TLIAW: Against the Grain

My guess is Hube ran and won as a HW-ally in '46 and his OTL opponent won in '48 against a layup and Judd took over when he retired next term.
 
Wow! The cultural dividing lines in TTL America are becoming ever more stark. Hopefully the Supreme Court reforms will take some of the tension out of the situation. I genuinely wonder what the GOP is going to do in this scenario - finishing behind the Nationals in terms of Electoral votes in going to sting. If this continues, could we see a greater support for abolishing the electoral college?

Time will tell if the death of D'Alessandro will be viewed in TTL's history as a wistful 'road not taken' or the beginning of bigger and brighter things.
 
38. Dolph Briscoe Jr. (D-TX), 1974-1981 New
38. Dolph Briscoe Jr. (D-TX)
February 15, 1974 - January 20, 1981
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"An inaugural ceremony is symbolic of the continuity of history. Because all that went before is vital to the decisions of today. It is symbolic to the continuity of government which is the very essence of the preservation of our political system."

Situated about halfway between San Antonio and Del Rio, in 1974 Uvalde, Texas was a sleepy town of about 10,000, mainly centered around the livestock industry, like most Texas towns of its size. But it had one claim to fame: unlike any other city in the United States, it had been home to two Vice Presidents in living memory: John Nance Garner and Dolph Briscoe, Jr.

Journalists and historians have never been shy of comparing the two. Both were prominent men in Uvalde - Garner as a lawyer and Briscoe as a businessman - who made the jump to state politics, then to leadership in the federal House of Representatives. Both were deeply fiscally conservative by nature, but made exceptions when it came to their rural constituents, who needed federal infrastructure to bring equipment to their ranches and crops to market, and price supports to make the numbers balance out. Both went from the House of Representatives, where Garner served as Speaker and Briscoe as Majority Leader, directly to the Vice Presidency, as a direct result of a brokered convention where an eastern liberal had to pick a southwestern conservative for balance.

John Nance Garner never came to terms with the New Deal, quietly complaining about it for his last quarter-century of life until he died in 1968, mere days after seeing his protegé elected to the office he once held. But Dolph Briscoe, in his own way, reveled in it. He saw the way it revolutionized rural Texas through electrification, irrigation, and other infrastructure projects; more than that, he had a deep affinity for Henry Wallace, whose championing of price supports and agricultural extension had wrought the most change Uvalde had seen in generations. Farmers - and in particular latifundios like Briscoe and the Kleberg family, whose holdings stretched into the tens of thousands of cattle and hundreds of thousands of acres and whose enterprises employed thousands of temporary and permanent workers - were able to avoid destructive commodity cycles, take advantage of USDA aid to modernize their practices, and sell to ever-growing markets. Those markets included the growing cities of the United States, but they also included the rest of the world - even the Soviets traded for American beef and wool. And a stable order would provide ways for enterprising young minorities and women to rise through the ranks into positions of stability and even power without undermining the position of, well, people like Briscoe.

On February 15, 1974, Briscoe was where he usually wanted to be: on his Uvalde ranch, fifteen hundred miles from Washington. Like the President, he was relaxing; God knew he would be expected to use his Capitol Hill connections, even in a House with no clear majority led by a non-partisan Speaker (former Yale University President Milton Eisenhower), to push zoning reform through Congress. As he commonly did, he disconnected the phone lines, so his first sign of trouble was the helicopter from San Antonio carrying Robert Eckhardt, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. Within the hour, the brief, wooden address he made from the stairs of Air Force One had been broadcast around the world. Many were left wondering what kind of President Briscoe would be, what he would do with the immense power that now cloaked him. Briscoe himself was among them.

