"Power Without Knowledge...": President Haig and the Era of Bad Feelings

And that's the 20th century finally finished! Next up is the 2000 election, the start of the (Second) Levant War, and all that follows :evilsmile: That's probably all for tonight though 🤔
Having decided that fiction writing was a time-tested way to model political and social ideas, Daniel Sutter created a companion piece to his Cosmicist Manifesto in the form of an alternate history novel he would title Heartland. A fairly standard detective story in terms of basic plot, Heartland was more notable for its setting, blending a thoroughly alien 20th century with fantastical elements meant to serve as a critique of what he perceived to be the state of the early 21st century world in which he was writing.

Revealed gradually in asides and short supplemental materials scattered throughout the novel, the divergence point for the world of Heartland is eventually revealed to be Henry George winning the 1886 New York Mayoral election on behalf of the United Labor Party. Although unable to properly exercise his platform, his sheer visibility is able to elevate Geoism at home and abroad, creating an ideological current that would have drastic repercussions.

The ULP victory ultimately butterflies away Teddy Roosevelt's selection as VP, while William McKinley is never assassinated. The two McKinley terms see an increase in the intensity of the Philippine-American War, creating a spreading instability that engulfs the entire East Indies, destabilizing the balance of Great Power politics in the process. The Democrats eventually mount a successful presidential run, with William Jennings Bryan elevated to the Executive in 1904 and 1908. Opposed bitterly by his ideological opponents Bryan is succeeded in 1912 by William Randolph Hearst on the Independence Party ticket.

Aside from serious metaphysical events[1] the Hearst presidency would see the crystalization of the European Quasi-War between two alliance structures: the increasingly Geoist Central Powers[2] and the increasingly Vitalist Entente[3]. A period of intense diplomatic maneuvering and colonial proxy wars, the Quasi-War would never erupt into open hostility on the European continent but would provide a new axis of alignment in the hopelessly polarized United States, with the post Hearst political environment divided between a United Labor Party advocating free trade and Geoist economics and a crypto-Vitalist Prohibition Party swollen with opponents to George's theories and increasingly turning to anti-federalism as a vehicle for cultural dominance.

This state of affairs would only accelerate, leading to the rise of the National Union movement attempting to create a third position, the erosion of the powers of the national government, the growth of continental shared identities and the creation of an alternate 1984[4] that serves as the starting point of the actual plot of the novel.

[1]-There's a lot to unpack with this so it'll probably be a separate entry at some point.

[2]-Germany OTL has at least two examples of imposing Georgism on its colonies to prevent rampant land speculation. In a timeline where George is more prominent the ideology's focus on tax reforms and free trade spreads back to Germany proper and from there to its allies, creating a large bloc linked together into a single massive trade zone.

[3]-Arising as a critique of Geoism TTL, Vitalism focuses on tariffs and trade protections as a guarantor of national sovereignty and values ethnic self-determination and even regional devolution, with the members of the Entente having devolved self-government to colonial subjects to prevent the sorts of instability seen in the East Indies.

[4]-Sutter, being a product of the timeline within which he does his writing, is alluding to the death of Reagan and the Era of Bad Feelings as the root cause of the world political order he is critiquing. As we have seen however the actual POD is in 1978, with the Haig administration a symptom rather than a cause.
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I know the TL is really spartan and so introducing a story within a story must seem pretty convoluted, but as this thread is an attempt to parse a backstory for an actual writing project I hope to do it felt appropriate to include it. Let me know if you have any questions.
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Heartland: People and Politics
Okay, here's the alternate party systems that evolve in the Heartland story nested within my Power Without Knowledge concept:

