Learning to be Free Again: Electoral Wackiness in Post-Communist America

Another great update, @Augenis . Also loved the touch of Mondale having another go at it (without knowing what it was that took him down and made him unpopular in the first place, thus helping Iggy in the process). Cannot wait for the next update.
Having consolididated a victory for the neoliberal consensus in the races of 2000-2001, the American political establishment could take an easier breath. It especially helped that John McAfee had shot himself in the foot by choosing to stand in the presidential election of 2001 by himself, instead of pushing forward a willing lackey, as he had to resign from his position as Speaker of the House and thus promptly lost his only key to maintaining power after his spectacular defeat. Nobody was going to give it back to him, after all. After some internal reshuffling, several Speakers going in and out of the seat as alliances in the House of Representatives shifted, the consensus ultimately settled on the grandfather of the Democratic-Republican Party and a former President, Dick Cheney, dragged out of his book-writing retirement to hold the reins of government once more - though, unfortunately to him, this time as a second fiddle to President Ignatieff. The Sovereign Liberals were never going to forget this stain on their pride, this betrayal orchestrated by Ignatieff, the National Union and the Democratic-Republicans - but at this time, there was little they could do aside for fuming in their corner of Congress and drafting plans to gain sweet sweet revenge in 2004.

For the first time in American history since the fall of the United Socialist States, it was possible to say that things were starting to improve. The freefall of the country’s Gross Domestic Product was coming to a halt, mostly thanks to an increasing flow of investment from the East. The decade prior, like many terrible villains and atrocities which beset mankind, would end up known by many names. Some would dub it the “wild nineties”, pointing out that the economy of society of the United States felt like a massive pact of wolves ripping and tearing at anything their claws and teeth can get their hands on, with a healthy dose of “fuck you, got mine” mentality. Others would dub them the “explosive nineties”, not just because they were a transformation almost as revolutionary as the Revolution of the 1930s, but also because the crime rate across the country spiked to a point where gunshots and explosions ringing out in major cities was the norm. The legacy of this transformation would end up rooting itself in American society for many decades on end. It formed a class of oligarchs whose control over business and services would end up a headache for any would-be reformist. It sowed a deep rooted distrust of the political establishment, of any extensive government, which would always bear the stain of being a playground of Communist cadres, oligarchs, and foreigners. It saw a slow, budding growth of revanchism - or, more accurately, the feeling that America’s woes are not caused by anything deep rooted, but were rather bestowed by Eurasia and their damn liberal practices! And, above all that, it made the world realized that it will take a long time before democracy in America becomes truly modern. Exemplified by graft, shady political deals, and manipulation, it would make a liberal democrat shed a tear.

The first two years of the new millennium gave a modicum of optimism, however. America was accepted into a free trade agreement with the Eurasian Union, a stepping stone to membership, and while the extent to which the US benefited from it has been put into question - their manufacturing was hopelessly out-competed by more modern and efficient Eastern production, for one - but the country swiftly started reaping the dividends. Democracy and liberalism have won!

And then…


Wait, who was the candidate who spent their campaign fear mongering that the peoples of the Southwest are at a breaking point because none of the government’s promises after the Aztlan War were fulfilled? How come we didn’t listen to them?

The response of the central government to homemade bombs ripping through the lives of hundreds of Americans across the East Coast, and the responsibility which the Mexican-American organization M.E.Ch.A. declared for the events, was… lacking. Both the President and Congress were caught completely off-guard, just processing the realization that the Aztlan conflict has resurfaced yet again took too much time. A few of the perpetrators were caught in the following days, but most of them vanished into society without a trace, suddenly escalating military presencein the Southwest did little except turn the local Hispanic citizens even more bitter. The government eventually got a hang of itself, President Ignatieff spoke on national TV where he expressed condolences for the families of those who perished, stated that the United States stands against terrorism of any kind, and that they will resort to any actions in order to protect American citizens against those who use violent force in order to send a message. At that point, however, it was way too late, and it was going to do little to satiate the fury of the American people. Nice words and rounded up criminals are not going to resurrect their family members, after all!

So let’s find someone who would.

The collapse of the United Socialist States had an interesting effect on the religion and beliefs of the average American. The fact that the Communist regime sought to uproot any and all religious thought from its people and replace it with cold positive atheism, and did so successfully, has already been mentioned - which meant that, upon the collapse of said regime, the North American continent became the world’s largest religious marketplace. Churches such as Catholics and Baptists may have severely bled membership and their repressed organization found themselves struggling to compete, but the average person’s need for spiritual guidance remained - a need swiftly filled by imported ideas and newly risen messiahs. Religious cults, New Age religious movements, foreign religions, self-proclaimed magicians, seers, exorcists, psychics all became a dime a dozen, to a point where American television even started organizing reality TV shows where they put those psychics in battle against one another. Some even dubbed this a new Great Awakening, though it was really not something “great” or something to be proud of. And among this colorful cast of extrasensory people, the one which suddenly became nationally famous in the aftermath of the East Coast terrorist bombings was one particular woman going by the name of Marianne Williamson.