His first major initiative was unabashedly parochial - "provincial", as Representative Vidal snarked, "would be too expansive a word, because that would imply that the whole of Texas would benefit, not merely his corner." Lyndon LaRouche had come a long way from his youthful leadership of Students for Democratic Action, serving simultaneously as a Congressman from Massachusetts and chairman of the unofficial but indispensable National Democratic Policy Committee. Early in Briscoe's tenure as Vice President, LaRouche had met with him to discuss one of the NDPC's proposals, the North American Water and Power Alliance - a series of reservoirs, channels, and pumping stations aimed at redirecting millions of acre-feet of water from Alaska and Canada south to the Great Lakes and the arid west. Though Briscoe kept distance from LaRouche personally, he thought NAWAPA was just what the botanist ordered, and directed the Department of the Interior to begin planning construction. The almost universal uproar the plan created in Canada helped elect Paul Hellyer's Canadian Action Party over longtime Prime Minister Paul Martin, Sr., whose close work with Tommy Douglas to forge the modern Canadian welfare state was overshadowed by the perception that he was too close to Washington; this scuppered most of the project, but much of the stateside project would be revised and completed.

But the backlash to that effort would change American politics forever. The laboratories, research stations, and university departments Wallace and Roosevelt had funded to get the biggest bang for their buck on agriculture policy had made a series of discoveries, beginning as early as 1950 with Wilhelm Hueper's crusade against asbestos (backed by a $1.5 million increase in funding for the National Cancer Institute, secured after Hueper personally discussed the idea with Wallace cabinet member and fellow doctor Ernest Gruening), that heightened the contradictions of the New Deal's "Mass Affluence" [2]. Researchers discovered that the chemical plants that made Americans' cheap plastic appliances dumped runoff into whatever waterways they could find, poisoning man and beast alike; that the atomic and coal power plants that provided them cheap power were fed by mines that scattered toxic tailings across some of America's poorest communities, and the latter also sprayed toxic dust and gas into the air; that the railways and roadways that carried them and their goods from place to place (including the National Farm-To-Market Road System that had made Briscoe's name in his early career) disrupted both animals' and humans' (particularly humans who weren't affluent and Anglo) habitats, often never to recover. People on the ground realized this, too, but it was hard to unify the general sense of discontent, or campaigns in opposition to specific local harms, into a national movement. Until NAWAPA, they lacked a unifying ideal.

David Brower and Ralph Nader changed that. They made a slightly unlikely pair - Brower a world-famous mountaineer and WWII veteran turned Sierra Club leader, Nader an academic and lawyer whose combination of a long career of attacking powerful corporations (many of them deeply interlinked with the federal government) that hurt consumers and a self-consciously square public persona [3] had won him a Senate seat in 1972's Connecticut special election, nominated by both the Republican and Liberal Parties. [4] In 1974, shortly after Briscoe's announcement of his support for NAWAPA, the two jointly announced the U.S. Committees of Correspondence, a name swiftly changed to the less suspiciously vague Foundation for Public Ecology. Designed to have multiple functions, the FPE would serve as a counter to the NDPC as well as a political group in its own right, pursuing an 'inside-outside' strategy in the Republican Party much like that of the Communist Political Association, which contended for power within the Democratic Party while also maintaining outside pressure through the CIO and, particularly in the 31 states with electoral fusion, its independent ballot line. 'Public ecology' - a concept that covered everything from clean air and water to highway beautification to auto safety (Nader justified this, characteristically, by glossing the Greek etymology of the word 'ecology' as 'the study of the home') - became a common topic of magazine covers, water-cooler conversations, and political campaigns. FPE-endorsed candidates won the Republican primary in more than half of all House seats in 1974, a figure still impressive even after accounting for the number of those candidates nominated by small primary electorates in no-hoper seats.

Briscoe quietly abandoned his lofty goals of making the deserts, or at least the lands with hot semi-arid climates, bloom - it would be an ignominious start to a long Presidency of periodically sending initiatives to Congress but never quite giving them the support they needed to pass. Instead, he turned his attention to dithering over the expansive recommendations of his predecessor's Commission on Zoning Reform. Briscoe's intuitive sense that trying to get Congress to pass the proposed Urban Renaissance Act, drawn up by the Department of Housing and Home Finance under the watchful eye of Secretary Ed Koch [5], would range in the particulars from "difficult" to "snowball's chance in Hell" clashed with his awareness that figures like National Negro Congress leader Malcolm X might withhold votes from a bill perceived as an insult. So he did nothing, returning to Uvalde for more than half of May 1974. Though no longer able to get away with cutting the phone lines, his orders to limit his awareness of news to "the bare essentials" meant that he didn't find out that Ohio Congressman Carl Stokes had introduced the bill on his own initiative for three days. Though many observers expected a frantic effort to try to salvage the situation and work out a workable compromise, Briscoe was not a man overly inclined towards franticness. He allowed the House to negotiate the particulars of the bill for another few weeks, then - once a bill he thought was possible had emerged - quietly put feelers out to recalcitrant swing votes that the White House would be very grateful for their 'Aye's. When that proved not to be quite enough, he gave his approval publicly, in an interview with Morley Safer of CBS. "That's Dolph Briscoe for you," sighed an anonymous Texan Democrat eventually revealed to be Congressman Charlie Wilson, "he always does the thing he should have done two months ago a week after you'd given up hope he'd do anything at all."