Fourth Party System (1896-1916): A period that would mark the decline and eclipse of the Democratic and Republican parties, the Fourth Party System would be defined by the electoral conflict between William McKinley and William Jennings Bryan, each serving for two consecutive terms. Domestically the Fourth Party system revolved around issues of corporate monopolies and citizen's rights, while internationally the Philippine-American War spiralled into the so called "Insurgency Wars" that would rage throughout the East Indies and attract the full attention of an otherwise increasingly isolationist America. The decline of the Fourth Party System would come about through the rise of the...
  • Independence Party: An electoral vehicle for William Randolph Hearst[1], the Independence Party sought to capture populist impulses that Hearst believed were not being catered to, citing the quagmire of the Insurgency Wars and playing on the extreme backlash to Bryan's attempt to implement national Prohibition. Advocating a radical populism that sought to bypass what the party called "the machine politicians", the Hearst administration would coincide with currents among the electorate to seize the power to choose political candidates away from party functionaries. Ironically this populism would be Hearst's undoing, with the backlash to his other foreign and domestic policies exacerbating the rise of the ULP and the end of the Fourth Party System.
Fifth Party System (1916-1948): With the Democratic and Republican parties essentially powerless in the wake of the radical populism that led to the end of the Fourth Party System, and with the Independence Party disintegrating without Hearst on the ticket, the new Fifth Party System would be dominated by issues of the scope of government authority and one's position toward the European Quasi-War[2]. This period would see increasingly toxic partisanship and dramatic shifts in policy as power shifted rapidly through increasingly contested elections, leading some historians to alternatively refer to the period as the Culture Struggle, taken from the German term Kulturkampf.
  • United Labor Party: The election of Henry George as New York Mayor in 1886[3] would be the beginning of the marginalization of Marxism within the United Labor Party, and by the time of it's ascendence it would be wholly Geoist, advocating for free trade, tax reform, a formal alliance with the also Central Powers, and an end to the growing tide of isolationism. Advocating for a strong central government, the party argued that devolving too much power to the states lead to the persecution of dissenters of whatever description.
  • Prohibition Party: Following the failure to adopt the 17th Amendment[4], the Prohibition Party would withdraw all support from the Bryan Administration, shifting focus to opposing the rising, labor focused (and therefore "un-American") and increasingly ethnic ULP, eventually becoming the bastion of WASP culture in the United States. Transitioning to a new focus on states rights to advance the moral priorities of its constituency, the Prohibition Party would lobby for a weak and isolationist federal government, protective trade, and an affiliation (never "alliance") with the increasingly decentralized Entente.
Sixth Party System (1948-1984): Through the period of the Culture Struggle the rapid shifts between Geoism and Vitalism at the national stage produced intense gridlock and dissatisfaction with the political system, though it would produce interesting and long lasting changes at the local level. Vitalist rhetoric had led to the unintended growth of informal political and cultural identities that transcended not only the state governments but also the US-Canadian border. It would be these shared identities that would give rise to a new organization, the Continental Congress, a lobbying organization and forum for these new cultural units to interact among themselves. Almost wholly removed from international affairs, North America under the grips of the American National[5] Union Party and the Canadian Social Credit Party[6] has seen the withering away of not only the ULP's centralized federalism but also the Prohibitionist's strong statism, ceding territory to regionalism that transcends traditional boundaries.
  • National Union Party: Ushered into power by the 1948 election of President William Goodale[7], the National Union Party would attempt to chart a third position between Geoism and Vitalism through a political theory Goodale called Vajraism. Inspired by Anthroposophy, Vajraism divided society into three spheres, political ("Community"), social ("Identity") and economic ("Stability"). While presented as a salve for the nation's wounds in the wake of the Culture Struggle all this has done is created two geographically distinct factions within the party (the western Natural Alliance and the Eastern People's Coalition) and left everyone vulnerable to corporations playing one group against another.
[1]-Given altered international events Hearst in 1912 has a blend of his OTL reformist early politics and his post-WWI conservative politics.

[2]-"European" being an increasingly outdated modifier. With both the Geoist Central Powers and the Vitalist Entente spreading their respective systems to their colonies and expanding their membership into other theaters the Quasi-War is the defining ideological split of TTL's 20th century, though actual conflict is limited to diplomatic maneuvering, economic leverage and colonial proxy wars.

[3]-The timeline's POD, butterflying away Teddy Roosevelt's stint as VP in the process.

[4]- National Prohibition. Ironically the fact that votes for women came after prohibition was put to the question is probably what doomed it in the first place.

[5]- "National" in this context meaning "cultural". There's an understood nuance between "country" and "nation" TTL, with the NUP coming down firmly on the side of the latter, to the point that "Separate But Equal" is the motto of the Continental Congress.

