Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Baconheimer, Apr 6, 2019.
Sure, that’s a good idea since Yorty didn’t go to China and Reagan sure didn’t go to China.
Part 3: President La Follette (1977-1981)
There were many adjectives to describe Bronson La Follette - dorky, awkward, shy - but before January of 1977, few would have ever referred to him as Presidential. Like the previous President of his party, Bronson La Follette catapulted himself from virtual unknown to leader of the capitalist bloc in less than a year. Indeed, much of his success in securing the Democratic nomination hinged on hid ability to present a strong, reasoned argument rather than large, emotional speeches. Rather than centralized command of his campaign, La Follette relied on small, grassroots groups of supporters to campaign tirelessly for him, and, in the end, it worked.
Bronson La Follette entered office with a strong Democratic presence in Congress and he intended to use it. A strongly liberal cabinet was appointed including heavy hitters like Ralph Yarborough, who was appointed Secretary of State and a young New Yorker named Mario Cuomo as Attorney General. Moderates were extended an olive leaf and the Cabinet, at least as it originally stood, was a big tent and representative of the Democratic Party at large. But almost immediately, the President moved to the left. The ongoing period of inflation and general economic uncertainty was combated with a move towards a stronger welfare state, with increased aid for the poor and elderly. Attempts to push forward universal healthcare were advanced by Congressional allies of the administration, but even in an environment of strong Democratic control, those proposals ended up mired in Committees and failed to make it to the House and Senate floors.
On the issue of the environment, numerous conservatives alleged La Follette was in the pocket of decadent Europeans. Arie Haagen-Smit, a Dutch chemist best known for the discovery of the link between Southern California smog and car exhaust, was a major player within the administration even if an attempt to name him to the Cabinet was stopped dead in its tracks by the attempts of Senate Majority Leader Byrd who wanted to avoid alienating moderates. However, despite the best efforts of Congressional allies of La Follette, the overwhelming majority of the public came to view the President as a strong liberal. Senator James Allen of Alabama left the Democratic Party in early 1977, sitting as an Independent Democrat (Alabama sure does seem to love Independent Democrats, doesn't it) for two years before joining the Republicans at the behest of Governor Wallace, who had jumped ship to the Republicans in 1978. Though the phenomenon of elected office-holders actually leaving the Democrats was not very common, the Republicans experienced a surge of support in the 1978 midterms in the South, where a number of Democratic incumbents were unseated. However, the strength of this shift was negated by Democratic gains in the traditionally Republican states of Upper New England, where La Follette's brand of liberalism was appreciated.
Despite holdups from conservative Democrats and Republicans alike on some of the administration's biggest goals, La Follette's first term was not wholly unsuccessful. In early 1978, the Equal Rights Amendment was ratified by the 38th state, Louisiana, and became part of the United States Constitution. Even at the time, Democratic strategists openly admitted that ratification was responsible for losses in the midterms, and support from Senator John McKeithen of Louisiana to make his state the one that put the ERA into law is widely regarded as directly responsible for Senator McKeithen's loss to long-shot Republican Ben Toledano later that year. Legislation expanding government support for labor unions and environmental protections were all pushed through, though some on the left fringe of the Democratic Party were disappointed, and felt more could have been accomplished. The crowning achievement of the La Follette administration on foreign policy was the signing of the Helsinki Accords on January 3rd, 1979. Despite calls for nuclear disarmament from those within both parties since the late 1960s, both the Yorty and Reagan White Houses had avoided any talks that might resemble defeatism, leading to pressure to stave off armageddon reaching a fever pitch by the time Bronson La Follette was elected. The Helsinki Accords itself was a hodge-podge of different agreements regulating the number of missiles allowed to each superpower, their location and range, and reaffirmed the commitment between the United States and Soviet Union to keep outer space free from a military presence.
However, despite roadblocks from moderate Democrats and the failures of programs like universal healthcare to be passed into law, Bronson La Follette was broadly popular among the Democratic Party for his work on civil rights and the environment while even more conservative Midwestern, blue-collar voters had to admit he had done quite a bit for them economically. Talk of a challenge from the center, or even a long-shot bid from the radical left by Representative Ron Dellums* swirled in Democratic circles throughout 1979 and early 1980, but no credible challengers emerged and other than Bronson La Follette, only the names of irrelevant gadflies and the ever-hopeful Lyndon LaRouche appeared on Democratic primary-goers ballots. La Follette cruised to renomination, winning every single contest.
The Republican race was much more contentious. As things heated up, there was no clear frontrunner. It seemed that no faction, liberals, the religious right, or former Southern Democrat had enough cache to take the nomination. Rodman Rockefeller, Governor of Vermont and son of Former New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller was the early favorite of the liberals, but the breaking of a story alleging improprieties from his days as Vice President of the International Basic Economy Corporation, a company created by his father, forced Rockefeller out of the race in November 1979, leading to his place being taken by Former Maryland Governor and Nixon 1968 running-mate Spiro Agnew. The trend of Southern Democrats defecting to the GOP was put center-stage as Former Texas Governor John Connally and current Alabama Governor George Wallace threw their hats into the ring. Though many hoped for a more experienced hand, conservatives within the party uneasy with nominating a former Democrat rallied around the youthful Governor of Indiana, Dick Lugar, who had aligned himself with the growing religious right during his rise to power. Illinois Representative Phil Crane was highly-regarded by many in the party elite, but had no statewide experience and little national profile. Among the long-shot minor candidates were Meldrim Thomson of New Hampshire, whose role in the Nashua Massacre and obsession with a nuclear attack on North Vietnam forced him out of the primaries with barely 3% of the vote in his home state, and Alaska Governor Jay Hammond, who championed a program of universal basic income based on his brainchild, the Alaska Permanent Fund. Surprising many pundits, who expected once-again Governor Tom McCall** to again enter the race for President as a Republican, the New Force was revived, but this time with former Assistant United States Attorney and Los Angeles-area lawyer Carla Anderson Hills as his running mate. So, as hopefuls for the Republican nomination racked up miles jetting around the nation, McCall was able to swing a number of Eastern Establishment donors into his camp, setting himself up with a strong organization for the general election while also hamstringing Rodney Rockefeller and Spiro Agnew.
Building a persona as a sort of cowboy-conservative, John Connally eked out a narrow victory in the Iowa Caucus, performing consistently well across rural counties while Dick Lugar and Spiro Agnew competed and split the moderate vote. Iowa proved to be what Connally needed, and he scored a victory in New Hampshire just over a month later. An endorsement from Former President Yorty and the thousands of donations that poured in from across the nation allowed Connally to break out. Governor Lugar did well in historically Republican New England and the Midwest, but dropped out in late March, giving the mantle of Republicans opposed to selecting a Dixiecrat to Spiro Agnew. Ultimately, Agnew was unable to win outside of the Midatlantic as Connally had already established a juggernaut of a campaign, but Agnew's profile was raised immeasurably by his efforts. Voters, journalists, and office-holders alike were taken aback by Governor Wallace's poor showings. After all, he was the man that had run strong campaigns in Alabama and even nationally despite extreme derision from the DNC. In the aftermath of the election, many have ascribed Connally's eventual triumph over more well-known opponents with more ties to the party organization to the prevalence of crossover Democratic voters frustrated with the liberal policies. In addition to voting records showing these crossover voters, researchers have discovered a large number of Democrats in key states switching their registrations to Republican in the months prior to the election.
Not unjustly, there were many Republicans that were wary of nominating a man who had been a Democrat as recently as 1973 even if he had served in the Reagan administration. The choice of Governor Lugar to shore up support among these Republicans was perfect, and though many kept on grumbling about electing a 'secessionist and segregationist' as McCall's campaign ads labelled him, most did not put their money where their mouth was and cast their ballots for Connally/Lugar in November. Tom McCall ran slightly better than he had in 1976, particularly in the Northeast, but ultimately was viewed as something of a stale figure as the novelty of the New Force wore off. La Follette won a convincing victory, increasing his share of electoral votes by 47, taking the Republican stronghold of Indiana as well as California despite losing John Connally's home state of Texas. Downballot, Democrats made gains in both the House and Senate, setting La Follette's second term up to be much more productive than the first.
President Bronson La Follette / Vice President Henry "Scoop" Jackson (Democratic) - 393 EVs
Former Governor John Connally / Governor Richard "Dick" Lugar (Republican) - 145 EVs
Governor Tom McCall / Former Assistant United States Attorney Carla Anderson Hills (New Force) - 0 EVs
* - ITTL, Dellums was elected to the House in the Democratic wave of 1974, having been unable to defeat Jeffery Cohelan.
** - In 1978, McCall was elected to the Governors' Mansion as an independent rather than a Republican, but still had the support of a large part of the state Republican Party.
>Humphrey successfully primaries a sitting, unpopular conservative Democrat
>One-term Reagan who is a failure
>La Follette wins two landslide elections
Yeah, I fucking love this. What’s the rest of the world like, I want to see beyond America.
I'll be honest, aside from states directly impacted by the United States, I haven't given too much though to what's happening to the world. I'll try to think up some stuff and include it in future updates, however.
Somewhere ITTL, Robert La Follette (both Sr. and Jr.) are smiling...
Indeed they are. Who knows, Bronson could revitalize the dynasty.
I'd hoped to get the next update out soon, but I can't stand the fact that I don't have an accurate list of Senators and Governors so I've been sidetracked as I attempt to work on one. Massive Excel spreadsheet incoming.
Part 4: President La Follette (1981-1985)
The 1980 election was a clear mandate for the President and his brand of liberalism. Numerous high-ranking Republicans were unseated, including Charles "Mac" Mathias in Maryland while Pat Leahy eked out victory in deep red Vermont to give the Democrats another Senate seat.
Tragedy struck in March 1983 when Vice President Jackson died suddenly from complications from a stroke at the Vice Presidential Residence in Washington. Widely respected, his death was mourned throughout Washington and though Jackson had long been overshadowed by La Follette since in domestic affairs, much of the country was put into a deep sadness. In a sense, Jackson's passing was the end of an era. Scooo Jackson exemplified Cold War era liberalism and his death was the passing of the torch from the Old Guard to the the new, youthful Democrats like Bronson La Follette. Jackson's successor was Senator Wendell Ford of Kentucky, who, though only eleven years older than the President, was viewed as the stabilizing force necessary for a somewhat absent-minded, policy-focused President.
