Impossible Dreams Can Come True: US President Tom Bradley

IT'S BRADLEY
Governor's Victory Makes History
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The Los Angeles Times, November 8, 1988
Thomas Bradley, the grandson of enslaved people, was elected the nation's 41st president Tuesday, breaking the ultimate racial barrier to become the first African American to claim the country's highest office, fulfilling a once-impossible dream.

A nation founded by slave owners and seared by civil war and generations of racial strife delivered a popular vote majority to the 70-year-old second-term Governor of California, who forged a broad, multiracial, multiethnic coalition. His victory was a leap in the march toward equality: When Bradley began his political career, people with his skin color could not even vote in parts of America, and many were killed for trying. The Governor's of the popular vote was estimated to be 51 percent, against 48 for Vice President George Bush, was the highest for a Democratic Presidential nominee since Lyndon Johnson was elected in 1964 after passing the Civil Rights Act.

“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place nothing is impossible, who still wonders if the American Dream is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our multiracial democracy, tonight is your answer,” Bradley told more than 150,000 celebrants gathered around Los Angeles City Hall. Many had tears streaking down their faces. “To those of you watching on television, thank you for your vote, but right now there is someone more important than you who I want to talk to. Please wake up your children. I want to talk to them and I will stand here and wait a few minutes while you get them... Don't let anyone tell you that you cannot become anything you want to be in the world, don't let anyone tell you that something is impossible. Study hard, work hard, stay away from drugs, do not ask for favors, play by the rules and dare to dream. From this day forward your parents and I and this country are going to do everything we can to give you equal opportunity and an equal chance to succeed. Look at me, the grandson of enslaved people and know that in America anything is possible.”

Tonight marks a turnaround from four years ago, where the Democratic ticket of former Vice President Walter Mondale and Governor Bradley were defeated decisively, winning only five states and Washington, DC. At the time it was thought Bradley's national career would never recover, but he defied expectations to win a landslide re-election two years ago against Senator Pete Wilson. Wilson was defeated for re-election tonight by former Speaker of the now-defunct California State Assembly Willie Brown Jr. defeated incumbent Republican Senator Pete Wilson to become the first Black Senator of California. Brown's political career was also thought to be over two years ago when California voters abolished the State Assembly via Proposition 45. Lieutenant Governor Leo McCarthy is expected to succeed the president-elect as Governor of California.

With Bradley leading every pre-election poll, Los Angeles was primed for a celebration. Bradley began his political career here, becoming the city's first Black mayor in 1973 before heading to the governor's office ten years later. The victorious ticket of Governor Bradley and Senator John Glenn of Ohio redrew the electoral map, sweeping the Midwest and doing well in the West although he won no states in the South. The race was closer than polls suggested, and Bradley's victory came just before midnight on the West Coast with Glenn's home state of Ohio providing a narrow but decisive victory for the historic ticket. Bradley is the second Californian and Angeleno to be elected President in a row after President Ronald Reagan, and at 70 years old is the oldest president-elect. President Reagan called to congratulate Bradley shortly after the race was called. Shortly after, Bush took the stage to concede. Had he won, it would have also been historic: Bush's Vice Presidential nominee Vesta Roy, Governor of New Hampshire, would have been the first woman Vice President.

“Governor Bradley has achieved a great thing for himself and for our country. Governor Roy and I applaud him and Senator Glenn for it. The American people have spoken. This is an historic election, and I recognize the special significance it has for African Americans and the special pride that must be theirs tonight.” He shushed the crowd when they booed Bradley -- “Please,” Bush said, motioning for silence -- and urged them to join him in working with the incoming president for the greater good of the country. “Whatever our differences, we are all Americans,” Bush said.

For all the wild celebration -- in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and outside the gates of the White House -- there were quieter moments Tuesday that captured the weight of history.

Former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, a veteran of civil rights protests in Selma and Birmingham, Ala., and other racial flash points, was among hundreds of black Atlantans who crowded the pews for an election-watch party at the Rev. Martin Luther King’s Ebenezer Baptist Church. When NBC called Pennsylvania, an early harbinger, Young pulled out a handkerchief and dabbed away tears.

Bradley will have a strengthened Democratic majority in Congress, with the party picking up a net of five seats in the Senate, making sixty-nine in total. The party is expected to have a veto-proof majority in both the House and Senate, marking a turn away from eight years of conservative Republican governance. President Reagan released a statement celebrating the victory as proof of a “color-blind country where all of God's children are created equal.”

Closing his victory speech, the next president returned to the shared experience of a people who toiled so long to see the dream come true. He invoked his political slogan first coined by his Western campaign co-chairs Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta.

