President Reagan - in 1968

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by MrHola, Sep 2, 2008.

  1. MrHola Banned

    Feb 25, 2007

    Admittedly, this source is rather biased (libruls R bad! lol) but it did gave me an idea. What if reagan won the Republican nomination in 1968? And let’s just assume that he defeats Humphrey in the election, what next? Would he nuke North Vietnam? Probably no opening of China. Who would be his VP?
  2. Marky Bunny Well-Known Member

    Mar 13, 2007
    Actullay I agree with much of the article, regarding Wallace , I would say that of Wallace 9 million votes, Reagan would have say got 6 million, Humphrey 3 million, and still had given Reagan a easy victory. VP who knows.
  3. Berra Friendly Pitchfork Operator

    Jan 21, 2006
    He would have a lot less wiggle room compared to the 80's. He must do something about Vietnam and I think he would have done better. His communications skills where better then Nixon and that was needed at the time but it would have cost a lot of time and energy.

    The economy where no in as bad shape as it was when he got into power I think.

    For both those reasons, I don't think he could reform the economy as much.
  4. Mark E. Well-Known Member

    Nov 11, 2007
    Forgottonia, USA
    Two years as governor of California probably would not have given Reagan the national exposure enjoyed by Nixon, Romney, etc. He would have been a long shot even if he made it to the convention floor. Reagan would have been an excellent choice for VP. Unfortunately, the constitution does not allow the electoral college to choose a president and vice president from the same state.
  5. Derek Jackson Member Monthly Donor

    Jan 15, 2004
    At that time Nixon's residence was New York, he could have nominated Reagan.
  6. Electric Monk Does Your Believing For You

    Jun 16, 2005
    Vancouver Island
    Reagan's nomination in 1968 is actually one of the likely alternate scenarios.

    Simply put, getting the support of Thurmond would have seen Reagan win the nomination. An alternate path would to break one Southern delegation from Thurmond's control, stop Nixon on the first ballot, and then—almost certainly—Reagan would eventually have won. Finally, many people in the Republican Party felt that Nixon couldn't beat a Kennedy—if RFK had lived/won the nomination, the odds of Reagan winning at the convention go up.

    Whether or not he'd win the general is, of course, a different question. It does kneecap Wallace, but it also weakens the Republicans in the North. It also depends on whether Humphrey or RFK is the nominee.

    As President he'd certainly step it up in Viet Nam (even more than Nixon, probably), and try to hold the line/reduce domestic spending. Whether he's successful at that is an open question.
  7. Fearless Leader Donor

    Jan 2, 2004
    Central Control, Pottsylvania
    Domestically, I doubt that we'd see any kind of "Reaganomics" coming about during his term(s?) as president. In all likelihood he'd simply follow more traditional conservative economic policies, deregulation etc.etc. A more libertarian version of Eisenhower if you will (but not by much).

    Anyways, had Reagan won (and let's say he wins by a fair margin) I'd expect a very different end to Vietnam (perhaps even an American victory?) and a more stable American economy. No restoration of relations with china however...

    But then again, no Watergate with Reagan...
  8. Electric Monk Does Your Believing For You

    Jun 16, 2005
    Vancouver Island
    President Reagan in 1968 is a curious beast. We're a decade too early for supply-side economics so large tax cuts are out. Viet Nam is still ongoing, and with the conclusion of the Tet Offense both the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese regulars are essentially crippled (in OTL, permanently for the Viet Cong). Domestically the Great Society ended as an expanding program with the 1966 midtems.

    Let's go down the list. Reagan's Vietnamese options are not bad at the time. Rolling Thunder II (aka a reversion back to the pre-March '68 Rolling Thunder) is almost certainly a go, and with Congress (if not the Senate) quite conservative Reagan should be able to push forward with it.

    With General Creighton Abrams's successful prosecution of the war IOTL it seems clear that strong political support and continuing high troop levels (535,000 in December, 1968) would lead to a reinvigorated South Vietnam—in the purely military sense—and additional North Vietnamese defeats.

