New Deal Coalition Retained III: A New World

Note: This update covers pre-election events

The Sanders Administration

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When the Progressive-affiliated Liberal Party candidate for the New York City mayoral election, Bernie Sanders, won the mayoralty, his victory shocked many Americans, especially seeing a radical urban minaprogressive win in what had been the birthplace of Republican Liberty Conservatism. Sanders, for obvious reasons, also became a prominent critic of the president, along with Democrat Paul Ilyinsky of Florida. Feuds between both himself and the president frequently made the news, and while many people recommended that he run for president, he seemed content with his position as executive of his native city. Despite his local powerbase, his anti-Bundy activism gained him national attention.

Besides his posturing on the national stage while campaigning, Sanders went straight to work when it came to his reform regime, implementing reforms in the election system first. He first helped pass legislation that mandated an increase in the number of polling stations to encourage higher turnout, and helped along with a proclamation of election day as a city-wide holiday. The city council itself was reformed towards MMP-STV, a unique system that combined both the Single Transferable Voting system, (already used in Ireland) and the Mixed-Member Proportional system, (already used in Germany). A threshold of 3.25% was placed to prevent extremist or single-issue parties from gaining seats on the city council, though since the three major parties easily surpassed this, this was not put to as much debate.

However, there were some failures, such as infamous attempts to switch the election for the mayor to one using Instant Runoff Voting, (where candidates are ranked in order by voters, with the lowest-ranked candidate among first preferences progressively knocked out until a single winner emerges.) Despite claims that it would strengthen the viability of third and fourth parties in local politics, it was shot down by a tripartisan effort, despite the fact it was already used for party primaries. It would later be championed by other politicians even after the end of the Sanders administration. Term limits were also a hard pill to swallow, and despite being a campaign promise of Sanders, it became clear that a bill to limit the terms of the city council would be unpopular among all. The same was true of a promise to instate recall elections. In the end, the Mayor was limited to two consecutive four year terms, the city's sheriff limited to ten years in office, and the police commissioner limited to one consecutive three year appointment.

Another issue that was heavily promoted by Sanders and left-wing Progressives nationwide was environmentalist policies meant to reduce pollution and promote the quality of life in the Big Apple. Sanders had a rather bold vision regarding the future of urban transportation: car-free streets. He envisioned an efficient array of bus lines, more subway lines with bigger cars (to accommodate the ever-increasing number of commuters), and a city-wide bicycle and scooter sharing service, all free of charge and funded by the City Council. He also planned to build large parking lots outside of the city, in order to allow people to park their cars outside the city and to completely rid the city streets of idle cars. However, he knew how much the average American saw the usage of his own private car, part-and-parcel of the American dream, as an expression of independence. This conception would be almost impossible to break, and encouraging people to use public transport even more often would be hard. Furthermore, the cost of such an ambitious project was huge and would likely bog down the city’s fiscal situation for a couple of years. Finally, there was the oil lobby to deal with, as fewer cars meant less gas and fewer profits. Sanders’s initiatives would have a huge price tag, he was weary that when put into effect without raising taxes, it would put the city budget in the red. The plan, when made public, made headlines in the national presses for its innovative attempts to reinvigorate the city and was praised by both fiscally left-wing Democrats and the national Progressive Party, (although both the majority of rural Progressives and most party leaders like Perot remained mum on the issue). However, the Republican party as a whole condemned the plan, with many calling the whole thing a “boondoggle”. The Secretary of the Treasury, Donald Trump, led the opposition to the plan as beyond the ideological opposition of most Liberty Conservatives to the plan, he believed that the financial strife it would bring would risk his personal holdings and assets within the city, whom he referred to as his “very own Big Apple”. He even played with the idea of denying the city from receiving federal funding, (a stunt which he attempted with Palm Beach after being refused ownership of a local property called Mar-a-Lago), though he decided not to do it after a phone call from Governor Rockefeller, who had heard about the plan from one of his advisors. However, this wasn’t the last obstacle to his plan, which led Sanders to abandon some parts of it. After the 1997 municipal election, the city council was equally divided between the parties, with the NY Liberals narrowly holding the largest party status with 19 seats out of 51. The Republican Party, dominated by liberal Rockefeller Republicans was next, with 15 seats. The Democrats and Conservatives clung to their bases, with 12 and 5 seats respectively.

