Serious Politicians Who Could’ve Become Jokes

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Heliogabalus, Dec 1, 2017.

  1. RobinCarmody Active Member

    Feb 15, 2011
    re. Clem Attlee at 10.38 pm, surely Theresa May is the ultimate recent example of a joke who everyone thought was going to be a really, really serious politician? Different thing.
  2. Brundlefly Well-Known Member

    May 20, 2014
    Definitely. In 1923, many people saw him as something like a crazy cultish wannabe-miracle healer. Add to that the publication of "Mein Kampf", basically a very poorly written antisemitic diatribe disguised as a political pamphlet, and you've basically got a 1920s cross between David Icke and those CPSU octogenarians of the failed 1991 Soviet coup.

    We might add Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz here as well.
    GauchoBadger, Archibald and Oppo like this.
  3. GeographyDude Well-Known Member

    Jun 9, 2014
    Did 1920s or 30s Germany have something like a great fear with Communism being the scary thing, as well as the alien thing? There was an academic lecture on this on youtube. Well, one lecture is not the end-all and be-all.

    I'm wondering if other people have heard of this and perhaps have other sources?


    PS the modern left from the 1850s maybe for a hundred years all the way to about the 1950 missed a tremendous opportunity by not being easily and comfortably in favor of religious liberty and religious freedom.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2017
    Landmass Wave likes this.
  4. clem attlee Well-Known Member

    Jan 23, 2014
    Exile in the American South
    Yes, quite so. I think we are running out of serious politicians who aren't jokes.
  5. Archibald space jockey ! Banned

    Jan 22, 2008
    I thought she ate toddlers, too ?
    TonyA likes this.
  6. Landmass Wave Well-Known Member

    Feb 1, 2017
    Landmass between New Orleans and Mobile
    Can't remember his name, but there was a Georgia Republican who made several runs for the Senate before he finally won. If that last campaign had failed he would probably be a joke.

    John Kennedy (R-LA) ran for his current seat in 2004 as a liberal Democrat. In 2008 he ran again, this time as a conservative Republican. Incumbent Mary Landrieu was more than happy to remind voters on 2004.

    He finally won last year.
  7. Landmass Wave Well-Known Member

    Feb 1, 2017
    Landmass between New Orleans and Mobile
    Other possibilities:

    Coolidge if the stock market had crashed a year earlier.

    Kerry if he had won in 2004 and owned the Katrina response, Iraq insurgency, and financial meltdown.

    Obama (or McCain) if the financial meltdown had occurred in 2009 instead of 2008.
  8. Galba Otho Vitelius Well-Known Member

    Apr 21, 2016
    If the financial meltdown happens in 2009 instead of 2008, whoever is elected President in 2008 will be regarded as a joke, or have the same reputation as Herbert Hoover (who wasn't a joke) at best. This is most likely to be either McCain or Hillary Clinton.

    I think there are three sets of candidates for this criteria:

    1) Politicians who IOTL reached the top job and are regarded to have done well, but got to the top job by accident, after a series of failed attempts and setbacks. Churchill epitomizes this.

    2) Leaders of nationalist movements and movements at the extreme of the political spectrum, who actually got into power. Pretty much every leader of a nationalist or revolutionary movement meets this, because unless they become martyrs they are regarded as jokes, failures, or fringe figures. Hitler, Lenin, Mao, and Gandhi would all qualify to take a bunch of disparate examples. So would Napoleon III and maybe even Napoleon I to take some nineteenth century examples. One figure that would not qualify here is Mandela, since no ANC in power means he is either executed or dies in prison and is seen as a martyr.

    3) Mainstream politicians whose reputation would have crashed if they had got into office if a crisis had hit that they were out of depth to handle. An example of an actually above average pol whose reputation is bad because he made exactly the wrong decision during a crisis would be Neville Chamberlain. Just about every mainstream politician qualifies, but the key are mediocre pols that nearly got the top job right before an IOTL crisis year, hence the McCain example. You could probably group in pols who could have been on the losing side of a major war; for example Woodrow Wilson if the USA had entered World War II only for Germany to win in 1918 anyway. Or Stalin if Germany actually did defeat Russia on the Eastern Front.

    On World War I, Clemenceau and Lloyd George might have wound up OK if they were viewed as having come in late and tried to rectify the mishandling of the war of their predecessors.