    As with any timeline where the US decides to win in Viet Nam the criteria for victory are limited. South Vietnam is a given and the Viet Cong should suffer the same fate as OTL but the North Vietnamese are unlikely to give up leading to a continuing low-level hot war and requiring an American military commitment on the order of Korea/Japan combined.

    At what point can American troops be drawn down? I don't know. IOTL American airpower, funding, and weapons supplied to the South Vietnamese were enough for South Vietnamese regulars to beat their North Vietnamese counterparts. IOTL Watergate cut all three off, and South Vietnam lasted only a couple years.

    A larger American force and continuing support should see South Vietnam survive for the foreseeable future. Could North Vietnam accept defeat? I'm unsure, but lean towards "not really".

    As always the other main problem is South Vietnam's consistently horrible government.

    Setting aside the military question, we return to political support. Can President Reagan win re-election with the war in Viet Nam going well? Where "well" is defined as winning, but with much higher troop levels than OTL 1972. This depends, naturally, on the Democratic contender and how well Reagan's domestic program goes.

    As in Viet Nam, 1968 sees Reagan with a fairly wide range of options on the domestic front. Killing the Great Society, or some great part of it, is possible (probable?). Unlike Nixon, who essentially governed as a liberal in order to keep a free hand in foreign affairs, Reagan would probably take a somewhat more libertarian stance. However, as with his OTL Presidency (or his OTL Governor of California performance), this may not mean large reductions in domestic spending.

    Reagan in '68 may raise taxes to aim for a balanced budget, and as Nixon attempted may enact some sort of negative income tax in order to eliminate as many entitlement programs[1] as possible. Trading—to Congress—a guaranteed annual income (a liberal wet dream) in order to kill Social Security, Welfare, and so forth would be both bold and incredibly tempting if he was willing to stake his Presidency on it. '68 Reagan may be more willing to take bold gambles being both younger and closer to the Goldwater libertarians.

    Finally we turn to social issues. Roe Vs. Wade is looming but for the first term it's all about civil rights. Whereas Nixon exploited the issue for political gain it's quite possible that Reagan takes a stand against it on libertarian grounds (school busing, in particular) or enforces it to the limited extent possible. This won't hurt him in the South—obviously—and would probably prove popular with a number of people elsewhere.

    A side effect of ending school busing would be American cities that remained more viable than IOTL. How much would this radicalize the urban black population? Would radical black action swing the Silent Majority firmly into Reagan's camp?

    Alternatively would Reagan take another gamble and support civil rights? This would hurt in the South (Texas, for instance, will probably remain Democratic a little longer) but not fatally given yet-stronger Democratic support and may convince some segment of the black population in the Northern cities to consider voting Republican again.

    1968 was a key year. Viet Nam, civil rights, blue collars workers/unions, the future history of both political parties, and pretty much the whole culture war (not to mention most political leaders) was born in and around there or that year featured as a major turning point.

    President Reagan, in other words, has a vast number of options open to him.

    [1] Interestingly Nixon created most entitlement programs by indexing them to inflation, Reagan would almost certainly not take such a step regardless of what else happens. This would leave future US budgeting in vastly better health.
  9. Historico Member

    Nov 23, 2004

    Interesting Scenario Electric Reagan 68 is I think a more interesting Scenario then some of the other alt 68 threads out there...There are some questions however that remain to be scene...Who does Reagan choose as his running mate/VP in this Scenario? Assuming that the Stop Nixon movement within the GOP Is a hella of alot successfull in TTL...Might he go with Romney to assure his coalation goes to Reagan side or possibly Rockefeller...Winthrop of Arkansas that is? Also If we do see a stronger Black Nationalistic movement during Reagan's first term due to Anti-busing laws which causes Reagan to sow up the South...Might the Democrats instead of Running a Mcgovern candidate esp if it looks like we may actually "Win" the war in Vietnam, give the nomination to a Hawk like Scoop Jackson? If so and he runs on a Foreign Policy and National Security Platform, might the Dems make more of an effort to get the votes of Blacks by pushing Shirley Chisholm as a VP Candidate esp to dismay the idea of Jackson as a Racist?