As the Liberal party leadership understood that passing the plan within its entirety was politically impossible, Sanders decided to rework on the plan within his party and with moderates from across the aisle. First, he decided to eliminate the free usage clause from the plan as it would never be accepted by Republicans and Conservatives, who he feared would use the clause as a reason to kill the project if they won back the mayor’s office in the near-future. He also decided to hold the idea of car-free streets back for a while, though he still felt he needed to prove the effectiveness of his idea to New-Yorkers and Americans overall. The solution he proposed was having one car-free day each week. In order to reduce the problem of over crowdedness in city streets, Sanders proposed a car buyback program by the city’s government for people who owned more than one car, older cars or over-polluting cars. These could also be turned in for lifetime subway, bike, and scooter passes. He suggested that the buyback money could only be used within the city’s public transportation system in order to prevent people from buying a new car with the money. As more and more Democrats, as well as health-conscious Republicans, began to agree with the watered-down version of the transport plan (especially since promoting a healthy lifestyle would help reduce the costs of Amcare spending), Mayor Sanders’s bill narrowly passed the city council. As a concession to Republicans, Sanders agreed to exempt taxis from car-free day (ultimately chosen to be a Saturday), and abolish the taxi and limousine commision which regulated the industry, (much to the chagrin of many city residents). Additional funding would go into the city’s park system to help encourage outdoor physical activities. All this was paid for with cuts from the police department and by a moderate increase in business wealth taxes, allowing the city to retain a balanced budget.

While an unpopular proposal, he also recommended a referendum on the status of Staten Island, which gained him in-grounds in traditionally Republican territory. It was massively unpopular in other parts of the city, as many were upset that the borough would leave the city, and in the North Shore, since a high percentage of residents commuted using the ferry, which operated for free. This gained him the endorsement of secessionist politicians such as A Staten Island separate from New York City would put this into doubt. Despite this, polls put the popularity of secession within Staten Island itself at 2:1. Sanders immediately set himself up as the leader of the anti-secession movement, although the referendum would be set to late 2002, during what would be his second term.

But the Sanders plan that gained the most national attention was drug reform. While not as bad as Los Angeles, Oakland, and Seattle, New York's status as a major port inevitably led to the city being a front on the war on drugs.

Mayor Carey had dealt with drugs with a heavy hand, increasing weaponry and surveillance tech available to the police. Most affected by this were Slavs, as the Russian (and surprisingly even the Albanian) Mafia grew in New York, with the stream of people leaving former Warsaw Pact nations. This had the additional effect of creating an anti-slav bias in many of the city's citizens.

It was here that Sanders would openly defy Bundy. While drug kingpins and cookers were still sent to jail, Bernie convinced prosecutors to let street level dealers off with lesser sentences. But his biggest project would be a brand new facility on Randall Island. A comprehensive and massive rehabilitation center for addicts. Anyone could check themselves in and those arrested for drug use would be sent there instead of prison. All of this would be paid for by the city, and Sanders even went as far as to allow out of state addicts if the center could spare the resources.

The President was, of course, furious that "criminals were being caught only to be released back onto streets." It was election year however, and New York was a swing state.

While it would not be known to the public for years, Bundy attempted to convince Governor Rockefeller to crack down on Sanders in his stead. The Governor had his own electoral concerns, and knew he needed (capital and soft L) liberal support to win reelection in 2002. Rockefeller's refusal created a private split between the two that would never be repaired.

America's Mayor remained very popular in his city. Every week an hour of public television and radio would be set aside for "Bernie Speaks to the Community", where Sanders would explain his policies and achievements as well as answer questions submitted by New Yorkers. Overall, his approval rating hovered around the high 60s. Sanders was popular citywide, much to the chagrin of the president.

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“The president’s behavior has been, for lack of a better word, erratic in the past few months.”

“Ted’s normally a calm guy. Don’t get me wrong, he’s always...intense, but he maintains a cool personna. For the most part. He’s always so nice to his aides. But today, well, I’ve never seen him this mad before. He’s had a few tantrums before, but this one was on a whole new level. It was like watching a star go supernova. The Secret Service had to physically block him from going into the other room and destroying the Governor’s [Steven Clark Rockefeller] father’s Presidential portrait.”