"This is our moment," he said. "This is our time—to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth—that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes we can. America is the place where impossible dreams can come true."
The Los Angeles Times, November 8, 1988
Thomas Bradley, the grandson of enslaved people, was elected the nation's 41st president Tuesday, breaking the ultimate racial barrier to become the first African American to claim the country's highest office, fulfilling a once-impossible dream.

A nation founded by slave owners and seared by civil war and generations of racial strife delivered a popular vote majority to the 70-year-old second-term Governor of California, who forged a broad, multiracial, multiethnic coalition. His victory was a leap in the march toward equality: When Bradley began his political career, people with his skin color could not even vote in parts of America, and many were killed for trying. The Governor's of the popular vote was estimated to be 51 percent, against 48 for Vice President George Bush, was the highest for a Democratic Presidential nominee since Lyndon Johnson was elected in 1964 after passing the Civil Rights Act.

“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place nothing is impossible, who still wonders if the American Dream is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our multiracial democracy, tonight is your answer,” Bradley told more than 150,000 celebrants gathered around Los Angeles City Hall. Many had tears streaking down their faces. “To those of you watching on television, thank you for your vote, but right now there is someone more important than you who I want to talk to. Please wake up your children. I want to talk to them and I will stand here and wait a few minutes while you get them... Don't let anyone tell you that you cannot become anything you want to be in the world, don't let anyone tell you that something is impossible. Study hard, work hard, stay away from drugs, do not ask for favors, play by the rules and dare to dream. From this day forward your parents and I and this country are going to do everything we can to give you equal opportunity and an equal chance to succeed. Look at me, the grandson of enslaved people and know that in America anything is possible.”

Tonight marks a turnaround from four years ago, where the Democratic ticket of former Vice President Walter Mondale and Governor Bradley were defeated decisively, winning only five states and Washington, DC. At the time it was thought Bradley's national career would never recover, but he defied expectations to win a landslide re-election two years ago against Senator Pete Wilson. Wilson was defeated for re-election tonight by former Speaker of the now-defunct California State Assembly Willie Brown Jr. defeated incumbent Republican Senator Pete Wilson to become the first Black Senator of California. Brown's political career was also thought to be over two years ago when California voters abolished the State Assembly via Proposition 45. Lieutenant Governor Leo McCarthy is expected to succeed the president-elect as Governor of California.

With Bradley leading every pre-election poll, Los Angeles was primed for a celebration. Bradley began his political career here, becoming the city's first Black mayor in 1973 before heading to the governor's office ten years later. The victorious ticket of Governor Bradley and Senator John Glenn of Ohio redrew the electoral map, sweeping the Midwest and doing well in the West although he won no states in the South. The race was closer than polls suggested, and Bradley's victory came just before midnight on the West Coast with Glenn's home state of Ohio providing a narrow but decisive victory for the historic ticket. Bradley is the second Californian and Angeleno to be elected President in a row after President Ronald Reagan, and at 70 years old is the oldest president-elect. President Reagan called to congratulate Bradley shortly after the race was called. Shortly after, Bush took the stage to concede. Had he won, it would have also been historic: Bush's Vice Presidential nominee Vesta Roy, Governor of New Hampshire, would have been the first woman Vice President.

“Governor Bradley has achieved a great thing for himself and for our country. Governor Roy and I applaud him and Senator Glenn for it. The American people have spoken. This is an historic election, and I recognize the special significance it has for African Americans and the special pride that must be theirs tonight.” He shushed the crowd when they booed Bradley -- “Please,” Bush said, motioning for silence -- and urged them to join him in working with the incoming president for the greater good of the country. “Whatever our differences, we are all Americans,” Bush said.

For all the wild celebration -- in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and outside the gates of the White House -- there were quieter moments Tuesday that captured the weight of history.

Former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, a veteran of civil rights protests in Selma and Birmingham, Ala., and other racial flash points, was among hundreds of black Atlantans who crowded the pews for an election-watch party at the Rev. Martin Luther King’s Ebenezer Baptist Church. When NBC called Pennsylvania, an early harbinger, Young pulled out a handkerchief and dabbed away tears.

Bradley will have a strengthened Democratic majority in Congress, with the party picking up a net of five seats in the Senate, making sixty-nine in total. The party is expected to have a veto-proof majority in both the House and Senate, marking a turn away from eight years of conservative Republican governance. President Reagan released a statement celebrating the victory as proof of a “color-blind country where all of God's children are created equal.”