It was in his second term, however, that the image of an awkward policy-wonk was expanded. Between the President and White House Chief of Staff Edward Olson (an interesting character), La Follette cultivated an image of a fun-loving prankster in addition to a shy man. La Follette's love of music manifested itself as a stream of musicians, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Elvis Presley (even if he did endorse John Connally in 1980) visited the White House. A fanatical following of football made La Follette more accessible to the American public. In addition, La Follette became the second President to marry while in office. Elizabeth Hanford, a Washington Democratic figure, was introduced to La Follette in the spring of 1976 and the two developed a relationship that grew to the point of marriage in 1981, when a wedding was scheduled for 1982. Despite hopes by the media and public that the wedding would be a vast, public spectacle, the President and future First Lady decided against an open wedding and instead took their vows in the National Cathedral before a small crowd of several hundred. In spite of this, the marriage and birth of their first son, Robert La Follette III in December 1983 catapulted the First Family into the status of American royalty, something that would continue even when the La Follette's had left the White House.
Attempts to implement the President's liberal policies were a resounding success in his second term. Among these were massively increased funding for Railpax* to encourage public transit on long-term trips while the Department of Transportation gave grants and input on expansion of regional light-rail and urban subways. These proved resounding successes and rather popular with the public as train tickets prices fell. Another popular move was the administration's increase in Medicaid funding, openly described by the President, Health Secretary Philip Burton (brother of California Senator John Burton), and Democratic congressional leadership as a step towards universal healthcare. More disliked among blue-collar workers were regulations to further limit emissions from factories with mandatory installation of scrubbers by 1986. Increased costs of maintaining factories led a number of American firms to simply close shop in the United States and move their operations overseas. These successes dampened the effect of the six-year itch that Republicans hoped would give them enough of a presence to stop La Follette's agenda in his last two years in office, but failed to gain a significant number of seats.
Though conservatives opposed many of the President's domestic achievements, few could criticize the massive steps forward made in space between 1981 and 1985. Mars, the goal of NASA since its creation, felt the presence of organic beings for the first time in May 1983, when Commander Rick Hauck led three other Americans, including a woman, Sally Ride, to the Red Planet. Of course, liftoff for the Daedalus Mission had occurred nearly two years before, just several months after La Follette's second inauguration, but in the intervening time the excitement for Daedalus dissipated. Crowds took the streets and America was plunged into several days of total excitement. May 18th, the day of the landing, was declared Mars Day by a number of state governors (including once-again Governor Meldrim Thomson Jr. of New Hampshire) As Daedalus 3 returned home, another rocket was launched from Cape Kennedy to run further tests in the runup to a Mars base, something expected within the decade. Lost amidst all the other news of humans on Mars and falling Railpax ticket prices was word that the administration would be moving a telescope to the Idmon Base on the Moon, in hopes that near-total surface darkness would allow better imagery of deep space. Wernher von Braun would quietly retire from NASA in February of 1984, declaring his life's work done with the successful Mars landing. He would die just two months later in his sleep.
Talk of repealing the 22nd Amendment to allow La Follette to run for a third term was privately shot down by representatives of the President, who understood his wish to simply return home to Wisconsin and live peacefully. A number of Democrats vied to succeed him, feeling that 1984 tilted in the party's favor. Among them were the Vice President, Senators Glenn, Bayh, and Mondale, Governor Dellums of California, Governor Pryor of Arkansas, and Former Speaker of the House Mo Udall. Several other candidates ran, but few ever gained much traction. The consensus among the party was to continue the progressive policies of the La Follette years, but the principal battle was over electability. Glenn, Bayh, and Mondale depicted themselves as able to win over crucial rust belt voters and give the Democrats another four years to enact their policies while Dellums advertised his ability to bring racial and sexual minorities to the voting booth nationally. Wendell Ford, despite his being somewhat uncharismatic and uninspiring and a history of more conservative views, painted himself as acquainted with the inner workings of the La Follette administration and therefore the candidate most able to advance his policies.
Ford won a narrow victory in Iowa and an even more narrow one in New Hampshire. Things looked tough throughout the months of March and April as Ford sparred against Dellums, Glenn, and Udall. It became apparent Glenn and Udall did not have the appeal to win a very large chunk of primary delegates, but they had the potential to split the non-Dellums vote. Ron Dellums spent most of his time jetting around the country, visiting large or diverse states. Those efforts paid off as he won with comfortable margins in California, New York, and Minnesota. Glenn and Udall dropped out by the end of April, however, leaving the race between Ford and Dellums. In this two-man race, Ford gained the edge and combined with endorsements from John Glenn and Mo Udall as well as the overwhelming support of party superdelegates, Wendell Ford won the Democratic nomination on the first ballot. For his running-mate, he picked Minnesota Senator Walter Mondale, who had dropped out of the primaries after a very poor showing in Iowa. Mondale had endorsed Governor Dellums and their was hope that the rift between the Ford and Dellums wing would be healed with his selection. Interestingly, President La Follette declined to endorse any candidate during the race and though some of his actions support the theory that he favored Vice President Ford, rumor has it that he personally was impressed with Governor Dellums' campaign and felt him better suited to push through a progressive agenda.
Prospective Republican presidential candidates were much more cautious. There were so many factors at play: La Follette was popular, but would whoever the Democrats nominated have that same star power. And, with the south falling out of reach of the Democrats, the GOP could eke out a victory by capturing key Midwestern states. The five candidates with any serious following were Senator Dick Lugar, Senator Paul Laxalt, Kentucky Senator Gene Snyder, Former Governor Spiro Agnew, and Former Governor Robert Finch. Snyder had embraced the growing religious right in his 1980 bid for reelection and stood as their standard bearer in the 1984 primaries. Lugar had good relations with the religious right, yet was viewed as a conservative with the ability to build bridges. Laxalt was a close friend of Former President Ronald Reagan and represented a form of libertarian conservatism. Finch and Agnew brought represented the moderate wing, though Agnew's origins as Mayor of Baltimore made him the choice of the Eastern Establishment even if he was to their right on most issues. Lugar's victory in Iowa in February gave him the momentum needed to clinch the nomination and by the start of May he was the GOPs nominee-apparent. At the Republican National Convention, Lugar selected Florida Senator Paula Hawkins as his running-mate, which made her the first woman nominated for Vice President by a major party.
The question on everyone's mind was what Tom McCall would do. In 1982, he had declined to run for a fourth term as governor and claimed his political career was over, but this was Tom McCall. He could run in 1984 if he wanted, though detractors would point out he had celebrated his 70th birthday in January 1984 and was no longer the youthful champion of liberal republicanism he once was. When McCall finally made his decision in March 1984, what was left of the party apparatus scrambled to find a standard bearer. They approached a number of Republicans including Mark Hatfield, Robert Stafford, Hiram Fong, and even Ben Fernandez (most of these responded scathingly about the chances of the Force and Tom McCall in general) about running, but ultimately, John Lindsay, former Governor New York and one of McCall's preferred running-mates in 1980, accepted the nomination. Supporters hoped that Lindsay would be able to break out of the suburbs and use his experience as the Mayor of America's largest city to pull urban voters to the Force. But there were many that were not as supportive of nominating Lindsay. His mayoralty had been marked by corruption in the NYPD, tension between "hard-hats" and college students, as well as a lack of bureaucratic savvy. Lindsay chose Democratic Representative from Hawaii's 1st District and former Mayor of Honolulu Frank Fasi as his running-mate. To many, Fasi giving up a seat in the House for a doomed run for President was absolutely insane, but Fasi had always had an independent streak and in October of 1984, rumors that he had planned on sitting as an independent after reelection came out.
The hopes of the Republican Party were on Dick Lugar. Conservatives hoped that the young, charismatic governor would be able to unseat the President. And things looked good at Labor Day. Polls showed Ford ahead - but not by much and with debates ahead, the Republican ticket was expected to run circles around Ford and Mondale. But that's not quite how things went. Lugar did score a convincing victory against the Vice President in Indianapolis and Chicago but Walter Mondale came out on top against Paula Hawkins in the single Vice Presidential Debate. The Democratic machine, which had eight years to prepare, managed to run a better ground game in crucial Midwest states. Rumor has it a Presidential trip to watch the Packers in Week 8 of the regular season tipped the state to Ford and Mondale - pundits will, of course, say that the Badger State was already firmly in the Democratic column and that La Follette's visit to Green Bay did little for the party. When push came to shove, the Democrats simply were too entrenched in most states for the Republicans, even with Dick Lugar's charisma, to overcome - something that gave the Democrats another four years to enact their policies.
Vice President Wendell Ford / Senator Walter Mondale (Democratic) - 315 EVs
Senator Richard "Dick" Lugar / Senator Paula Hawkins (Republican) - 223 EVs
Former Mayor John Lindsay / Representative Frank Fasi (New Force) - 0 EVs
* - TTLs Amtrak
** - Idmon Base was built in 1976 and is named for one of Apollo's sons, a seer and Argonaut.
I have added a list of Presidents to the OP for anyone interested.
So far, there are three different tickets than the original list.
I've completed my list of Senators up to 1985. I can answer questions on who individual Senators are.
50 Republicans - 50 Democrats
Part 5: President Ford 1985-1989
Bronson La Follette was a tough act to follow. His staunch liberal values, unwavering fight to push them into action, and public image made him perhaps the most popular President of the 20th century barring only Franklin Roosevelt. Upon leaving office, La Follette had approval ratings in the mid-50s - but numbers aren't everything. Supporters of the President were often extremely enthusiastic in ways that polling simply couldn't capture. Most backers of the 39th President cast their vote for Wendell Ford on election day 1984 but outside of Kentuckians eager to have a President from the Bluegrass State, few had the same enthusiasm for Wendell Ford as they did for Bronson La Follette. In his inauguration speech, Ford promised to continue the policies of the previous eight years, and liberals were pleased to see him keep on a number of La Follette-era Cabinet Secretaries.
