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

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.
That's what I figured. At the same time, many of those same issues regarding indigenous peoples, I would assume, would be rampant throughout the USSA, marking out at least one difference (unless I, as a reader, am missing something here - always a possibility).
 
Finland? Mongolia? Afghanistan?
I'll leave it to the OP to figure out the Afghanistan equivalent, but for Mongolia - that and other Eastern European states should probably be seen here as somewhere in LatAm + Caribbean, which actually has resonance with OTL since during the post-1900 period the US cast a very long shadow over what it viewed as "its backyard". By that metric, there would be quite a few Mongolias in the region (Panama, for one, which if I'm reading it right is either its own thing or was part of the USSA) as an outgrowth of historic US-LatAm relations and - more immediately - the Banana Wars and events like the Mexican Revolution (which Washington viewed as worrisome because of US interests in that country). At the same time, I as a reader do not see any place in the region that could serve as a Finland analog, as Finland was more of a special case. (There is Greenland, yes, but at the time it was a very poor Danish colony under a commercial monopoly and with things going on against the Inuit majority that I can not even mention without violating the rules - which ultimately went for autonomy and is now on the road to gradual independence. Kalaallit Nunaat would make a very poor Finland analog for TTL purposes.) Oh, and one wants to imagine a source of potential tension (which thank goodness it wasn't IOTL) - the Russia/Alaska border.
 
would mexico be the equivalent of ukraine? or is it canada?
[President Michael Ignatieff]’s foreign policy did not go as well. On paper, it was a rather simple pivot - towards the East and towards liberalism. But as the negotiations over joining the Eurasian Union began and America joined an entire slew of Western European and Latin American states applying for membership, issues began to arise, and it was more than just the obsolete name the organization that was in question.

Canada was the problem, and it wasn’t going away. The former British dominion was annexed into the United Socialist States during the 1940s and, after years of brutal partisan warfare, suppression and deportations, was integrated into the Union as the Canadian Socialist Republic. Within the USSA, the northern republic served an entire slew of roles, most prominent of them was the exploitation of its vast resource deposits, the extension of the Great Lakes industrial region to southern Ontario and Quebec, and the location of hundreds of forced labor camps which were constantly staffed by dissidents, political prisoners, and unruly ethnic minorities. First and foremost, however, the regime saw it as a future loyal province, more so than any other union republic outside of the core United States - Mexico was too large, the other Central American states were too far away, but Canada was majority Anglophone and right next on the border. Americanization policies were enforced, especially upon the Quebecois [sic] and the First Nations, often by force, and mass resettlement of Americans northwards staffed enormous industrial plants and oil refineries built across the republic. History was being rewritten, emphasis was placed on supposed Canadian resistance against British colonial rule and solidarity with their southern neighbours, even when there was none - entire generations in the USSA would learn that the colonists of Quebec and Nova Scotia rose up against the British during the First American Revolution, and only stayed under the Empire because the Redcoats suppressed them, and that the War of 1812 was a war of liberation.

The Velvet Revolution engulfed Canada much like the rest of the United Socialist States, but the fall of the USSA left it in a difficult position. More so than any other breakaway state, it found itself inflamed by ethnic tensions between the Anglophone majority and the French-Canadians living in Quebec, who saw the post-communist chaos as an opportunity to assert their independence after five decades of oppression. The Anglophone Canadians themselves were very divided on the independence issue, too - Americanization had its impact, undeniably so. A significant plurality, if not an entire majority of Canada’s population saw themseves not as “Canadian”, but as “American”, whether it was “inhabitant of the USSA” or “sympathetic to its southern neighbour, if not born there”. The early 1990s saw wackier and wackier proposals pile one upon another. The House of Windsor, residing in Australia, enjoyed a lot of support among the average Canadian and would surely provide the continuity a Canadian state needed, to a point where a referendum to restore the monarchy was being considered and organized. A pushback against Americanization sparked, so-called “Canadianization” - cities and streets were being renamed en masse, American goods were boycotted, the people started emphasizing their different accent instead of the American one and replacing “imported American words” with local ones, often comically so (a member of the Canadian House of Commons, Gary Schipper, even went as far as to propose an amendment enshrining “Canadian” as the national language of Canada, as opposed to “English”)