The eventual bill, titled the Urban Development and Opportunities Act (or the Stokes-Christopher Act), was still a sea change in federal housing and education policy. It directed the federal government to redistribute funds from 'property-wealthy' to 'property-poor' municipalities and school districts, established Department of Justice preclearance for efforts to split or merge local governments when doing so would result in "increases in racial or economic segregation", created a process for reviewing municipal housing policies for "implicit or explicit discrimination", and created a modest federal tax on the unimproved value of land. Though the bill created massive changes for poor urban communities, many observers now view Briscoe's support of the amended form with a more cynical eye: the 'Robin Hood' local government scheme often meant that cities had to redirect significant quantities of property tax money from their own schools and social programs to rural areas, often meaning that poor Black and Hispanic communities were hit the hardest and middle-class rural Anglos benefitted the most, and the bill's funds for suburban housing projects often went to Briscoe allies like Bob Lanier, a Houston-based property developer who would go on to be elected Governor of Texas.

But whatever the long-term legacy, in the short term the bill united the right wing of the Republican Party and the Nationalists in hatred. Some viewed it as a communistic effort to hurt the successful and destroy poor communities' incentives to work themselves out of poverty, while others decried intrusions into our sacred schools and local governments in the name of 'integration'. One particularly loud voice against the bill was Los Angeles Mayor Robert Dornan, a veteran of the Congo War and nationally-famous Hollywood actor who had gained credibility among conservatives for his open membership in the Wide Awakes and fervent anti-Communism and among liberals for his heroic activism fighting for enforcement of civil rights law in the South (including a kidnapping attempt by the Provisional White Knights of Florida in 1963, foiled when Dornan managed to blink out clues to his location in Morse Code). The latter lent weight to Dornan's case: he was as deeply in favor of equality for African-Americans as any liberal Democrat (or, at least, so he said), but the bill would only accomplish the opposite of its intended effect, binding school districts to the status quo and giving communities no incentive to change their ways instead of reacting in opposition to federal pressure while doing nothing to deal with the real cause of discrimination: Big Government.

The UDOA, passed in August, would be the last major legislative accomplishment of Briscoe's first term. In part that had to do with the shellacking the Democratic Party received in the 1974 midterm elections, falling from first place directly to third. Briscoe did have one effect, arresting the Democrats' long-term slide in Texas and slowing it in the rest of the South - aside from loyalty to their boy, many Southern voters expected a nine-term Congressman to put more weight on respecting their incumbents' seniority than disrespecting their conservatism. But in the North, Democrats fell left and right - in liberal districts, they were overcome by FPE-endorsed Republicans, while in conservative districts, they were defeated by Northern Nationalists and conservative Republicans. Though Briscoe would continue to have close relations with Congress - you don't get elected from Uvalde for eighteen years without being able to talk to the kinds of people who'd vote for Faubus or Rockefeller - it was less an effective agenda and more of a positive gesture after 1974.

Another big part of it came from the newfound primacy of foreign affairs. Indonesian President Pramoedya Ananta Toer gained headlines when he claimed, at the 1975 Nairobi Conference, that "the Asian and African Century is not an aspiration; it is happening now, and has been for years." - but many Americans, Europeans, and Soviets agreed with him, though they felt very differently about it. The newfound economic power of the Republic of China was one major facet of this development. The forced coalition between the KMT and the Communists had brought the Republic much prosperity over the past generation, but that prosperity had helped make their approaches to development obsolete: for one thing, the rise in urbanization had made the parties' traditional social bases increasingly obsolete and begun to create both a Chinese middle class and a proletarian aspiration to join it. Zhou Enlai's diagnosis with bladder cancer in 1972 began a power struggle within the Chinese Communist Party, which Deng Xiaoping - long Zhou's right-hand man - saw an opportunity to use to transform Chinese politics.