“Honestly I wonder how many other people are thinking the same thing. Who knows how many…Though I wonder who to ask about these matters. Well maybe there’s one, it’s a longshot though.”
Romney Journal, 1999. (Classified TOP SECRET, DATES REDACTED)

BREAKING: Frederick County sheriff reporting a spike of missing persons reports in recent months. News coming soon after reports of chopped up limbs and heads inside trash bags found in woods of New Market. Police say MO of suspect of most murders indicates experience at concealing evidence.

THIS JUST IN: Hedge fund manager and Republican activist James Pope found dead of apparent suicide in Massachusetts home. Police report he shot himself in the front of the skull with an unregistered Glock 17.

“Note to self: Mr. Pope was a prominent donor to the president. Apparently they had a falling out for some reason involving finance. It seems a rather interesting coincidence...”
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“Diet coke.”

“Just water for me please.”

A couple of kids screaming while playing tag, annoying “world music” bubblegum pop blaring out of the speakers, and that creepy animatronic staring into his soul…One of the eyebrows was missing, and it oftentimes jerked and stopped randomly during the song routine, only to start up again and flail around more for the kids. They found it entertaining but it creeped him out. The young at the birthday party were all at the arcade playing one of those stupid Japanese video games. Poke-something or some sort. It wasn't his concern, as long as they weren’t playing anything violent. Thank God for moral crusaders like Thompson for ensuring that video games released in the U.S. met strict moral guidelines. Part of him still felt too young to be a gran-

“Ahem.” Romney stopped his pondering and looked back at his colleague. Chuck E. Cheese’s [A/N: The chain was founded in 1977, on schedule with OTL] was the last place one expected to find the very fate of American democracy decided, but stranger no doubt had happened.

“Come on Mitt, surely that Mormon God of yours lets you party sometimes,” Secretary Trump said, then sighed, “Strange place to have a meeting,” with a tone of voice implying that he didn’t want to be seen within 100 feet of such an establishment. “Think I should buy the place?”

His fellow secretary had a tendency to test Mitt’s patience. “You can’t do that while you’re….you know what, whatever. It’s my grandson’s birthday party. Perfect place for us to talk about Ted’s….eccentricities without arousing suspicion.”

Trump also began whispering, though Romney strained to hear him through the background. He was still skeptical, and rather indignant at the proposition that a man could swindle the American people for so long. “I really don’t understand your obsession. How do you even know… women… Ted’s trip to Camp David?” He struggled to raise his voice over the rest of the crowd. “Mitt, he has a million alibis, I’m telling you. Sure the president might be a bit strange, but that’s no reason to expect him…” The mention of it made even Donald Trump, infamously raunchy man as he was, sick.

“Besides that, he’s watched at all times. Every time Ted goes out hunting for a while, a couple of Secret Service members and maybe Nguema was there watching just to keep him safe,” Trump said, with a little smile. He finally got the name right. “He trusts that guy, I can tell.”

Romney shook his head. “What if he’s in it too? He’s just as strange as Bundy, and every time I probe him for questions, he gets rather angry. Donny, I think he has something to hide. And I think it shouldn’t have to mention the news about what happened to Mr. Pope...”

Trump pondered that statement. “Well what about the--”

He was interrupted by their waiter, who had finally come to serve them their reheated cardboard pizzas. Trump tore at it immediately, while Mitt struggled with a plastic fork and knife.

Still going at the leathery pizza, oddly taking a bite crust-first “Well--personally I trust--that news would--out--this point.”

“This is unlike him though,” Trump continued. “‘I’m just saying, it’s like everyone talks about how Ted gives them the creeps, but he’s always very good to his aides and very good people like Secretary Jones and James Meredith.”

“The mark of a sociopath is being different things to different people. In the end there’s not much under the mask.”

“So most politicians?” Trump laughed to himself. As a businessman who never held an elected office, he had some leeway in joking about his political associates.

Secretary Romney rolled his eyes. “You understand the gist of my statement, Donny. Also remember that there might be something to Mrs. Broaddrick’s claims. Even if authorities are inconclusive about whether or not her claims are true...”

Trump’s face turned more serious. “I guess you’re right, there needs to be some sorta investigation for this thing, you know? Besides better us first before the opposition starts snooping..for the good of the party. Let some other people in on this theory of yours, maybe the FBI. Don’t let Bundy know in case...well. It’ll be hard to get a secret investigation through.”

“Alright. I’ll see you after the convention ends.”

 
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Loving to see liberals in both the Progressives and even Republicans standing up to Bundy. And as a New Yorker, I'm especially happy to see the Big Apple being the center of it.

