. Though his personal convictions stood firmly against capital punishment, and Mo Udall was a man who took his convictions very seriously, he knew that it was unlikely that he would be able to make a serious attempt to outlaw the practice anytime soon. To do so, especially after the Gregg ruling would likely necessitate a constitutional amendment declaring the punishment to be “cruel and unusual”. In a country where opinion polls placed approval for the practice at nearly 65%, the President knew such a fight would be quixotic at best, and drain him of his political capital, while alienating a large portion of the more moderate and conservative members of his party in the process. Even his own Vice President, Lloyd Bentsen (D - TX), had publicly shared his “disagreement” with the prior Furman ruling during his time as Governor of Texas. Though few in politics would blame the commander in chief for doing the practical thing in declining to come out strongly against the Gregg decision, especially as he labored to save his political capital for the fights he could win, it saddened Mo that even as the President of the United States, the leader of the most powerful nation in the history of the world, he was unable to see the death penalty retired. “You can’t take it personally, Mr. President.” Stew told him in a quiet moment in the Oval Office after the press conference left the President feeling rather down. “You’ve got to remember, politics is the art of the possible.”



Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot: Blue Skies and Changing Times in "the Land Down Under"
 
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