[6]- With no World War I, Social Credit arises slightly differently but still catches on in Canada. As in OTL, the more exotic reforms at the provincial level are prevented by the national government, leading to a shift to Prohibitionist-influenced provincial devolution arguments, creating a similar slippery slope to that seen in the alternate US. By the time 1948 comes around National Union and the Socreds are essentially two different masks for the same weird thing.

[7]-Less noxious than OTL but still prone to mysticism and convoluted race theories.
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Heartland: Metaphysics and Cosmogony
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I was going to explain all of this but decided it was too far in the weeds for this thread. Suffice to say esoterica has taken a strange twist in my story within a story.
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To whom it may concern: I haven't shucked off the mortal coil, I'm just acclimating to my first week back at work after fighting with the sick leave vendor for the last two weeks. In the meantime I've occupied myself with something else and attempted to make an alternate 2000 electoral map for TTL, though I couldn't get it to format properly.
Writing on the Wall: An Introduction to Cosmicist Economics
Considered a school of the Heterodox Economic System, Cosmicist economics draws from a broad pool of earlier theories in its program for a political economy. For the sake of clarity the positions of the school will be summarized on a variety of topics.

"Class" Struggle- Foundationally a class-collaborationist ideology in the classic sense, Sutter in his Cosmicist Manifesto describes the central struggle of the movement as one between what he called "cultural networks" rather than traditional social classes, one parasitic and the other under siege.
  • Sutter saw the Kyriarchy as a decentralized network of the powerful who exploited that power at the expense of the the downtrodden and of future generations. Sutter did not claim that there was any sort of global system to accomplish this deliberately, but rather that "... even though they may be on the surface ideological enemies, oligarchal populists of every stripe share the same mold. They do not work together to achieve their aims because they don't have to, the reality that each divergent group is pursuing power at the expense of the Precariat produces the society in decay we characterize as Nihilism". The fact that the Kyriarchy cultural network depends by nature on social, economic, and political exploitation means that members of any traditional social class can slip into the Kyriarchy, even if only as useful idiots and hired guns.
  • As the target audience of the Manifesto, Sutter wryly defined the Precariat as "... anyone who would fall into poverty with an unexpected bill." At its most basic an expansion of the concept of the lumpenproletariat, Sutter argued that ecological shifts and the resulting economic uncertainty expanded the threat of precarity to previously safe groups and traditionally bourgeoise social classes. Although the Precariat was not organized as a social class at the time of writing, one of the goals of the Cosmicist Manifesto was to provide an ideological framework for a new class consciousness.
Factors of Production- Drawn from Georgism and Social Credit theory, Cosmicism defines four factors of production, namely land, labor, capital and culture. Under a fully realized Cosmicist program:
  • At its root, land can be rented, even generationally, but not owned indefinitely. A Cosmicist government must always balance a desire to use land productively with a moral imperative to preserve and sustain the extant biosphere and cultural heritage of the cradle of humanity.
  • Although labor is crucial to society at large, the Cosmicist program acknowledges that developments in automation have permanently hollowed out the the traditional proletarian class. Favoring a decentralization of labor, Cosmicism argues that the average person should be provided the means to live and survive, and the opportunity to further the pursuit of their passions and skills to enrich the unified human culture.
  • A prime source for the growth and furtherance of the Kyriarchy, capital is nonetheless retained as a valuable source of influence and self expression within the culture. A slippery term with a variety of meanings, Cosmicism regards capital simultaneously as "the market" and "the accumulation of wealth". Through the Dividend, the Precariat is given the means to participate in the market, while the strategic use of taxes, fines and fees allows the Commonwealth to prevent the radical accumulation of wealth that so often led to the growth of the Kyriarchy.
  • In many ways the most crucial factor of production within Cosmicism is culture, with both a backward and forward emphasis. Looking backward, Cosmicism regards the entirety of human history and development as the so-called "universal toolkit", a source of understanding and a valuable resource moving forward into an uncertain future. As such, the Cosmicist program argues for a sustained investment in historical, cultural and archeological study for the sake of expanding the toolkit. Looking forward, a good Cosmicist understands that any person may be capable of furthering the toolkit, and supports the Dividend to give everyone the opportunity to create and express themselves to the best of their ability.
Taxation and Spending- As an HES school, Cosmicist economics argues that taxation follows spending rather than vice versa. Instead of the traditional model of the government levying taxes in order to finance programs, the HEC argues that a sovereign currency producer can issue any amount of currency (limited primarily by inflation), so long as there is faith in the stability of that government and therefore the ability to service the resulting debts. Rather than a means to pay for government operations, Cosmicist taxation is primarily viewed as a method for simultaneously reducing inflationary pressures (by removing excess purchasing power from the economy), forestalling the concentration of wealth (by taxing the inheritance of the same), and by punishing activity that threatens ecological sustainability and cultural heritage (through fines and fees, with robust government enforcement).

