Does Your Conscience Bother You?- A George Wallace Victory TL

Chapter 1: In Miami Beach, they Love the Governor: Wallace in the 1972 Primary
  • This is my first foray into writing an AH TL, so feel free to leave any feedback on this first chapter. I'd love for this to be a collaborative deal, so leave any ideas or suggestions below! I'm foreseeing this TL getting a little wild as things progress and I plan to use the polling feature extensively to guide how this all plays out!

    In Miami Beach, they Love the Governor: Wallace in the 1972 Primary

    The Democratic Party is decadent and depraved. Or at least, that was the feeling of many members of the 1972 Wallace coalition, a ragtag group of Lost Causers and working-class whites that sought to challenge the progressive tide that appeared to be sweeping across the Democratic Party. Squaring off against the legendary Dixiecrat were the arch-liberal George McGovern and the moderate bulwark Hubert Humphrey. McGovern's critical wins in Wisconsin and Massachusetts left him a clear frontrunner, and many analysts began to consider Wallace an increasingly irrelevant candidate. However, the most unlikely figures saved Wallace's campaign, his attempted assassin Arthur Bremer and the man he would trounce come November, Richard Nixon.

    Arthur Bremer was a deeply troubled man. After bailing on his previous plot to kill then-president Richard Nixon, Bremer set his sights on George Wallace. Whether he was motivated by mental illness, megalomania, political radicalism, or some Wallaceites have speculated, Nixon's subterfuge, Bremer was determined to slay Alabama's Goliath. Having missed his mark at Wheaton Plaza, Bremer stalked Wallace to his next campaign spot in his Maryland stronghold, the Laurel Shopping Center on May 15, 1972. After a milquetoast campaign event, Wallace took to shaking the hands of his local supporters. After pushing his way through the sparse crowd, Bremer aimed his .38 revolver at Wallace's chest and opened fire. The Dixiecrat firebrand collapsed to the ground, gushing blood onto the pavement. Once the dust had settled, Bremer had deposited four bullets into Wallace's torso and severely wounded three bystanders. Although this attack had badly maimed Wallace, his would-be assassin's rounds narrowly missed his spine. Wallace was rushed to the hospital, requiring hours of surgery and significant blood transfusions to stay alive. Despite the prayers of his detractors, the Southron firebrand would live to see another day.

    As if Bremer's bullets were not enough to rally public opinion in favor of Wallace, one of Nixon's notorious "dirty tricks" sealed the deal on Wallace's ascendency. After Bremer's identification as Wallace's would-be murderer, the FBI and Nixon began a race to Bremer's Milwaukee apartment. The Baltimore director of the FBI phoned his colleagues in Minnesota, informing them of Bremer's address. Nixon, seeking to pin the assassination attempt on McGovern's supposedly radical supporters, dispatched E. Howard Hunt, one of the Committee to Re-Elect the President's greatest assets, to Bremer's apartment to plant evidence connecting Bremer to the radical left. Hunt barely dodged the two FBI agents sent by the Milwaukee office to seal the apartment and managed to gain entry. By the time the FBI was able to investigate, they found a series of publications related to the ACLU, the Black Panthers, and the George McGovern campaign neatly stacked on Bremer's desk, seated next to a paperback copy of The Catcher in the Rye.