The average Canadian, however, cared little about these nationalist aspirations, and as shock therapy crashed the economy of the country, they turned towards the one political movement which they knew could manage things - the Communist Party of Canada, the local branch of the CPUSSA which didn’t even bother to change their name and won the elections of 1993 regardless. Its chairman, William R. Bennett, a communist cadre from British California, was the First Secretary of the CPC before the fall of the Union, and simply returned to his position with little fanfare. A referendum to restore the Windsor monarchy was swiftly vote manipulated into failure, the French-Canadian separatist movement was suppressed, old communist insignia was reinstated, and a budding democracy was quickly killed in its crib. Bennett’s foreign policy was rather simple and logical - during fifty years of communism, Canadian economy and society was so intrinsically tied to the United States that separating from them would lead to complete collapse, therefore, no matter what the United States does, Canada must follow. So, during Cheney’s presidency, Canada was a Communist continuationist regime, openly claiming that the fall of the USSA was a geopolitical catastrophe and the Canadian workers should maintain control over the means of production, and when the neoliberal Ignatieff took charge, it suddenly shifted to free market economics and began paying lip service to democratic procedure, even allowing some opposition parties to hold a few seats for show.

So, when the United States applied for membership in the EU, Canada lodged an application as well, an initiative which President Ignatieff supported wholeheartedly - he saw himself as someone who managed to turn Canada liberal and democratic with the force of his persona alone and wanted to enshrine this victory. Yeah… Eurasia and the rest of the East weren’t buying it. The Eurasian Union was an organization promoting peace and democracy, they weren’t going to accept a neo-communist regime suppressing protesters and curtailing civil rights. Bennett had no desire to relinquish even an ounce of his power, but, on the other hand, he and the rest of the Canadian government did not want to get left out when their southern neighbour joins the largest trade bloc on the planet. This left Canada’s negotiations to join the EU at an impasse.
Definitely not Ukraine, at least from this beautiful writing. In fact, I would assume Mexico occupies a very difficult position as it cannot be analogued into any one of the USSR's member states. Note, for example, the total lack of anything similar to the Baltic states, for that matter, as the OP has repeatedly mentioned it's all going for a general post-Communist vibe - which I find pretty illuminating.
 
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Finland? Mongolia? Afghanistan?
I believe the thing with the analogues is not really fiting. This TLs USSA isn't really a mirror to the OTL USSR.

- The post-socialist USA has no powerfull communist party.

- Electoral results are radicaly different. In 1991 russian presidential election for example, Yeltsin ran as an Independent and got 58.6% of the votes. Second was Nikolai Ryzhkov from the (still existent) CPSU, gaining 17.2%. In the 1996 russian presidential elections (the first after the USSR was officially dissolved) Yeltsin (Independent) got 54.4%, while Genaady Zyuganov (Communist Party of the Russian Federation) got 40.7% of the votes.

- The communist party transforming into a social-democratic one and continuing to win elections is more like OTL Hungary or Poland (not Romania, as the former communist won every election in ths 90s, except for 1996, by a landslide).

- Geography prevents the existence of a Finland analogue. No country very close to the second largest city and a nazi ally in WW2 (I don't think there even was a WW2 in any way comparable to OTL. No Great Patriotic War, cause who would've invaded the USSA?).

- A little problem with this TL is, that a socialist US would in no way be comparable to a socialist Russia. When the revolution took place in Russia in 1917, the country was one of the most underdeveloped and reactionary in the world. Barely over 20% of the populace could even read, and the absolute majority of the population were small peasants, sometimes still caught in feudal dependencies in all but name. On the other hand, in 1935 (the year of the revolution in this TL) the US, though in the midst of the great depression, still had the most powerfull economy and industry in the entire world. Almost everybody was able to read and the country had a massive proletariat (and a relatively small peasantry). Moreover the US had a centuries old burgeoisie-democratic tradition while Russia had ... none when the revolution broke out. Not even to speak of the Cold War. In OTL 1989, the US (in it's OTL borders. This TLs USSA is vastly bigger) had a higher GNP than all of the Warsaw Pact combined, despite the fact that the USSR had a higher economic growth. But hey, I know it's still somehwat of a mirror TL.

- The former communist, now social democratic, party has renamed itself and merged with another party in 2000. I don't know any analogue to that.

- This TLs columbia movement reminds me heavily of the OTL east german opposition. Over the course of 1989, allmost all of the opposition "only" wanted to reform socialism, and not to abolish it. They also wanted to preserve the DDR as an independent state and rejected unification with the west (the main opposition groups, the "New Forum" and "Democracy Now!", fell into this cathegory. The same was true for both the catholic and protestant church. Only the social democratic party was in favour of restoring capitalism and unification but they were unimportant at first). The pollitical athmosphere only began to change in early 1990.

