How is this timeline so far?

  • Great

    Votes: 12 48.0%
  • Good

    Votes: 11 44.0%
  • Okay

    Votes: 2 8.0%
  • Bad

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Implausible

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    25
While he seems to be doing OK in his first year, according to this chapter, Cianci would probably be a little too much for the East Greenwich and Barrington sets, but at least corruption is finally being addressed. Come the 1980s, IIRC well before my time there was talk of a certain economic turnaround plan (I forgot exactly what) but it was rejected by the vast majority of Rhode Islanders because it would shake up the status quo too much. Tis' a big shame - it would be nice for Rhode Island to be something other than the red-handed stepchild of New England/the US, for once.

Some possible butterflies here:
*As long as Cianci doesn't act as a "super-mayor" of Providence at Smith Hill, RIDOT would definitely not cancel subsidies for Rhode Island commuter rail service from the MBTA (hence Pawtucket/Central Falls would still be a working station, even if the station building itself was closed several decades before the POD to the point where it's just bare platforms - unfortunately, for me, South Attleboro would not exist ITTL). Considering this is around the time Bostonians began moving south to Rhode Island in big numbers due to the high cost of living in the City itself, improving RIPTA (the state's public transit network) and deepening cooperating with Massachusetts with regards to commuter/regional rail service would be a great help. The 1970s crises would be a big boon here for public transit (Amtrak included), and New England is compact enough (IIRC it would be just slightly above the size of Ireland, land area-wise) that it could get away with a larger public transit system. Success with Rhode Island (especially with a popular Governor) could help convince skeptical New Hampshire, for example, to continue a pilot Commuter Rail service along the Lowell Line. The key, of course, is for Cianci to not act like Providence is all that Rhode Island contains (even if it feels like it at times). Which leads me to:

*Education. Here, it's still early enough to enact major changes and reforms to Rhode Island's educational system as a whole, not just providing guidance for the various K-12 systems in its cities and towns. Rhode Island Junior College (IOTL now known as CCRI, the Community College of Rhode Island, since 1990) had just completed its first big expansion in northern RI with the Flanagan Campus in Lincoln around the time of the POD (these days, IOTL, not far from a casino that at the time of the POD was just a greyhound race track). For the most part, the system is still pretty good, but it still face major challenges, including equity disparities between rural communities like Scituate and Burrillville, on one hand, and high-income communities like Barrington and East Greenwich, likewise, with urban communities like Providence and Newport, OTOH. So there's definitely potential for education to undergo a massive transformation (and probably incoporating Rhode Island Junior College along with it, if a more Quebec-style system is desired). This is one area where Cianci's tendency to go on an ego trip (when not stealing from surrounding communities to enhance Providence's prestige) would be most evident. On one hand, RIDE (the Department of Education) under Cianci could run roughshod over the various cities and towns and centralize education under a single authority (OTL precedent here would be the takeover of Central Falls' school system and, most recently - over the objections of the current mayor, which is all I can say about that without going into Chat-worthy territory - with Providence's schools). So education reform along GOP lines could be accompanied with major changes to educational organization, the curriculum, etc. - as well as looking outwards for possible domestic and international models (I'm thinking of Cianci's later "Renaissance City" idea for Providence in his second bout of office-holding, including trying to make Downtown into something like a Little Venice, complete with real gondolas going up and down the Providence River and Waterplace Park - goes to show Rhode Island can look outwards when it feels like it suits them). OTOH, there are still limits since Rhode Island is still one state among many; if the federal government doesn't like RI's reforms, it would make that known somehow. Therefore, reform can only go so far before it runs into challenges and difficulties. Still, it would be interesting to see Rhode Island try a more Quebec-style approach to public education with the type of centralization typical to most unitary states (like most countries outside of the US and Canada).

*Also, during the 1980s, a series of corruption scandals (capped later on with DiPrete and Mollicone/the banking crisis) led to calls for a new Constitution; when it was ultimately finalized in 1986, not much change was done to it except for some modernization of language and the inclusion of an Ethics Commission. Given Cianci ITTL seems to want to go more hard on corruption, and probably would want to consolidate power around himself as Governor, a new Constitution could happen sooner than OTL and make it more of a presidential-style system (as opposed to Rhode Island's traditional quasi-parliamentary (by 17th century standards) system of government) that centralizes all power to himself. That would indirectly affect a lot of things in other ways, such as his harrassment of critical media outlets (for example). Once Cianci falls, the state constitution would have to be changed again, probably moving away from a presidential-style system and finally bringing Rhode Island's parliamentary system up to modern standards (while still subject to the criteria laid out in the US Constitution and all that). So there's definite potential for abuse of power.

All in all, a great twist by having Garrahy out of the state during the Blizzard of '78. You seem to have done the research when it comes to RI politics, and it shows. Keep it up! :cool:
 
Garrahy was beloved for his handling of the Blizzard of ‘78. in hindsight it was a bit of a mess but he was present, active and all over media giving consistent updates despite being snowed in without a change of clothes. Dude couldn’t eat a meal in public for decades without people asking him if he still had the flannel shirt he wore on TV.

Having him out of town and paying the price for it was well done! Politicians here are judged by how they handle snow storms, hurricanes and disasters and silly things like ethics get consistently whitewashed. Don Carcieri got away with giving Curt Shilling a hundred million dollars to piss away on a failed video game empire largely because of how he handled the Station Nightclub Fire. Selective memory around here.
 
Garrahy was beloved for his handling of the Blizzard of ‘78. in hindsight it was a bit of a mess but he was present, active and all over media giving consistent updates despite being snowed in without a change of clothes. Dude couldn’t eat a meal in public for decades without people asking him if he still had the flannel shirt he wore on TV.
I saw it as the only opportunity to get Cianci into the governorship and felt like it could happen at just the right moment. Plus it’s a good, little known moment outside of New England so it was a perfect plot point in addition to a plausible reason for Cianci to be viable in 1980.


Thank you for the detailed response. I’ll look into your suggestions.
 
Having him out of town and paying the price for it was well done! Politicians here are judged by how they handle snow storms, hurricanes and disasters and silly things like ethics get consistently whitewashed.
Ain't that the truth - Rhode Island stuff in a nutshell. That and directing people based on where Almacs and Benny's used to be (and gods do I seriously miss the latter - I was too young to remember Almacs' closure, but Benny's was a big part of my childhood, as was Apex.)
 
Chapter VII: Death by a Thousand Cuts
To truly understand why the Republicans won in 1980 we must understand the backlash against Jackson. Jackson with the Panama War had burnt the goodwill of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party quite quickly. They had been willing to deal with his opposition to busing and hawkish rhetoric due to him expanding healthcare and implementing a public option, but they couldn’t tolerate another Vietnam. Senators such as Mike Gravel and George McGovern protested the Panama War and called its end while conservatives attacked the Jackson administration's handling of the war. Once again Paul Laxalt became one of the most vocal critics of the Jackson administration and called for an investigation of the handling of the Panama War. As more coffins draped in American flags arrived in DC and the economy faltered the popularity of an investigation grew.

The Jackson administration faced challenges in breaking inflation as the Panama Canal still being damaged and under attack by the FRS spiked the prices of products all over America. But the most unexpected dip in popularity came when he met with Pope Clement XV in Rome. The meeting was infamous due to the public disagreement over the issue of Latin America. Clement XV asked Jackson to stop funding the JNP, Somozas, and OPN due to their war crimes and crimes against humanity. Jackson refused believing the far-right regimes were the lesser of two evils flat out refused. Clement XV fiercely argued with him, and Jackson stormed out of the meeting.