The Dividend- Unlike many other HEC advocates, Cosmicist economists wholeheartedly support the concept of the Social Dividend, arguing that providing an economic cushion for the population is the surest path forward to further the goals of social stability, self-expression and the enrichment of the culture. Rather than give every citizen the Dividend in hard currency, it is common Cosmicist practice to divide it into two partitions, both paid digitally to government-issued bank cards and disbursed monthly in staggered groups. Regardless of the ratio between the two, it is a standard tenet of Cosmicist economics that the balance of the two partitions (with the addition of other government and social support systems) must always be able to support the average citizen.
  • The first, denominated in actual currency, is calculated on a biannual basis and remains consistent for that period. Able to be used for any purpose and converted into physical money, the currency payment is intended to be a resource for saving and long-term investment.
  • The second, scrip, is a Gesselian unit of value. With limitations on its use and the inability to be converted into actual currency, the main innovation of scrip is that it decays in value over time. While the rate of decay is consistent from year to year, the amount of scrip added onto the Dividend is adjusted on a bimonthly basis to factor in inflationary pressures.
Credit- In order to best control the course of inflation in the Cosmicist economy, restrictions are enforced on private banks when it comes to the process of creating credit. Arguing that only the government can have the final say on the expansion of the money supply, this restraint of private lines of credit is considered crucial for the creation of a sane economic system, with the Commonwealth itself handling most economic activity through the Commonwealth Bank of Antarctica, holding an unassailable monopoly on economic activity on the continent.

Debt- Although the Cosmicist economic school (and the HES more generally) regards government deficits incurred by sovereign currency producers as investments in the economy rather than debts in the traditional sense, average citizens, along with the local and state/provincial/Territorial levels of government, must act within what is called the "household model" of budgets. Inputs must add up to outputs! With that in mind the Commonwealth level of government retains the sovereign and exclusive right to forgive debts to ensure the public welfare.

Currency Area- Although Cosmicist theory will accept nothing less than a world state (followed by an interplanetary one), it flatly denies the concept of a "universal currency", instead favoring a decentralized approach to improve economic efficiency. Under a fully realized Cosmicist system, each of the co-equal continental commonwealths would have its own currency with a floating exchange rate between them. This hybrid system is intended to simultaneously insure a balance between global interconnection and responsiveness to local conditions.

Although regarded with the hostility by the traditional economics of the Nihilist reactionary powers, the Commonwealth is a serving as a large-scale economic experiment in the implementation of Cosmicist economics in real time. Only time will tell.
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Writing on the Wall: Geist and the Leviathan
Ideologies of all types have a tendency to apply their systems of thought to all areas of society, even if only implicitly, and nowhere is this more clear than in historiography. Feudalism had the divine right of kings or the mandate of heaven. Marxism famously has historical materialism and liberalism has Whig history, while stripping out the convoluted race theory would still leave fascism with an overt focus on the great man theory in the creation of a national myth. Cosmicism is no different, describing relationships between historical classes and social groups using two nested metaphors: Geist and the Leviathan. The former borrowed from Hegel, the latter from Hobbes, both are split into four broad stages, with the latter entirely contained within the first stage of the former.

