Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by wtw, Mar 11, 2019.
After watching this, how can we keep Woodrow Wilson out of the White House?
Have Taft concede the 1912 Republican nomination to Roosevelt might be one a good way.
A fire destroys the White House in 1912 and it isn't rebuilt until 1922.
We? I can't. That was before I was born.
A theoretical force in 1912? Keeping the Republicans united is the obvious choice, but there's also a chance that with a bit more of a stressful life and some poor diet choices you could have a Wilson who's strokes hit a couple of years earlier, or at least some other serious heath problems, and have the population turn away from electing a candidate who looks like they may not survive a term with functioning brain.
Maybe keep Tammany Hall from backing Champ Clark at the Convention, and therefore keeping William Jennings Bryan from backing Wilson (and leading to Wilson's victory). Without that dynaimc maybe the divided convention eventually picks Clark?
Dear Woodrow Wilson,
In all seriousness, I figure if Roosevelt wins the Republican nomination, Wilson's done. Or if Roosevelt runs in 1908, I think it may be likely that a different republican could take the white house in 1912.
Not to take this on a tangent, but I'd give serious money if someone could write a TL where Roosevelt beating Wilson in 1912 leads to a dystopia, just to break the trope.
@KiwiEater considered doing it once, I’m not sure if he did anything with it though
Taft wins the nomination, but never makes it out of Chicago: he is shot and killed at the train station by a deranged barkeeper named John Schrank.
Roosevelt is named as his replacement, and wins the election in November; but from day one there are dark mutterings that he somehow had Taft killed...
Some wise guy calls Woodrow Wilson a mulatto son of a bitch at a campaign rally and he gets so angry that his stroke happenes several years earlier.
There are all sorts of ways to have someone other than Wilson elected in 1912. However, the most plausible is to have someone else--most likely Champ Clark--win the Democratic nomination in 1912. But obviously the people behind the video would not like that, since their whole idea is that the US should have entered the War much earlier than it did--and Clark would have been even more opposed to that than Wilson.
A GOP victory was not impossible in 1912 but it would have required Taft to give up on the presidency fairly early and basically have said that TR could have the 1912 nomination. This seems to me unlikely. What is much more likely is TR winning the GOP nomination after a fight so bruising that whoever won it--Taft or TR--would lose in November because the other candidate's supporters would not vote for him. (Some evidence that Taft supporters would not vote for TR: California was in those days a heavily Republican state--it had gone for Taft over Bryan by 55.46 to 32.98 in 1908. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1908_United_States_presidential_election_in_California In 1912 TR's running mate Hiram Johnson kept Taft off the California ballot so that--except for the Socialists--California had a straight TR vs. Wilson fight. Taft supporters were so angry at TR and Johnson that many came out for Wilson, who finished only 174 votes behind TR in the state and actually won two of its electoral votes. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1912_United_States_presidential_election_in_California) Now maybe TR once nominated could reach out to Taftites, convince them he didn't really mean radical policies like recall of judicial decisions (while still getting the votes of enough of the progressives who supported him in OTL precisely because they thought he was radical on social justice issues) and win in November. But it is far from certain.
In short, while Wilson's election in 1912 was not inevitable it was not the "fluke" the video portrays. The Democrats had gradually been improving their performance from their 1904 nadir in 1906, 1908 (where they gained on the non-presidential level despite Bryan's loss) and 1910 (when the Democrats won control of the House before the Taft-TR split). The combined 50.6 percent for Taft and TR in OTL is misleading because no single candidate could have gotten their combined vote.
(BTW, the notion that TR would have been able to get the US into the War in 1915 is questionable. Very likely the 1914 election would have resulted in gains for the Democrats in Congress, who would have been bitterly opposed to entering the war or even to a massive military buildup. And if TR did succeed in getting the US into the War, despite popular opposition, he would probably have been defeated in 1916--assuming a free election...)
Wasn't Bryan diabetic? If illness keeps him from attending the Convention, then Clark is probably nominated. Even if not, the Convention might deadlock and Marshall or some other dark horse receive the nod.
Alternatively, if Bryan keeps his trap shut, and doesn't offend Clark's supporters, but for come reason Clark still can't make two-thirds, maybe Clark delegates switch to him instead of Wilson, and he gets his fourth nomination after all.
Or Wilson could have a stroke (or an accident) on the eve of the Convention.
Less chivalrously, have Wilson's first wife, Ellen, die a couple of years sooner, again just before the Convention gathers. OTL, he was prostrated by her death, but by then he was already POTUS and couldn't just quit. TTL he might well withdraw, either at once or as soon as Clark passes 50%.