A week later Clement XV had a stroke in his sleep on March 15th and was found dead in the morning. The stress of the papacy killed him as he had put everything, he had into being Pope and fighting for the third world. The 1979 papal conclave was one watched by all living in Latin America. They had an ally in Clement XV and were hoping to have another one. On March 14th, a company of the Nicaraguan army destroyed a church in FSLN territory and murdered the priest who presided over it. On the 15th three churches were fired bombed by unknown assailants (presumed to be supporters of the Somoza regime). With anti-Catholic violence spreading the papacy was rocked. Originally the conclave was expected to pick Franz Konig due to his moderate stances, but they realized they needed someone more forceful. One who had experienced this kind of repression firsthand. On the second ballot of the conclave cardinal Aloisio Lorscheider was chosen as the next pope. Lorscheider’s feelings on the far-right could best be described as unsympathetic at best and pure hatred at worst. He had seen the tyranny of right-wing dictatorship in his home country of Brazil and wasn’t going to let the JNP, Justine, OPN, or Somoza's get a free pass. He took the name Pope Nicholas VI after Pope Nicholas I who was notable for his crusade against poverty and charity to the poor.

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Pope Nicholas VI.

When Kirkpatrick turned on the TV to see Nicholas VI elected as Pope she allegedly remarked “you’ve got to be fucking joking.” Jackson’s nightmare with the Catholic Church was about to get much worse.

Right in time with Nicholas VI ascending to pope the FDN resumed their offensive with the help of 200 Cuban volunteers and 2,000 FSLN soldiers who joined the offensive. This time the experienced FSLN and Cuban soldiers, who had been smuggled in as either tourists or aid workers broke the JNP-OPN defenses. Combined with the election of Nicholas VI boosting morale they were able to first get into artillery distance of San Salvador. After two days of bombarding the city, they pressed onwards despite mounting losses and US and Honduras bombing FDN positions. Still, they pressed on as FDN sympathizers in San Salvador joined the fight by sabotaging the JNP and OPN forces with barricades, bombings, and declaring a general strike. This cost the JNP valuable resources to crush the saboteurs allowing the FDN to enter the city. At this point it looked like the JNP was going to collapse Juan Alberto Castro made a fateful decision that would change the history of the Latin American Emergency. On May 1st, the May Day offensive was launched by the Honduras Army. Honduras fighter jets entered into FDN airspace and per usual bombed the positions of the FDN but also factories in FDN territory. Twenty minutes later Honduras soldiers crossed the El Salvador-Honduras border. The Honduras soldiers were met with a scene straight out of hell. In the sweltering jungles FDN soldiers fought tooth and nail against the Honduras soldiers, inflicting heavy casualties. The decision to invade El Salvador did do what it was intended though. Save the JNP. The FDN was forced to pull out of the house to house fighting that consumed parts of San Salvador to mount a defense against Honduras. But this did not have the intended consequence of crushing the FDN. In fact, it only made them more popular as Salvadorians were horrified at the invasion. Most began to see the JPN as puppets of the hated Honduras government and radicalized the populace into either supporting the OPN or FDN. The OPN with the surge of popularity came out against the invasion and denounced it as a “Jewish plot” to destroy the nation. With the surge in popularity the OPN ramped up its massacres and murders of Christians.

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Catholic church in El Salvador being burned down by the OPN.

The war in El Salvador did have an unintended consequence of the collapse of the Somoza regime. With Honduras distracted the FSLN used the open skies to their advantage. Without a fear of being killed in an airstrike the FSLN moved into the outskirts of Managua. To make matters worse for the Somoza regime was that FSLN sympathizers rioted in Managua, crippling their remaining soldier's ability to resist the FSLN. To the shock of Central America, the FSLN entered the city on May 20th and the Somoza regime ended. The remaining Somozas fled to the US and would never face any punishment for their corruption, murder, war crimes, or torture. With this Daniel Ortega became the president of Nicaragua and was intending to rebuild the war-torn country. But things changed when a clash between the militias on the Pacific coast and FSLN soldiers clashed on May 23rd. The clash killed thirty people and the FSLN gave chase, unknowingly invading Honduras. Honduras soldiers protecting the militia members opened fired on the FSLN, killing five. The next day a Honduras reconnaissance plane was shot down in Nicaragua. Honduras had been well known for its support for the Somoza and right-wing regimes in Central America. To make matters even worse for the invasion of El Salvador was considered an attack on a sister revolution and with high tech weaponry coming in from the US the FSLN suspected Nicaragua would be next on the chopping block. Furthermore, in Nicaragua and other left wing countries Honduras had become a pariah state for its known allegiance to the US and Somozas. It was this animosity and fear that Ortega decided to remove the Castro regime once and for all. On May 29th Nicaraguan soldiers assaulted the nation of Honduras. The border was lightly defended by Honduras most soldiers went to El Salvador for the invasion.

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Daniel Ortega, the new dictator of Nicaragua.

Pope Nicholas VI condemned both the invasion of El Salvador and the invasion of Honduras as illegal and murderous. He saw both the FSLN and Honduras as immoral for their invasions and called for peace, even offering to mediate peace talks but neither side listened. Despite him pleading with Ortega he refused to back down.

The Nicaraguan soldiers rushed towards Tegucigalpa in an attempt to quickly end the war. The Honduras military immediately pulled soldiers out of El Salvador to defend themselves from the invasion. The first major battle of the war was the battle of Danil, which connected three major roads, including one connected to Tegucigalpa. The battle of Danil could’ve easily gone in Honduras’s favor if they had not invaded El Salvador, but there wouldn’t have been an invasion if Honduras hadn’t invaded El Salvador in the first place. The battle of Danil was brutal as the battle-hardened Nicaraguan soldiers grinded down the Honduras soldiers, who hadn’t seen combat or were just pulled from El Salvador and sleep deprived. Combined with a distracted air force Danil fell after a week of brutal fighting. The city was reduced to rubble in most parts, but Ortega’s plan had succeeded. The day after Danil fell members of the OPN raided soldiers stationed in the state of Valle, killing twenty. With the fall of Danil, Nicaraguan soldiers launched an attack on the state capital of El Paraiso, Yuscaran from two directions, capturing it in three days.

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FSLN soldiers in Yuscaran.

With the fall of Yuscaran Jackson took drastic action to buy time for Honduras. On March 10th, 1979, the US launched several airstrikes on Nicaraguan soldiers. On March 11th, the United States announced a blockade of the Nicaraguan coastline controlled by the FSLN government. Later that day an airstrike on supply lines hit a convoy carrying two tons of ammunition. The ensuing explosion killed over one hundred people. The American intervention in the Latin American Crisis served only to anger the people of Nicaragua. On March 15th after a vigil a group of students made a radical decision. In the early hours of March 17th, 1979, over a hundred students protested at the US embassy in Managua. US marines at the embassy watched the protest closely and originally were minimally concerned. But as the protest swelled to 10,000 after another round of bombings was reported by the government. As casualties mounted from the day. In the city of Danil an airstrike killed thirty civilians and ten soldiers. As a student with a megaphone gave the list of the martyrs the crowd’s anger grew. Soon several members of the crowd in a fit of rage started throwing bricks at American banks and soon enough rioting broke out. The Managua police couldn’t do much as the riots grew and were outnumbered. The army wasn’t too much concerned with it as American businesses were being targeted but then the anger turned onto the embassy. Rocks were thrown at the embassy and windows were smashed. American marines in the embassy, fearing the crowd would attack the embassy requested an evacuation for the staff and themselves. When the helicopters were sent into the Nicaraguan airspace rumors of an invasion spread amongst the crowd. Ortega called Washington to see what was going on as a precaution and the ambassador to Nicaragua Elliot Abrams picked up. Abrams promised that the helicopters were only there for “caution” and was deliberately vague to prevent Ortega from knowing the location of where they were heading as he didn’t trust Ortega. Ortega desperately tried to get more information out of Abrams but couldn’t. The Nicaraguan Army was put on high alert. This decision caused the crowd to panic, and students attempted to storm the embassy. The marines fearful for their lives, deployed tear gas and hit the students with their rifle butts.