    The Bremer situation proved disastrous for the McGovern campaign. Pro-Nixon and Pro-Wallace media outfits worked in tandem, decrying his campaign as being fueled by a covert Communist cadre evidenced by characters like Arthur Bremer. Wallace swept Michigan and Maryland as expected, but his support amongst the white working-class swelled beyond the wildest dreams of his campaign staff in the weeks following the supposed revelations from Bremer's apartment. Picking up Oregon, New Mexico, the second-place spots in Rhode Island and California, and a significant deal of the New York delegates, Wallace was a force of nature heading into the July Democratic National Convention in Miami Beach. Although the idea of Wallace at the helm of their party made many Northern Democrats queasy, the connection between the McGovern campaign and Arthur Bremer proved more than enough to torpedo McGovern as an option. Hubert Humphrey felt like a natural choice to please the bulk of the Democratic coalition, but the groundswell around Wallace robbed him of the necessary electoral support to defeat Wallace in the end. Although Wallace did come out on top, the Convention was one of the most chaotic in the party's history. The party largely failed to construct a coherent agenda due to the fierce Dixiecrat convictions of their nominee, but provisions against the continuation of the Vietnam War and pro-union measures were decided on as key pillars of the Democratic platform. The choice of a running mate for Wallace also proved a contentious one. Virtually every prominent Democratic figure was floated: Scoop Jackson, Mike Gravel, Jimmy Carter, and Endicott Peabody were party favorites. After a long and often hectic period of deliberation, Wallace's Dixiecrats and Northern liberals decided on a candidate both could live with, Richard J. Daley. Reviled as one of the nation's last true "bosses," Daley's urban expertise and party influence made him a favorite of both Wallace's campaign and the delegates who supported him. Much like in the case of Wallace's nomination in the first place, progressives protested this move heavily, but the situation had rapidly left their control. By the end of the Miami Convention, the unlikely Wallace/Daley ticket was ready to take on Tricky Dick.
    Chapter 2: Blood and Guts on the Campaign Trail: Wallace and Nixon Go Toe-to-Toe
  • The Strawpoll didn't end up working, for some reason, I couldn't see the results? Anyways, if anyone has any suggestions on other sites to use for that kind of thing please let me know. Daley will remain for the time being. On with the show :)

    Blood and Guts on the Campaign Trail: Wallace and Nixon Go Toe-to-Toe

    After eking out a victory at the July Convention, George Wallace and Richard Daley hit the campaign trail hard. Focusing heavily on campaign locations in the Great Lakes and the Rust Belt, the Wallace campaign shifted its messaging away from "states' rights" and towards economic populism. Segregationists who lent their endorsements to Wallace ensured that anti-busing and anti-federal desegregation became quiet pieces of the Wallace platform. While touring the industrial heart of the nation, Wallace's focus on pro-union policies, lower taxes, and opposition to bureaucracy was wildly popular in Middle America. Of course, this success was greatly aided by Wallace's second-in-command, Richard J. Daley.

    Contrary to the hopes of Wallace's original supporters, the Irish-American Midwestern despot did not have the best interests of the Wallace campaign at heart. Although Wallace was able to campaign again after his near-assassination, he remained a somewhat physically frail man for the duration of the election season. Daley, acutely aware of this, sought to use Wallace as a catapult into the White House. Internal communications from the Chicago political machine describe Wallace as an "invalid" who would likely be unable to survive the stress of the presidency. Nevertheless, Daley's influence proved a godsend in bringing Wallace's campaign to the North.

    Nixon entered the 1972 Republican National Convention a king. Still ecstatic about his success against McGovern, Nixon expected the Convention to be another opportunity to rally the party and build momentum for his triumph in November. Unfortunately for Nixon, the Republicans, and the nation, the Convention would not go as planned.

    Before the news about Wallace, Arthur Bremer was an unknown quantity in the far-left scene. After the Arthur Bremer catastrophe, much of the American left became intensely paranoid about Nixonite subversion. This paranoia paid off enormously for a group of Vietnam Veterans Against the War activists in Gainesville, Florida, who promptly identified and expelled the FBI informants present in their organization, including Bill Lemmer, who had distributed materials alleging that the government was planning on staging a terrorist attack at the Convention to blame on the VVAW. Although the informant who planted this idea was expelled from the organization, the threat of state violence in Miami loomed heavily over the Gainesville organizers. The Gainesville Eight, as they'd later be remembered, decided to go ahead with their original plan to disrupt the Convention with explosives, incendiary weapons, and automatic firearms. Although they considered Lemmer's account discredited by his association with the FBI, the Bremer scandal made the threat of a false flag at Miami feel very feasible. Diverging from Lemmer's original plan, the VVAW would not attempt to bait federal forces outside of Miami; instead, they would strike the Convention directly. Although pacifists criticized this move in the organization, many felt it necessary to defend the nonviolent protesters planning on gathering there.