I think this TLs USSA is more of an analogue to eastern europe as a whole, as it has elements from the USSR, Poland, East Germany and others. Some elements are also made up which, in my opinion, makes this TL so interesting. It's only a half-mirror.
 
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However I think this TLs USSA is more of an analogue to eastern europe as a whole, as it has elements from the USSR, Poland and others. Some elemenrs are also made up which, in my opinion, makes this TL so interesting. It's only a half-mirror.
That's my thinking as well, in which case much of it makes a lot of sense and flow naturally. Even Canada, while an obvious Belarus or Transnistria analogue, also has elements of other countries with ethnic tensions which were suppressed under Communism (the apple doesn't fall far from the tree in this case).

- A little problem with this TL is, that a socialist US would in no way be comparable to a socialist Russia. When the revolution took place in Russia in 1917, the country was one of the most underdeveloped and reactionary in the world. Barely over 20% of the populace could even read, and the absolute majority of the population were small peasants, sometimes still caught in feudal dependencies in all but name. On the other hand, in 1935 (the year of the revolution in this TL) the US, though in the midst of the great depression, still had the most powerfull economy and industry in the entire world. Almost everybody was able to read and the country had a massive proletariat (and a relatively small peasantry). Moreover the US had a centuries old burgeoisie-democratic tradition while Russia had ... none when the revolution broke out. Not even to speak of the Cold War. In OTL 1989, the US (in it's OTL borders. This TLs USSA is vastly bigger) had a higher GNP than all of the Warsaw Pact combined, despite the fact that the USSR had a higher economic growth. But hey, I know it's still somehwat of a mirror TL.
While that may be true of the core US itself, as far as Mexico and Central America are concerned (as well as any other territories the US may have picked up as a result of the Banana Wars), conditions would actually be much closer to pre-Revolutionary Russia then the assumptions at first glance - the Mexican Revolution and the rise of Aprismo throughout Latin America must count for something, and in that case I would make a reasonable assumption that Lázaro Cárdenas ITTL would probably know what he's doing - not only would he knock out the Jefe Máximo, but if the US was moving towards something of his liking then of course he'd ally himself - and actually making the USSA possible as a thing.
 
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While that may be true of the core US itself, as far as Mexico and Central America are concerned (as well as any other territories the US may have picked up as a result of the Banana Wars), conditions would actually be much closer to pre-Revolutionary Russia then the assumptions at first glance - the Mexican Revolution and the rise of Aprismo throughout Latin America must count for something, and in that case I would make a reasonable assumption that Lázaro Cárdenas ITTL would probably know what he's doing - not only would he knock out the Jefe Máximo, but if the US was moving towards something of his liking then of course he'd ally himself - and actually making the USSA possible as a thing.
I was mostly referring to the core US. But much of Latin America was also better developed than Russia and it also had somewhat of a burgeoisie-democratic tradition (at least way more than Tsarist Russia, where people were made to believe that their head of state was literally gods representative on earth. This was middle ages-style ideology, with the small difference that it preserved into the 20ths century. Thats extremely crazy if you think about it).
 
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I was mostly referring to the core US.
But of course.

But much of Latin America was also better developed than Russia and it also had somewhat of a burgeoisie-democratic tradition (at least way more than Tsarist Russia, where people were made to believe that their head of state was literally gods representative on earth. This was middle ages-style ideology, with the small difference that it preserved into the 20ths century. Thats extremely crazy if you think about it).
Understood. At the same time, it depends on where in Latin America you are talking about, since many areas did not receive as much development as others, even with Comtean positivism in vogue. There's a reason some have called Latin America a "living museum" of political ideologies. (And my apologies for now derailing the thread.)
 
Learning to be Free Again has been nominated for the Best Cold War to Contemporary Timeline Award in the Turtledove Awards! I would like to express my greatest thanks to everyone who has been reading this TL, liked it and and liked it so much that they've given it such an honor. It's only been three months since this TL was started and the rounds it has already been making is dizzying.

A new chapter for this TL will definitely be up this week!
 