At that point as the helicopters arrived students stormed the embassy. All hell broke loose as tear gas was deployed inside the embassy and shots were fired somewhere. No one knows who shot first, but someone shot someone a block away from the embassy. A man laid dead on the sidewalk. Ortega ordered the army to break up the riot near the embassy, wanting to avoid an invasion but it was too late. Molotov cocktails and rocks were thrown at the embassy as soldiers tried to evacuate the embassy. Ortega immediately called Abrams and made clear he had nothing to do with it. Abrams and the state department weren’t convinced. Even when Nicaraguan soldiers attacked the rioters with tear gas and batons the rioters trudged on. US marines desperately tried to quicken the pace of the evacuation as the two hundred people who worked at the embassy were evacuated into chinook helicopters. After around an hour the staff was fully evacuated and just in time. The rioters set fire to the back of the embassy and with the fire department overwhelmed by the riots there was no possibility the embassy wouldn’t be burned to the ground. From there the marines were quickly evacuated as the fire consumed the first floor. No one had died luckily due to the quick response by the US marines but the images of the American embassy being besieged and burned down by militant socialists dismantled the competence of the Jackson administration. How the American people were supposed to trust Jackson after this failure was beyond most Americans. An official investigation was started into American actions in Central America soon after, spearheaded by Mike Gravel of Alaska and Paul Laxalt of Nevada.

The investigation exposed the US’s support for death squads responsible for the murder of numerous priests and just about every war crime under the sun. Not exactly shocking for anyone who paid attention to the fact aid was being sent to any thug who supported capitalism over communism in the third world, but it did shock Catholics and progressives. Gravel called for Jackson’s impeachment while Catholic priests gave sermons against the Jackson administrations support for the JNP and OPN. Pope Nicholas VI officially called for all aid to be cut off from the US to the JNP and OPN. Most Americans sadly could care less about the fact death squads were being sent weapons and money but rather the fact Nicaragua was winning against Honduras. Why should they care if some communists were being killed in El Salvador? The more the merrier in fact as they did blow up the Panama Canal. It only seemed like the anti-war folks and the Catholics condemned the death squads. Only a couple other groups such as pro-life groups and politicians opposed the JNP and OPN for their anti-Catholicism and murder of political dissidents. The exposure of the widespread mass killings by the death squads in El Salvador had far reaching effects across the world. First was the radicalization of Catholics. Seeing their fellow Catholic brethren get butchered by the government they put so much trust in. Millions of Catholics in America alone who were originally hesitant in their support for Nicholas VI soon became the most fervent and zealous supporters of the pope. Hundreds of thousands of Catholics also became committed to the cause of anti-imperialism and support for the poor. For the former they viewed Jackson’s foreign policy as a direct attack on Christianity with America’s support for death squads that murdered and tortured pius men like Romero and quite brazenly violated “thou shalt not kill.” In addition to that bishop Fulton J. Sheen, a man who opposed birth control and abortion denounced the wars in Latin America. Sheen was one of the most influential bishops in American history and his opposition to the war in Latin America convinced many Catholics to oppose war fervently. Amongst those was future representative and friend of Gore Vidal Bill Kauffman who was at the same rally as Sheen when he condemned the Latin American Crisis. Sheen would shortly die afterwards but he managed to change the course of American Catholicism forever.

The latter they became more active in due to it being emphasized by Pope Nicholas VI and so priests followed it. In addition to the Pope’s emphasis on poverty the news reports of a deteriorating economic situation in America and de-industrialization pushed Catholics to take action in places such as the rust belt with food drives and donating to food drives for laid off workers. As the poor flocked to Catholicism, more action against poverty would follow. Catholics have become some of the most politically active groups in America with them being at the forefront during the Hightower administration's decision to review Taft-Harley and the debate to continue to implement universal healthcare in the 1990s. Furthermore, the pro-life movement has been given a major boon due to the aggressive activism by Catholics such as Dennis Kucinich and James D. Griffin restricting abortion during their times as governor. Both of them would be self-described members of the “blue collar coalition” which opposed abortion but supported social democratic economic policies. Kucinich especially has been popular with his support for avowed socialists such as Governor Mike Connolly of Massachusetts and activist Cornel West has put his radical turn front and center.

Arguably the biggest influence in Kucinich’s view of the world was the Jackson administration’s foreign policy and Nicholas VI’s papal doctrine which expressed solidarity with the poor and strict anti-authoritarianism. Originally a supporter of Jackson he became very critical of him right after becoming mayor of Cleveland. Yeah, he passed a public option but for many poor Americans he felt like it wasn’t enough. Kucinich saw the poverty in Cleveland and begged the Jackson administration to do anything over it. Instead, they dropped more bombs and armed more death squads that produced unwilling martyrs. Every month he saw headlines about a death squad decapitating another priest or thousands dying in the Latin America Crisis. But when he looked for allies to help the poor or help the victims of war, he always found an ally in local Catholic church.

As the situation in Honduras turned into a stalemate as Jackson bombed Nicaragua shortly after the burning down of the embassy, he declared Nicaragua a terror state that attempted to kill diplomats and justified the bombings by saying he was defending the Americas from communism. Unfortunately for him Americans weren’t buying it. Catholics and progressives led by young radicals such as Bill Kauffman and Harvey Milk respectively punished Jackson for his decision with hundreds of thousands marching against war. Kauffman called for an immediate end to military aide for the JNP, Honduras, Panama, and the OPN while calling for a complete withdraw from Panama, and for the impeachment of Jackson for crimes against humanity.

Jackson was certainly not having a good time as president. He had lost his own party and with a worsening economic situation he was nearly doomed for re-election. But if things couldn’t get worse, he was terribly wrong. Remember Persia?

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Iranians protesting the Shah during the Iranian Revolution

Well, the Shah had done a terrible job since the near overthrow of his regime in 1977 the resistance to the Shahdom went underground but not away. The Islamists had decreased in popularity but still had a lot of political sway in Persia. Furthermore, the People Mujahedin was the most popular organization opposed to the Shah as hatred of American imperialism reached a breaking point all over the world due to the Jackson administration's foreign policy. The People Mujahedin openly supported socialism and anti-imperialism and was thus very popular in Persia after the death of Ruhollah Khomeini. With their own charismatic leader in Massoud Rajavi the People Mujahedin became the de facto opposition to the Shahdom and began to arm themselves. On March 30th, 1979, that night came when the Shah left the country for Switzerland to receive surgery for his ever-worsening cancer. With the Shah out of the country the Islamists and socialists began mass protests against his rule. In Tehran soldiers fired at a crowd of protestors, killing ten people and injuring fifty. The day was known as Black Thursday and overnight the Shah’s regime collapsed. Both Massoud Rajavi and Ali Khamenei called for an end to the Shahdom. On Friday a general strike was declared as the government teetered on the edge of total destruction. In retaliation the interim government, led by the military ordered striking dock workers to be broken up by the Persian Navy. This would’ve surely resulted in a massacre if the dockers didn’t back down which they refused to. However, Captain Bahram Afzali, a member of the communist Tudeh Party led a mutiny on a cruiser and hundreds of sailors joined in. By the end of the day 40% of the navy was in a full-on rebellion and 20% deserted. Inspired by this, soldiers sympathetic to Islamist or socialist ideals joined the protestors and by Sunday Qom had fallen to the Islamists without a single shot being fired. On Monday soldiers retreated from Tehran as militias and deserting soldiers outgunned and outnumbered the remaining soldiers so severely, they would’ve been massacred if they dared to fire a single shot. With the people and the military in full on revolt the junta fled on a flight to France.