    Some minor examples would be Diefenbacker (1), and de Valera (2). An interesting possibility is Bob Dole if he becomes President in 1989 and through bad luck or lack of familiarity with foreign police winds up with a major foreign policy failure on top of the IOTL 1991 recession.
    Indicus, Finn Morgendorffer and Oppo like this.
  9. Oppo Can’t Bug The Doug Donor

    Apr 24, 2016
    Another category could be very ambitious politicians, who if not successful would likely be continuing to be stuck at the same place or falling behind.
  10. Thomas1195 Well-Known Member

    Sep 26, 2016
    Lloyd George was way too significant before ww1. In fact, he would be party No.2 by default as soon as Grey lost his eye-sight (Haldane had already been kicked to the Lords). He would be PM with or without ww1.
  11. Thomas1195 Well-Known Member

    Sep 26, 2016
    Joe McCarthy losing to Robert LaFollete Sr.

    Dewey winning in 1948 might have butterflied away Nixon and Goldwater.

    Also, recently, I saw a comment in one of my thread which suggested a Dewey-LaFollete ticket. This means all of those above might have faded away.
  12. Thomas1195 Well-Known Member

    Sep 26, 2016
    Prevent the rise of Labour. Most Labour PMs and leaders would become jokes except for Harold Wilson and Michael Foot (both would remain Liberals), and maybe Jenkins.

    Relegate the Tories to a third party and every single Tory PM and leader except for Churchill and Harold MacMillian would fade into obscurity.
  13. TooManyIdeas Oh hi. Gone Fishin'

    Jul 8, 2017
    George Wallace if he lost the nomination for Governor the second time around.
    Oppo likes this.
  14. 1940LaSalle Member

    Feb 2, 2006
    Southern New Jersey
    I'll argue that: there was a nascent TR-in-1904 movement even as he got the VP nomination. And then consider this from the Wall Street Journal in 1900:

    That's legitimate: probably a loss in '68 would have been the end of the line for Nixon. The GOP has never had a nominee that lost twice before come back for a third try. Dewey was probably the closest in 1952 but his try then never got out of the driveway, given the Ike candidacy.
  15. ShortsBelfast Events, dear boy, events

    May 20, 2016
    Lloyd George was a hugely innovative political thinker and a great orator. But his private life was extremely sleazy -he was a compulsive womaniser and had more dodgy business associates than Harold Wilson. It's not that hard to see him being derailed by a scandal -OTL he led a charmed life up to "Cash for Honours"
  16. UCB79 Bookworm, 1st class

    Oct 8, 2017
    Believe it or not, Ronald Reagan. If in 1980
    IOTL he had failed to obtain the Republican
    nomination, or had lost to Carter in the
    general election, it would have been his
    THIRD defeat in Presidental politics( he had
    tried for, but failed to obtain, the G.O.P.
    Presidental nomination in 1968 & 1976).
    People would have been cracking jokes,
    like, oh he's an old, washed up movie actor
    who should go back to talking with chimps,
    he was a man of his day- which was 1930,
    etc.(this ties in with a thought that has long
    haunted me- if Jimmy Carter had been able
    to make a success out of his presidency,
    Reagan might today be no more than a
    footnote in American history....)
    MikeTheLeftie98 likes this.
  17. Pantaleón Pantoja Member

    Mar 23, 2017
    In 2005 Angela Merkel came dangerously close to becoming a joke. She was expected to win the Bundestag elections by a mile and in the end it was a standoff between her and Schröder's SPD. Let's say Schröder somehow succeeds in remaining chancellor (which was his declared intention after the elections and not entirely impossible) through smart politicking, Merkel would have ended up as the woman who lost an election impossible to lose, after having been too meek to run in 2002.

    Spain's Aznar's situation was similar in 1996, after a similarly ambivalent election result. González was quite close to forming a new government after Aznar had failed to bring together a coalition. This would surely have ended Aznar's career as it would have been his third lost general election in a row.
    Oppo likes this.
  18. Zheng He Well-Known Member

    Aug 3, 2013
    A couple that have not been mentioned:

    Abraham Lincoln - in terms of resume, one of the most unqualified people ever elected to the White House. His entire national political experience was one two year term in the House of Representatives.

    Harry Truman - when he was in office, his standing with the elite East Coast establishment was probably lower than Bush 43's. His own party courted Ike to run for President 1952.
  19. Ancien Regime Well-Known Member

    Oct 20, 2010
    Imo Obama has an extremely high chance of being elected POTUS at some point between 2008 and 2024, like, north of 80%. If Hillary beats him in 2008 he's the overwhelming favorite in 2016 (Yes Hillary was the overwhelming favorite in 2016 but Obama likely doesn't have so much of the political ecosystem aligned against him as Hillary did, and he's an even stronger candidate after 8 more years in the Senate), and he still has a puncher's chance even if he loses in 2016 and runs in 2024.
    Kodoku likes this.
  20. Mightyboosh5 Well-Known Member

    May 7, 2015
    Are we not even going to mention the time he fought otto von hapsburg on the floor of the eu parliament.