    Inside the Convention Center, the media circus was well underway. Virtually every aspect of the Convention was televised for public consumption. Outside, the atmosphere was incredibly tense. Protests were far larger than Republican organizers had anticipated, and VVAW activists were heavily armed. On the night of August 22, 1972, the second day of the Convention, the powderkeg brewing outside finally blew. The VVAW activists had not used their weapons until this moment, waiting for the government to strike first. After a particularly rowdy evening, the local government did just that. Riot control units were deployed to the Convention to disperse the over 3,000 protesters that had gathered there. The VVAW panicked. It is still unknown which of the protesters detonated the firebomb outside of the Convention center, but the result remained the same, chaos. Live rounds were exchanged between both sides, and three of the eight VVAW organizers were killed, with two others left wounded. By the end of the night, 16 demonstrators were dead, one police officer was killed, and dozens were wounded. Inside the Convention Center, the Republicans were mortified. Nixon had already been renominated, so there was no real reason to continue the Convention after the bloodbath. Delegates were hurried out of the Convention and sent home, the Convention Center being treated as an active crime scene. By the time Nixon returned to Washington, national news outlets were already swarming around the violence. Democrat-leaning outlets decried Nixon as a butcher who oversaw the slaughtering of veterans, while pro-Nixon outlets painted him as uninvolved in the bloodbath outside of the RNC.

    The Wallace campaign was quick to react to this disaster. Privately, Wallace and Daley condemned the protesters as "dirty yippies" and "feckless doves," but the Democratic ticket presented a robust anti-war front publicly. Wallace sided with the anti-war movement throughout his campaign and felt that the RNC bloodbath only vindicated his anti-war stances. Wallace visited the surviving VVAW activists while they were imprisoned and managed to receive a reluctant endorsement from VVAW's national organ. This massive blunder for Nixon and triumph for Wallace would certainly make Nixon's path to victory a far more treacherous one.
    Chapter 3: Something Wicked This Way Comes: Wallace Wins!
  • As the election wound down, both the Wallace and Nixon campaigns waited with bated breath. Nixon had been battered by the Miami disaster and conservative defections to Wallace. Wallace had struggled to shake his image as a segregationist, a significant share of the black and liberal vote leaving his movement. Clay Smothers and other conservative black leaders had been crisscrossing the country trying to smooth over Wallace's racial history, but this had very limited success. By midnight on November 7, 1972, the verdict was in. George Wallace had defeated Richard Nixon.

    Hope you're all enjoying thus far, feel free to leave any predictions for what Wallace will do once he's in the Oval Office!
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    Chapter 4: Southern Pride, Worldwide: Wallace's First Year
  • Chapter 4: Southern Pride, Worldwide: Wallace's First Year

    George Wallace was sworn in on January 20, 1973, as the 38th President of the United States of America, with Richard J. Daley at his side, serving as Vice President. Wallace's top priority in office was making good on a campaign promise he's been making since his '68 run, a speedy end to the Vietnam War. To bring the rest of the troops home and negotiate a clean exit after signing the Paris Peace Accords, Wallace appointed fellow Southern Democrat and longtime liberal foreign policy expert J. William Fulbright to the Secretary of State post. Seeking to further stock his cabinet with seasoned anti-interventionists, Wallace appointed George F. Kennan his Secretary of Defense. Political allies since the Fulbright Hearings, Kennan and Fulbright would work in tandem for the duration of the Wallace administration, shaping what would be remembered as the Wallace Doctrine, a leading foreign policy philosophy in the 1970s and beyond. Adhering to the terms of the Paris Peace Accords, the US military began the agreed-upon pullout from Vietnam. Prisoners were exchanged, a ceasefire was declared, and, at least for the Americans, the Vietnam War was functionally over. Unlike Nixon's plan, Wallace's administration did not care for the idea of a "decent interval," abandoning South Vietnam entirely.