More importantly, I see Bundy is finally snapping and letting things slip. Hope to see his downfall soon.
 
English Language Reform and the Death of the Department of Agriculture

One of the running themes of Bundy’s presidency was the desire to succeed where other presidents hadn’t, and to make far-reaching changes that would affect the way people lived. By far the strangest anecdote from these efforts was his crusade on spelling reform. After the famous Darwin Accords at the end of the Great Southern War, used Esperanto, supposedly a neutral language compared to English or French, the language found itself catapulted to a position of the international diplomatic language almost overnight. It was now seen as en par with French, though not in the same position as English yet. The official line as to why they eschewed diplomatic standards was that they believed Esperanto was “a truly diplomatically neutral language and...easier for diplomats from the countries involved to learn”. This was a half-truth. Historians cite the likelier reasoning was that the French felt spiteful after their perceived betrayal by America and Britain, and saw the use of another language besides English as a way of getting back at them in a minor way. The African governments of the Entebbe Pact also felt that their victory would be squandered if they negotiated using the language of their colonizers, which would that in some respects, they were still using the terms of their colonizers. Despite speaking fluent French, and even using it in speeches to his own people, President Mobutu of Zaire, among others, refused to speak in French, only communicating through translators.

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An Esperanto pamphlet given to dinner guests during the negotiations

Of all lessons learned from the Great Southern War, Bundy decided to focus his energies on this trivial point, lamenting it as a sign that America’s soft power was decreasing. He had called for an isolationist path for America, but this slight seemed to show that America was on the track to being snubbed on the world stage, with this just being the first step. Some commentators wondered why he would randomly go on a strange and novel crusade for a strange and novel idea, though some experts on the president believed it was out of a want to distract the American people from the fallout, (both literal and metaphorical), of the Great Southern War. Looking like he was ignorant of the death and wanton destruction that most international observers blamed on his inaction would have hurt his standings among the American people, so the topic of language reform would keep the media cycle from negative coverage of global affairs. This would, in a roundabout way, allow the president to go about his foreign policy doctrine unhampered.
If that was his gambit, it worked.
Bundy wanted the American people to know that he was not a doctrinaire isolationist, as he wanted to ensure that American cultural and economic dominance was preserved, without needing to rely on hard power to promote America’s international prestige. In short, he wanted all the benefits of hegemony without the obligations. And the way he saw it, he had to ensure English was an easier language to learn for American business to continue dominating the sciences, education, and film. Making English itself easier to learn could make it the natural choice for international communication. And so he decided to take a stab at an issue which even Theodore Roosevelt failed to gain traction for, and change the English language himself.

Bundy and his advisors, after piling through various older proposals and ideas, proposed an “English Spelling Board” similar to France’s own Academie Francaise, which would define spelling rules and general conventions in every English speaking country. This would be perhaps one of the wide-reaching effects of his presidency, as it would affect every single literate English speaker in the world. The old way of spelling, while not automatically incorrect, would slowly be phased out as kindergarten and ESL classes around the world would switch to the new standard of grammar. Bundy’s intentions were to slowly roll out spelling reforms every year during his presidency, to spread out any backlash the reformed system may have. The reforms would come into effect at the end of his second term. Dubbed NewSpeak by its opponents, after the famous book 1984, the name for the proposal stuck in the media. As the then-rising star in the Progressive Party, Paul Wellstone, put it, “Bundy is trying step by step to control the English language to fit his whims. The Republican Party is trying to isolate us from the writers of old, from great thinkers like Whitman, Twain...all gone to a memory hole of inaccessibility. But Bundy, it seems, thinks that this reform is doubleplusgood, to borrow from Orwell.” Donald Rumsfeld, living in political retirement at the time, made light of the issue, telling reporters “Bundy’s already a great duckspeaker, what’s new here?” Bundy didn’t seem to care about the comparison. He shrugged it off, claiming that after all, “Well it is a new way of speaking in a way I guess, isn’t it folks?” In truth, speech itself would not be affected much, besides the regularization of uncommon past participles, much of the reform dealt with orthography. It took a media blitz and the endorsement of many known authors (including the wildly popular military thriller writer and senator, Tom Clancy), for the bill to even get taken seriously in Congress. From there, it found many opposed by all parties, including his own. But Bundy had a vision and was as stubborn as a Bull Moose. While he was a partisan at heart, he knew that he would have to look at non-partisan innovations to avoid falling into the “Iacocca Trap” of gridlock. And so the long slog went on.