9
Whether you love him for being a pro-Eurasian neoliberal or hate him for being a pro-Eurasian neoliberal, Michael Ignatieff and his two term presidency left massive impact upon the United States, to compare the America of 1997 with the America of 2005 would be a difficult task. How much of these changes were because of him and how much of them were because of the simple fact that the United States continued to passivel recover from the Communist era is… also difficult to measure, but he was an active enough President to leave himself written in common memory for years to come. This, coupled with the fact that Ignatieff never groomed himself a successor nor actively tried to associate himself with any political party, meant that the field of candidates competing in the election of 2005 was greater than ever before. Almost three dozen of them filled out the paperwork to be registered, although only some of them remained by the time the race truly began and not all of them were equally capable. Political pundits and worldwide analysts, awaiting the next President of the United States, first turned to Congress to see what the coalition which took charge after the election of 2004 might field, and saw chaos. Ultimately, the House of Representatives formed a coalition between Warren Buffett’s Labor, Mitch McConnell’s Democratic-Republicans and Sarah Palin and John McAfee’s Sovereign Liberals - even ignoring the ideological mishmash of Hoppesians and post-communists, it did not seem like a gang which could possibly agree on anything. In her first speech as Speaker of the House of Representatives, Sarah Palin described the coalition as an “alliance of those outside normal, corrupt politics, unite to bring real change for the people” - which newspapers immediately took and ran with, announcing the Democratic-Republicans, one of the two oldest and possibly most corrupt political parties in the country, to be the newest addition to the ranks of populists. And this coalition really did last about as long as people predicted, but that is a story for a little bit later.

The election of 2005 was an election of firsts, it saw the first female and the first African-American candidate in a Presidential election - though neither one of them were… ordinary. Representing the wealthy upper business class of Chicago, the businessman David Steward was far removed from the African-American political consensus, that is, staunch Southern social conservatism and the political machines of the Deep South, where the priesthood still found the audience of millions and local politicians operated through a familial network which all tied back to the NAACP. Steward was not a member of the NAACP and did not pay lip service to its ideological stance, so the African-Americans did not turn out for him. The only people he could appeal to were the urban liberals of the East Coast, to whom the progressive ideas of the East were no longer foreign and to whom Steward appeared the closest to those ideals. It was a demographic, but it was a small demographic nonetheless. The first female Presidential candidate in United States history was Nancy Pelosi, an independent diplomat most famous for two things. As a member of President Ignatieff’s board of advisors and America’s ambassador in Moscow, she made herself known by participating in negotiations with the EU on admission and lifting of trade barriers. The second is that she, as expected of any politician her age, was once a member of the Communist Party, and an ardent one at that - she worked in Caspar Weinberger’s conservative faction of the CPUSSA, there was plenty of evidence that she supported the December coup attempt, and at least one video of her attending a Columbia movement rally with a United States flag raised and saying “I will not speak until someone takes down that rag!”. This made Pelosi’s position in the post-communist American political compass difficult to identify - which, shockingly enough, actually gave her greater mass appeal rather than less. Liberals and pro-Eastern politicians could turn a blind eye to her former communism and appreciate her experience as a protege of Ignatieff with obvious foreign affairs experience and a pro-Eastern bent - conservatives and Communist era sympathizers could know that she was not one of those bloody degenerate middle class liberal types talking about abortions and gay rights. Pelosi was composed, she could talk back in a debate, and she brought her own meaningless term to the political vocabulary of American culture - expressing that partisan politics in the United States have grown decayed and the Congress has asserted too much power in the system, she proclaimed that she was championing “new politics”, whatever that meant.

To no one’s surprise, Warren Buffett put himself forward as the candidate from the Labor Party, and immediately turned towards his coalition allies to find an endorsement among them. To say that the Democratic-Republicans were reluctant would be an understatement - McConnell found it rather difficult to convince his party to give up their chance to seize the Presidency in 2001, and now he’s supposed to ask them to do the same again, and for a bunch of populists and oligarchs, no less? There were discussions of drafting old man Cheney for a second shot, others hoped to pull off the Robert Dale gambit with more commitment this time, finding a capable independent who could seize the Presidency in a crowded field. Neither of these opinions got a chance to prevail, however, because while the DRUSA might have only been reluctant, the Sovereign Liberals were completely livid. What else do you think their new name “For President McAfee!” stands for, if not the Rightful President returning from his exile to overturn the corrupt oligarch conspiracy which kept him out of the White House four years ago? And John McAfee was clearly not going to give up his chance, signing up for the race and proudly declaring that he’s going to “eat his dick if he’s not in the White House by next year”. Though the apogee of his popularity was four years ago and has since receded, McAfee still had plenty of firepower in his campaign, and the victory of the Sovereign Liberals in the Congress election of 2004 gave rise to legitimate fear that the political establishment’s enemy number one was going to win. This time, however, they were prepared. Four years was more than enough time for law enforcement to start gathering a rather large portfolio on McAfee, not just on the illicit actions through which he constructed his business empire, but also the use of his position in the House of Representatives in the four years he’s spent there so far. A rather strong case for removal from office and imprisonment for several years, perhaps even a seizure of assets, all suddenly submitted to the US Supreme Court all at once. McAfee could tell which way the wind was blowing at this point, packed his things and fled to China, where he obviously declared himself to be a political emigre fleeing suppression by his opponents, and presumably ate his dick with soy sauce.