    The Vietnam pullout was not the only major foreign policy development of Wallace's first year in office. In October of 1973, the Yom Kippur War began. Israel again squared off against a coalition of Arab nations, Egypt and Syria. On the morning of October 6, Israel launched a surprise counterattack against the coalescing Arab forces who'd planned their initial strikes for that evening. Although Kissinger and Nixon had repeatedly warned Prime Minister Golda Meir not to fire the first shot in the coming conflict, the shifting situation in the United States made the Israeli position seem far more dire. Wallace was far softer in his support for Israel than his predecessor, and Fulbright often leaned towards open hostility towards the Jewish State. David Elazar, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, convinced Meir that American support was irrelevant and that a quick decapitating strike towards the Arabs would repel their intended advances. This proved to be a major miscalculation on behalf of Israel. In the next few hours, the IDF faced a series of blunders in the Sinai and Golan Heights, being repelled by the Egyptian and Syrian advances. Operation Badr, Egypt's plan to seize the Suez Canal and push Israel out of the Sinai, was wildly successful. As the walls began to close around Israel, the Israeli government begged the US for support. Recognizing the poor optics of engaging with a nation viewed by many as an aggressor, Wallace refused Israeli pleas for arms. Wallace's non-interventionist stance on Yom Kippur would haunt US-Israel relations for years after this incident, especially given the continued humiliating losses suffered by the IDF. Golan Heights and the Sinai were occupied by the end of the month, with low-grade conflict persisting in the Gaza strip for weeks after. Hailed by isolationists and anti-Zionists at home, Wallace's actions, or lack thereof, proved popular with certain sectors of American society. However, Yom Kippur proved a major blow to Jewish support of the Democratic Party, largely seen as traitors to pro-Israeli Jewish groups.

    At home, Wallace also took the beginning of his term to begin to implement his social and economic agenda. Choosing to put racial issues on the back burner, Wallace unveiled his plan to revitalize American society. Taking points from the Great Society's agricultural provisions, Wallace's plan sought to further expand the Farmers Home Association, further aiding small farmers, a stark shift from Nixon's pro-big agriculture farm policies. Wallace also called for an expansion of Social Security Benefits, wide tax cuts, reforms to the tax code that would correct loopholes, a plan to tax church property, and balancing the federal budget. Although it would take time for Wallace to further implement his vision, his reform plan would prove monumental in shaping the future of his party, his nation, and his own political legacy.
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    1972 and 1974 Congressional Maps
  • Hello all! I realized that there was some desire for some down-ballot election results, so I'm going to start putting those together. For now, I've assembled Senate maps and some brief explanations of the results for the divergences from OTL.

    Senate 1972:

    1972 senate redux.png
    As you may notice, this is almost exactly the same as OTL. The only divergence on the Senate level in 1972 is in Nebraska, where Terry Carpenter, a conservative Democrat, defeated Carl Curtis, the Republican incumbent. Locally, Curtis drew a great deal of criticism due to his pro-war stance in light of the Miami bloodbath. Wallace's national campaign also boosted Carpenter, finding the man to be a useful ally in the conservative Democrat camp.

    Senate 1974:
    1974 senate.png

    In Missouri, due to his relationship with the catastrophic 1972 McGovern campaign, Eagleton loses his seat to the Lincolnian pro-Civil Rights Republican candidate, Thomas B. Curtis. The presence of the states-rights Wallace in the White House also pushed more liberally minded Missourians toward Curtis and away from the Democrats. In Ohio, because there is no Saturday Night Massacre, the Republican William B. Saxbe does not become the Attorney General, retaining his seat and winning reelection. In South Dakota, McGovern loses to his Republican challenger, Leo K. Thorsness. Thorsness' status as a Vietnam POW, the lack of a Watergate to propel McGovern's reelection, and the general feeling that McGovern was uninterested in South Dakotan citizens led to a Republican victory in South Dakota. In Vermont, the liberal Republican Richard W. Mallary defeated the Democratic challenger, Patrick Leahy. The historic role of the Republican party in Vermont, along with rising liberal sentiments in the Republican party, kept the seat in the hands of the Republicans.

    That's all for today! Feel free to give any thoughts, criticisms or musings on these! I plan on doing some for the House when I get a chance.