Indeed his changes were nothing radical and usually involved regularizing less commonly used words that had irregular spelling or participles. They were largely borrowed from past historical attempts to reform the English language, from figures like Andrew Carnegie and Noah Webster. It was still a rather strange cause to champion, and doubtless, one which would be controversial to say in the least. Future writers of Bundy’s presidency would later credit his attempts to pass spelling reform getting anywhere at all to his ability to connect it to American power on the world stage after the Great Southern War. By making English even simpler to learn, there would be less reason to use Esperanto, a language used as an attempt to lessen American soft power. The spelling board took a new purpose for Bundy, it was a representation of efforts to make sure that the world did not forget the United States.

Bundy had mentioned the need for such a program on the campaign trail, especially in districts with rising Spanish American and immigrant populations, who struggled with the difficult and counterintuitive grammar found in the English language.

The Progressive Party was wholly opposed to this “dictation of our right to speak as we chose”, and saw the project as “a nationalistic money drain”. Moreover, due to the expensiveness of the transition process and the required changes in educational materials, many Progressives feared the poor would be left behind and stigmatized for “not keeping with the times”. While most agreed that older texts would preserve their old grammar, in the tradition of Shakespeare, many loyal Progressive university academics were worried about large-scale changes.

Although Communonationalists were unsure at first, they saw the project as a chance to exercise the might of the federal government to promote “American Progress and National Identity”, (The Journal of American Greatness). In addition, control over the international English language would be “the largest increase in our soft power since NATO”. In addition, a few hardcore internationalist and reformist Communonationlist thinktanks had been discussing the idea since the late Cold War, albeit primarily in an academic fashion. Few had thought that they would ever have a chance to see their whimsy executed.
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The Specifics
Once elected, Bundy formed a bipartisan commission(Lamm deciding not to participate) that included 4-senators and 3 academics, in addition to a host of researchers and assistants: (D) Evan Bayh, (D) Art Trujillo, (R) Tom Clancy, and (R) Antonin Scalia, publishers of the AP Stylebook, the Dean of Creative Writing from Brown University, Dean of Linguistics at MIT, and the Dean of English at Chicago University. They would summarize their report in the “Trujillo-Scalia Bill” in addition to creating funding for the “English Spelling Board”.
  1. Regularization of the following verbs in the past tense: Slink, wring, swell, stride, strew, stink, stung, sow, slit, slay, shed, shear, heave, bid, wind, weep, weave, wake, tear, swing, sweep, swear, strike, steal, spring, spin, slide, sink.
  2. Generally getting rid of superfluous silent letters (except the letter “e” and other letters which affect the pronunciation or differentiate it from other words).
  3. I before e except in compound words, in the beginning of a word, most common words, and proper names (places and given names).
  4. The regularization of plural nouns which do not fit other well-known rules like adding -ves for words ending in -f, -ies for those ending in -y, etc. Words to be changed included Oxen, Sheep, etc. As before, common words like men, women, etc. were not changed for simplicity and ease of adjustment.
  5. Included were various rules governing grammar, punctuation and formatting, from several authorities which were codified into a single source. Where style guides disagreed, the Spelling Board would be the final authority. (This included a recommendation supporting use of the Oxford Comma.)
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While initially controversial, especially as one of the first things on the agenda post-election, Modi began to sell the opportunity of the new “English Spelling Board” as an excellent piece of pork spending (hypocritical considering Bundy’s general political stance on pork), for those who could get it. Owen Bieber would leverage Michigan University and his connections to Kennedy Liberals to win the right to base the institution in his state. Thanks to him, “Kennedy Liberals” in the Democratic party deviated from their liberal Progressive friends and voted for the bill. Many of them saw these new innovations as a tool to positively change society and increase “functional literacy”, thus helping the poor and those learning English in some way. Moreover, as Democrats, they hoped for more support from Spanish Americans, and were motivated in this sense. This would be enough for the bill to pass smoothly through the House and Senate, and though progressives voted in unison against the bill, they declined to filibuster it.