    I think it all depends on how the economy goes for the Dem's to win in '72, so a Jackson/Chisholm ticket will probably loose but itll probably be a hell of a lot closer than Mcgovern's lose. What happens in 76 is anybody's guess...
  10. Berra Friendly Pitchfork Operator

    Jan 21, 2006
    Good work Electric Monk. Would he handle the relations to the protestors better?
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2008
  11. Electric Monk Does Your Believing For You

    Jun 16, 2005
    Vancouver Island
    I know the Nixon VP options but I'm less sure about Reagan although they tend to be similar—albeit for different reasons.

    Off-hand I'd lean towards Senator Hatfield of Oregon. He's a liberal, yes, but a Western liberal (with all that implies to the GOP conservative base) with the main stumbling block being his opposition to the War. He's also hard to classify, leaning towards libertarianism on some issues but also towards more US liberal positions on other things.

    If Viet Nam outweighs other issues for Reagan, than I could see a few other people. Senator Case of NJ is a close Rockefeller ally and would represent an olive branch to the Rockefeller Republicans as would Governor Volpe of Massachusetts.

    Governor Rhodes of Ohio is a bit of an in-between choice. Certainly more conservative than the two above (see Kent State, and his general attitude towards protesters), but also runs the key state of Ohio which forces him to take something of a centrist tack on other issues.

    In addition to the above there are a few Senators that fit the bill: Senator Everett Dirksen of Illinois is a strong supporter of civil rights and generally moderate-to-liberal but is also one of the strongest supporters for the Viet Nam War.

    Senator Jacob Javits of NY would be (as with most of Reagan's VP picks, given how conservative he was compared to the rest of the elected GOP in '68) an olive branch to the Rockefeller Republicans and would give Reagan a solid shot at winning New York.

    There are three outside-the-box choices:

    General Westmoreland represents Reagan doubling-down on the issue of Viet Nam confident that the majority of the American public don't want to withdrawn and leave their allies in the lurch (as the Democratic position would certainly be defined by the Reagan for President campaign).

    Senator Margaret Smith of Maine for the obvious reasons: she's a woman and she's a liberal. Nevertheless the symbolism (especially in '68) of having a woman on the ticket may shut up the base and represents a pointed attack on a number of otherwise safe Democratic states.

    Senator Edward Brooke, of Massachusetts for equally obvious reasons: he's a black man, and a liberal Republican. This would be in a certain sense, nuts. However Reagan putting him on the ticket is an instant safeguard against Democratic attacks, represents in some ways more work on civil rights than the Democrats have ever managed, and is an olive branch towards the Rockefeller Republicans. The key question is thus: will the Southern United States vote for a black man as the second on a ticket? Given Reagan's popularity in the South, given the potential for Northern black votes, and given the potential for higher black turn-out in the South (for the Republicans!) this would be an essentially unbeatable ticket… if the South didn't rebel against it.

    It would, in all honesty, be hard to out-hawk Reagan on the Viet Nam War. That said—and depending on the Republican nominee in '76—Scoop Jackson would probably one of two-three leading candidates for the Democratic nomination in '76.

    1972, probably, comes down as it did before: Humphrey vs. McGovern. However Reagan's domestic policy (whatever he does) is certainly more conservative than any President since Coolidge (in the same sense that Ford was the most conservative President since Coolidge) which puts the Democrats back to making a choice: class warfare, which works if done by somebody good; or McGovern's upper class liberalism… which doesn't work.