Volksgeist- "National spirit", the Volksgeist is intended to represent the entire sweep of human history from the first settled states to the birth of Cosmicist thought, a process represented by the concept of the Leviathan. Filtering Hobbes' concept through the popular historical concept of the four kingdoms eschatology, the Leviathan is divided into segments, each of which builds on those that came before without completely supplanting them.
  1. Feudalism- The first stage of human society, dating back to the invention of settled agriculture and enduring more or less intact until a spectacular decline around the early modern period. The largest and deliberately most vague segment of the Leviathan, Sutter defined the vast diversity of societies that made up the feudal stage as sharing the tendency of "hereditary social class, with society and economic activity revolving heavily or almost entirely around the state and the ruling elite, often with the backing of a religious authority that exists in symbiosis with the state in the furtherance of social stability".
  2. Liberalism- Born out of "the desire for liberty", liberalism (using the classical definition) was defined as a system based on Enlightenment principles, valuing civil liberties and economic freedoms that were inherent rather than dependent upon the assent of the ruling class and religious authority. The growth of liberalism was fueled by the American and French revolutions, though the aftereffects of both, along with the dislocation brought on by the First Industrial Revolution and the somewhat narrow view of who exactly had rights under the "enlightened" liberal order, would lay the groundwork for discontent to give rise to a new segment of the Leviathan.
  3. Socialism- Crediting the rise of socialism to "the desire for equality", Sutter argued that the inherent inequalities and lingering elitism of the liberal stage would combine to produce a large portion of the population alienated from the rights and privileges that a more expansive interpretation of liberal principles would have afforded them. This group would become increasingly radicalized in the face of exploitative economic conditions and entrenched opposition to socialist goals, culminating in the apotheosis of the movement in the rise of the Soviet Union and its ideological inheritors. Viewing them as a corruption of the goals of socialism, Sutter nonetheless saw these deformed states as the root of the backlash that would move the Leviathan forward again.
  4. Fascism- Rising out of a narrow and racialist drive for "fraternity" in reaction to the perceived instability brought about by the Russian Revolution, fascism glorified the technological sophistication brought on by the Second Industrial Revolution and was born in its modern form in the crucible of World War I. Pursuing the goal of an economy subordinate to but nominally independent of the state, fascism was used as a tool to build in-group solidarity through the demonization of the other, a focus on bombastic ritual and (most damning in Sutter's eyes) a focus on führerprinzip, viewed dismissively as a return to the divine right in all but name, merely substituting "God" with "the nation". Destroyed in the wake of World War II, fascism would continue to leave traces well into the twenty-first century.
  5. Nihilism- Explicitly not considered a "natural" stage of the Leviathan, nihilism is regarded as less an organic evolution of history than as the accumulated detritus of the ruins of all the preceding stages. Although each preceding age had a precariat population, the ravages of the Third Industrial Revolution and the fragmentation following the sputtering decline in the intensity of the Cold War had produced a society languishing on the edge of an abyss. In the nihilist stage precarity grew to consume a larger population than ever before, fueled by economic predation, ecological devastation, and a diverse global kyriarchy using the tatters and remnants of the previous ages as rhetorical flourish to further entrench their power as the world burned. Faced with a death march on a planetary scale the precariat "cried out for eternity". And so Cosmicism was born.
"As with every individual, it is the fate of every society to wither and die. Nothing lasts forever, no matter how well it is built or maintained. If a sane person acknowledges that they'll die eventually then surely a sane society must do the same. And if the human race is destined to die out, isn't it better if it's as far in the future as we can manage, and leaving wonders in our wake?"- Daniel Sutter

Zeitgeist- The "spirit of the age", the Zeitgeist in Cosmicist historiography denotes the spread of Cosmicist thought and the growth and solidification of a precarian class consciousness. Understanding that a simultaneous world revolution was unlikely, Sutter instead advocated for the creation of what he called "zauberbergs", meant as a play on words with Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain and of the icebergs even then calving off of the Antarctic ice sheet. Like the former the zauberbergs were to be isolated from the wider society which (like the latter) they had split off from. A zauberberg did not have a set scale, ranging from a class conscious individual, to a family, to an intentional community, and on to the largest zauberberg of all, the Antarctic Revolutionary Commonwealth.