President Ignatieff had glared daggers at Labor and DRUSA to not even dare obstruct the crackdown on McAfee - and neither of them had any issue with removing a seriously unstable possible opponent who was very clearly starting to go more than a little insane after losing 2001. The bad thing is that this instantly killed the “alliance of populists” after only a few months of working together. Sarah Palin and all the other members of the Sovereign Liberal Party who spoke on the podium in the Capitol building after McAfee’s disappearance and trial in absentia sounded as if they were one shoe slip away from pulling out an assault rifle and gunning down the rest of the legislature. That didn’t happen, of course, even though, at that point, it was the only thing they could do to change the course. Well, that and bitterly refuse to cooperate with any of the other parties while holding a quarter of the Representative seats, thus turning Congress effectively moribund until the Presidential election, and forcing Ignatieff to govern the rest of his term with executive orders. Once the dust started to settle and the DRUSA began searching for their “reformed former communist” to continue Robert Dale’s legacy, they realized that they were looking into one all along. Nancy Pelosi and her political agenda might not have brought a smile to the face of someone like Cheney or Buchanan, but she certainly did not appear to be a threat to their interests and had sent out feelers towards the left in her speeches before. Ironically, the large mass of McAfee supporters who were now lacking a candidate to rally around ended up turning out for Pelosi on election day - almost as a complete misunderstanding. When it came to presidential candidates speaking out on the issue of McAfee’s court case, she was the only one who did not openly declare that the man was guilty and China should extradite him - because she did not address the issue at all, considering it to be of minor importance. There was never any evidence that she supported McAfee or believed him to be innocent, but the masses he commanded took the bait anyway and shifted towards her.

For the National Union, or the Christians and Democrats as they called themselves at this point, 2005 was going to be the breakout year. Ever since 2000, it had been decreed to be a dying party, a movement for a shrinking class of Communist era victims and staunch pro-Eastern liberals, and yet it defied expectations by remaining relevant in the election of 2004. Few people outside of the NU liked the NU, but the drama surrounding their opponents in government and a long enough time outside of government that most people might have forgotten hating them already gave John Edwards and his party hope that they might be able to put their man in charge. To pull off this one last chance for victory, they drafted the 80 year old Norman Mailer for a shot, a draft which the founding father of modern America was very reluctant to accept. Even Mailer could tell that the average American did not exactly… like him. The Columbia Movement was history, now they remembered him as the man who destroyed the collective farms and brought forth a decade and a half of economic decay. His age was definitely not helping, either - and yet, Edwards, uncertain if he would be able to muster the same gravitas in the election, was insistent and ultimately bent the geriatric founding father. Mailer rose to the stage with a surprisingly complex and eloquent program, citing that fifteen years of post-communist life have not been kind to America, but promising a change in direction to integrate the country closer with the East and thus allowing it to benefit from the vast Eurasian markets. In his entire campaign, Mailer was hoping for one straw to be his campaign’s lifesaver - an endorsement from President Ignatieff, which, unfortunately, never came. Ignatieff was afraid of appearing to be biased at the very end of his career and sinking his legacy by betting on the wrong horse, especially one clearly associated with an establishment party, even though Mailer was technically an independent. And so, though holding on to some support, Mailer’s campaign very swiftly sank.

While one political veteran returned, another stepped down. Few could understand why David Duke, a man whose name always appeared on the ballot in any Presidential election, chose to not put himself forward this election. Was the impact which constant campaigning would have on a person’s health finally caught up to him? Probably not, Duke was as… sharp… as ever. However, he chose to endorse a fellow member of his party, Francis Collin, and though he might not have been as high profile as his superior was, his ideas were no less crazy. Collin took the vehemently, unabashedly racist, anti-semitic, White nationalist rhetoric of his party and combined them with left-wing thought, more specifically, with nostalgia towards the Communist period, into an ideology which was dubbed by others as “National Communism” or “National Fosterism”. He proudly dubbed the USSA to have been the “first great American empire”, a White American empire which subjugated North America for them and only them - the claims that they were supposedly internationalist and rather violently suppressed pre-revolutionary American culture is just hoaxes and misinterpretation, they defended America from interventions from abroad and were the real defenders of the American nation while the counter-revolutionaries were just foreign stooges. Collin received many names and pejoratives during his campaign, some of whom he actually ended up adopting, such as the “Red KKK” - and so he promptly began attending campaign rallies with a blood red costume and hood. What was just as shocking is that Duke actually supported this rather lefty interpretation of his party’s ideas, despite having once been an anti-communist dissident himself, and stated that this emphasis of the merits of the USSA does not contradict anything in the White Royal League. And it appeared that many Americans took a liking to them, too, to a point where it was actually starting to turn a little… worrying.