Overall, the English language did not change in catastrophic ways as many fearmongers suggested, though the most prominent change brought by the English Spelling Board would be the fact that it now existed. The English language was the only major European language to not have an institution governing its laws. (The most infamous of these institutions being the Academie Francaise.) The Spelling Board would not immediately play much of a role in the lives of most English speakers.
For one, the British were adamant on keeping their “centres”, “labour”, etc. The same was true with the Rhodesians, South Africans, Australians, etc. As a result, the Spelling Board would release editions for national varieties of English, including British, Canadian, and Australian English.
It did, however, have a stronger impact on American students, with National American Literature Day (where students were required to spend Friday off, but were required to read a book from the ESB recommended list over the weekend). Also important was the yearly edition of its style guide on spelling and grammar in American and British English, replacing both the MLA and AP style guides, respectively, as the bane of college students and journalists the world over.



The Board of British and American English (the final name for the “English Spelling Board” proposed early), would not only promote modest spelling changes and American literature (both old and modern), but reform ESL learning techniques and development. As part of this, it started a commission which would create a simplified English for diplomatic purposes, a competitor to Esperanto. Because this was meant mainly for use for non-English speakers and (for the most part), not native speakers, they could afford to go along with more radical changes. Spelling was changed to become more phonetic, phrases were removed, rigid rules were set up for grammar, and the number of tenses were reduced to make it easier for non-English speakers to learn. This simplified English was called Globish [A/N: This shares some characteristics to the OTL version of the same name but also simplifies spelling.] It only had 10,000 words, comparable to Esperanto. This also gained massive criticism by many who claimed this was Bundy’s end goal for the English language itself, a monstrosity straight out of dystopian fiction. In the end, this new simplified English stole much of the momentum that Esperanto was gaining outside of Western Europe, keeping English as the lingua franca of business, diplomacy, entertainment, and science. The new Globish standard would be used internationally especially for large publications that had an audience of non-native English speakers. Internal conferences between Asian and African countries began preferring Globish over English itself. People remarked that it was easy for native English speakers to adjust to, albeit with some coaching needed. Its simplified pronunciation style recommended for usage, however, became the butt of many jokes, with one late-night comedian snidely remarking “it sounds like a racist German’s imitation of a Chicano accent.” Nonetheless, it was clear that Bundy’s reforms were here to stay.


An Official BBAE ESL Textbook Logo

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2001 Agriculture Department Reform

It was clear to Ted Bundy that he had a stellar performance in the presidential election, especially for a Republican strongly focused on urban areas. Using the so-called “Pataki strategy” (after the NY Senator), he pinpointed his campaign on upwardly mobile young voters and drummed into city-dwellers' skulls that they needed to be “sick of subsidies for rednecks”. B Meanwhile, Bundy’s more academically inclined advisers believed that Australia (especially its New Guinean provinces) and Africa were “simply better at agriculture”, and that the U.S. “needed to focus on our comparative advantages as a nation: manufacturing, quality, stability, etc.” In addition, these new technical advantages (ironically created in part by Rumsfeld's “Green Trek”) had created economies of scale too great for many family farms in favor of huge, faceless corporations. As a result of all of these factors, Bundy promised to “eliminate Corporate Welfare as we know it”. The English language bill had been a gesture to appease Communonationalists, those nervous about declining American influence, and a good piece of pork spending to satiate voters; these were three things Bundy would cash in on this latest bold policy move.
The question here wasn’t what would be cut, but what would be saved.
Many criticized this repudiation of Rumsfeld’s Green Trek, so soon after embracing Rumsfeld on his bold Social Security reform. However, large chunks of the funding for the Rumsfeld’s program had gone into reconstruction postwar, and to other various programs that had “already run their course”. Those that were left were languishing in the USDA. Most of the major innovations in agriculture during the mid-late ’80s had diffused globally and now gave the US no special advantages in global markets. Advancements had been made in the post-war period, but these couldn’t compete with Australian techniques nor the cheapness of African, or even European products (the latter of which were buoyed by high subsidies). Those nations had the comparative advantage in food production while the US had increased its advantage in providing industrial products and services. In addition, with the advent of GMI, most food support programs were now run out, as were food stamps. This meant that a complete withdrawal was not as impossible as in the past.

Now the issue was what would be kept...

Bundy agreed in negotiations with Nick Modi that the US Forest Service would be preserved, to be moved to the Department of the Interior. Increased regulations for fire safety of homes and buildings near forests would be passed to prevent the spread of forest fires into populated areas. The US Forest Service budget would also increase by 5%. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Food Inspection Service, in the name of public health, would be kept as well, and moved to HHS to better align with public health and safety strategy. Lastly, the Soil Conservation Service would be kept in the Department of the Interior to prevent over-farming, which was predicted to subside anyways without federal agriculture subsidies. However, its budget would be cut by 40%.