The Midterms turned into a rout for the Democrats. A number of longtime incumbents were toppled by Republican challengers. Alaska fell to Republican Keith Harvey Miller in a four-way election between Democrats, the GOP, the Alaska Independence Party, and Libertarians. In South Carolina, Fritz Hollings was defeated by a virtual unknown, ultraconservative Pawley's Island State Senator Bob Cunningham*. Frank Church of Idaho and Birch Bayh of Indiana also were unseated. Paul Laxalt managed to reclaim his seat in Nevada where he had lost by only several hundred votes in 1980. In Wisconsin, retiring four-term incumbent Gaylord Nelson was succeeded by La Follette era Attorney General and Labor Secretary Ed Garvey. The Senate fell to Republican control, with 55 seats held by the GOP. The House came as close as it had in many years to Republican control with the Democrats having a majority of only 17 seats. As 1987 started, an Arkansas-born Alderman beat Richard J. Daley, scion of the strongest Chicago political family, in the race to succeed Former Representative Roman Pucinski as Democratic nominee Mayor. Two months later, the Democrats crushed ultra-Catholic State Representative Raymond Wardingley to give them another four years of control in Chicago. The defeat of the Daleys in 1987 was greeted well across the country by Democrats eager to dismantle the old city machines.
Among the crowning achievements at home were the progression of the disability rights movement from advocacy to legislation. The Disabled Persons Protection Act (DPPA or Michaelson Act, named for Rhode Island Senator Julius Michaelson, a strong supporter of the bill) outlawed discrimination based on disability while mandating employers to make certain accommodations and required public places to be accessible. While the DPPA was meant to assuage the effects of society on disabled people, a conscious effort was made to divert money into mental health in the United States. While the Department of Health did see much progress during the Ford years, the President took a soft stance on the tobacco industry and directed Secretary McBrayer** to take little action on that front. Not unjustly, the Administration took flak from the left over that. Among the biggest critics of the Administration for not going far enough was Governor Ralph Nader of Connecticut who was touted as a primary challenger in 1988. Also among the achievements of President Ford was crucial support for, and the passage, of the Adams Bill (named for Senator Brock Adams of Washington). The bill affirmed a federal commitment to the creation of transportation in urban, particularly minority areas, and pledged to extend interstates into urban locales and provide support for urban rapid transit systems. Despite the passage of the Adams Act in 1985, few results were seen outside of the New England states.
Perhaps the biggest challenge yet to the landmark 1974 ruling in Doe v. O'Connell*** ruling came during the Ford Administration. The ruling during Doe v. O'Connell was that women had a fundamental, constitutional right to privacy that allowed for abortion, but that the right to abortion was all-encompassing and that the fetus had certain rights that made abortions illegal in the third trimester except in cases of danger to the mother. Not unsurprisingly, the ruling generated controversy as soon as it was passed down and pro-life activists began a process of attempting to make abortion illegal nationally. In 1985, a case against laws put in place by the Democratic Governor of New Hampshire putting restrictions on abortion was challenged by the National Abortion Rights Action League. The case, NARAL v. Converse, was defended by the Democratic Attorney General of New Hampshire, Larry Converse. Backed by liberal justices from the La Follette years, the Supreme Court upheld its 1974 ruling in Doe v. O'Connell and struck down the New Hampshire laws as unconstitutional in that they were clearly created to prevent women from getting abortions. The central tenet of the Converse ruling was that states were not permitted to create any law that makes the process of getting an abortion difficult. The ruling in NARAL v. Converse was greeted happily by liberals, but anti-abortion activists were outraged. Wind was put into their sails ahead of the 1986 midterms as they prepared to move forward on their quest to outlaw abortion in the United States. While it is not sufficient to explain the conservative wave in the 1986 elections, the energy of anti-abortion activists in unseating members of both parties believed to be too liberal on the abortion question was invaluable in giving the Republicans control of the Senate.
Following Daedalus 3's successful landing on Mars and start of a return journey towards Earth, NASA greenlighted two Daedalus missions as well as several unmanned missions in the buildup towards a base on Mars, something scheduled to occur towards the end of the 1980s. Daedalus 4 and 5 both successfully completed the Mars ends of their missions in 1985 and 1987 respectively and were well on their way back to Earth by the time Daedalus 6, the ship that would begin the Mars settlement, was to launch in November 1987. Manned by six Americans and a single Canadian, Daedalus 6 would reach Mars sometime in early 1990 and would be followed by many more ships ferrying supplies to America's second extraterrestrial settlement. The launch of Daedalus 6 was to be streamed live and networks expected it to be the most watched television event ever, coming out in front of Bronson La Follette's second inauguration, the Apollo missions, and even the final episode of Bonanza in July 1979. Across the country and even the world, many school districts simply cancelled the days classes to allow students to watch history unfold firsthand. With nearly 900 million people worldwide watching, few could have expected disaster. The countdown came. Then the first seven seconds as the rocket lifted into the Florida sky. But then the speck at the head of the trail of flame burst into a flower of fire. Silence washed over the grandstands four miles from the launch pad. Few believed their eyes. Right before them and in less than a second, some of America's bravest men and women had died. Public support for NASA dissolved almost instantaneously. Everyone supported the space program when there were great achievements and no deaths - but the explosion of a $700,000,000 piece of hardware and death of seven people on live television was simply too much to bear. Daedalus missions were put on hold indefinitely while planned resupply missions of Idmon Base were delayed for several months as the Cabinet and Congress deliberated on the future of the American space program. In early January 1988, the decision to pause missions to Mars for an undetermined period of time was announced. The Soviet launch of a Mars mission in July of 1988 turned the whole Daedalus 6**** debacle into a major morale defeat for the United States, and particularly for the Democratic Party's chances in the upcoming elections.
The Ford Administration was marred by foreign policy setbacks. Despite the best efforts of President Ford and Secretary of State Kingman Brewster, things simply didn't work out in a way that would enhance the popularity of the Administration. In 1987, two seriously detrimental things would take place. First, the Soviet Union successfully invaded Afghanistan and established a puppet state there. Despite push from the Politburo to keep a large number of Soviet forces there on occupation duties or even outright annex the country, a number of generals with backgrounds in history were successful in pushing to leave much of the policing of Afghanistan to the Afghan Peoples Army (APA), in hopes that the new regime would be viewed as more organic. Of course, the APA was supplied by goods from the booming factories of Russia. The United States and its ally Iran both supplied the Mujahideen fighting the communist regime with weapons and information but were little match for the communists. In August 1987, the eleven-year old military regime ("The Kingdom of the Generals") was deposed by a group of communist junior officers. The new Peoples Republic of Ethiopia proved to be more bloodthirsty than expected and deployed chemical weapons to fight the Eritrean separatists. With Soviet help, the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) was defeated as a coherent fighting force within several years. President Meles Zenawi would declare in 1990 that the Ethiopian regime was committed to restoring its ancient status as one of the world's great powers and would seek to acquire nuclear weapons to achieve that ends.
Talk of a challenge to the President from the left swirled after the midterms. It wasn't too surprising to think Wendell Ford would simply walk to renomination. After all, he wasn't especially popular and every President since Johnson in 1964 (with the exception of Bronson La Follette, of course, but he was special) had received a primary challenge. Among the speculated challengers were 1984 primary runner-up Ron Dellums (though Dellums had recently been primaried himself by the technocratic Mayor of Irvine, Larry Agran), Connecticut Governor Ralph Nader, or even the long-serving liberal Senator from California, Alan Cranston. But, despite a vulnerable President and a decent enough chance of being able to topple him, every elected officeholder declined to seek the nomination leaving the President facing Lyndon LaRouche and a dozen other gadfly perennial candidates. LaRouche mobilized his organization throughout the country and performed the best of any challenger, but was unable to prevent the President from cruising to renomination in Chicago with 95% of the primary votes. Vice President Mondale was renominated with little discussion, being broadly acceptable to the entire party. Mayor Clinton of Chicago famously gave the keynote speech in which he touted the accomplishments of his one year mayoralty in improving the welfare of Chicago’s impoverished neighborhoods. His eloquent speechifying there brought him into the national spotlight.
The Democrats had assumed they would be facing off against the Republicans as a united party following the failure of any serious challengers to enter the race against President Ford. The New Force had collapsed following John Lindsay's disastrous performance in 1984 while the engine that had kept the party running in its early years, Tom McCall, had passed away in early 1986. The departure of a number of state parties had destroyed what was left of the Force's capability to run a national campaign. Few expected them to run a serious candidate, or even a candidate at all, in 1988. Frontrunners for the nomination included a host of minor journalists, activists, and has-been state representatives. But then, in April 1988, writer and intellectual Gore Vidal announced that he would seek the Force's nomination. The son of a Democratic Senator and once-candidate himself, Vidal could provide a serious challenge to Wendell Ford's chances for reelection. Even in the tolerant New Force, the selection of a gay man was opposed by many party bosses. To his credit, Vidal built up a campaign virtually overnight and managed to pack many of the state delegations to the convention with his own supporters. Vidal's machinations brought the convention to New York, and, in his backyard, Vidal was nominated with only a single ballot. For his running-mate, Vidal chose a young Philadelphia School Board Member named Lenora Fulani whose tenure on that body had been marked with controversy over her somewhat radical stances on nearly everything.