    The Kennedy's got it, they always cared more about the blue collar working class than the reforming McGovern/McCarthy wing of the Democratic Party. In this time period there are few leading Democrats who would approach it the same way. Ironically Humphrey would, but could never translate that into votes.

    Assuming the Viet Nam War is going somewhat well and that Reagan's domestic policy has been somewhat popular then there is no real way for the Democrats to win. Scoop Jackson can't out-hawk Reagan, and McGovern's withdrawal approach won't win either.

    I'd probably consider McGovern the '72 contender—he wrote the new rulebook for primaries, his get-out-of-Viet-Nam approach would be more powerful to the Left in our ATL '72, and Hubert Humphrey likely falls short as he did IOTL.

    1976 is interesting, and obviously depends on Reagan's VP.

    For the Democrats, though, a line-up similar to OTL would be a given. Mo' Udall for the liberal wing, Scoop Jackson for the hawk foreign policy wing, a centrist or two, a few other minor figures. No Watergate kills the free money so less Democrats will run, and no Watergate also kills the chances of the reforming fresh face Democrats like Carter.

    I'm going to throw out one of my favourite politicians: Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Unlike most liberals of the time period he understood the problems confronting the poor, and especially how the impact of helping black people destroyed the Democratic Party with working class white people. He was neoconservative on foreign policy (of the Scoop Jackson school) and—shockingly for a liberal of the time period—agreed with conservatives on the limitations of government. On the other hand he was also perhaps the best politician to spell out that yes, throwing money at problems does solve them sometimes, that the Great Society (for all its failures) also had a number of successes, and in general represented the dying wing of the Democratic Party that understood class and how to fight Republicans on foreign policy.

    Now his problem is that he wasn't elected IOTL until '76 (serving in four Presidential administrations instead: JFK, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford) and of course he was the author of the deeply controversial (though also pretty much dead on) Moynihan Report on the weakness of black family strucutre as one of, if not the, key problem in the black community.

    He's a throwback to pre-McGovern liberals, he's a hawk on foreign policy (as with Scoop Jackson this matters if Viet Nam goes well under Reagan), and unlike other throwbacks (Mondale) or the new liberals (McGovern, Dukakis) he can fight back against Republicans.

    If by "better" you mean a whole bunch of Kent State type situations… then yes!

    Honestly I think he'd probably crack down, which would mean a whole bunch more violence. However, this does depend on well his foreign and domestic policy is going—if well, then he has a free hand to crack down; if poorly, he has to consider other factors.
  12. Historico Member

    Nov 23, 2004
  13. Electric Monk Does Your Believing For You

    Jun 16, 2005
    Vancouver Island
    Oh sure, Brooke is never ever going to be the GOP nominee for President… but VP I can (just barely) see it as outside shot. After all, considering that Reagan is Goldwater redux he has to be thinking about only winning the South (minus whatever Wallace takes) and California and suffering a huge defeat.
  14. Berra Friendly Pitchfork Operator

    Jan 21, 2006
    Not really. First of, Reagan where the great communicator. Nixon where good sometimes but not so good others. So from a pure PR perspective, Reagan had a advantage.

    More importantly, according to Kissinger, Nixon had a hard time sitting down with anyone who could say no or disagree with him. Kissinger also says the public discussion broke down over the war. I think those two goes hand in hand and even the idea that the president is listening remove the incentive for rioting and stuff and favour peaceful protests.

    As for crackdowns, can the president really make the call? Isn't both law enforcement and national guard handeled at a local level?
  15. Historico Member

    Nov 23, 2004
    No, Actually the President does posses the power to call in the National Guard if the situation is deeemed out of Control...LBJ used it the most in tryiing to quell out the riots and enforce Segregation(More Kennedy and Ike) in the South...So I can see after a few demonstrations, Reagan will trully make his feelings toward the Demonstraters known...