Announcing that China had entered "a third phase of modernization", Deng founded the Shèhuìdǎng, or Chinese Socialist Party (alternately, Party of Society). Their ideological analysis stated that the Guómíndǎng and Gòngchǎndǎng had both contributed to the social and economic development of China - so much so, in fact, that China had substantially solved the issues they existed to address. The task was now to move beyond that - now that China had the economic strength to participate on the world stage, it was time to use it, and use the proceeds of that to create mass prosperity. Deng's supporters often point out that within ten years of the Shèhuìdǎng's victory in the 1973 general election, China had the world's largest economy. This was true, but it elided some key facts - most notably, that China was already well on trend to do so. But Deng's aggressive promotion of both growth of domestic capital and investment from foreign capital (both helped by the incorporation of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region) did have a massive effect, particularly by the 1980s as deregulation and educational reform began to have their largest effects.

Briscoe and the agricultural interests he represented generally supported the rise of the Chinese economy, as well as similar revolutions in places like Vietnam, Malaya, and Korea - more people, especially off the farms, meant more customers for agricultural produce. While the increase in imports of manufactured goods was hardly ideal, it did mean more competition to keep American producers honest. Many white-collar American consumers did, too - in addition to their material interest in cheaper cars, many responded badly to the xenophobic tint of much of the opposition to Chinese imports. In more industrialized areas, though, every additional car sold in America by companies like Chang'an and Jili meant more competition and lower prices for Ford and General Motors, often leading to wage cuts and layoffs. Though manufacturing employment itself remained strong through 1976, more than a few companies cancelled planned expansions.

But in 1975, the eyes of the world weren't really on China - instead, they were on the world's second-largest country. The Federal Republic of India was an unwieldy creation - stretching from Balochistan in the west to Cox's Bazar in the east, it contained three-quarters of a billion people and thousands of ethnic and religious groups. The dominance of the Indian National Congress had transformed India - Jawaharlal Nehru and Maulana Azad had created a nation unified in its diversity, with a relatively weak central government binding together dozens of provinces. But the largest divisions were between Groups A, B, C, and D - the Hindu-majority south, the Muslim-majority northwest, Bengal and Assam, and the so-called Hindi Belt of the northern plains. These groups were massively divided by language, culture, religion, and economic situation. Nevertheless, the Indian National Congress had created a political machine that reached across divisions to deliver at least modest development for millions of Indians.

Nevertheless, issues such as redistribution, minority rights, and industrial policy represented long-term issues. The Communist Party represented the main active competition to Congress, but not its greatest threat: the greatest threat was that Congress itself might split, either because of nationalists in Groups B and C crossing the line into independentism or because of the central party sliding into Hindu provincialism. Meanwhile, many intellectuals within the party argued that federalism was holding India back - pointing to China, they argued that the Chinese central government had been able to coordinate the construction of infrastructure and the provision of public goods in a way that most Indian states had never been able to. Furthermore, Congress' machine politics often took the form of monopolistic state-owned enterprises run more for providing employment than for efficiency. This was a particular issue in Group D, which made up more than a third of India's population and had some of its highest rates of poverty and corruption.

Calcutta, one of India's two largest economic centers, had to deal with these issues of division. Though Bengal on the whole was poor, it had become something of a success story - its low rates of intercommunal violence and rapidly increasing literacy rates meant that it drew in billions of Union Dollars of foreign investment, and its presence in a Muslim state with substantial Hindu minorities meant that it was unusually socially mixed. Its leadership by the Left Front - a branch of the Communist Party with relatively cordial relations with Delhi - helped burnish the city's reputation as the future of India. But in addition to Bengali Hindus and Muslims, there was also a third group growing rapidly: as underemployment persisted in Bihar, Odisha, Awadh, and to a lesser extent provinces further upriver, peasants voted with their feet and went to Calcutta to work in factory jobs and informal service work. These migrants - many of them poor, Hindi-speaking, undereducated, fervently Hindu, and looked down upon by the secularized Bengali middle-class - proved easy for groups like the RSS to recruit and radicalize.