The Republicans experienced a much more crowded field as politicians of all stripes clamored to challenge a President they believed to be very vulnerable. Even before the midterms, a push to renominate Dick Lugar began. Proponents argued that La Follette's popularity made Wendell Ford a shoe-in in 1984 and that Lugar deserved another chance. Lugar was no longer the sprightly youth many saw in 1980, but despite his lack of political involvement after his 1984 defeat, was still rather young at 56. Lugar shut down any attempt to draft him in December 1987, when he declared that he was finished with seeking elective office. Though the possibility of Dick Lugar entering the race was not enough to keep other contenders out, his ruling out a run created a serious void within the running. The four candidates with any serious chance of winning the nomination were Senators Bob Dole and Sam Steiger and Governors Vernon Romney of Utah and Wheelock Whitney of Minnesota. Steiger brought up the right, being a favorite of conservative pastors like Pat Robertson and James Dobson. Dole and Romney both were about middle of the road for Republicans while Whitney positioned himself as a pro-business moderate (which, in fairness, he was in to some degree owing to being Governor of Minnesota) Romney managed a surprise upset in Michigan due to his name and support from many that fondly remembered the tenure of his first cousin, George Romney. A month later, Dole rebounded with three consecutive victories in Kansas, Iowa, and then New Hampshire but the Romney machine kicked into action and built up enough momentum to crush both of his opponents. Steiger and Dole won several more states (Steiger only in the south - and not even his home state of Arizona, where Mormons broke strongly for Romney) but were out of the race by the start of June. Romney's nomination in Atlanta made him the first Mormon nominated by a major party, something many feared would tank him in the general election. Every attempt was made to downplay his faith and portray him as a western cowboy in the mould of Ronald Reagan or John Connally. To give Romney much-needed legislative experience, he selected Minnesota Senator Arne Carlson, whose New York upbringing and Midwestern political career would hopefully make a ticket headed by a Mormon more palatable to Middle America.
But Romney's choice was too late. Partly owing to his Mormonism and fears that he would govern too far to the left if elected, Former Alaska Governor Walter "Wally" Hickel announced a bid for the Presidency in May 1988. Instead of launching an independent campaign, Hickel would seek the nomination of the Prohibition Party. In states where the Prohibition Party did not have ballot access, Hickel sought to have his name displayed as an independent candidate giving his bid the moniker of 'Prohibition-Independent' Hickel chose the much younger John Raese, formerly Chairman of the West Virginia Republican Party and current Chair of the Monongalia County Republican Party. While Raese had never held elected office, he had attended every Republican National Convention since 1976 and had cultivated friendships with the conservative movers and shakers the Hickel campaign would need to get off the ground. There were some within the Prohibition Party that opposed nominating Hickel on the grounds that he was not truly committed to temperance (in his acceptance speech he declared that he would seek to outlaw the production of hard liquors, though he skirted the question of outlawing lower-ABV drinks). Led by a young radical pastor from Washington named Gene Amondson, these breakaways gained ballot access in several states. *****
Only Ford, Romney, and Vidal were invited to the Presidential debates****** and despite polling in the summer of 1988 that showed Hickel having the support of nearly 10% of Americans, Romney regrouped after the Republican Convention in August and Hickel's numbers steadily fell. Despite the age of the candidates, the debates were raucous back and forths. Romney alleged Ford and his Democratic predecessors had overstepped the Constitutional rights of the Federal government while Vidal decried the corruption of both parties and presented a socially liberal alternative. The Vice Presidential Debate saw Fulani largely sidelined as the two Minnesotans (who had served in the Senate together for two years) competed in a friendly, collegial manner.
There was not serious doubt that the Republicans would win. Democrats tried to console themselves by saying that the United States would not elect a Mormon President or that La Follette was still simply too popular, but deep down, they knew it looked bad. Romney cruised to election, winning 374 electoral votes to Ford's 125. The New Force saw its best performance yet as it won New York and Vermont for a total of 39 electoral votes. Vidal's win in New York can be chalked up to the effect of it being his home state as well as the extremely negative campaigning in New York City by Democratic organizers who played up Vidal's homosexuality. Vermont, however, went to Vidal primarily because of opposition to a Democrat too Southern and a Republican ticket too conservative for their Yankee sensibilities. Pennsylvania, Lenora Fulani's home state, did not go for the Force, but vote-splitting in Philadelphia allowed Vernon Romney to win a razor-thin victory in the Keystone State. Victories downballot would give Romney a strong position with nearly 60 Republicans in the Senate and Republican control of the House of Representatives for the first time since 1955.
Former Governor Vernon Romney / Senator Arne Carlson (Republican) - 374 EVs
President Wendell Ford / Vice President Walter Mondale (Democratic) - 125 EVs
Author Gore Vidal / School Board Member Lenora Fulani (New Force) - 39 EVs
Former Governor Walter "Wally" Hickel / County Republican Chairman John Raese (Prohibition-Independent) - 0 EVs
Though the Hickel/Raese ticket failed to win a single state and its best performance was in Alaska, where it came in third, barely edged out by the Democrats, the presence of a conservative campaign standing up to the Republicans emboldened many in the religious right wing of the GOP. The Prohibition-Independent campaign raised the profile of Hickel's state-level Alaskan Independence Party (AKIP) enough for its nominee, Al Rowe to unseat incumbent Republican Ted Stevens in the 1990 Senate election. Raese, kicked out of his position during the campaign, founded the West Virginia Independent Party (WVIP) and was elected Representative for West Virginia's 1st Congressional District in 1992, which he held until 1998 when he was toppled by the daughter of former Governor, Senator, Congressman for the 1st Arch Moore.
* - Terry McBrayer of Kentucky. An ally of President Ford since his days as Governor, McBrayer was brought in in late 1985, replacing the much more anti-tobacco Antonia Novello.
** - Interestingly, Senator Cunningham proved a strong environmentalist and often voted with the Democrats on such legislation.
*** - O'Connell refers to Hugh R. O'Connell, District Attorney for Milwaukee County, where the case began.
**** - Since the explosion of Daedalus 6, the number 6 has come to be considered unlucky among many of the Western space programs even leading to several later programs avoiding a mission 6 altogether.
***** - Their Vice Presidential candidate would be Leroy Pletten of Minnesota.
****** - Qualification for the debates was not decided by polling but by popularity. The networks felt excluding Vidal, a seasoned public speaker, from a televised debate would be a waste of his talent, while the less charismatic Hickel would not need to be included.
If anyone can find some good pictures of Vernon Romney, I'd be overjoyed. I've only been able to find his official portrait which likely dates from the late 1960s or early 1970s.
@Baconheimer What is the nature of personal computing and the early internet in ATL (assuming it exists)? Have the Mars missions impacted that at all?
Part 6: President Romney (1989-1993)
President Vernon Bradford Romney came into office as the first Republican since Ronald Reagan in 1977. 1989 also marked the first time since the 84th Congress (which ran from 1955 to 1957) that Republicans controlled the Presidency and both Houses of Congress. The Grand Old Party had high hopes that, in retrospect, were unreasonable. Somehow, the idea that all the expansion of the government from the Great Society onwards would simply be repealed and the market would sort everything out. In the end, this proved to be far from the truth. Romney was supposed to be a domestic President and focus primarily on cutting off the excesses of the La Follette years, but, due to forces beyond his control, the Romney Administration turned into one of foreign policy.
South Africa's Apartheid regime had lasted into the 1990s, the last relic of the days of white imperialism. Since the late 1970s, most of the world (including La Follette's US) had been boycotting it. Mounting economic pressure had destroyed most of the white will to continue that economically inefficient practice. Though reformist governments had not managed to take power, a large minority within the dominant National Party had joined the push for the end of Apartheid. That all came to an end in early November 1990, when State Present Vause Raw of South Africa was shot by a sniper while giving a speech on the steps of the Cape Town City Hall. The crowd panicked and confusion descended over the entire country. When it cleared, it turned out that President Raw had died several hours after the shooting and that the perpetrator was a colored veteran named Henry Booysans. Though later information would show Booysans suffered from PTSD following service in Rhodesia and Namibia and that he had few political opinions, rumor had it that Booysans was an agent of the African National Congress (ANC) and that he had assassinated President Raw on the orders of the ANC. A wave of lynchings and pogroms exploded across the country as angry whites murdered blacks indiscriminately. But though heinous, what broke public opinion was the beating of Nelson Mandela by prison guards on Robben's Island. There, white guards took their frustration over the murder of President Raw out on their prisoners, and the beating of the already weakened and aging Mandela was more than his body can handle and, on November 18th, Mandela died in the Robben's Island Infirmary. News took several days to reach Mandela's fellow inmates and from there reach the mainland, but when word of Mandela's death arrived in Cape Town and Johannesburg, riots on a scale never before seen in South Africa broke out as blacks, coloreds, and even moderate, anti-apartheid whites took the streets. The guerilla wing of the ANC, Umkhonto we Sizwe, was ordered to increase their action. With the President dead and many of the major cities completely engulfed in riots, Prime Minister Ferdinand Hartzenberg declared a state of emergency and called out most of the SADF's reserves to put down the fighting. As both sides became more committed, and feared the other side becoming more mobilized than themselves, the situation in South Africa spiraled out of control. It is hard to pinpoint exactly when and where the South African Civil War actually began, as sparse fighting had been going on since before Raw's assassination but by the start of 1991, the riots had ended and fighting had begun.
By March of 1991, the rump South African government had implemented such extreme emergency measures that it was, at least in name, a police state - though, owing to a lack of available manpower and equipment, many of the decrees on the book were never actually carried out. A clique of reformists within the government and civil society, led by a multiracial group including Liberal-Federal MP Helen Suzman, Cape Town Councillor Peter Marais, and activist Nomvuyo Ivi Noqolela began to meet in secret and declared a new, liberal Second South African Republic in May of 1991. Meanwhile, the ANC-led revolutionaries had declared their own state: the Peoples Republic of South Africa and, though they had not espoused communism prior to the outbreak of hostilities, a need for supplies led them to join the Soviet bloc. In addition, Angola, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe had declared war on South Africa (the Hartzenberg government, that is) and had sent troops in.* By the summer of 1991, South Africa was divided between the nationalists (strongest in Transvaal and the Orange Free State), communists (strong there and in the east), and the republicans (strongest in the Cape) This was complicated by the declaration of independence by Zulu King Israel Mcwayizeni kaSolomon, who claimed much of Natal as an independent, neutral Zulu homeland.