With this Persia was no more and in Tehran Islamists and socialists celebrated the end of the Shahdom. Shortly thereafter a congress was set up in Tehran led by Massoud Rajavi, who had coordinated the general strike. The interim government started the National Revolutionary Congress (NRC) and immediately problems came up. First of all, the Islamists and the socialists had radically different ideas for the nation. The Islamists wanted a nation guided by ultra-reactionary social values that stripped women of their rights and seeked a liberal economic agenda. The socialists called for keeping the reforms that were implemented by the Shah that benefited women while nationalizing oil and other industries to complete their promise of socialism. Furthermore, they called for an alliance with the USSR to protect against US imperialism. The Islamists balked at this idea as the USSR’s oppression of the religious terrified them and denounced the idea as an insult to God. By the end of the NRC on August 9th the only thing they could agree on was scheduling presidential and congressional elections for February 20th, 1980. These elections would decide the fate of the Iranian Republic as Islamists promised a reactionary social agenda, liberal economic agenda, a powerful presidency, and Islamic education. while the People Mujahedin-Tuden Alliance, officially the Popular Iranian Front (PIF) called for nationalizing industry, an alliance with the USSR, proportional representation, a parliament, a prime minister, and abolition of the presidency. The PIF ran Massoud Rajavi, and the Islamist National Green Party ran Ali Khamenei.

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Massoud Rajavi in a colorized campaign ad (1980)

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Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (2005)

The unstable situation in Iran caused the worldwide recession to deepen with oil prices increasing by three dollars. Even worse the thought of a communist Iran caused investors to pull out of Iran causing further doubt in the market. Jackson was terrified of yet another country falling to communism which looked likely as Rajavi was polling 7% ahead of Khamenei with 44% of the vote and the PIF was winning the congressional elections with a majority of seats. Jackson did everything in his power to make sure the National Green Party won by sending them millions of dollars in money and in case they lost guns. Two weeks before the election a group of socialists and Islamists clashed in the city of Arak. A man pulled out a gun after the brawl started and killed seven. After the Arak Incident the PIF and Islamists respectively started to arm themselves to the teeth with neither trusting the other to peacefully accept the results only fueling more hatred and more militias. Come February the world watched in bated breath as Iran was on the brink of civil war.
 
Any predictions for the 1980 presidential election or Europe?
I'm curious to see if Jackson ends up facing a strong primary challenger. I noticed that you said Gravel and McGovern have been speaking out against the interventions in Latin America - have most of the more liberal and/or anti-war Democrats in Congress followed their lead? What is Ted Kennedy up to in this TL?
 
I'm curious to see if Jackson ends up facing a strong primary challenger.
You’ll have to wait and see.
I noticed that you said Gravel and McGovern have been speaking out against the interventions in Latin America - have most of the more liberal and/or anti-war Democrats in Congress followed their lead?
Yes, most of the anti-war congressman and senators have criticized the interventions in Latin America as another bloody and unnecessary war. In the senate it’s certainly less prevalent and accepted to openly criticize the interventions as unjust and immoral with less progressive senators and most moderate Democrats criticizing it behind the scenes.
What is Ted Kennedy up to in this TL?
Kennedy is currently one of Jackson’s key allies in the senate. Kennedy doesn’t like his foreign policy but with labor unions backing Jackson in 1980 and Jackson getting into his good graces with his pro-New Deal economic policies Kennedy has decided not to run for president in 1980. Plus he can get his key proposals of an expanded welfare state and healthcare reform passed as Jackson agrees with him on those issues.
 
Iran splitting between MEK and the Islamic Populists is under-utilised, as it’s often just ‘Iranian Communists, Islamists and SAVAK battle each other’.
The MEK at one point was a major force in pre-revolution Iran and without Ayatollah Khomeini it would be allowed to grow as the most charismatic leader of the Islamists is dead. Plus, Rajavi is an interesting character in himself and makes a great character in the increasingly chaotic world.
 
Chapter VIII: The Gospel of Truth
With the rise of Iranian socialism came the start of the 1980 primary season. On the Republican side there were three men who stood out. You had Paul Laxalt, senator from Nevada who was the conservative darling that year but unlike Reagan considered a rational man who wouldn’t piss off the establishment. The second candidate was John B. Anderson, who was a liberal Republican who attacked the conservative wing for blowing an easily winnable election by primarying the late President Rockefeller. Anderson seeked to continue the legacy of the Rockefeller administration by compromising with the continued hegemony of the New Deal and embracing social liberalism. The third candidate and the one who made the biggest splash was Buddy Cianci. Cianci saw an opening as the Jackson administration fell apart while his brand of moderate conservatism, law and order rhetoric, anti-corruption rhetoric, and pseudo-populism flipped a state that voted Jackson by a thirty-point margin. In addition to that he was endorsed by conservatives such as the Buckley brothers and moderates such as the Rockefeller family and Charles Mathias of Maryland. The campaign was an intense one as Cianci and Laxalt targeted Iowa and spent a decent amount of their war chests there. Daily both Cianci and Laxalt gave speeches to hundreds if not thousands of Iowans in an effort to get them to support their candidacy. Cianci ran as the pragmatic conservative who would crack down on crime, government waste, and corruption with a moderate social agenda. His platform included additional funding for the police, a steady militarization effort of the Panama Canal to make it a fortress to protect shipping, a hard crackdown on drugs, and cutting programs that he perceived as generating unnecessary waste such as the EPA and Department of Education but not touching the public option.

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Paul Laxalt. Conservative hero and next president?

Laxalt on the other hand called for cutting the public option’s budget by 10% and deregulating the pharmaceutical industry, abolishing the department of education, a troop surge in Panama, and increasing bombing efforts against the FSLN. He also slammed social liberalism by denouncing homosexuality as a disease and decrying abortion. Laxalt’s social views may have fit into the Republican Party but his economic views in Iowa at least were very unpopular. Many poor members of the GOP loved the public option and saw how it benefited them. This included Catholics who were in love with his belief in a right to life amendment but didn’t have a problem with government welfare programs including the public option. Come Iowa Cianci managed to scoop up poor and moderate voters and he won 43-37-20 with Anderson coming in a distant third. Laxalt was dealt a serious blow, but he still kept on treading to New Hampshire which was a more conservative state that sympathized with Laxalt. The state after all voted for Reagan despite Rockefeller being quite popular. Laxalt was further helped with an enthusiastic ground campaign and the endorsement of governor Meldrim Thompson Jr. Laxalt easily won the primary 50-39-9. With a key win in New Hampshire Laxalt’s campaign quickly started to gain momentum as more and more establishment Republicans such as Howard Baker and Bob Dole endorsed him. On the other hand, Cianci raked in endorsements from George H.W Bush and just about any Republican from New England. The primary fight went back and forth between Cianci and Laxalt with Cianci sweeping New York, New England (minus New Hampshire and Vermont), Pennsylvania, and Michigan while Laxalt like Reagan swept the South and libertarian mountain states in addition to winning Texas and California. Anderson managed to pick off a couple of states but before the Illinois primary where he won in a shocking upset. Come the convention it was neck and neck between Cianci and Laxalt with Cianci winning Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Washington but in the end Laxalt barely pulled it off.