Finally, if all the partisan politics leave you exhausted, if all the political infighting and screaming matches leave you longing for calm and stability, and if you absolutely frikkin’ hate liquor, you can take a pilgrimage to Arkansas, where the Clinton Foundation and their Prohibition Party reign supreme. Compared to every other major candidate in the election, Bill Clinton appeared like he was from a completely different world - dressing in simple, casual workingman’s clothes, travelling across the country with a small band of followers in purple shirts, he portrayed himself as the most down to earth and warm-hearted candidate in the race. He loved jazz, he repaired cars, he worked in the fields, and he constantly spoke fiery sermons against all the evil which alcohol, drugs, and all of the other vices which have befallen American society. The first attempt of Clinton’s Prohibition Party to field a presidential candidate saw themselves not do any better than they usually do in Congressional elections - that is, dominance in Arkansas thanks to a deep rooted and omnipresent political machine, and pretty much complete obscurity everywhere else. Clinton never sought to win the election, however, and his campaign was only there to build up national prominence for his anti-alcohol message - and so, he could walk away as one of the two winners of the election.

The other winner was the candidate which could collect votes from all sides without appearing to be too dedicated towards any one. The one whose campaign weathered the constant storms of the 2005 race while many of their peers ended up succumbing to the winds. The one who was bankrolled by Bernie Sanders just so he does not have to look Buffett in the eyes next time and concede that he lost the bet.

 
Whether you love him for being a pro-Eurasian neoliberal or hate him for being a pro-Eurasian neoliberal, Michael Ignatieff and his two term presidency left massive impact upon the United States, to compare the America of 1997 with the America of 2005 would be a difficult task. How much of these changes were because of him and how much of them were because of the simple fact that the United States continued to passivel recover from the Communist era is… also difficult to measure, but he was an active enough President to leave himself written in common memory for years to come. This, coupled with the fact that Ignatieff never groomed himself a successor nor actively tried to associate himself with any political party, meant that the field of candidates competing in the election of 2005 was greater than ever before. Almost three dozen of them filled out the paperwork to be registered, although only some of them remained by the time the race truly began and not all of them were equally capable. Political pundits and worldwide analysts, awaiting the next President of the United States, first turned to Congress to see what the coalition which took charge after the election of 2004 might field, and saw chaos. Ultimately, the House of Representatives formed a coalition between Warren Buffett’s Labor, Mitch McConnell’s Democratic-Republicans and Sarah Palin and John McAfee’s Sovereign Liberals - even ignoring the ideological mishmash of Hoppesians and post-communists, it did not seem like a gang which could possibly agree on anything. In her first speech as Speaker of the House of Representatives, Sarah Palin described the coalition as an “alliance of those outside normal, corrupt politics, unite to bring real change for the people” - which newspapers immediately took and ran with, announcing the Democratic-Republicans, one of the two oldest and possibly most corrupt political parties in the country, to be the newest addition to the ranks of populists. And this coalition really did last about as long as people predicted, but that is a story for a little bit later.