Weltgeist- In purely theoretical Cosmicism, the Weltgeist ("spirit of the world") was defined as the point when the entire world was united under a world government, with a collection of federalist "Continental Commonwealths" working together within a confederal world state to preserve cultural history, protect vitally important wild spaces, and oversee the colonization and exploitation of the resource rich wider solar system. In practice, Sutter admitted it unlikely that the world would be united under the Cosmicist banner before the exploitation of space could begin, a concern that would be born out by history. And so we see the modern state of human affairs, the forces of reactionary nihilism on one side and the ARC on the other, bolstered by a collection of extraterrestrial possessions and an archipelago of Cosmicist allies that hold out hope to be the seed crystals of the Commonwealths that will usher in true Weltgeist.

Gestaltgeist- The "spirit of the greater whole", the Gestaltgeist is the ideal goal for the Cosmicist movement, marking the point when extraterrestrial colonies are formally incorporated as self-governing members of a now system-wide government built on Cosmicist principles. The newly expanded and unified human polity would busy itself primarily with exploiting the rich energy resources of the system, expanding the colonization and development of new extraterrestrial bodies (with the goal of incorporating them fully once they've been developed), and the creation of space probes and generation ships to spread terragen culture and terragen society, respectively.

Although hardly formed under ideal circumstances, the ARC represents the last, best hope at the creation of a sustainable and long lasting human society capable of expanding and surviving beyond the confines of the Earth. After all isn't it better to strive for glories than to resign to miseries? History a rising road! Straight to the stars, if only we have the will to fight for it.
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No update I'm afraid 😅 I just wanted to mention how much the act of writing this little project has helped with my larger prospective writing enterprise. I've had the rough idea for the trends in this project for several years- I want to come out now saying some elements as we approach the alternate present were already firmly in place in the first draft circa 2015 before anyone cries "Current politics!". Anyway, as I've gone through the process of writing out and expanding my setting ideas I've discovered all sorts of new nuances I could pursue and new frameworks I could use to further reinforce my original concept ideas. When I get the time to write it you'll see that in the fallout of my alternate 2000 election 🤔
Media Matters: From the Shadows...
Occasionally a piece of media will come along that perfectly captures the public mood, so flawlessly that it only becomes an unintentional period piece in the aftermath. The prototypical example for America in the nineties was White Wolf's From the Shadows. Tapping into the rich vein of conspiracy theories that swirled in the wake of the tumultuous decade after the Calamity, From the Shadows was a series of tabletop roleplaying games revolving around sinister conspiracies and a hidden secret war between them.

Although the corebook focused on playing normal people out to expose them, White Wolf's designers found that expansions focused on the conspiracies themselves offered a far richer playing experience, and they would quickly become the main focus of the game's fluid cosmology. The central idea was that there was no single grand conspiracy, but rather a tangle of different Traditions, each with their own internal factions, specific enemies and hidden masters.
  • Founded in the 1830s after the discovery of anomalous ruins in the Raj, the Church of the Inner World presents itself as an esoteric organization or new religious movement devoted to self discovery but the truth is far more alarming. In reality what the founders of the Church discovered was not enlightenment but an entrance into an entire subterranean civilization, Agartha, ruled over by a decadent and brutal race armed with terrific powers and secret knowledge. And they finally had collaborators on the surface... Inspirations: The Mound (Lovecraft), the Shaver Mystery, vimanas, the Hollow Earth.
  • The Green Dragon has standards of secrecy that put the others to shame, using legions of criminal societies to exercise the will of a cabal of an immortal known only as the Master on the Mountain. With a fondness for biological weapons and exotic poisons, the Green Dragon uses engineered plagues to manipulate the course of society and create opportunities for its clandestine goals. Inspirations: yellow peril stories and lore on triads, yakuza and Unit 731
  • Existing publicly for a short time (as in the real world), the Illuminati in the game has a much longer and more robust lineage. Under the auspices of the reptilian Salamandrine Men, the Illuminati has long cultivated powerful families of human retainers, using them to control the levers of power throughout the highest echelons of western society. Inspirations: Reptilian conspiracies, Nazi occultism, the fourth reich
  • In 1947 the crash of a UFO in New Mexico would lead to the creation of a government department known only as MAJESTIC. Founded to study and cover up the existence of a group known as the Visitors, MAJESTIC would quickly spread its tendrils deep into the American military-industrial complex even as it grew darker in its isolation, eventually being suborned by the very beings it had been created to oppose. Inspirations: UFO lore, Area 51
  • Originally an organization of terrestrial explorers, the focus of the Planetary Society would change in 1880s following the discovery of evidence of... something... in a pyramid that wasn't on any map. Throwing themselves into astronomical studies, the Society has devoted itself to the goal of space exploration, infiltrating space agencies around the world in a bid to find and return to Earth with their strange patrons, which they know only as the Thoth. Inspirations: Sword and Planet, adventure fiction, two-fisted tales
  • According to legend, the Scions of the Tower date back to ancient Babylon and the earliest days of men. In their own histories, the Scions were founded by angels sent from heaven that summoned them to serve a higher power. The Nephilim are anything but angels, a race of giant extraterrestrials content to use their human catspaws to manipulate the faithful on their behalf. Inspirations: Biblical archeology, vampire conspiracies
  • With the most public presence, Taurus Partners presents itself as an influential financial institution, and its not a total lie. It's still far from the truth. With the roots of its current power in the arrival of the Conquistadors in the New World, Taurus is merely the latest face of something older and stranger, an infernal influence tracing itself back to the Roman Empire and the Mithraic Mysteries. Using wealth as the path to true power the Partners also have a disturbing trend of human sacrifices behind closed doors. Influences: satanic conspiracies, the Black Monday Murders
With a focus on social interaction and storytelling, From the Shadows saw players attempt to outmaneuver rival factions within their own Traditions, accumulating power in order to either expand against the others, or to even attempt to seize power for themselves.