After meeting with “winnable votes” of both the Progressives and the Democrats, Bundy was forced to acquiesce to further demands. These moderates wanted to be seen as keeping Congress rolling while also defending their parochial interests. In some instances, rural representatives didn’t mind “hurting” other rural members’ districts if their own districts did not focus on agriculture. Firstly, he would keep the US Agricultural Library (but not other research arms), in the Department of the Interior. In addition, farms would be mandated by law to rotate crops and report this to the SRRC, or face heavy fines, (this measure was required to win over skeptical representatives). Lastly, crop insurance and infrastructure development supports (electrification, road construction, farm worker housing etc.), would have to be kept for a key few number of smaller crops that were traditionally supported by the USDA. Bundy would also emphasize in negotiations that crop support in these basic crops were primarily from the days of the war, and that since he would never drag the US into another large scale war of the scale of a world war or the Great Southern War, this was a waste. This would also be directed by the Dept. of Commerce as a “key industry support”. Targeting Bundy’s Northwest roots, most of these were grown in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Outside of these areas, many were grown in Democratic states but in African American majority areas, such as kale. They were also increasing in sales post-war. They were, the “Super Five”:
  1. Red Raspberries
  2. Apples
  3. Barley (pushed as a healthier alternative to wheat and rice by Ross Perot)
  4. Kale (pushed by Zell Miller in Georgia thanks to local lobbying)
  5. Hazelnuts (done to win the entire Oregon delegation)
While other politicians attempted to get financial support for their pet interest group grandfathered in the president’s spending overhaul, most of these attempts did not get as far. Another special feature of these crops were that lobbyists and market consultants had also identified these crops as “potential strong growth crops”, even though they had never been supported by the federal government before. Arrangements would be made that if sales increased enough, the government would receive returns on investment in these crops. While Bundy was reluctant to adopt this concession, he felt it would be the only way his reforms could pass in the House. After it was agreed that subsidized could not exceed a total of [OTL $15 billion][ For reference OTL Crops insurance was $78 billion in the farm bill] and that they would be constant (i.e. no farm bill). The compromise was accepted by Congress. Changes to these subsidies would require a ⅔ majority (done to ensure consistency, thus promoting private investment and to reduce “swelling” subsidies over time).

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Even as president, Bundy always remembered his roots...for better or worse

Bundy also passed a rider banning the use of antibiotics in animal stock, which ensured that antibiotics remained effective and prevented superbugs, also known as antibiotic resistant bacteria, from popping up. This was an obscure Progressive Platform plank that Bundy predicted, correctly, could win over a few votes in the house.

They also won over a few reluctant urban progressives, who wanted to break away from the Perot Northern Strategy out of spite, even if they disliked the bill in policy. They also saw the money saved as potential future funding to their districts, while they never saw any agriculture money as it was. Bundy also identified the split of the health and safety part of the USDA and its commercial role as a solution to potential problems with regards to health. On a personal level, Bundy also targeted those younger members who had been rejected from the Ag. Committee and wanted desperately wanted to spit in the face of their rejection.

The rest of the Agriculture Department was gutted, as promised, as Richard Lugar and Modi worked cautious votes. Moderates, especially in the House, decided it was better to let it pass than listen to their own consciences and be accused of causing “traffic in Washington”. This was helped by the anti-Progressive campaigns that Republicans ran in the districts of vulnerable Progressive representatives, which attacked the party as obstructionist. Many Bundycrats were nervous about his solid re-election and voted out of fear for a bill they did not like or trust, even if it directly hurt their constituents. Many simply chose to not vote on it.

Agriculture support and farming insurance would officially be designated as state priorities, leaving the battles between agriculture and conservation, rural and urban, to the state level. This of course, led to a whole zoo of policies, some bad, some good, some left, and some right. While many poorer states complained, many wealthier Northeast states that flipped in 2000, saw the development as positive, as they hated having to “support our redneck cousins”. Bundy, who presided over a time of national unity, divided America up. As revisionist historian, Howard Zinn, pointed out, “Many point towards the Bundy-era as an island of calm, but he also was tapping into divides that WWIII had swept under the rug...I don’t know how he found them, but he did... and while this helped his party temporarily, it hurt the country….for all his triangulating, Bundy enjoyed sowing the seeds of partisan minefields even if they didn’t sprout during his presidency. For all the criticism he faced, people place too much blame on his successor.”