The two main reasons were due to Laxalt and Anderson refusing to debate Cianci due to his charisma, which prevented a knockout blow by Cianci and the increasing conservatism of the Republican base. If this was the 60s Cianci would’ve won easily but with more and more conservative voters out numbering the moderate and liberals by the day, they went with the safe friend of Reagan who wouldn’t provoke the same anger from the Republican establishment. Cianci though was considered a valuable tool in Laxalt’s potential arsenal. Laxalt figured he could prevent another exodus from either the liberal or moderate wings of the party by picking Cianci as his vice president. Cianci first of all would be a valuable attack dog on the campaign trail which would benefit Laxalt as Cianci could get his hands dirty while Laxalt put out his platform. Secondly, Cianci brought in liberal and moderate Republicans including John Anderson who debated running for president as an independent but decided against it. Finally, it protected Laxalt’s image from allegations of radicalism due to Cianci’s credibility as a moderate and rational politician who simply wished to get tough on corruption and crime. On the other side of the political spectrum the primary was a complete mess.

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Mike Gravel with fellow senator Ted Stevens discussing their opposing views on the Panama War.

While the Republicans had a mildly intense primary season the Democrats were busy tearing each other apart. With Jackson’s neoconservative foreign policy simultaneously angering Catholics, students, progressives, and social democrats there was bound to be a primary challenger. He met his match in the anti-war senator from Alaska Mike Gravel. Gravel is8 most known nowadays as the creator of the American Liberty Institute (ALI), a YouVids channel that posts a steady stream of anti-war and libertarian socialist videos that criticize the current political system in America as corrupt and its foreign policy harmful to the world. But before Gravel became a YouVids mogul he was senator from Alaska until he gave up the seat to run against Jackson in the Democratic Primary. He attacked him for his reckless foreign policy and funding death squads in Latin America while calling for massive spending at home to offset the failing economy. Come Iowa Gravel was blown out of the water with him only garnering 33% of the vote. But then he won Maine by 3% and in the lead up to New Hampshire Jackson suffered another hit in popularity. In Iran the presidential and congressional elections were held with Rajavi winning by 2% and the PIF winning a razor thin majority in Congress over the liberal and Islamist parties.

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1980 Iranian presidential election.

With this shock waves were sent throughout Iran, especially the Islamists who feared the PIF would repress them. It was with this that Islamist militias began to attack PIF militias and were egged on by Jackson who publicly denounced Rajavi as a dangerous demagogue. Ali Khamenei from his house in Qom called for a campaign of resistance against the Rajavi presidency which Rajavi didn’t take too well. With Iran facing violence between socialist and Islamist militias and riots Rajavi decided to arrest Khamenei for “inciting violence.”

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Islamists protesting the election results and attempted arrest of Ali Khamenei (1980).

When soldiers were sent to arrest Khamenei, they soon faced off against over three hundred militia members who demanded his release. The soldiers accepted and this was the catalyst for the Iranian civil war. With their leader arrested the Islamists saw Rajavi as another tyrant, this time instead of a US backed monarch a Soviet backed communist who needed to be overthrown. As riots gripped the country over his decision to arrest Khamenei, he sent in the military to quell them. With this the civil war began as militias and anti-PIF soldiers took it as a coup, causing the military to fracture and Khamenei to declare Rajavi an illegitimate dictator. PIF and Islamist militias attacked each other, and the battle lines were drawn as oil prices spiked due to the calamity. The first shots were fired inside Tehran when Islamist and PIF militias fired on each other, and the army was sent into crush the Islamists. Despite brutal urban warfare and two thousand deaths the PIF won. The USSR and US quickly sent millions of dollars in guns and artillery to aid the PIF and Islamists respectively who were open combat across the country. Within week thousands were already dead as it became another proxy war in the Cold War. The first real test of US interventionism was when the Revolutionary Navy under the famed Bahram Afzali decided to stop a cargo ship that was carrying weapons to the Islamists. The ship was boarded and seized by the Revolutionary Navy which caused a fierce condemnation by Secretary of State Kirkpatrick. The next day the NRC declared the People’s Revolutionary Republic of Iran (PRRI) with Massoud Rajavi becoming Chairmen.

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Socialists celebrating the declaration of the PRRI in Tehran (1980).

Gravel was given a boost in popularity as Jackson’s foreign policy was being torn apart by the day with more socialist insurrections and revolutions popping up seemingly every week. Gravel preceded to call out Jackson’s failed foreign policy and blame US aggression for the rise in radical socialist movements such as the PIF and FRS only coming about due to the US’s actions abroad. To Democrats sick and tired of war this was exactly what they wanted to hear with inflation and oil prices spiking and body bags mounting. Gravel won in Massachusetts with a lead of 150,000 votes, which shocked Jackson. In Vermont, a state known for being quite libertarian, even amongst Democrats went to Gravel the same day. Jackson didn’t panic as he knew he’d blow out the South no matter what and also take the west coast and mountain states due to him being popular in those parts of the country. Massachusetts, he felt was a fluke mainly because it had a large liberal and Catholic population that hated his agenda. Once Jackson swept the southern states Gravel’s campaign started to decrease in support and cash until New York. With Jackson’s bickering with Prime Minister of Italy Aldo Moro for including communists in the government Jackson once again was embarrassed as Americans would rather have a stable economy than publicly feud with another one of their allies. This once again became a key attack against Jackson from Gravel who ran an ad saying “Jackson would rather spend time bickering with a democratically elected government than give economic aid to the average American. While the average man and women are struggling to fill up their tank of gas, Jackson’s spending time in luxury doing nothing but complaining.”

The ad struck a chord with Democrats especially in New York where Jackson won by only 5,000 votes. The shocking near win gave progressives hope for the rest of the Democratic primaries but it would not last as Jackson dominated the rust belt due to his popularity amongst union voters and working-class Democrats. Gravel would win the Hawaii primary due to the state’s large progressive population that disliked Jackson’s warmongering and had historically been one of the most progressive states in the union. By the end of the campaign Jackson dominated the primary but was weakened nationally as he looked more divisive, and it made the Democrats were a broken party. This was further cemented by Gravel announcing a third party run for president. The independent campaign for president was launched in New York with Gravel picking consumer activist Ralph Nader as his running mate. At his announcement he decried the fact America still didn’t have universal healthcare, the funding of death squads in El Salvador, the war in Panama, and the murder of Oscar Romero. The Gravel campaign was surprisingly successful as people such as Reverend Jesse Jackson, representatives Ron Dellums and Pete McCloskey, mayor of Detroit Michael Coleman, mayor of San Francisco Harvey Milk, and philosopher Noam Chomsky all endorsed him. Gravel would also capitalize of the attention of the media who ate up his eccentric personality and brazenly progressive platform, giving him millions in free advertisement. Within a week he shot up from 5% to 15% in the polls and Jackson fell from a respectable 47% to 39%. But Gravel’s campaign for president has been overestimated by both progressives and moderates alike. For starters once the initial novelty of a semi successful independent wore off the media started to thoroughly go through Gravel’s platform. His platform was undoubtedly unpopular with most Americans as he called for gradually giving the Panama Canal to the Justine regime, nationalizing healthcare, and implementing a free college program. Immediately it was attacked by Laxalt and Jackson as a giveaway to student activists and a disservice to all those who died in Panama.