Of course seizing the popular mood is a double edged sword. While From the Shadows saw tremendous popularity through the 1990s, changes domestically and on the world stage would see the franchise decline in the early years of the new millennium as new fears would seize the public imagination, even as aspects of the game's mythology would go on to be adapted and absorbed by actual conspiracy theorists.
Just a little somethng that popped into my head 😅 thanks to the game, Reptilians in universe are actually closer to amphibians, complete with creepy branched gills.
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A House on Fire: The New Millennium and the Tainted Victory
Although the 19th century in particular had been marked by frequent changes in the political parties of the day, the three party system that had begun to stabilize at the start of the 20th was very much an abberation. Frankly, when the 2000 election rolled around it was remarked by the chattering classes that it was a wonder it hadn't happened sooner. A hung Electoral College. What a shambles.

Going into the first election of the new millennium, both of the old guard parties sought to rebrand in the hopes of clawing back some of the voters that Reform had siphoned from them, something the incredibly bitter Reform party primaries had made easier than would otherwise have been the case. The Democrats, still cowering to some degree as the other parties pilloried them as "too liberal for America", turned to self-described moderate Al Gore, the sitting senator from Tennessee and occasional presidential candidate. For their part the Republicans, looking to appeal to voters turned off by what they now admitted in private were Haig's extralegal activities, needed an impeccable public face to soften their law and order messaging, and they found one in retired general Colin Powell.

If the three major candidates could be respectful toward one another in debates and on the trail the same could not be said for their parties. Powell was a secret Haig accomplice! Nader was a big government busybody and simultaneously dangerously Regressive! Gore was dull as dishwater and soft on Socialism! Around and around it went, all while other factors (and other actors) stuck their oar in. Powell's status as the first African-American to have a solid shot at the presidency caused quite a few defections from normally Democratic voters, while Buchanan seethed on the sidelines, heaping invective on the Republicans for being too politically correct and especially on his new party for not bowing down and coranating him head of the party.

As previously mentioned, before the birth of the Reform Party, the political colors associated the two major parties varied depending on where the results were being reported. But 2000 would be different! All the major broadcasters and newspapers had decided that it would make much more sense to standardize. Reform had chosen yellow for itself, so why not give one party red and the other blue and just switch every presidential election? Concise reporting, patriotic colors, and with no old guard party forced to overhaul all their merchandise. What could go wrong? So much for best laid plans...