Many political scientists believe that this move helped keep the African-American vote, which was somewhat tenuous 40 years after the passing of the Civil Rights Act, although to say that it was a key factor, or that any one factor existed, would be foolish. Bundy’s marketing of this policy as ending “Welfare for rednecks” served well in this regard, especially as most African American farmers grew crops that already received few federal subsidies. Temporary price reductions in food helped urbanites as well. Ron Paul’s gaffes in the 2000 race over the status of the Confederacy, and reduced economic inequality between races thanks to the continuing rise of the black middle class helped tremendously as well.

Of course, while this hurt large agriculture corporations, it also hurt employees and communities built around agriculture. As one WSJ writer noticed, “no good deed goes unpunished”. Sure Big Agriculture now had to compete fairly, but there was a lot of collateral damage. Ordinary wheat, corn, cotton, and pork farmers felt the brunt of the burden as they had been the hardest hit. The use of GMI over Food Stamps had made basic price subsidies and “Green Trek” innovation support that much more important. Now even that was gone. Short-term demand from during and after the Great Southern War was fleeting and constricted by increased trade barriers. As countries like South Africa and Nigeria recovered their domestic farming industries, worldwide demand for American crops decreased. Imported rice from Vietnam and Colombia would replace Corn in international markets and hurt the Corn Belt. The “Super Six” crops received huge interest from investing firms who felt they were “supercrops”, economically speaking. This was fine for those who grew them, but stung for those who didn’t. Their consumption would also increase in relative terms, coinciding with a general improvement in the quality of American diets, although studies cannot determine a strong correlation nor causality. The aforementioned investments would cause a small bubble that would pop in 2002-2003.

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U.S. Sugar would declare bankruptcy in 2002, with its holdings being sold off to private equity and small-holders alike in "The Firesale"

States like Kansas and Nebraska began to look at the GOP much more unfavorably, a trend that would continue to the benefit of the Democrats. It was also harder for rural poor/farmers to move their stakes than the urban poor. The rate of farm/rural unemployment would increase because of this policy move. In a cruel twist of fate, soil conservation improved as the end of subsidies prevented the overproduction that had kept many jobs around. The two major private developments from this policy decision. Firstly, the rise of farmer co-operatives, which emerged as small-holders bought back swathes of land from floundering agribusinesses and allowed increasingly specialty farms to purchase en-masse more expensive equipment [A/N: more on this later]. Secondly, would be the ghoulish ascent of private farm insurance companies, which took the risk of crop failures and sold plans targeted specifically to certain types of farmers. They would quickly gain a horrible reputation as they started to be seen as worse than payday lenders, especially in more risky crop areas. Horror stories about these firms were often fodder for reality TV shows.

When revisionist historians point towards Bundy’s failures, especially domestically, they cite his last major achievement first on their list. He played favorites between crops and abandoned middle America. He split farmers by the types of crops they grew and where they were from. At the state level, fights between the (sub)urban areas vs rural areas over economic support became quite viscous, especially in Illinois and California. Moreover, this continuing obsession with budget-slashing, even with the post-war debt solidly under control, would contribute to the 2002 economic slowdown. Moreover, while Bundy was a dealmaker, he had a habit of clawing out exemptions for special interests and picking winners and losers. Despite the fact that many supporters defend this policy as a way of finding out which sectors were most needing help or investment, the president’s detractors noted that there were easier and less painful ways to chop up corporate welfare. This episode of Ted Bundy’s administration is even today among his most polarizing, among both the public at large, and among political commentators.
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While I can kinda see the logic in gutting the Department of Agriculture the way Bundy did, that spelling board is just a weird thing to build a policy out of.
Agreed, and I don't expect that to last as once Bundy's misdeeds from Fredrick County are exposed, there will be a backlash against everything he's ever passed or stood for that it will make De-Stalinization look like a paint removal job by comparison.
 
While I can kinda see the logic in gutting the Department of Agriculture the way Bundy did, that spelling board is just a weird thing to build a policy out of.
Its a distraction from the post-GSW chaos abroad (think Trump wanting to buy Greenland) timed in a way to dominate the media cycle while fitting into his image of being a "21st century man", appease a thinktanker or two, and being a nice piece of pork for a congressman and/or senator.
 
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