As 1991 faded away and 1992 began, fighting ebbed and flowed. The Nationalists were on the way out, facing attacks from both east and west while holding a territory filled with resentful non-whites. Both the Republicans and Communists were gaining ground, though the Communist command structure was ill-defined and supply lines were frequently long and difficult. The Republicans had captured most of the western Cape and received weapons from Britain, France, and Canada as well as advisorrs to assist in the creation of a modern, multiracial army. In the summer of 1992, the United States recognized the Cape Town government as the legitimate government of South Africa. Romney, with backing from most Republicans and nearly all Democrats justified the act by declaring the Hertzenberg government (now based out of Roberts Heights, a military base north of Pretoria) an utterly racist and totalitarian regime. Almost immediately, several wings of the US Air Force were deployed to Ysterplaat Air Force Base near Cape Town, from which they supplied air support to the advancing Republican columns. Romney and the Administration felt comfortable ramping up American involvement, as projections showed very little chance for loss of life with American involvement limited to running air missions. Military intervention was popular on the left and right with only the most conservative Republicans seriously opposing it.
The Delhi Accords, signed in June 1977 ended the official state of war between North and South Vietnam, but armed conflict, fought in back allies and the depths of the jungle continued. The Viet Cong had been defeated irreprably by combined American and South Vietnamese forces and with the death of a number of its leaders, it had collapsed in 1976. Several years of fighting between localized communist groups was ended in 1978 when the Popular Army of South Vietnam (PASV), a new communist guerilla organization, was founded. American forces referred to them as 'Pho Bien' (or PB) and they experienced a resurgence in the early 1980s following exposure of corruption in the Vietnamese regime, the resignation of President Nguyen and the installation of a protegee from his days commanding the 21st Division, General Mach Van Truong. South Vietnam largely languished throughout the 1980s as the La Follette administration slowly decreased the aid given to them. The North, meanwhile, steadily built up its capabilities after the thrashing it took in the 1955-1977 war. At 5:30 PM on June 28th, 1991 a massive barrage began on the north side of the 17th parallel, and, at 6:15 nearly one million NVA soldiers crossed the border. With Chinese and Soviet-supplied armor and tracked artillery, the meager ARVN border forces were easily swept aside. For nearly four days, the NVA and associated East Bloc "volunteers" advanced unopposed through South Vietnam as PB forces flocked to their banner to advance on Saigon. Nearly 200 miles into South Vietnamese territory, the Presidential Corps, the garrison of Saigon and the most well-supplied formation within the ARVN ground the offensive to a halt at the Battle of Kon Tum. The North Vietnamese Invasion was met with international outrage and, within several days, the United Nations had issued a strong condemnation while American forces in the Philippines were en route to join battle.
In the United States, most of the public supported South Vietnam. Only a minority of the population, led by figures like Ron Dellums, John Conyers, and a young Illinois State Representative named Rich Whitney. Among the numerous reasons for their opposition was the belief that the continued existence of South Vietnam and its survival was only a result of American imperialism and that its formation was a last-ditch effort by France to prevent its former colonies from becoming truly powerful. However, anti-war Democrats were unable to prevent the Romney White House, in conjunction with Congressional Democratic leadership, from authorizing large-scale deployment of American forces to fight alongside the ARVN. The conflict in Vietnam would represent the first major occasion of US forces in combat since the end of the First Vietnam War (as it would later be known) in 1977. Since then, bipartisan support for laws restricting the ability of Presidents to commit American forces to combat, had changed the scene, forcing Congressional support for war.** By election day in 1992, nearly 200,000 US servicemen were deployed to Vietnam. Fighting had bogged down in Kon Tum, Binh Dinh, and Quang Ngai provinces and though US Army, ARVN, and NVA regulars all were somewhere around, much of the fighting was between commandos and PB forces. American casualties were not yet very high, but fighting was rough ad there was constant worry of guerilla attacks.
Shocking to many in the West was the lack of intelligence leading up to the North Vietnamese Invasion. Surely, many thought, in that era of camera-armed spy planes and digital warfare, some obscure branch of the US military would have caught wind of an impending victory. After all, the nearly one million soldiers as well as the materiel needed to support them should have been noticed before they invaded one of America's allies. There was some outrage but the fact was simple that the North Vietnamese had perfected strategies of hiding supply depots and movement of forces during the First War and in Africa in the 1980s and that in a heavily militarized border region, there already were many men stationed there, making the buildup less intensely different. The clamor over the failure of the Western intelligence community to anticipate the invasion dissipated over the next several months as public attention went to the fighting in Vietnam and come election day of 1992, few remembered what once had been a national scandal.
Republican-led budgets for 1990-1993 saw a decrease in spending on transportation, urban development, healthcare, and welfare. But though the amount of money allocated for these things decreased, they came nowhere close to their pre-La Follette numbers, leading many radical conservatives to decry the moderates that had led the push to make such minor cuts. The failure of the Republican Congress in 1989 to create a truly slashed budget began the realization within the party that the big government started in the Roosevelt years could not be totally ended and that compromise would be needed. With some of the money liberated from cutting social programs, the Republican House, led by Majority Leader Pete Wilson of California was successful was able to secure extra funds to go to border security (particularly the US-Mexican border)
While America could not be called an anti-Mormon country, there was bigotry against the Church of Latter Day Saints and fear that the Mormons secretly desired to take control of the United States. In office, Romney attempted to separate himself from his religion to the extent available to a devout Mormon. He still attended a Mormon Church in Arlington, Virginia, but attempted to make his visits low-key and avoided public attention, using different routes to Church every week. Still, a number of protestors were invariably in attendance both at the Church and White House on Sundays. Romney's Cabinet was largely gentile, yet had the largest number of Mormons ever in a US Cabinet. Secretary of the Interior, F. Melvin Hammond, formerly a Representative from Utah, was considered one of the President's closest confidantes in Washington. Controversially, Romney frequently returned to Utah to visit family (of which he had many there) but while in Utah, he met with representatives of the Quorum of the Twelve and even Church President Paul Dunn. White House press secretaries attempted to pass off these meetings as discussion on leadership and tried to downplay the influence LDS Church officials had on the President, but were not entirely successful as many Americans were somewhat uncomfortable with the President. Arguably, Republican attempts to curtail abortion and numerous other things can be tied to Romney's Mormonism, one of the most acts most blatantly related to his faith was Romney's push against alcohol. Health Secretary James O. Mason and Surgeon General David Sundwall, both Mormons, pushed for action on classifying alcoholism as a serious disease and putting more research into its prevention. The Administration found itself allied with groups like the Alcohol Fatality Prevention League*** and The American Council on Alcohol Problems. The crowning achievement on this front was a February 1991 bill, passed by Congress and signed by President Romney that raised the Federal drinking age to 21. Though met with outrage by youth in several states that had kept their drinking age below 21, much of the US had no change, as state-level efforts to reduce DUIs had already made those changes. Attempts to lower the legal driving limit were unsuccessful on a federal level, but inspired by DOT attempts, several states lowered their maximum BAC limits.
Coming before the setbacks in Vietnam and South Africa, the midterms were mild for the ruling Republicans. House losses were minor, and it remained in Republican hands. The Senate, too, remained red but the Democrats scored several crucial victories like in Illinois, where incumbent Chuck Percy was retiring and Delaware and Texas, where incumbents Tom Evans and Kent Hance were defeated by Richard Korn and Mickey Leland, respectively. The Republicans too pulled out several upsets, including in Georgia where Democrat Walter Flowers was defeated in his bid for a third term.
Vernon Romney was not the most popular President as the time for Republicans to choose their 1992 nominee came around. He had committed no egregious crimes nor had he broken with any of the party's central tenets, yet, there was dissatisfaction. The religious right had hoped for stronger action on repealing laws easing access to abortion, while hawks hopes of increased action against communism had not panned out either. A conservative activist and Reagan-era Justice Department lawyer, Howard Phillips, answered the call. Phillips had long been involved with conservative politics, but an abortive attempt at running for State Representative in California in 1978 had largely ended Phillips ambitions of achieving elective office. By 1991 however, Phillips had largely fallen out of the spotlight and his calls to Golden State conservatives were rarely answered. Phillip's July 14th declaration of candidacy at the gate of Miramar Naval Air Station laid out an interventionist foreign policy and promised immediate action, by Constitutional Convention if necessary, to combat the "residual atheistic tendencies" of the La Follette administration. The announcement came as a surprise to the public was carried only on C-SPAN live, but America was abuzz in the next week as the possibility of a dethroning Romney was realized. Phillips proved an energetic campaigner and traveled the country in his quest to become the Republican nominee but the entrenched power of the Republican establishment proved too strong to overcome. Famously, President Romney declined to debate Phillips even after Phillips proposed financing a debate with his own money. The primaries were a trouncing for Phillips, who failed to win a single state. His best performances came in states where polling also showed high levels of anti-Mormon sentiment and, while that was not the only thing fueling his campaign, fear of Mormon domination of the United States government were played upon by Phillips surrogates. In the aftermath of Romney's easy renomination, pundits declared the tradition of a mandatory primary challenge, as started by Gene McCarthy and continued by Hubert Humphrey and later Hiram Fong, dead. The reasons for this were widely debated, but the consensus decision was that the during the early days of the primary system, party machines had not figured out how to manipulate contests in favor of incumbents, something both parties had perfected since the first nationwide primaries in 1976. Talk of a splinter ticket never materialized and the most potent opposition was a ticket on the National line headed up by former FBI agent and PI Ted Gunderson, who tapped California physician Jeffrey McDonald as his running-mate. The National Party espoused a wide range of conspiracy theories, alleging that the military-industrial complex (which might or might not have been in cahoots with Former Texas Senator George Bush and aliens from Pluto) had taken over the office of the Presidency and ruled the United States through figurehead Presidents. Though Gunderson was ineffectual in his attempts to reach the Presidency, the opposition to President Romney from the right spelled out problems for the future of the Republican Party.