Closing his victory speech, the next president returned to the shared experience of a people who toiled so long to see the dream come true. He invoked his political slogan first coined by his Western campaign co-chairs Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta.

"This is our moment," he said. "This is our time—to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth—that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes we can. America is the place where impossible dreams can come true."
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Three things:

1. You have my interest. Tom Bradley is definitely not someone who has been explored here to my knowledge, and the ceiling on a guy like Bradley - a black Democrat in a state that still resisted both at the time - is a lot higher than what he got.

2. John Glenn as VP earns this TL both a like and a subscribe, and I don’t give out likes easily.

3. At first glance, I thought this was about President Tom Brady, not Tom Bradley, and that would be fascinating as well.
 
This is quite the majority, I'm curious to see how it got to this much
Sure. There are two PODs in 1980. A little one and a big one. The first: William Goldman’s script for The Right Stuff is adopted in 1980. The second: The presidential debate between Carter and Reagan includes John Anderson as well, who wins the debate. Carter wins the second debate. This severely reduces Reagan’s coattails, especially since Carter does not concede before the West Coast is finished voting.

1980 presidential election:
48.2% Ronald Reagan / George Bush defeats
44% Jimmy Carter / Walter Mondale and 6.1% John B. Anderson / Patrick Lucey

Pasted Graphic 5.tiff


1980 Governor Elections Changes from OTL
Dem hold: Bill Clinton in Arkansas

1980 Senate elections: 5% swing:
Changes from OTL, by how close:
Dem hold 5: NC, ID, GA, WI, AL
Dem flip 3: AZ (Bill Schulz defeats Barry Goldwater), NY (Elizabeth Holtzman defeats Al D’Amato and Javits), PA (Pete Flaherty defeats Arlen Specter)

Same as OTL:
GOP flip: 7 IN, AK, IO, WA, FL, NH, SD
GOP hold: OR, OK

Upshot: GOP gains net 4 seats
Dem caucus 59 -> Dem Senate 55-45
Senate Majority Leader: Robert Byrd

1982 midterms, the Big POD: Bradley wins by a reversed margin
1982 Governor changes from OTL:
Dem gains: Bradley defeats Deukmejian in California, becoming the first Black governor of California, and first Black governor since Reconstruction.
Adlai Stevenson III defeats James Thompson in Ilinois, Allen Ertel unseats Dick Thornburgh in PA
GOP gains: Democrat Hugh Gallen defeats Republican John Sununu, but dies in December -> flip to Republican Governor Vesta Roy, first woman Governor of NH and first woman GOP Governor

Same as OTL:
Dem gains: Mark White unseats Bill Clements in Texas
Gov. Tom Bradley & Adlai Stevenson III

Senate 1982:
Changes from OTL:
MO (Harriet Woods unseats John Danforth), NV (Howard Cannon re-elected over Chic Hecht) , RI (Michaelson unseats John Chafee), VA (Dem gain/hold; Ind. Harry F. Byrd Jr. retires, Dick Davis defeats Paul Trible), VT (James Guest unseats. Robert Stafford) change
Dem caucus gains: MO, RI, VT, NM (OTL Bingaman defeats Harrison Schmitt)
Dem caucus holds: NV, VA
Net Dem gain: 4

Dem Senate 59-41

House margin also expanded + 15 OTL -> 41
Dem House 284-151

Senate Majority Leader: Robert Byrd

The Right Stuff is a jingoistic hit, helping John Glenn’s presidential run
 
1984:
Dem Primary: After Ted Kennedy refuses to run for President, Ohio Senator John Glenn emerges as a hawkish alternative to former President Jimmy Carter’s Vice President Walter Mondale, winning the New Hampshire primary. Jesse Jackson does better than expected, and his campaign manages to successfully push the Democratic Congress to pass the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1984 over Reagan’s veto. Reagan's veto was the first veto of a civil rights act since Andrew Johnson vetoed the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and aimed to preserve the Supreme Court’s opinion in Grove City College v. Bell. Reagan was criticized for his veto, which was denounced by all the Democratic candidates and by California Governor Tom Bradley, who signed into law the California Anti-Apartheid Act of 1984 on June 19th, 1984. The high-profile California boycott, divestment and sanctions of South African apartheid was widely approved in California and praised by all the Democratic candidates.

Mondale would go on to pick Bradley as his Vice Presidential candidate at the Democratic National Convention. During the presidential debates, Reagan‘s remark that the Democratic ticket was inexperienced was criticized by Mondale as an attack on his running mate, Black America, and the people of California. In the news cycle after the debate it was criticized as a racist dogwhistle by Jesse Jackson and former president Jimmy Carter. Vice President Bush’s remark during the vice presidential debate, "Let me help you with the difference, Governor Bradley, between Iran and Nicaragua," was criticized as patronizing and racist even more strongly. Mondale’s is perceived as winning the final presidential debate by saying “where’s the beef?” in regards to the administration’s stance on the congressional investigation into illegal funding for the Contras.