The election of 2005 was an election of firsts, it saw the first female and the first African-American candidate in a Presidential election - though neither one of them were… ordinary. Representing the wealthy upper business class of Chicago, the businessman David Steward was far removed from the African-American political consensus, that is, staunch Southern social conservatism and the political machines of the Deep South, where the priesthood still found the audience of millions and local politicians operated through a familial network which all tied back to the NAACP. Steward was not a member of the NAACP and did not pay lip service to its ideological stance, so the African-Americans did not turn out for him. The only people he could appeal to were the urban liberals of the East Coast, to whom the progressive ideas of the East were no longer foreign and to whom Steward appeared the closest to those ideals. It was a demographic, but it was a small demographic nonetheless. The first female Presidential candidate in United States history was Nancy Pelosi, an independent diplomat most famous for two things. As a member of President Ignatieff’s board of advisors and America’s ambassador in Moscow, she made herself known by participating in negotiations with the EU on admission and lifting of trade barriers. The second is that she, as expected of any politician her age, was once a member of the Communist Party, and an ardent one at that - she worked in Caspar Weinberger’s conservative faction of the CPUSSA, there was plenty of evidence that she supported the December coup attempt, and at least one video of her attending a Columbia movement rally with a United States flag raised and saying “I will not speak until someone takes down that rag!”. This made Pelosi’s position in the post-communist American political compass difficult to identify - which, shockingly enough, actually gave her greater mass appeal rather than less. Liberals and pro-Eastern politicians could turn a blind eye to her former communism and appreciate her experience as a protege of Ignatieff with obvious foreign affairs experience and a pro-Eastern bent - conservatives and Communist era sympathizers could know that she was not one of those bloody degenerate middle class liberal types talking about abortions and gay rights. Pelosi was composed, she could talk back in a debate, and she brought her own meaningless term to the political vocabulary of American culture - expressing that partisan politics in the United States have grown decayed and the Congress has asserted too much power in the system, she proclaimed that she was championing “new politics”, whatever that meant.

To no one’s surprise, Warren Buffett put himself forward as the candidate from the Labor Party, and immediately turned towards his coalition allies to find an endorsement among them. To say that the Democratic-Republicans were reluctant would be an understatement - McConnell found it rather difficult to convince his party to give up their chance to seize the Presidency in 2001, and now he’s supposed to ask them to do the same again, and for a bunch of populists and oligarchs, no less? There were discussions of drafting old man Cheney for a second shot, others hoped to pull off the Robert Dale gambit with more commitment this time, finding a capable independent who could seize the Presidency in a crowded field. Neither of these opinions got a chance to prevail, however, because while the DRUSA might have only been reluctant, the Sovereign Liberals were completely livid. What else do you think their new name “For President McAfee!” stands for, if not the Rightful President returning from his exile to overturn the corrupt oligarch conspiracy which kept him out of the White House four years ago? And John McAfee was clearly not going to give up his chance, signing up for the race and proudly declaring that he’s going to “eat his dick if he’s not in the White House by next year”. Though the apogee of his popularity was four years ago and has since receded, McAfee still had plenty of firepower in his campaign, and the victory of the Sovereign Liberals in the Congress election of 2004 gave rise to legitimate fear that the political establishment’s enemy number one was going to win. This time, however, they were prepared. Four years was more than enough time for law enforcement to start gathering a rather large portfolio on McAfee, not just on the illicit actions through which he constructed his business empire, but also the use of his position in the House of Representatives in the four years he’s spent there so far. A rather strong case for removal from office and imprisonment for several years, perhaps even a seizure of assets, all suddenly submitted to the US Supreme Court all at once. McAfee could tell which way the wind was blowing at this point, packed his things and fled to China, where he obviously declared himself to be a political emigre fleeing suppression by his opponents, and presumably ate his dick with soy sauce.

President Ignatieff had glared daggers at Labor and DRUSA to not even dare obstruct the crackdown on McAfee - and neither of them had any issue with removing a seriously unstable possible opponent who was very clearly starting to go more than a little insane after losing 2001. The bad thing is that this instantly killed the “alliance of populists” after only a few months of working together. Sarah Palin and all the other members of the Sovereign Liberal Party who spoke on the podium in the Capitol building after McAfee’s disappearance and trial in absentia sounded as if they were one shoe slip away from pulling out an assault rifle and gunning down the rest of the legislature. That didn’t happen, of course, even though, at that point, it was the only thing they could do to change the course. Well, that and bitterly refuse to cooperate with any of the other parties while holding a quarter of the Representative seats, thus turning Congress effectively moribund until the Presidential election, and forcing Ignatieff to govern the rest of his term with executive orders. Once the dust started to settle and the DRUSA began searching for their “reformed former communist” to continue Robert Dale’s legacy, they realized that they were looking into one all along. Nancy Pelosi and her political agenda might not have brought a smile to the face of someone like Cheney or Buchanan, but she certainly did not appear to be a threat to their interests and had sent out feelers towards the left in her speeches before. Ironically, the large mass of McAfee supporters who were now lacking a candidate to rally around ended up turning out for Pelosi on election day - almost as a complete misunderstanding. When it came to presidential candidates speaking out on the issue of McAfee’s court case, she was the only one who did not openly declare that the man was guilty and China should extradite him - because she did not address the issue at all, considering it to be of minor importance. There was never any evidence that she supported McAfee or believed him to be innocent, but the masses he commanded took the bait anyway and shifted towards her.