Come the debates Jackson spent most of his time attacking Gravel and Laxalt as dangerous radicals who shouldn’t be placed anywhere near the presidency but due to his vendetta against Gravel for running an independent campaign after he got blown out in the Democratic primaries. Laxalt on the other hand took some easy jabs at Gravel but portrayed himself as a rational conservative, in the same vein as Eisenhower and Ford who would be a president for all Americans, end the Panama War and Latin American Crisis in an American victory, and end the recession plaguing America instead of blasting Gravel who he correctly viewed as a non-threat. Jackson spent most of the debate trying to defend himself and his administration from accusations of incompetence due to the dumpster fire that was the current foreign situation and recession. By the end of the first debate Laxalt came off as the best one, a tad boring but one who would respect the public option, cut government bureaucracy, cut taxes, and win the Panama War. At the end of the day, America wanted a boring conservative who would be forced to compromise with the likely Democratic Congress. As the situation in Iran stabilized in favor of the Islamists and the PRRI lost ground to Kurdish separatists and Islamist soldiers who repelled an attempted attack on Khorramabad Jackson started to slightly recover in the polls. He was also helped by Gravel slipping back to around 7% but trailed Laxalt 48-43. Jackson’s accusations of radicalism against Laxalt failed miserably as when asked by reporter Al Gore on October 3rd on if he’d repeal the incredibly popular public option he replied with:

“Frankly I don’t believe the GOP has the mandate to do that. Voters have made clear they support the public option. Even in conservative states such as Texas have shown they love it. My good friend John Tower lost partially due to his opposition as Price Daniel Jr ran on his support of the public option and managed to turn a five-point lost into a two-point win. We’ll do whatever we can get a mandate for rather than repealing popular legislation. President Eisenhower knew this and instead of cutting a vital and popular program like social security left it be while implementing conservative policies elsewhere.”

Laxalt still promised to tweak certain parts of the public option by deregulating the pharmaceutical industry and cutting what he viewed as the “wasteful” parts of the public option, but he’d stick to cutting taxes, increasing military funding, and fixing the economy rather than waging war against popular legislation that would likely blow up the GOP’s future electoral chances. Unlike the Reaganites Laxalt knew he’d need to make an effort to appeal to moderates in order to win the election, much to the dislike of conservatives such as Phil Crane. What’s undeniable is that it worked. Come election day Laxalt defeated Jackson and Laxalt in a dominating win. Not a landslide but pretty close.

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Laxalt/Cianci 354 EV 48.3% PV
Jackson/Harris 184 EV 43.8% PV
Gravel/Nader 0 EV 5.2% PV

Closest states (under 3%):

Massachusetts 0.07%
Missouri 0.21%
Delaware 0.30%
Tennessee 0.34%

North Carolina 0.35%
Mississippi 1.1%

Rhode Island 2.1%

Gravel won 5.2% of the vote in the best third party showing until 1992. His campaign may not have flipped any states, but it did cost Jackson Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Delaware in a clear message to the Democratic Party that on some level they would need the progressives in order to win the presidency. Laxalt and Cianci would end up making history. Laxalt was the second Catholic president, Cianci was the first Italian American to become vice president. Most Americans look back and wonder “how did things go so wrong?” Laxalt to most Americans is a great man whose term was ended by outside forces that prevented a better future. It depends on who you ask really, if it’s Oliver Stone they'll say fascist goons in the Cianci administration and if you ask conservative evangelicals, they’ll say demons who wished to destroy America. But most Americans would rather speculate if things were different and what that path would entail. One that would make moderates happy as you could be one without being viewed as a sellout to either the other party or corporate interests. One that would also make conservatives happy as America would avoid sixteen years of Democratic hegemony.
 
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Chapter IX: Malice and Communism in Europe
As Iran was tearing itself apart the opposite was happening in Italy. Negotiations were being carried out by Christian Democrat leader Aldo Moro and Communist leader Enrico Berlinguer would be dramatically accelerated with the election of Pope Nicholas VI due to his support for a peaceful coexistence with communism and sympathies with liberation theology. With more Catholics than ever supporting the PCI Moro accelerated the decision to compromise. In January 1979 Moro and Berlinguer managed to put out a compromise platform with the PCI. The platform gave communists numerous positions in government and would have Aldo Moro as Prime Minister, Berlinguer as Minister of Industry, strengthen trade unions, oppose the wars in Latin America, support for a Palestinian state, a hardline policy on terrorism, $10 billion in new spending for welfare, tax cuts for worker co-ops, equal rights for the disabled, and further expansion of healthcare. The Communists and the Christian Democrats called for another election to crystalize the support for the Historic Compromise. Moro would replace Benigno Zaccagnini as leader of the Christian Democrats and became Prime Minister for the third time in his career.

Moro called an election for August in March and the campaign for a Christian-Communist Coalition had begun. The idea was fiercely opposed by the insurgent Radical Party, a libertarian party dedicated to social and economic liberalism, calling for the deregulation of Italian industries and social progressivism. So did the social democratic Italian Socialist Party which was led by the notoriously corrupt Bettino Craxi who targeted those working in white collar jobs and Catholics who were wary about including communists in government but didn’t support the neo-fascist Italian Social Movement. Speaking of which they managed to increase their support level as they ran a fiercely anti-communist campaign and called for never negotiating with the communists and a reactionary social agenda that opposed the 1974 divorce referendum and the liberalization of abortion laws. Another staple of the election besides setting the stage for the Second Italian Republic was the unprecedented violence with over a hundred people being murdered by either the far-left Red Brigades or the far-right Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari (NAR). The formers main sin was at a campaign rally in Naples where Aldo Moro was giving a speech to over two thousand supporters when three men fired at him. Moro was struck by three bullets and severely injured from blood loss. After the attempted murder of Moro all major parties halted their campaign and Berlinguer visited him in the hostpital. After a week Moro was released in good health and spirit.

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Berlinguer at a rally in Milan. “Workers of Italy, we have the chance to bring not only peace but freedom to Italy this election.”

For the latter the NAR orchestrated numerous murders of both Christian Democrats and Communists. The two most notable examples were when the mayor of Bologna, Renato Zangheri was killed by a nail bomb mailed to him by the NAR. The second example was when Pier F. Casini, a volunteer for a local Christian Democrat candidate was murdered along with three others by two NAR members. The rising violence by both the far-left and the far-right caused the people of Italy to support the PCI more due to their explicitly hardline anti-terrorist policies. But as the communists saw their support increase after the assassination of Renato Zangheri the Christian Democrats began to slip to the Socialist Party as Craxi’s targeting of white-collar workers and moderate Catholics who opposed the Historic Compromise. Come election day it was a resounding success for the Communists as they increased their popular vote share from 34% to 37% and won thirty-four extra seats in the Chamber of Deputies, giving them a plurality of 262 seats while the Christian Democrats fell to a total of 222 seats and 34% of the popular vote due to more wealthy voters and conservative Catholics voting for either the Socialists or Social Movement. Craxi’s strategy had been a resounding success with the Socialists gaining twenty-three seats and 12% of the popular vote. Craxi vowed to never join a government with Berlinguer as Prime Minister and attempted to negotiate with the center-right of the Christian Democrats. Otherwise, the Italian Social Movement gained seven seats and was the fourth largest party in the Italian Chamber of Deputies.