In the summer of 1974, monsoon rains had inundated parts of West Bengal, including several housing developments mainly inhabited by Hindi-speaking workers in Uluberia; twenty-four people died. Left Front Governor Somnath Chatterjee promised housing aid for the workers left homeless, but six months later nothing seemed to be forthcoming, and several RSS members decided to take matters into their own hand. On February 28, 1975, while a procession carrying Chatterjee and several other high-ranking members of the urban and provincial governments crossed the Howrah Bridge, a bomb exploded, seriously damaging the bridge and killing Chatterjee and 39 other people.

The Howrah Bridge Bombing marked the beginning of the Indian Civil War. Retaliatory police crackdowns and brutality against the RSS and other groups that, in the words of the Internal Security Act, "sought to disrupt societal harmony by means of violence or force", led to retaliatory backlashes; meanwhile, the 1975 provincial elections saw an unprecedented decline for Congress, with two states electing Hindu nationalist or soft-nationalist governments, three electing Muslim separatists, and Tamil Nadu electing a secessionist government. Yashwantrao Chavan, India's fifth Prime Minister, resigned; in his place, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a young man who had made a name for himself as a foreign policy expert and ardent nationalist, ascended to the office. His first order of business was to establish two Commissions on Constitutional Reform, one under Jagjivan Ram aimed at reviewing the balance of power between provinces and the federal government and another under Jagmohan aimed at economic and infrastructure reforms to revitalize the Indian economy on the Chinese model. His second order of business was to direct the Indian military to quell the ongoing uprisings, including arresting members of newly-elected state governments who were unwilling to renounce separatism or Hindu nationalism.

For a brief moment, it seemed to work; many of the separatists viewed their cause more as a way to compel the federal government to listen to their concerns than as a sole goal. Bhutto's decisive action reassured international media and business, and TIME named him their 1975 Man of the Year. As long as you ignored the fact that more than two hundred million Indians remained under martial law by the winter of 1975, or that insurgents and police still killed dozens each every week [6], India's future looked brighter than ever. And in order to avoid the thorny question of what would happen if a nation of seven hundred fifty million fully dissolved into civil war, both American and Soviet policymakers were willing to ignore those inconvenient facts, at least for a few years.

They would not be able to forever, of course. Aside from the instability of the status quo, it was becoming harder and harder to successfully execute a coverup of that scale - the old sources of news were beginning to be displaced by newer, more technologically advanced, methods. The sheer scale of the new research done under the aegis of the federal government - beginning during the New Deal, but ramping up massively during the Second World War and postwar - required massive advances in computer technology to record and analyze, and in networking to communicate and coordinate. By 1967, IBM and Remington Rand were the nation's two largest federal government contractors outside the defense industry, and their involvement in business and personal computing made them two of the largest corporations on the planet.

In 1971, a consortium of universities led by the University of Minnesota had founded the National Educational Computing Consortium, a time-sharing system that hooked college and high school students to university mainframes. Given a line-item in next year's federal budget, the program expanded rapidly over the years - to save load on overstressed machines, the decision was made to convert the system into a more networked form, allowing individual users to communicate directly. By 1975, twenty million Americans were connected, either directly or through institutional intranets that connected to the national network.

"Educational" quickly became an outdated description, though the network had almost from the beginning contained an extensive if very focused amount of anatomical information. Games like The Great Escape and Spacewar!, music sharing (and pirating) systems like Yahoo, fan salons like Imladris, marketplaces like Townsquare, and online informational resources like Everything^2 all became very popular, but in politics, its main effect - at least at first - was to coordinate partisans. Among the generally young, educated, and cosmopolitan readership, online news salons like Stewart Brand's Whole Earth Market and "wolumns" (web-columns) like Hunter S. Thompson's Gonzo Times became extraordinarily influential. Though their readership skewed towards the Foundation for Public Ecology (or else the left wing of the Democratic Party, such as readers of Michael Harrington's New American magazine), the main effect was to allow stories that might not have broken into the mainstream press, such as Sy Hersh's revelations about American conduct in the Congo, to reach new audiences. Conservatives, too, were able to find their own corners, swapping stories about left-wing professors and liberal proposals to create a "New World Order".