The Democrat field included candidates like Governor Larry Agran of California, Governor Bob Bullock of Texas, as well as Senators Bob Casey, Ramsay Clark, Neil Goldschmidt, and Adlai Stevenson III and Representative John Silber. Stevenson, with a strong liberal record and a popular name, was the early favorite for the nomination. However, as the campaign heated up, candidates went door-to-door and debates were held, Stevenson's polling numbers collapsed as he proved somewhat uncharismatic and wonkish. In his stead, two more charismatic and telegenic candidates, Bob Bullock and Neil Goldschmidt, surged. Bullock's folksy charm and sharp wit were admired by Iowa voters. California Governor Larry Agran (who had primaried sitting Governor Ron Dellums in 1986 and then won the general election) gained a reputation as an able, urban technocrat whose experience in America's largest, fastest-growing state would prove invaulable in the White House. Bullock's win in Iowa was by a much larger margin than expected, and though the primaries were not a cakewalk, it was fairly clear Bullock would come out on top, he just needed to slog through the rest of the field first. Bullock's folksy manner was not as appreciated in the urban east as it was in the west yet his charisma was undeniable and borderless, and finally gave him the nomination. Up until the day of the Convention in Philadelphia, Bullock waffled back and forth between tapping Maryland Senator Paul Sarbanes or Georgia Representative John Lewis as his running-mate. Legend has it that Bullock flipped a coin to decide, and so the Bullock/Sarbanes ticket wrote its way into history.
Adlai Stevenson III
The New Force ran a ticket, but headed by a no-name California liberal Republican and with ballot access lost in a number of states, few considered the party functional and it was regarded as a non-factor throughout the campaign.
Pulling out of the summer, polling showed Romney and Bullock head-to-head with the President slightly favored for reelection. Republicans rallied around Romney and Carlson because they might not have been the preferred candidates but they were getting some of the bread and butter issues of the GOP solved in Congress and besides, it wasn't wise to switch horses midstream. But then, Bullock made a number of gaffes. He made questionable statements about Mormons, insinuating Church President Dunn ran a cult and Romney was in on whatever debauched things happened in Salt Lake City. Bullock's campaign fizzled out, at least in the sense of polling. He continued to make speeches and campaign across the country, but observers could tell his heart was not in the fight. Meanwhile, his alcohol dependency became more pronounced. Rumors spread that Bullock had drunkenly threatened a number of staffers, including campaign manager John Hickenlooper. All of this doomed the Democratic ticket and contributed to a resounding 348-190 loss on November 3rd. Texas barely went for Bullock and only did so through the tireless campaigning of the Bullock machine. Romney did receive fewer electoral votes in 1992 than 1988, something that bucked trends, but given the extraordinary nature of 1988 and the three-way battle for the White House, pundits were unsurprised. Democratic candidates for lower offices ran ahead of Bullock and Sarbanes and made gains in the Senate while faltering in the House. Romney returned to Washington in January of 1993 emboldened and prepared for a more productive, conservative administration.
President Vernon Romney / Vice President Arne Carlson (Republican) - 348 EVs
Governor Robert "Bob" Bullock / Senator Paul Sarbanes (Democratic) - 190 EVs
* - Much of this is inspired by Larry Bond and Patrick Larkin's novel Vortex.
** - In the aftermath of the Imperial presidencies of Johnson, Yorty, and Reagan doves on both sides of the aisle came together to restrict the ability of the President to unilaterally commit the United States to armed conflict.
*** - TTL's MADD.
Personal computing is about as advanced as OTL. Government capabilities are slightly ahead, but not noticeably so. Someone from OTL dropped into this universe would find everything recognizable except for different brands being dominant.
So have the wars in South Africa and Vietnam worsened in any economic problems in the Eastern Bloc?
Somewhat, though truth be told the Soviets put very little into Southern Africa while China was North Vietnam's primary benefactor. TTLs Soviet Union also managed to liberalize economically somewhat on a system sort of like the Chinese model, but with more state power so is much better off in 1990 as compared to OTL.
Part 7: Supporting Characters
Clinton, William Jefferson (b. 1946) - Born to a waitress mother in Hope, Arkansas, Clinton's father died several months before his birth in a car accident. He was raised by his maternal grandparents until the age of 4 but returned to his mother and her new husband, a car dealer named Roger Clinton, in 1950. In his childhood, he realized that he had an interest in studying law. Clinton attended Georgetown and graduated in 1968 with a bachelors degree. Immediately afterwards, he went as a Rhodes Scholar to Oxford before leaving early to attend Yale. Bill and the future Hillary Clinton met at Yale in 1971 and became very close. In 1972, they campaigned for the doomed Presidential campaign of Hubert Humphrey in and around Hillary's home town of Park Ridge, Illinois. A chance run-in with then-Mayor Richard J. Daley and a number of Alliant executives in a downtown restaurant convinced Bill that Chicago was a place his political ambitions could be realized. After graduating from Yale in 1973 Bill moved to an apartment in the McKinley Park neighborhood of Chicago and quickly became involved in the local Democratic Party. The Clintons would marry in the summer of 1975. Bill was elected a Chicago Alderman in the 1979 elections, easily taking the place of the retiring incumbent Democrat. It was during his tenure on the City Council that the nickname 'Slick Willie' first was applied to Bill Clinton. The procuring of several million for the renovation of a nearby 'L' stop and other machinations on the Council gave Clinton a reputation as an able wheeler-dealer that could bring pork back to his constituents. In 1987, Clinton threw his hat into the ring to succeed eleven-year incumbent Roman Pucinski as Mayor of Chicago. Against Clinton were the son of Richard J. Daley, Richard M. Daley as well as community activist David Reed. Clinton wrote off Irish-Americans as lost to Daley, but campaigned heavily in the African-American South Side and among Lakeshore Liberals. Clinton's Southern origin reasonated with a black population not far removed from the Great Migration. Clinton racked up huge margins with African-Americans and performed well enough with whites that he received the Democratic nomination in February of 1987. Just under two months later, he easily dispatched Republican nominee Raymond Wardingley. Clinton's mayorship was marred with scandal. Allegations of mob connections, drug use, and unfair practices with pro-Clinton contractors dogged Wrigley Mansion*. Clinton easily won reelection in 1991 amidst a high-profile divorce from Hillary. Though proceedings were kept quiet, it is generally believed that Bill had numerous affairs, even during his time as Mayor. Clinton's end came in 1994 when undercover FBI agents confirmed that his administration illegally gave contracts to a hauling company run by his then brother-in-law Hugh Rodham. Despite Clinton's resignation, he remained astonishingly popular in Chicago. Bill Clinton reconnected with a recently-divorced law school acquaintance, Ellen Mulaney (née Stanton) who he married in 1998. In 2002, Bill Clinton would announce his candidacy for Governor of Illinois. Facing a number of downstate candidates, none of which were popular enough for the anti-Clinton vote to rally around, Bill won the nomination decisively. Former Democratic State Representative Richard H. Brummer of Effingham successfully received the Green Party nomination, and, with Brummer peeling off disaffected Democrats and Republican O'Malley having the advantage of the six-year itch, Clinton lost by a solid margin.
Kerry, John Forbes (b. 1943) - Born in Colorado to a Foreign Service Father and a social activist mother related to the wealthy Forbes family, Kerry's upbringing occurred across the globe. He attended college at Yale and graduated in 1966. The same year, Kerry enlisted in the Naval Reserve and was deployed to Vietnam only months later. Assigned to a Patrol Craft Fast ("Swift Boat") unit, Kerry served illustriously until February of 1969, when his boat was hit by Viet Cong fire on the Cua Lon River. A direct hit from a B-40 rocket paralyzed Kerry below the waist and put him in a coma, during which time he stayed in a Saigon hospital. When Kerry awoke, he was honorably discharged and returned home to the United States. Several years later, he began advocacy for disabled Americans. In June of 1981, Kerry was chosen as President of Americans for Inclusion and Accessibility (AIA), one of the nation's foremost disability rights activist groups. The passage of the Disabled Persons Protection Act (or Michaelson Act) in 1986 was considered the crowning achievement of Kerry's career and he retired, exhausted, soon afterwards. Moving to Florida, Kerry would later enter elected politics and serve as Lieutenant Governor under Lawton Chiles from 1995 to 2003. A failed 2002 bid for the Democratic nomination for Governor and a 2006 attempt for Senator ended Kerry's career.
Obama, Barack Husein (b. 1961) - Born to a white American mother and Kenyan father in Honolulu, his parents had a rocky relationship and divorced in 1964. Young Barack and his mother moved to Indonesia where she married Lolo Soetero, a teacher. Soetero and Obama's mother, Ann Dunham, would die in a car accident in early 1970 prompting the young Barack to go to Kenya and live with his fathers family. Barack Obama Sr. soon became too busy with his government career to raise his son and handed him off to his sister, Sarah Obama. An unruly child as a result of the many changes in his short life, Barack Obama was forced to learn discipline from his aunt before attending a military junior college. After acquiring degrees from the University of Nairobi and later Harvard, Obama joined the Kenyan army. By 2000, Obama had become a colonel in the Kenyan military, but was more powerful than his title suggested owing to the political influence of his father and brother.
Hillary Diane Rodham (b. 1947) - Hillary Rodham was born and raised in a conservative family in the Chicago suburb of Park Ridge. Her first political experience came in 1964 when she canvassed for Barry Goldwater in his ill-fated run for President. While attending college in Massachusetts, Rodham, formerly a strong conservative shifted to the left and began to back moderate Rockefeller Republicans. After witnessing Richard Nixon's Southern Strategy firsthand at the 1968 Republican Convention, Rodham left the Republican Party and became a Democrat. She met Bill Clinton at Yale in 1971 and the two married in 1975. After graduation, Bill and Hillary moved to Chicago where they entered into the practice of law. Both became active in the Democratic Party but ultimately Bill ran for office while Hillary declined to do so. Many of the machinations of Alderman Bill Clinton have been ascribed to Hillary and while much of this may be slander, it is true that she was crucial in his rise to Mayor. After allegations of infidelity, the Clintons would divorce in 1991. Hillary remained active in Democratic politics and would remarry a Chicago area lawyer, Alexander Williams in 1993 though she would retain her maiden name. In 1998, she was named Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and moved up to Attorney General in 2000. In 2003, during a Cabinet reshuffle, Hillary Rodham was confirmed as Secretary of State. Later planning for a run for President never panned out and Rodham retired from public life in 2019.