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If the communists could’ve gotten Craxi behind them the Communists would have formed the first communist government in the west but for now too many Christian Democrats and Socialists opposed a communist government to form one where Berlinguer was the Prime Minister, but the communists knew with time they’d be able to form one. Moro entered into a coalition with the communists and Socialists but unfortunately for him the coalition was unstable. Craxi was eager to prove to voters that he stood as the true antithesis of communism and wasn’t looking for compromising with the communists as he just ran a campaign against working with them. While technically he wouldn’t enter a communist led coalition it still wasn’t impressive to new socialist voters. The second group not very happy with the agreement was the right wing of the Christian Democrats who weren’t sympathetic to the communists and seeked a straightforward coalition with the Radicals and the socialists who they agreed with more and were willing to hash out compromises with. The right wing of the Christian Democrats and the socialist party only brought about the end of their own dominance, however. Berlinguer who was personally popular was one of the few politicians trusted by the Italian people, along with Moro. The calculated risk by the socialists who immediately pulled their support of the coalition in 1980 due to the increasingly economically left-wing agenda, including a minor tax cut for worker co-ops and strengthening of trade union power. Soon enough the right wing led by Arnaldo Forlani would protest the moves by the communists in the Moro Ministry and call for a center-right agenda. With the protests within Moro’s own party calls for another election intensified in the liberal, socialist, and neo-fascist parties within Italy. The increasing violence also drew concern with the Italian Social Movement, Socialist Party, and right wing of the Christian Democrats spreading rumors of it being inspired by the communists. Moro relented and called for another election in 1981 in an attempt to bring confidence back to his government that had been lost amongst the socialists and right wing of his party. Instead, it only emboldened the far-right which ran on a platform of staunch anti-communism and opposing the PRRI, in stark contrast to the pro-peace stance of the communists.

The communists campaigned on a pragmatic agenda that would see subsidies given to worker co-ops, stay out of the Latin American Crisis and Iranian Civil War, cancel any research for nuclear weapons, and crack down hard on terrorism while the Italian Social Movement campaigned on funding Honduras against the FSLN invasion, limiting immigration, and supporting Iran against the PRRI. Another factor for the PCI's increase in popularity was their opposition to both American and Soviet intervention in the Iranian Civil War, with this being the final straw that broke relations between the Soviet Union and the PCI. The PCI was also aided by the general discontent with moderate politics as the world went up in flames due to Jackson's foreign policy. This created a backlash that was shown on election day when the Christian Democrats fell from 34% to 30% while the Communists increased to 38.7% of the vote. The Italian Social Movement did extremely well, increasing their vote total to 13% of the vote and 77 seats in the Chamber of Deputies. The Socialists on the other hand fell to 10% due to them being attacked as hypocrites for working in a government with communists and for angering union voters due to them focusing on white collar workers. Even more damaging for Craxi and the socialists was that the Italian Social Movement attracted a decent number of white-collar workers, thus sabotaging Craxi's strategy further. The PCI would win a total of 304 seats, a plurality but worked with the center-left of the Christian Democrats, with Aldo Moro becoming Deputy Prime Minister to show the PCI wouldn't stray too far into radicalism.

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While in Italy, communism had taken control without a civil liberty being trampled or a drop of blood being spilt the UK rejected left wing politics. Back in 1978 James Callaghan called an election in the hopes he would win re-election. The problem was that it was poorly timed with the Panama War. The longer the campaign went on the worse the economy got, and Thatcher and the Tories capitalized on it. Thatcher was able to quickly criticize the Callaghan Ministry for inflation and increasing feelings of discontent. After four years of Labor voters held their breathes and voted for Thatcher and the Tories. But only gave her a plurality of seats, with the Tories winning 299 seats and being forced to enter into a minority government. The Thatcher government was marred by infighting between the moderate Liberals who were holding up the government from a no confidence vote, the one nation types led by Ian Gilmour and Francis Pym, and the Thatcherites who wanted a free-market economy and the privatization of public utilities. It didn’t help that the economy was in shambles with the Latin American Crisis and the Winter of Discontent dismantled Thatcher’s popularity. Her war against unions only worsened the situation, much to the dislike of Pym and Gilmour who seeked a more moderate approach to unions. As the crisis grew out of control Thatcher proclaimed a state of emergency, only worsening the financial panic that ensued. Combined with Secretary of State of Northern Ireland Airey Neave’s inflammatory response to the Troubles by supporting a heavier response by the military causing more violence Thatcher’s government was on the edge of collapse by 1980. Neave’s support for the death penalty and failure to re-implement it only served to burn into the conscience of Britons of the radical failure that was the Thatcher Ministry.

But a no confidence vote was never held. After the Labor leadership election saw Michael Foot best Peter Shore and Denis Healey, moderates were hesitant to call a vote of no confidence as it would lead to Labor winning a massive majority, allowing Foot to implement his radical agenda. But then a shock wave was sent through the British political system when moderate members of the Labor Party left the party due to Foot’s leadership to form the Social Democratic Party, which joined an alliance with the Liberal Party. With Roy Jenkins winning the Warrington by-election against Doug Hoyle, the SDP-Liberal Alliance shot up in the polls with widespread discontent with both Labor and the Tories at an all-time high the SDP-Liberals became the highest polling party, as they attacked Thatcher and Foot for their perceived radicalism and called for a centrist government to pragmatically solve the crisis that gripped the UK. In 1982 the SDP-Liberals brought a vote of no confidence against the Thatcher government and with the support of Labor, it succeeded. The SDP-Liberals ran a campaign that could be simplified as not rocking the boat and returning to good old social liberalism and moderate social democracy instead of embracing radicalism. As Thatcher’s term embarrassed the Tories they were nearly ignored by the media. Everyone knew they weren’t going to do good, and the real question became if Foot was going to become Prime Minister. The media would make it seem like a choice between the SDP-Liberal Alliance and the Labor Party as the Tories were only talked about when the issue of gas prices and inflation came up. The media also focused on Foot's particularly radical agenda that called for nuclear disarmament, a noble but unpopular cause and the abolition of the House of Lords. Plus, his republicanism came under fire as unpatriotic even if the royal family got along well with Foot despite his views. The SDP-Liberals were heaped praise for their agenda of unfolding the status quo by dismantling the unnecessarily complicated welfare system and dedication to a more peaceful world without destroying the UK’s nuclear arsenal.

The Tories would mainly campaign on making the UK strong oversees with them fervently supporting a tougher crackdown on the IRA and supporting the US’s interventions in Latin America. This position, while popular with conservative and nationalist voters was unpopular with moderates and young people as with the aftermath of the Vietnam War most didn’t want to be stuck in another quagmire like the Panama War. Around 1,000 soldiers were stationed in Panama and since the start of the war fifty-three had been killed. Jenkins promised to pull out all UK soldiers from Panama and focus on the economy rather than adventuring into wars started by the US. In addition to his opposition to wanton interventions abroad he criticized Airey Neave, Secretary of State of Northern Ireland for his hardline approach and his push to bring back the death penalty. Once again portraying the SDP-Liberals as the only truly moderate choice in the election. On August 9th, 1982, during a humid day which saw a temperature of 82 degrees the United Kingdom made history.

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Despite coming first in the popular vote, the SDP-Liberals came third in overall seats, a fact that angered liberal voters due to the brazen idiocy of the most popular party coming in third. Still, with a Labor minority instead of a majority there was still the possibility of an SDP-Liberal-Conservative coalition. Thatcher was hesitant at first, figuring that letting Foot screw up for a year before kicking him out of government was a better idea that refused legitimacy to the SDP-Liberals. But Thatcher was in no room to negotiate as the conservative party was in a state of full rebellion against her leadership and the only unifying goal was to stop Foot from becoming Prime Minister. At the advice of her fellow conservatives, she entered into a coalition with Jenkins, with Jenkins becoming Prime Minister. Anything less would've been rejected as Jenkins did come in first with the popular votes, far ahead of the Tories. It wasn't like the Conservative Party could've gotten their act together if they were the lead coalition leaders. The One Nation Tories and the True Conservative Faction were already at each other's throats with Keith Joseph and Francis Pym planning to run in the next leadership election. Thatcher soon after resigned as leader of the Tories and was replaced by interim leader Willie Whitelaw who became Deputy Prime Minister as an act of goodwill by Jenkins. A leadership election was called for October and the civil war between conservatives was only about to get worse.