Finally, is there any possibility of the two-thirds rule getting repealed sooner. I'm sure I read somewhere that Wilson privately expressed disapproval of it, but declined to call publicly for its abolition as "this would be so patently to my advantage." Talk about the Law of Unintended Consequences.
This raises an interesting point. OTL, Taft was excluded from the ballot in CA (and SD) because the State Republican parties were strongly Progressive and instructed their Electors for TR. Had TR gained the nomination, is it conceivable that this might have happened in reverse, with some of the more conservative State parties ignoring his Convention victory and instructing their Electors for Taft? Were this to happen in several important States, then Democratic victory would still be a near-cert. Obviously Taft would have no chance of winning, but then he still had next to none OTL and yet remained in the race, so would have little reason not to go along with this.
In setting down Root, I posited how Taft accepting a supreme court mod in 1906 leads to someone else running in 08 and losing to Bryan. That leads Teddy Roosevelt to come back and win as a Republican. Butterflies cause one of the earlier assassination attempts, that against Franz Joseph, to succeed and Teddy Roosevelt brings us into World War 1 after the election.
It doesn't have to happen that way. The Chief Justice was rather old and could retire or die in 1907 and Taft get his chief justice position which he longed for. Or, as noted, If Teddy runs in 1908 because Taft is unavailable someone else might just run in 1912.
There is also an auto accident which Wilson was involved in which could have been fatal. At that point the Democrats might just decide to put Champ Clark in any way because he had come close to the nomination.
I've seen some pretty convincing analysis that despite what both Clark and Bryan thought, it really wasn't Bryan who swung the convention, but Wilson's floor managers cutting deals and keeping Wilson from conceding -- which, according to William McAdoo (one of his leading campaign personnel and later Secretary of the Treasury and his son-in-law), he was on the verge of conceding the night before Bryan's thunderous speech. It still took over a day of ballots before Clark's lead was noticeably eroded.
Wilson's floor men had made several major deals at the convention: first, they got the resolution of the dispute over the rival Illinois delegations in their favor (there was an Illinois state boss, and a Chicago boss; the Chicago boss was allied with Hearst and, by extension, Clark); second, they struck deals with the Underwood camp in the interests of keeping the Southern Democrats from nominating Clark; and third, a deal was cut with Indiana, that shifted the ground to move the nomination out of Clark's grasp.
All of that, however, would have been for nothing had Wilson himself not stayed in at the convention. Once Clark had a majority of the votes, there was a call for Wilson to concede (Wilson having previously stated that the two-thirds rule was undemocratic). McCombs, Wilson's campaign manager, called Wilson and persuaded him to concede, releasing his delegates. When, several hours later, McAdoo found out what McCombs had done, he called up Wilson to persuade him otherwise -- that they still had a good chance and he should continue to fight it out. As it turns out, McAdoo was right.
The Republicans didn't do well in the 1910 midterms. They lost 56 seats in the house. Odds are a unified Republican ticket would have lost to the Democrats.
As many have said in this thread, have Champ Clark beat Woodrow Wilson at the convention.
So all that's needed is for McAdoo to break a leg or something, and that's probably that - President Clark.
Assuming that (a) McAdoo is telling the truth and not burnishing himself as a hero, and (b) none of the other floor managers would have stepped up had McAdoo not, yes. It's at the least a valid POD.
I've had notes for a timeline of a President Clark based on that POD for a long while now, actually. Maybe I should get that going again.
That would be interesting. In my first stab at altering the Great War I took the line of keeping Wilson from being President and simply hand waived in Clark. I would like to see more on how Clark handles affairs. Later I tried to get the backstory so I had TR run in 1908, Taft go to the Supreme Court and 1912 be a more toss up election after "three" terms of TR. I was too uncertain how that butterflied away and who might run, I simply let Clark prevail because I think the usual and for me necessary POD was keeping the USA out of the war. But if one wants us in the war earlier or allied to the Entente, I think you might just need TR holding office from 1908 and steering the USA anti-Germany. That still puts 1912 in question, obviously one needs an interventionist President and enough support in Congress to commit the USA to meddling in Europe or worse an entangling foreign alliance. My best guess is TR aligns with Hughes who wins in 1912 but as a lesser hold in Congress.
"On the floor of the House, Clark argued for the recent Canadian–American Reciprocity Treaty and declared: "I look forward to the time when the American flag will fly over every square foot of British North America up to the North Pole."
The other thing to consider is that Clark brings W. R. Hearst with him, and that changes American foreign policy in the critical years of 1913-1914 quite a bit...
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