* - Wrigley Mansion, or the Theurer-Wrigley House, was renovated in the early 1980s and made the residence of the Mayor of Chicago.
Part 8: President Romney (1993-1997)
Romney's victory in 1992 was by a large margin, but can be ascribed not to any popularity of his own but to the extraordinary ability of 1992's Democratic ticket to make itself unpopular and snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory. All factions of the Grand Old Party hoped Romney would favor them in his second term, but were prepared for disappointment. In the end, Romney proved an astonishingly average President: he had few marks on his record, but most of his achievements were only in reaction to events he was forced to confront.
With NATO support*, the South African Republicans push eastwards received a jolt of life. Between the technologically advanced Republicans and numerous and spirited Communists, the Nationalists continued to crack. Much of the Nationalist opposition to the Republicans ended at the cataclysmic battle of Beaufort West, where American air forces annihilated much of the SADF's armor on N1. With much of the Cape Region secured, the Republicans largely stopped pursuing offensive operations. Throughout 1993 and 1994, the Nationalists upped the scale of conflict against their communist enemies by using chemical and biological weapons against forces in the Free State and Transvaal. They refrained from using such weapons against the American-backed Republicans, and though they were roundly condemned in the United Nations for their action, they received less action than they might have had they gassed Western forces. In the last years of the South African Republic, the increasingly erratic Hartzenberg drifted even further to the right. Openly espousing white supremacy, they integrated AWB units directly into their command structure and committed wanton atrocities against black communities suspected of supporting the enemy. Ironically, this increasing authoritarianism actually served to turn many within the shrinking Nationalist-held area against the government. The final Nationalist capital, Oranjekrag, a hamlet overlooking Hendrik Verwoerd Dam and Reservoir was overrun by the South African Peoples Army (SAPA)** in July of 1994. The Communists spent several months more mopping up the remnants of the independent Zulu Kingdom, but an uneasy truce sat over the frontlines between the Republicans and Communists. The Freetown Summit, held in May and June of 1995 in the capital of Sierra Leone was attended by the United States, Soviet Union, and representatives of both the Second Republic and the Peoples Republic of South Africa. A peace agreeable to both sides was brokered that would divide the former South Africa in two. The South African Republic (as the government in Cape Town became known internationally, but not within South Africa) got off to a good start as Helen Suzman was easily elected the first President of the Second South African Republic. The Presidency was a rather powerless office, but Suzman was a fitting holder given her fight against apartheid and role in founding the republic.
The first years of the Peoples Republic of South Africa were not as smooth. Almost immediately, a power struggle broke out between the communist military (SAPA) and the civilian ANC authorities. The President, former ANC Deputy President Walter Sisulu, saw his legitimacy challenged by an army faction led by Patrick Chamusso, a Mozambique-born convert to the ANC cause who had risen through the ranks of Umkhonto we Sizwe and later SAPA. After an abortive assassination attempt*** Sisulu ordered a purge of the military in which a number of ambitious officers were forced into retirement. There was some pushback - and even fear of a military coup by officers loyal to Chamusso - but the expected putsch never panned out and Sisulu remained President in Tshwane**** The new country had a hard time getting to its feet and reorganizing industry and unlike in the Second Republic, had forced nearly all of the former white managers to emigrate or had imprisoned them. Sisulu and the colorful PRSA Ministry of Communications would portray this as the Cape Town regime's collaboration with the masters of the Apartheid regime which was true in part though that government had strictly disavowed segregation and bigotry in all forms. The PRSA would become one of the most vocal anti-western states in the world after Sisulu's death in 1998, but its threats were largely toothless. A five-year attempt at federation with Zimbabwe would fail in 2003. Other than tensions with the capitalist west and food shortages, the Peoples Republic of South Africa largely fell out of view of the American public after the Romney Administration.
Spoiler: South African borders
The war in Vietnam, however, did not go as well for the United States. North Vietnamese preparation for a second war against the capitalist south had been going on since the end of hostilities in 1977 and the NVA, once bled nearly totally dry and unable to function in the last months of the war, had made a dramatic rebound into a modern fighting force. The South had not engaged in such preparations owing to La Follete-era policies to decrease aid there as well as a shocking sense of complacency in Saigon. What materiel did make it to South Vietnam usually never reached ARVN regulars and ended up disappearing into the corrupt bureaucracy or in the hands of the elite Presidential Corps. An influx of American guns, tanks, and men helped, but the total incompetence of the South Vietnamese and the lack of planning for war put the Americans on the back foot. Fearing a massive, endless conflict on the scale of the First Vietnam War, President Romney committed fewer American troops than needed to Vietnam. Between the NVA, PB guerilla cells, and South Vietnamese corruption, American forces continuously withdrew further southwards towards Saigon.
As Romney's second term went on, the American public soured towards the idea of continued involvement in Vietnam. Notably, the administration of President Mach Van Truong clamped down on internal dissent and even cancelled the 1995 elections. In such an environment, it became hard for friends of South Vietnam to claim American boys were fighting to save democracy. South Vietnam in the 1990s was not the first strongman regime the United States had ever supported but there was a crucial difference. Even compared to the First Vietnam War two decades before, communications technology had advanced drastically to the point where news on the fighting in Southeast Asia was transmitted live to American audiences. Footage of American planes bombing bridges and nightime artillery duels were not the only things captured on camera, however. A large number of Western film crews in a strongman pseudo-dictatorship was bound to cause some tension, but Vietnamese authorities had not expected to be caught on camera. A number of clips of South Vietnamese corruption and attempts at censorship were broadcast live to America, further sapping the will of the public to keep fighting. Protests against the war were held in every major city and in the 1994 midterms, the Republicans took serious losses as a result of war weariness. Despite it all, there was a devoted fringe of the right that supported remaining in Vietnam. They had various arguments: denying the accuracy of many reports from Vietnam or claiming that stopping the expansion of communism outweighed other concerns. They continued to criticize the Romney administration as well as its allies in Congress.
The decision to pull out was made in late 1995. Officially, "pulling out" was incorrect, as what was going to happen there was the Reagan-era policy of Equalized Withdrawal, just on a much shorter timescale. The announcement was greeted with a mix of reactions. Opponents of the war rejoiced, while those in favor vowed to fight Romney on the issue. American ground troops would be taken out of all combat situations by January 15th, 1997 though air missions would still be run and American advisors would remain.
Like with his first term, President Romney was largely a foreign policy President. With a Senate majority of five or six (depending on how you viewed Al Rowe), the Republicans required the consent of their liberal wing or the support of conservative Democrats to pass legislation. One of the chief developments was the reconciliation of Republicans with big government policies. The legacy of Reagan and Goldwater, that preached that government intervention was not the answer to societal problems, began to fall out of the way as Republicans came to accept the Democratic welfare reforms of the late 1970s and 1980s. The principal battle between these New Republicans and the Democrats was over social issues: medical care for the poor would be funded, but would it include abortions? With rather large support from all quarters, a ban on open gays and lesbians serving in the military was passed in 1993. Backers of the bill faced staunch opposition from liberal Democrats and even an attempt to filibuster its passage, but finally were able to put the policy in place. The more bipartisan American Energy Bill passed through both houses of Congress and was signed by the President in 1995. The bill put stringent regulations on American-based energy companies, forbidding them from moving more than 25% of their energy collection overseas while also announcing subsidies for the American energy industry. In an olive leaf to the environmentalist wing,***** many of these subsidies would go to green energy producers in an attempt to get them on their feet.
Vernon Romney's popularity declined throughout his second term. He acquired a reputation as an ineffectual, bumbling President - a judgement that was not quite fair in light of the situation he was put into. His Mormonism continued to create problems as trips to Utah and meetings with Church leadership led to allegations of favorable treatment of co-religionists and dark conspiracy theories. No serious evidence to this effect was ever found, but among the President's closest allies were Mormon Senators from Utah Laurence Burton and Orrin Hatch. The most serious scandal of the Romney administration came in the summer of 1995. In early June, the Washington Post published allegations that Attorney General Budd Dwyer had targeted political opponents of President Romney for prosecution and surveillance by the FBI. Among the alleged victims were prominent liberal Democratic figures like Senators Zoltan Ferency and Mickey Leland, Mayor John Conyers, and Representative Rich Whitney as well as 1988 New Force nominees Gore Vidal and Lenora Fulani. Dwyer would deny any wrongdoing, but committed suicide in his office in Washington in mid-July. No conclusive answer as to Dwyer's guilt was ever reached, as it did appear there was some surveillance going on, leaving all sides simply confused. In right-wing circles, family man Dwyer's suicide was attributed to a Democratic-aligned newspaper, giving the conservatives wind in their sails for the 1996 elections.
The six-year itch of 1994 was brutal for the Republicans. The Democrats took back the House and elected Maurice "Moon" Landrieu as Speaker of the House, making him the first Louisianan to hold that position. The Senate Republican caucus was reduced to 49 seats, yet with the supply and confidence of Alaskan Independence Senator Al Rowe (who voted with the Republicans on nearly everything) as well as Vice President Carlson to break ties, the Senate was considered in Republican hands. Among defeated Republicans were John Danforth in Missouri, who fell to former basketball player Bill Bradley, Chic Hecht in Nevada and Jay Wolfe in West Virginia (who had himself toppled Robert Byrd in 1988). Democratic incumbent Brian Burns in Vermont was defeated by just ten thousand votes as Liberty Union candidate Fred Tuttle received a surprising surge in support, allowing Republican John Gropper to declare victory. The Republicans picked up several seats, including New Mexico where Judge Bob Schwartz beat incumbent Robert Hawk, but failed to net a gain of seats.