    Also going back to electric's last post...Would the 76 GOP Convention be as brokered as in OTL(Assuming Reagan is able to pull off a victory in '72 in ttl) With VP President Brooke along with others such as Dole, H.W. Bush,Ford, and Rockefeller all vying for the nomination?
  16. Tom Veil Nowhere Man

    Feb 27, 2006
    Washington, D.C.
    First off, I doubt he'd win. Talk about a "celebrity" problem: a movie star who had only been governor for 2 years?

    But let's say he wins. I think we end up with a much less effective adminstration than the OTL Reagan. The fact is, Reagan used those 12 years from 1968 to 1980 to become a much better administrator.

    Plus, many of Reagan's signature policies wouldn't work as well. Yes, lowering taxes would work (in fact, it would probably do more good to lower them in 1968 than it did in 1981). But military "buildup" isn't an option because the military is already as built up as can be. Reagan would have to focus instead on the far more thankless task of overseeing the transformation from a drafted to all-volunteer army, the tactical benefits of which wouldn't become obvious until years later. Reagan's signature method of handling the Soviets -- tough talk but friendly actions -- wouldn't make as much sense with Breshnev. Assuming the 1970s Oil Shocks still happen (and there's little any US president could do about the first oil shock), then the Soviets will still spend the 1970s flush with cash and feeling confident that their economic reforms are actually working. Reagan's drug plan would be laughed off the stage in 1970, when the "drug problem" was not at all about foreign dictators or impressionable children -- the problem was that people wanted to take drugs. Ssome would say that's still the problem, but the point is, the conventional wisdom wasn't ready for Reagan's shift of focus. And Reagan would seem awfully rigid if he opposes the creation of the EPA, which at the time had some extremely obvious problems to tackle, like saving the bald eagle and requiring cities to supply their citizens with drinking water, and was a decade away from taking more controversial stands.

    That said? I think he wins re-election in 1972. Nixon did, after all, and even a too-young Reagan would be a heck of a lot more beloved than Nixon was when he won in a landslide.
  17. Electric Monk Does Your Believing For You

    Jun 16, 2005
    Vancouver Island
    It depends on the nature of the protesters. If it spirals out of control (black riots in the urban areas + college students) than it becomes nasty, otherwise Reagan may take his usual hands-off approach.

    I honestly don't think Brooke would run for the nomination in '76 (in the unlikely event that he does get picked for VP). I imagine some kind of Sherman-esque statement very early after the '72 election so Reagan can throw his support behind who he'd like to see.

    Rockefeller is too damaged, the base vetoed him as a VP for '76 and with Reagan in charge the base is even less likely to give him anything.

    Dole was boosted by being Ford's VP, he probably won't run in the ATL '76.

    Bush, perhaps, especially if he wins that Senate seat in '70 (i.e. Yarborough beats Bentsen in the Democratic primary, Bush beats Yarborough in the general).

    Ford's goal in life was to be Speaker of the House, he almost retired in '74 before he got picked for VP.

    James L. Buckley would be an interesting VP pick for whoever did win the '76 Republican nomination (or he could run himself). Satisfies the base and helps the ticket in New York.

    Senator Robert Taft, Jr of Ohio? Senator Richard Schweiker of Pennsylvania? Senator Howard Baker of Tennessee? I'm actually at something of a loss, given how much Nixon/Reagan dominated the Republican party in the period.

    John Connally? Senator Charles H. Percy of Illinois?

    Eh, it depends. Reagan wins most Wallace states in the South and most other Southern states (Texas is the only real exception, I imagine), sweeps the Midwest and Far West, and it comes down to a couple big industrial states in the North.

    Humphrey didn't connect with working class people the way Wallace and Reagan did.

    It's key to remember that poor black people doing better directly impacted the white working class people, and they were profoundly resentful that the Democratic Party wasn't addressing their concerns as the reforming/New Left Democrats grew in power. Somebody like RFK could connect with them (and with minorities) but there's few of those Democratic politicians (in a position to run for President) still around.