Born to a Jewish veteran of the American Workers’ and Farmers’ Red Army, Williamson was set to achieve nothing in life and ultimately become one of the millions of cogs in the machinery of the USSA in the years up to its collapse. Once the curtain fell, however, her life moved from one of an ordinary factory worker to one of a religious preacher, which ultimately landed her in charge of the "Renaissance Unity Interfaith Spiritual Fellowship" New Age cult. On the surface, it really was no different from the rest of the crop - it claimed to present a new, modern, esoteric insight into spirituality, its leader claimed to to be able to bridge the gap between the living and the dead and drag the latter back to mortal life (for a rather mortal price, of course) and surrounded herself with a rather… dedicated group of followers. Two things differentiated her from the rest, however. For one, her Renaissance Spiritual Fellowship had very clear political goals as well as spiritual ones - it ran a short list of candidates in the elections prior with a program of restoring the spiritual health of America, establishing peace, and using magic and the resurrected dead to rebuild the country. The second is that she was very quick to the trigger. So, when the bombs rang out and hundreds lost their lives, the first person who got to comfort those whose family members and friends perished was her, including promises that she will be able to bring them back. The government won’t bring them back! But she will.

For about a month or two, Williamson and her church figured at the top of the list for people which polled Americans most wanted to see win the election of 2004. Ain’t the rest of the political consensus glad that eventually her momentum faded in favor of more sane anti-establishment populists.

In early 2003, two business oligarchs with effective control over much of what happens in New England, Warren Buffett and Bernard Sanders, made a bet in a cafe shop in New York. Buffett pledged that, in a single year, he will be able to found a party, turn it into a frontrunner in the next elections, win them, get a coalition and place his lackeys in all levels of government. Aaand the race was on. The child of this bet was the Labor Party, funded and organized by Buffett himself - after all, who else would know the interests of the average man better than a successful businessman? It goes without saying that he was the newest incarnation of the American populist wave, one which would arise every single election in some shape or form - Buffett, however, took on the challenge more intelligently than McCain or McAfee. He hired electoral campaign experts from China - the authorities of its guiding democracy were more skilled than any in manipulating popular opinion - and gave them great leeway in managing his political campaign. Labor ads swarmed the American media and the Chinese experts swiftly transformed the image and ideology (but mostly image) of the party from an amorphous populist mass to one which actually orients towards someone - the working class and the industrial city dwellers who still haven’t found the reason to be happy with the fall of the United Socialist States. It called for a mass ramp in minimum wages and a cut in taxes, especially income taxes, where they stopped just short of calling them illegal - what they did call illegal, however, was America’s increasing integration to the Eurasian sphere. Buffett vehemently denounced it as hurting the average American worker and businessowner, while casually pushing away the fact that much of his business was done in Europe.

Buffett’s other important move was to reach out to the other side of the political spectrum, to the former Sovereign Liberal Party, now renamed, rebranded, but eternally bitter about their unquestioned leader’s righteous Presidential position being taken away from him - he and Sarah Palin came to terms and formed an unofficial pact to no longer attack each other in political ads, debates and handpick their candidate lists to not steal too many votes from one another. This alliance prevented the formation of an anti-Labor axis among the rest of the competitors and meant that the opposition to Buffett’s populist wave was fractured and often even willing to let him pass. The Democratic-Republicans, always hungry for power, saw a potential ally in Labor as much as they saw a force threatening America’s cooperation with Eurasia, whereas the National Union was still in the midst of recovering from their downfall in 2000. Stephen King’s reign over the party which continued to call itself “the only right-wing conservative party in America” came to an end, and exactly nine years after the foundation of the party, it got a new leader and a new rebrand. The new leader was John Edwards, not exactly the most likeable type, but one the factions of the party could come to agreement on. The new rebranding made sure to include Christians (even though the party never even tried to appeal to faithful Christians, it was too little of a demographic and they would usually vote NU anyway) and Democrats (a name which had about as much meaning as you would expect). What helped the party somewhat was that their Southern splinters, having realized that their strike was not going to go anywhere, rejoined the mothership. For the most part. A small band of diehards, coalesced around Representative Lindsey Graham, announced themselves to be the *real* right-wing conservative party in America.

The only thing to the right of them was the wall. And Duke, but Duke doesn’t count.

Bernie Sanders the oligarch. I definitely did not expect that. Bernie Sanders the Anarcho-Capitalist maybe, but Bernie Sanders the oligarch?
Oh hey look its Prohibitionist Bill Clinton lmao.

How has the war in the South-West actually gone? Is it under US control but just really tense or are there actually parts of it where the government holds little to no power ala Chechnya?
Oh hey look its Prohibitionist Bill Clinton lmao.

How has the war in the South-West actually gone? Is it under US control but just really tense or are there actually parts of it where the government holds little to no power ala Chechnya?
The former. There was no settlement like in the OTL Chechen war, Aztlan was overrun completely.
Sorry if i missed it but is there any national irredentist(Fasci) party or are you already over the extreme right wing swing of the political system.
I really wonder which Communist country would serve as an analog for Turkey...

Guatemala? It has issues with an ethnic minority (Maya), which also live in neighbouring countries - Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador (and Belize? Is Belize independent ITTL).

Alternatively, maybe Peru or Bolivia ITTL?
Guatemala? It has issues with an ethnic minority (Maya), which also live in neighbouring countries - Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador (and Belize? Is Belize independent ITTL).

Alternatively, maybe Peru or Bolivia ITTL?
Guatemala was a constituent socialist republic of the USSA, nor a Turkey analogue. Belize was annexed into the Guatemalan SR in the 1940s and is a part of reborn Guatemala (though a troublesome one) today.