For the National Union, or the Christians and Democrats as they called themselves at this point, 2005 was going to be the breakout year. Ever since 2000, it had been decreed to be a dying party, a movement for a shrinking class of Communist era victims and staunch pro-Eastern liberals, and yet it defied expectations by remaining relevant in the election of 2004. Few people outside of the NU liked the NU, but the drama surrounding their opponents in government and a long enough time outside of government that most people might have forgotten hating them already gave John Edwards and his party hope that they might be able to put their man in charge. To pull off this one last chance for victory, they drafted the 80 year old Norman Mailer for a shot, a draft which the founding father of modern America was very reluctant to accept. Even Mailer could tell that the average American did not exactly… like him. The Columbia Movement was history, now they remembered him as the man who destroyed the collective farms and brought forth a decade and a half of economic decay. His age was definitely not helping, either - and yet, Edwards, uncertain if he would be able to muster the same gravitas in the election, was insistent and ultimately bent the geriatric founding father. Mailer rose to the stage with a surprisingly complex and eloquent program, citing that fifteen years of post-communist life have not been kind to America, but promising a change in direction to integrate the country closer with the East and thus allowing it to benefit from the vast Eurasian markets. In his entire campaign, Mailer was hoping for one straw to be his campaign’s lifesaver - an endorsement from President Ignatieff, which, unfortunately, never came. Ignatieff was afraid of appearing to be biased at the very end of his career and sinking his legacy by betting on the wrong horse, especially one clearly associated with an establishment party, even though Mailer was technically an independent. And so, though holding on to some support, Mailer’s campaign very swiftly sank.

While one political veteran returned, another stepped down. Few could understand why David Duke, a man whose name always appeared on the ballot in any Presidential election, chose to not put himself forward this election. Was the impact which constant campaigning would have on a person’s health finally caught up to him? Probably not, Duke was as… sharp… as ever. However, he chose to endorse a fellow member of his party, Francis Collin, and though he might not have been as high profile as his superior was, his ideas were no less crazy. Collin took the vehemently, unabashedly racist, anti-semitic, White nationalist rhetoric of his party and combined them with left-wing thought, more specifically, with nostalgia towards the Communist period, into an ideology which was dubbed by others as “National Communism” or “National Fosterism”. He proudly dubbed the USSA to have been the “first great American empire”, a White American empire which subjugated North America for them and only them - the claims that they were supposedly internationalist and rather violently suppressed pre-revolutionary American culture is just hoaxes and misinterpretation, they defended America from interventions from abroad and were the real defenders of the American nation while the counter-revolutionaries were just foreign stooges. Collin received many names and pejoratives during his campaign, some of whom he actually ended up adopting, such as the “Red KKK” - and so he promptly began attending campaign rallies with a blood red costume and hood. What was just as shocking is that Duke actually supported this rather lefty interpretation of his party’s ideas, despite having once been an anti-communist dissident himself, and stated that this emphasis of the merits of the USSA does not contradict anything in the White Royal League. And it appeared that many Americans took a liking to them, too, to a point where it was actually starting to turn a little… worrying.

Finally, if all the partisan politics leave you exhausted, if all the political infighting and screaming matches leave you longing for calm and stability, and if you absolutely frikkin’ hate liquor, you can take a pilgrimage to Arkansas, where the Clinton Foundation and their Prohibition Party reign supreme. Compared to every other major candidate in the election, Bill Clinton appeared like he was from a completely different world - dressing in simple, casual workingman’s clothes, travelling across the country with a small band of followers in purple shirts, he portrayed himself as the most down to earth and warm-hearted candidate in the race. He loved jazz, he repaired cars, he worked in the fields, and he constantly spoke fiery sermons against all the evil which alcohol, drugs, and all of the other vices which have befallen American society. The first attempt of Clinton’s Prohibition Party to field a presidential candidate saw themselves not do any better than they usually do in Congressional elections - that is, dominance in Arkansas thanks to a deep rooted and omnipresent political machine, and pretty much complete obscurity everywhere else. Clinton never sought to win the election, however, and his campaign was only there to build up national prominence for his anti-alcohol message - and so, he could walk away as one of the two winners of the election.

The other winner was the candidate which could collect votes from all sides without appearing to be too dedicated towards any one. The one whose campaign weathered the constant storms of the 2005 race while many of their peers ended up succumbing to the winds. The one who was bankrolled by Bernie Sanders just so he does not have to look Buffett in the eyes next time and concede that he lost the bet.

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