Speaking of civil war, the Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union were now in a state of full-fledged civil war thanks to the egos of their two respective leaders, Helmut Kohl and Franz Josef Strauss. For some background in 1976 Helmut Kohl won 240 seats in the Bundestag election, losing to the SPD-FDP coalition. This set up the climax to the feud between him and his arch-rival Franz Josef Strauss in which Strauss decided to pull the CSU out of the alliance with the CDU in 1976. The feud escalated when a local CDU branch opened a campaign office in Bavaria. Strauss panicked and accused the CDU of splitting the conservative vote in Bavaria which was the final straw for Kohl. The hypocrisy would’ve pissed anyone off as Strauss was the one who couldn’t deal with one of his political rivals having power within the party, so Kohl retaliated by putting in two new CDU offices in Bavaria and soon enough Strauss followed suit. The feud had broken the CDU-CSU and would give way to the SDP-FDP dominance of the 80s and 90s. The split severely damaged the reputation of the right wing in Germany as they were made out to look like fools who only cared about the egos of either Strauss or Kohl. Schmidt ran as a social democrat who would fight for the working class but not stray into socialism or Eurocommunism while criticizing the mess that was the CDU and CSU.

The SPD and the FDP both made gains while the CDU and CSU cannibalized each other due to the feud between the moderate Kohl, who promised a liberal conservative agenda and Strauss, who was gunning for socially conservative voters and threw in a dash of red baiting for good measure. Schmidt ruthlessly attacked Strauss for his red baiting as dangerous and showed his hardline stance on the Red Brigades to prove his social democratic credentials.

Schmidt’s third cabinet would be tumultuous with him cutting welfare in order to offset the massive government spending of the last decade. This was also used to appeal to the FDP to prevent them from attempting a CDU-CSU-FDP coalition and for good measure he made the cuts even deeper than intended. Despite the cuts being welcomed by conservatives and them hollering from the rooftops about howe this would save the economy, the economy was still in the gutter. In addition to not helping the much-needed economic recovery the cuts angered the left wing of the party, led by Oskar Lafontaine protested the cuts as a betrayal of social democracy. Schmidt refused to listen and kept the cuts to welfare which cost him a great deal of popularity in his own party, causing an outflux in support. But the sad truth is for the left is that the public was getting sick of the hegemonic social democratic order that had controlled Europe since WWII. Europeans like Americans were seeking a new right wing that would challenge this order and shake things up. Whether this came to be is debatable as the economy was still being bombarded by recessions and inequality despite the election of Laxalt in 1980 and the election of Chirac in 1981.

Germany would enter a new centrist age with a government defined by attempting to reduce the national debt and build Germany’s technology industry to offset the effects of globalization that would become prevalent in the 80s and 90s all while keeping up the social safety net, with Schmidt voting to slightly increase child benefits in 1982. Furthermore, the messy reunification between West and East Germany would help give popularity to the CSU and PDS in the 90s and 2000s. In the meantime, though, Germany like the United Kingdom rejected the tide of conservatism and socialism for a more centrist and social democratic future. One dominated by centrist politicians who focused on a pragmatic bureaucracy, free trade, social liberalism, and a moderate social safety net. Schmidt along with Jenkins would be the leading voice of a pragmatic Europe that wouldn’t come to an end in Germany until the late 90s.

Now onto Germany’s archrival France. France had a tough 70s with President Georges Pompidou from cancer in 1974. The death rocked the French Republic and Prime Minister Valery Giscard d’Estaing was made President and his term was a chaotic one. He did pass reforms like an increase in the minimum wage, modernization of government institutions, increasing pensions, and developing education.

d’Estaing did end up angering the conservative base of the UDF, specifically Jacques Chirac who was a center-right nationalist type who didn’t like d'Estaing’s pro-European policies and d’Estaing as a person. The final straw was when France legalized abortion in 1979 which angered pro-life Catholics. Come the 1981 presidential election the electorate was split four ways. On the right you had d’Estaing who ran a center-right campaign that focused on reformism and supporting the US’s air war in the Nicaraguan-Honduras War while on the other hand you had the more nationalistic Chirac who was hesitant to support the US’s wars in Latin America. He also pointed to his support for the elderly and people with disabilities during his time as mayor of Paris.

On the left you had Francois Mitterrand who was a social democratic member of the National Assembly ran as a member of the Parti Socialiste (PS) for president once again. He had been the candidate for president in 1974 and 1965, both times he had come close to becoming president of France and overthrowing the Gaullist status quo. But with him losing both times skepticism of his candidacy came from the left wing of France as they were skeptical of Mitterrand’s ability to win the presidency. The other candidate was Georges Marchais of the communists, whose viability was increased by the victory of Eurocommunism in Italy. While more pro-Soviet than Berlinguer he was still able to rally a decent amount of people to the Parti Communiste Francais (PCF) in 1981. He denounced the interventions in Latin America by the US and called for a more radical agenda of industrial democracy and the nationalization of the shipping industry to offset the worldwide recession. Marchais had no chance of winning as the second round would’ve brought the combined moderate, conservative, and anti-Soviet left together against him. Despite this obvious fact the PCF shot up in the polls as discontent with capitalism and global inflation due to the shutdown of the Panama Canal caused an uptick in communist and radical activity in not just Europe but the rest of the world, as seen in Iran and Latin America.

On election day most didn’t know who would exactly make it to the second round. Discontent with d’Estaing was prevalent, and Chirac was popular, but Mitterrand was the expected favorite to secure his spot in the second round. They couldn’t have been more wrong. The surprise increase in the PCF’s vote gave them a four-place finish of 20.8% while Mitterrand won a total of 21.92% of the vote in the first round. Now here’s where things really surprised people. Chirac won 22% of the vote and d’Estaing won 24% of the vote. The left was in shambles, and no one knew who was going to win the second round. Both had moderately pro-welfare stances, but both were socially conservative and Gaullist. Mitterrand nor Marchais endorsed Chirac or d’Estaing for president, preferring to allow them to tear into each other while they licked their wounds. Chirac ran as the true successor to Gaullist ideals while d’Estaing ran on a more reformist and pro-European agenda. But d’Estaing was known as the president of instability and the worst recession since the global collapse of the economy in 1929. In this case the incumbency was a disadvantage rather than an advantage as he was stuck with the discontent and malice in France rather than Chirac. It was the global winds of change that would truly decide the election and with Chirac’s pro-France agenda appealing to a decent portion of the anti-war left. In the end a decent number of leftists viewed Chirac as the lesser of two evils. Chirac won with 50.11% of the vote against d’Estaing in the closest election in French history. If the economy had been slightly better d'Estaing would've pulled off a second term but the curse of being the incumbent in the early 80s was too much to overcome.

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President Chirac shortly after his victory.
 

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I have to thank @Time Enough for helping me with his expertise on UK politics. His general input will certainly make the portions about the UK 50x better than what my original version was.
An Iran dominated by Iranian Islamic Socialists and the slow raise of Buddy Cianci is fascinating to see.

Also a Mike Gavel Third Party ticket is very ‘70s Malaise Punk’ energy to it.
Thank you! Glad that you're fascinated by both Iran and Cianci.

Gravel strikes me as a great choice for a third-party candidate. He's eccentric but in a time when the world is on fire, he certainly could garner a following. As implied in the chapter, this won't be the last, we see of him.
 
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