In hindsight, the only reason that Perot had won so clearly both times was because of the massive dysfunction of the other parties. But the 2000 election was a completely different animal: both the old guard parties had regrouped over the last eight years, while Reform had quickly met the reality that it was easier to run for office than it was to govern effectively. The racial and religious dynamics of the election were also far more fluid than in years past, offering an incredibly interesting case study to political science students for years to come. It boiled down to the simple fact that all three parties were playing outside their lane to some degree or other, attracting new political forces in the process:
  1. Powell attracted both conservative nonwhites and more liberal ones excited to see the first black president, weakening the Democrats in the process. The Republicans also saw outsized turnout from Christian conservatives agitated by the rebounding of Communism, Y2K, and the surge in so called "anti-Christian" beliefs and outright atheism in society at large.
  2. Nader had alienated a large contingent of his own party on the path to the nomination, bolstering both his rivals to some degree. At the same time, his alliance with the NLP activated what could probably be considered New Age (or "Alternative Belief") voters.
  3. Although widely considered boring, Gore had the solid backing of the establishment of his party, bolstered by the influx of Reformers and also by a growing tide of more confidently left-leaning activists and advocates that had been radicalized by the Haig era suppressions and disappointed by the pace of Perot's electoral reforms.
Needless to say it was a heady mix, and it showed on election night. And for the week after. And for the month after that. It was a travesty, with recounts and lawsuits in several states as the ordeal dragged on and on, ironically cementing red Republicans and blue Democrats into the public consciousness. In the end, with several lawsuits between the state parties winding their way through the courts, the highest court in the land had their say. In the landmark Powell et al. v. Nader et al.*, the Supreme Court set out to settle the issue of the recounts once and for all in perhaps the most convoluted and important case in the high court's recent history.

In a ruling hotly debated to this day, the court ordered every extant recount stopped, and the election sent to the Congress as per the 12th Amendment. The end result should not have been surprising, as Reform delegates of the Perot wing sought to punish Nader and the Democrats became a victim of their relatively low strength in the House. From the three candidates, Powell would be selected the forty-third president of the United States, while the Senate, perhaps in a bid at bipartisanship, or perhaps as an ironic joke, would select blue dog Democratic Senator Richard Shelby vice president, ironically giving the Republican president a more conservative Veep than his own party had given him. Depending on your politics, that one Supreme Court decision (and the resulting Congressional vote) had either saved or damned the country, but the die had been cast. Here's to life in strange times, eh?

*Each of the three had at least one lawsuit against each of the others, depending on the dynamics of the state in question, so all the cases were just mashed together. As you can imagine it was a very full courtroom and made for spectacularly confusing news coverage, but because the Supreme Court had accepted and ruled on all the cases it was legal by definition. But still, you can imagine why tempers run high to the modern day TTL.
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Sorry it took so long gang! I don't really have an excuse, I've just been a bit distracted. I had originally just wanted to do Bush v. Gore 2 and have Florida be the tossup like in OTL but (as with the censuring of Perot as opposed to his impeachment) I thought I'd have a bit more fun with a political deep cut.
Who was elected Vice President?
It was originally going to be Chris John (a Blue Dog from Louisiana) but he hadn't been in the House long enough to make selecting him for VP a practical consideration. So as it stands it's a placeholder, if anyone has a long-term conservative Democrat in the Senate or House around 2000 I'm all ears.
Actually I've changed my mind: Richard Shelby doesn't switch parties in '94, gets selected as Gore's VP candidate as a sop to people in the party worrying about being seen as too far left, and gets selected by the Senate "as a compromise candidate". He'll end up switching parties before the 2004 election and keeping his spot on the ticket.
I'll say it again: this thread was originally meant to help me straighten out lore for a project and I am SO GLAD that it's given me the ability to stretch my legs and explore new ideas. Just yesterday I had a breakthrough regarding one of the future outsider political parties that I hope you all like. I'll cover the origins of Radio Free America after the start of the Second Levantine War, I promise it'll be... unique 🤔
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Here's an alternate with a globe centered on the deglaciated Antarctica, with the Struggle symbol represented as a ring of space orbits around the Earth.

And here's a hybrid of the two! I can't decide if it's better, what do you all think? Also happy Earth Day!
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