    Agreed. However Reagan was never much of a details man, and the GOP bench has a fair amount of talent at the time. Assuming a team as good as OTL Reagan's first term staff and Reagan will do quite well. On the other hand, something like OTL Reagan's second term staff would see Reagan flounder like crazy.

    Well they won't be supply-side economics, as that made-up mythology doesn't exist yet. Quite frankly I could see Reagan raising taxes in his first term, and a working class/middle-class/pro-family tax cut in the second as Viet Nam becomes cheaper and domestic policy is altered.

    Marginal rates on rich people won't be dropping for a while.

    In '68 with an emphasis on winning the war? The draft is staying in full force. Heck if Scoop is the '76 Democratic nominee the draft is sticking around for quite a while.

    Again, agreed, but foreign policy for Reagan would certainly be centred on Viet Nam, China, and the various third world hotspots—the USSR simply isn't a major consideration (in terms of diplomatic effort expended) given the stability of MAD at the time.

    He could, however, probably cut some deals along the lines of SALT but I doubt anything major would get done with the Soviets for good or ill.

    Although a USA that "wins" in Viet Nam is going to give the USSR far too much confidence in dealing with places like Afghanistan.

    Yep. However the USA has a fairly broad window for major domestic reform, and winning the Viet Nam War would do wonders for American self-confidence in the '70s.

    Sure, but would ATL Reagan bother with it? Given how many drugs are coming out of Viet Nam there simply isn't a way to enact the War on Drugs with a plausible chance of doing something.

    That said, a law enforcement approach aimed at cutting urban unrest would probably also have some sort of impact at drug use.

    That'll be a hit on Reagan, I imagine, but a trade-off deal with a bunch of nuclear power plants because of the oil shocks in return for the EPA would be something worth considering. A USA actively building nuclear power would go a long way towards reducing the dependence on oil in the future and would be a solid infrastructure basis for—let's say—electric trains in the future.

    Yeah, especially if McGovern is still the nominee. If the Democrats had an old line liberal capable of talking to the working class (Humphrey never connected) than they'd have a good shot but '72 is the highwater mark of the New Left.

    You'd pretty much need RFK to survive, lose at the convention, and run in '72 to find somebody with a chance to beat Reagan in '72.
  18. MrHola Banned

    Feb 25, 2007
    What would Reagan do about space technology? And how can he win the nomination in 1968?
  19. Tom Veil Nowhere Man

    Feb 27, 2006
    Washington, D.C.
    Ohhhhhhhhhhhh my God, Reagan would have LOVED being President when we reached the Moon in 1969. You know how in OTL everyone remembers "one small step for man ..."? ITTL, everyone would remember the speech that Reagan would give -- it would be a beauty. This is also one area where I think Reagan would have left the USA far ahead of where it turned out in OTL. Reagan understood how the US space program gave the Soviets a feeling of humiliation combined with terror. I think the result would be a much more carefully planned Skylab, funded and built for the long haul instead of just 3 missions.

    He can win the nomination by undermining the party insiders who ignored their own voters. Reagan did that OTL '80, when he could point to Watergate and the '76 GOP collapse, but in '68 Nixon was still a shady bastard, and the GOP really ought to have known better.
  20. Historico Member

    Nov 23, 2004

    Well, esp if news start to come out of an possible affair with Barbara Walters(Im not exactly sure how and when the affair began in OTL, All I know is that it was in the 70's and that Brooke was still married to his first Wife). He would certaintly decline the nomination, but this definatley gives the Democrats and advantage...I doubt Reagan will throw his full support behind a particular candidate at first esp if the two leading Candidates end up being Connaly and Bush(Who absolutley despised eachother in OTL) and will let them duke it out through the primaries...

    So it is unlikely that after Reagan the American People tire of his Conservatisim and instead might choose a Moderate Dem like Scoop Jackson and if he decided to pick the Unbought and Unbossed Shirley Chisholm inorder to put the Blacks back into the Democratic fold, it may be possible that they win in '76.