Despite perceived debate wins, the Reagan/Bush ticket would defeat the Mondale/Bradley ticket by a wide margin. White House Chief of Staff James Baker ran the Reagan/Bush campaign and was promoted to United States Secretary of the Treasury in 1985.

US Senate races which are different from OTL in 1984:
Dem hold : Incumbent Kentucky Senator Walter Huddleston defeats Republican challenger Mitch McConnell
Dem gain: In North Carolina, Jesse Helms narrowly loses to Democratic Governor Jim Hunt. This win is hailed as a victory by allies of Governor Bradley, noting the increased Black turnout in the 1984 election.
GOP gain: Incumbent West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller loses his seat to Republican John Raese

Dem OTL gains: IL, IO, Tennessee
Dem gains: 4 Jim Hunt NC, Paul Simon defeats Senator Chuck Percy in Illinois, Tom Harkin defeats Roger Jespen in Iowa, Al Gore replaces Senate Minority Leader Howard Baker in Tennessee
Dem net gain of 3 given GOP gain in WV

Dem Senate: 62-38
Dem House: 264-171
Senate Majority Leader: Robert Byrd
Speaker of the House: Tip O’Neil

The Mondale/Bradley ticket won only five states: Minnesota, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, and Washington, D.C. The results in California, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Rhode Island were quite close however.
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1985:

The Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1985 passes over Reagan’s veto, with influential support from Governor Bradley. This revives Bradley's national political momentum after the 1984 loss.

1986:

The Supreme Court rules bans on sodomy is unconstitutional in Hardwick v. Bowers.

Rehnquist and Scalia seated at the SCOTUS by 59-40 & 96-3

OTL: Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986
  • “mandatory minimum sentences for the distribution of cocaine, including far more severe punishment for distribution of crack—associated with blacks—than powder cocaine, associated with whites.” Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow, 53
  • “Anti-Drug Abuse Act authorized public housing authorities to evict any tenant who allows any form of drug-related criminal activity to occur on or near public housing premises and eliminated many federal benefits, including student loans, for anyone convicted of a drug offense. The act also expanded use of the death penalty for serious drug-related offenses and imposed new mandatory minimums for drug offenses, including a five-year mandatory minimum for simple possession of cocaine base” including for first time offenders
  • “severity of this punishment was unprecedented in the federal system. Until 1988, one year of imprisonment had been the maximum for possession of any amount of any drug. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) were mixed in their assessment … legislation passed by an overwhelming margin—346 to 11. Six of the negative votes came from the CBC.”
Governors:
California: Democratic Governor Tom Bradley re-elected over Pete Wilson while the California State Assembly abolished in Proposition 45. Many viewed the abolition of the State Assembly as a racist reaction to the power of Governor Tom Bradley and Speaker Willie Brown.

New York: Democratic Governor Mario Cuomo re-elected in a landslide. Alongside Governor Brown and Senator Ted Kennedy, he is viewed as a leading candidate for President in 1988.

Texas: Democratic Governor Mark White re-elected narrowly, in a change from OTL.

Congressional Changes from OTL:
1986 Dem Gains which are holds ITTL:
Dem holds: AL (Inc. Jim Folsom re-elected), GA (Andrew Young defeats Herman Talmadge in the primary), MO (Ken Rothman defeats Kit Bond & replaces Thomas Eagleton), NC (Robert Morgan re-elected), PA (Pete Flaherty re-elected), RI (Inc. Julius Michaelson re-elected)
Dem flips: 2 ID (John V. Evans defeats Inc. Steve Symms), WI (Ed Garvey defeats Inc. Bob Kasten)
Dem holds: CO (Gary Hart elected to a third term), NY (Elizabeth Holtzman re-elected)
GOP holds: WA Slade Groton reelected over the rapist
GOP flips: AZ John McCain defeats Bill Schulz

Unchanged from OTL:
Dem holds: Cranston (CA)
Dem gains: 3 FL (Bob Graham defeats Inc. Paula Hawkins), MD (Mikulski replaces Charles Mathias), ND (Kent Conrad defeats Inc. Mark Andrews), SD (Tom Daschle defeats Inc. James Adnor)

Upshot: Dem net gain of 4 seats
Dem Senate: 66-33

John P. East lives on ITTL until he passes away peacefully.

Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell succeeds Robert Byrd, while Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill stays on in hopes of a Ted Kennedy win in 1988.

1987:
March 16: Governor Bradley hints he will run for President, and receives a large output of support.
April 22: The Supreme Court institutes a death penalty moratorium due to statistically significant racist application in Kemp v. McCleskey. Governor Bradley releases a statement acknowledging he supports the death penalty if it can be applied in a “fair manner.” The statement is criticized as tepid by the Republican Party.

March 30: Senator Ted Kennedy announces he will run for President of the United States in the 1988 election.
April 27: Governor Bradley announces he will run for President of the United States.
May 9: Walter Mondale endorses Governor Bradley for President of the United States.
May 16: Jesse Jackson endorses Governor Bradley for President of the United States.
September 12: Governor Mario Cuomo announces he will not run for President of the United States, and declines to endorse anyone.
October 23: Senator Orrin Hatch is seated at the Supreme Court, winning confirmation by 86-13. This tilts the court rightward.

1988:
Syrian President Hafez al-Assad dies in a plane crash.

United States Presidential Primaries:
Democratic: Governor Tom Bradley defeats Senators Ted Kennedy, John Glenn, and Gary Hart while also besting Governors Bill Clinton and Mike Dukakis to win the presidential nomination.

Governor Tom Bradley wins Iowa in an upset win over frontrunner Senator Ted Kennedy
Former US President Jimmy Carter and Senator John Glen endorse Governor Bradley
Ted Kennedy wins the New Hampshire primary, with Bradley coming in second
Bradley wins South Carolina and is endorsed by Governor Mario Cuomo of New York
Bradley sweeps Super Tuesday; Ted Kennedy endorses Bradley
Jackson does not run and endorses Bradley. Hart drops out and endorses Bradley

Republican: Bush defeats Howard Baker, Bob Dole, Pat Robertson

Like OTL, Bob Dole wins in Iowa
Howard Baker wins in New Hampshire, Bush comes in second
Howard Baker wins in South Carolina
Howard Baker wins Super Tuesday, with Bush behind and Dole out of contention
Bush wins in a slog by June

September: The Prevention of Genocide Act of 1988 passes the US Congress, overriding Reagan’s veto
October: October Revolution in Algeria, part of the Autumn of Nations.

Tom Bradley's Vice Presidential finalists: John Glenn, Gore, Cuomo, Biden, or Bentsen

Bradley/Glenn defeats Bush/Vesta Roy

Dukakis’ height minus Bush’s strengths vs Bradley: CT, KY, LA, ME, TX, WV
Leo McCarthy becomes CA Governor


Dem Gain: 5 Willie Brown over Pete Wilson (CA), NE, NV, WA, WY
Dem Hold: 3 FL, MT, VA
GOP Hold: CN (Weicker over Lieberman)
GOP Gain: 2 MS, VT
Upshot: Dems gain net of 3

Dem Senate: 69-31 (veto-proof)
Dem House: 292-153 (veto-proof)

Speaker Tip O’Neill
Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell

Israeli elections: Shimon Peres wins and becomes PM

1989:
January 20: Tom Bradley becomes the first Black President of the United States.

Tom Bradley Cabinet, 1989-199?:
VP: John Glenn, 1989-199?
State: Howard Baker 1989-1990 Edward Brooke 1990-?
Attorney General: Patsy Mink 1989-?
Treasury: Lloyd Bentsen 1989-1993
Defense: Clifford L. Alexander 1989-1993
Interior: Ben Nighthorse Campbell 1989-1992, Suzan Shown Harjo 1992-?
Agriculture: Cesar Chavez 1989-1993
Commerce: Carla Anderson Hills 1989-1993
Labor: Dolores Huerta 1989-199?
HHS: Shirley Chisholm 1989-1993
HUD: Michael Woo 1989-93
Transportation: Frank Lautenberg 1989-1993
Energy: Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar 1989-91, Robert A. Roe 1991-92, Hazel R. O’Leary 1992-?
Education: Shirley Hufstedler 1989-1993
Veterans Affairs: John Kerry 1989-1993
Environment (created in 1990): Frank Press 1990-1992
Director of the OMB: Hillary Rodham 1989-1993
Trade Representative: Kika de la Garza 1989-1993
UN Ambassador: John Lewis 1989-1993
Council of Economic Advisors Chair: Joseph Stiglitz 1989-1993
Environmental Protection Agency Chair: Mary D. Nichols 1989-1993
National Security Advisor: Colin Powell 1989, Brent Scowcroft 1989-1993
 
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