Romney's choice for his successor was Vice President Carlson and, as he had agreed to do several years before, Vernon Romney endorsed Arne Carlson for the 1996 Republican nomination. The support of the President did not dissuade a number of other Republicans from jumping into the race for the nod. These included Senator Quayle of Indiana and Senator Trible of Virginia, Former Governors Domenici and Sununu, and Representative Bob Dornan of California. Carlson was the choice of the moderate and establishment and had wide support, but was attacked from the right by his opponents (with the exception of John H. Sununu, whose liberal platform received little popular support and who dropped out in December of 1995) Carlson had a tough, uphill fight and was the brunt of attacks by conservatives, but was able to rally the Plains and Midwest behind him and their votes carried him to victory. Still, Trible and Quayle had won a number of contests and things did not look easy for the Republicans in November.
Then came the May Surprise to end all May Surprises. Papers leaked from an unknown conservative source within the White House indicated that shipments of arms to South Vietnam were not on track and that the South Vietnamese lacked many of the weapons promised to them. Romney claimed he had no involvement (something that very likely was true), but hawks capitalized on the misstep. Pat Robertson, perhaps the premier evangelical leader in the United States and a staunch backer of all things conservative, screamed from every rooftop that the Romney administration was corrupt and in bed with the communists and that the delay in arms shipment was deliberate. Robertson swore that he could never support Arne Carlson and mobilized his massive ministry to get a viable conservative alternative on the ballot in 1996. Robertson would head up the ticket while Former two-term Alabama Governor Jeremiah Denton would be his running-mate. Their party would be called Onward!****** a subtle dig against the Republicans as well as reminiscent of 'Onward Christian Soldiers'. As if to underline the party's Christian right platform, their campaign song was written to the tune of 'Onward Christian Soldiers'. In an impressive feat, the new party was able to gain ballot access in all 50 states and DC within just a month of Robertson's announcement of a new party. Polling indicated Onward! would perform well with them consistently reaching the double digits and some polls even indicating 21% of the American public would vote for Robertson and Denton.
Carlson was tied to the Romney administration and despite his best efforts, could not distance himself from the White House Papers. Perhaps he knew he was doomed and choose a running-mate he personally liked rather than compromise with the conservatives he had grown to detest, but Arne Carlson shocked the nation by selecting General Colin Powell, a decorated hero of the First Vietnam War and popular General from the War in South Africa to run alongside him. Powell's confirmation vote was only won by 5% as many delegates revolted against Carlson.
The 1996 Democratic field was crowded with ambitious men that hoped an average outgoing Republican President in an era of Democratic dominance could be enough to bring one of them to the White House. Among them were technocratic California Governor Larry Agran, whose support of the growing tech sector made him a favorite, Southern liberal Senator Nick Galifianakis of North Carolina, as well as Senator Pat Leahy of Vermont whose 1980 win there made him the first Democrat to ever represent that state in the Senate. Two Governors-turned Senators, Bob Kerrey and Bob Graham both hoped to ride populist messages to victory by banking on creating areas of strong support in their home regions. By far the most eccentric candidate was Former New Mexico Senator and Former Texas Senator Dan Blocker, famous for his role as Hoss in the long-running television series Bonanza who campaigned on a platform of universal basic income, universal healthcare, and term limits. Blocker's campaign fizzled out by November of 1995 and he dropped out. From out of left field, Kerrey won a shocking victory in the Iowa caucus, where had been campaigning for months under the radar. This was followed soon after by a win for Leahy in New Hampshire and then two more Kerrey wins in Maine and South Dakota. Despite lackluster polling before the start of voting, Kerrey's early victories in rural, plains states boosted him nationally and gave him the momentum needed to win the nomination. Leahy largely fell off the map after winning Vermont, but came back to take his home state of Vermont. Kerrey's principal opponent turned out to be Larry Agran, who won a number of states in the growing Sun Belt as well as the Carolinas. In the aftermath of Kerrey's unexpected sweep of the primaries, something attributed to his wins in small, rural states at the beginning of the primary season, there were calls by Democratic activists to reform the primary system into something more balanced and less advantageous to small states. Among the proposals included a possible national primary day and a randomized schedule. The proposal was discussed at the Convention in Dallas but no decision was reached.
For his Vice Presidential choice, Bob Kerrey hoped to make history by choosing either a woman or a minority man. His two top choices were Senators Ernest Nalani "Juggie" Heen of Hawaii and Mickey Leland of Texas (not to be confused with Senator Leland of Michigan, also an African-American man in his first term) Both had their strengths: Heen was a self-made man with vast knowledge of the American medical system while Leland was a tireless and nationally-known campaigner against poverty. Ultimately, Heen was ruled out because of controversial stands in favor of voluntary euthanasia making the Democratic ticket Kerrey and Leland.
With the Republican Party facing a massive split, the Democrats were optimistic. The fiery Robertson and his allies spent much of their time campaigning against the Republican ticket, leaving Kerrey and Leland alone and able to talk about their progressive vision for America. The two debates were raucous affairs and ended by giving the impression that Robertson was a raving theocrat and Carlson outmatched with Kerrey as the only adult in the room. Election Day held few surprises as Kerrey trounced both of his opponents. Without a split, downballot Republicans did considerably better but still failed to prevent Democratic gains.
Senator Robert "Bob" Kerrey / Senator George Thomas "Mickey" Leland (Democratic) - 395 EVs
Vice President Arne Carlson / General Colin Powell (Republican) - 92 EVs
Evangelist Patrick "Pat" Robertson / Former Governor Jeremiah Denton (Onward!) - 51 EVs
Despite a loss in the Presidential election, Pat Robertson vowed that his new party would not fade away. It would attempt to retain ballot access and run candidates for President and generally attempt to pressure the Republicans to shift to the right through primary challenges. He also championed the creation of an associated think tank, the Graves Society*******. The Society sought to advance the cause of Christianity within the United States. Allies of Robertson's ministry founded a number of affiliate parties throughout the world, primarily in Central America and Canada. Due to either a lack of imagination or an interest in copying Robertson as closely as possible nearly all of these parties were also named Onward! (or the local translation of that word, frequently either ¡Adelante! or Avance!) Some of these parties did do well in local elections, but never won control of any state. Ties between the Graves Society and some of these affiliate parties became scandals in several Central American countries.
As Vernon Romney left office, there were sighs of relief from Republicans who felt he had not done enough and celebration by Democrats that believed Bob Kerrey would continue the march of progressive policies begun by Bronson La Follette twenty years earlier. Both sides would find the next four years rather surprising.
* - Most of NATO and Americas allies had jumped on the train of recognizing the Second South African Republic shortly after the US did. Previously, France and Britain had recognized it and provided limited air support.
** - The ANC's Umkhonto we Sizwe was dissolved in early 1993 to create the SAPA.
*** - The incident in question was covered up but rumor suggests that it stemmed from a cigar that exploded on Sisulu's face in his bedroom. However, as Sisulu had no noticeable burns from the alleged explosion, recent scholars have expressed doubts that such an action ever occurred.
**** - The new PRSA regime renamed a number of European-named cities. Pretoria was renamed as Tshwane, its original Tswana name. Johannesburg was changed to Uhuru, the Swahili word for peace. East London became Kwisixeko saseMandela.
***** - The enivornmental movement began much earlier than OTL. Unlike OTL, there are few deniers of climate change and the fight is primarily between people that believe strong steps need to be taken and those that think those steps will be done without government involvement.
****** - Thanks to @Fleetlord for this name. He used it in an election game.
******* - Named for James Robertson Graves.
Part 9: President Kerrey (1997)
Shortly the first days of the Kerrey Presidency, the Democratic National Committee announced it would hold a national primary in 2000. Opponents of the President contended that the present system of primaries spaced out over months and with small states first was undemocratic and gave an unfair advantage to those small states. Even backers of the victorious Kerrey were forced to agree and the vote was fairly uncontroversial. The 2000 Democratic primary would be held on Sunday June 6th which would likely fall at the very end of the Republican primary season. State Democratic Parties were not as pleased with the decision, but largely soldiered on despite their misgivings - 2000 would be a good test with an incumbent Democrat likely to win renomination.
How Bob Kerrey would govern was an unknown. He had served the people of Nebraska as Governor and Senator as a prairie populist and alternatively a friend and foe of Former President La Follette. Widely considered on the right of the party (a distinction most important in his views on social issues and interest in only expanding some government programs), Kerrey had shifted to the left after his nomination at the Democratic Convention in 1996.
Early in his administration, President Kerrey made the United States aware that he intended to give statehood to Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia during his time in office. With the Democrats in control of both houses and support from key Republicans, Kerrey was confident statehood would pass. As soon as he entered office, delegates from both prospective states met with White House officials to iron out the kinks. DC would not all be constituted as a state and would instead become the Commonwealth of Potomac, which would surround a rump Federal District consisting of key government buildings. Though unable to prevent statehood for the capital, Republicans were able to exact a number of concessions, like the inclusion of the Tidal Basin and East Potomac Park in the truncated federal district. Push towards statehood for both those territories, rationalized under the principle of taxation equaling representation became Kerrey's signature issue and the support of a white President from Middle America was able to bring much of America into line in a way the agitation of DC Shadow Representatives could never have done.
Kerrey also became the first veteran of the First Vietnam War to be elected President, and his accession to office came at the tail end of the Second Vietnam War. Decrying the Romney White House as disorganized and bumbling, Kerrey promised on the campaign trail to deliver the promised aid to South Vietnam. And, when he reached the Presidency, he delivered. By the start of May 1997, the deficit in arms and materiel shipments had been made up as Kerrey ordered the government to work overtime.
Amidst all this, newly-sworn in Secretary of State Paul Tsongas and President Kerrey announced to the United States that they would enter into talks with the Soviet Union in early 1998 about further reductions to both sides nuclear arsenals. It was impossible to say that all was right in the world, but Kerrey seemed to be getting the United States back on track. That all came to a screeching halt on September 19th, 1997 when, as President Kerry was giving a speech in Bethesda, Maryland, his chest was punctured by three bullets, fired in quick succession. The President was rushed to Georgetown Hospital, but was pronounced dead on arrival. Vice President Leland, at home at the Naval Observatory, was quietly hurried into the White House where Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Alvin Rubin swore him into office as 43rd President of the United States of America.
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