All of these factors helped create the conditions for the 1976 Presidential election. Both Nader and Dornan decided to campaign actively for the Republican nomination, with Dornan also dipping his toes in the water for a National Party campaign; both had success, but neither, going into the 1976 Republican National Convention, had a majority. More conventional Republicans, such as Ohio Governor Robert Taft Jr., held the balance of power - and, more than that, the commanding heights of the party. At the 1976 Republican National Convention, held in San Francisco, they attempted to go for broke, freezing out both the "extreme" candidates in favor of handing the nomination to Taft. It would have worked if not for one mistake - three and a half hours before the stitch-up was supposed to occur, Ken Clawson, Taft's press secretary, bragged about the plan to Thompson, who took the information to Nader's aide Gary Hart. Within the hour, Nader had spoken to Dornan about a tactical alliance. Bob Bullock once called that "the night Dolph Briscoe won his second term".

Between the two of them, Nader and Dornan lacked the delegate strength or rules-lawyering skills to stop Taft. But they more than made up for it in their mastery of the media. Decrying a "partisan stitch-up", their most presentable surrogates found friendly reporters, while others went out to bird-dog party functionaries about the idea or assemble warm bodies - Nader from Students for a Clean Society at Berkeley, Dornan from the more suburban League for Decency and Law, as well as the more upstanding chapters of the Wide Awakes. The "optics", as many called it, of denying two candidates who had between them won 70% of the vote in favor of a nominee who had won less than 15%, looked bad.

But the Republican machinery had one more ace up its collective sleeve. A Nader/Dornan or Dornan/Nader ticket would be comically unworkable [7], and everyone knew it. Though neither candidate would accept their aid (Nader on principle, Dornan because he knew he would look like a hypocrite), they could tactically surrender, wait for the deal between the two of them to break down, and have Taft or some other figure come back as a unity candidate. Taft announced that "under the circumstances", he could not accept the nomination; the first ballot was finally taken, with inconclusive results; and the fight was back on.

When the dust settled, Dornan had won the nomination - but only after a Naderite walkout, where Nader refused to endorse and Hart joined up with the Citizens' Party of labor leader Tony Mazzocchi. Many Republican voters who disliked both Nader and Dornan wrote in Taft, or else refused to vote altogether. Adding insult to injury, the Nationalists refused to endorse Dornan, instead choosing Congressman John Rarick of Louisiana. It gave Briscoe the perfect opportunity to make an uncharacteristically bold choice - aware that his lack of understanding of urban or civil rights issues would be an obstacle to his Presidency, he nominated Chicago Mayor Ralph Metcalfe to become the highest-ranking Black politician in American history.

The election ended up driven by vote-splitting. In states like Oregon and Pennsylvania, Mazzocchi peeled enough voters away from Briscoe to pull Dornan over the top; in states like Georgia and Louisiana, Rarick did the same to Dornan, allowing Briscoe to sweep most of the South and Great Plains. A few highly-educated states, mostly in the North, swung to Mazzocchi - additionally, Governor Zolton Ferency and UAW President Walter Reuther both endorsed him, allowing him to squeak past in a three-way race in Michigan. The recounts took most of November, but when the dust settled, it was clear - four hundred votes in Ohio (or slightly more than a thousand in New York) had given Dolph Briscoe the Presidency for four more years. What he would do with such a puny mandate was another question, as was the question of what Nader and Dornan - both young men, potentially with decades ahead of them, at the heads of political movements that seemed to still be ascending - would do going forward.


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The Jamaican Constitutional Crisis of 1976 was only the first major issue of Briscoe's second term. Slightly more than a month after Briscoe's re-election, Michael Manley, leader of the People's National Party, faced an issue: his nominally social-democratic party had won a narrow victory over the incumbent Jamaica Labour Party, but not a majority. In order to govern, Manley would have to enter into a coalition with the Communist Party of Jamaica - explicitly republican, broadly Black-nationalist, and at least somewhat militant. This was, however, not acceptable to JLP-aligned Governor General Hugh Shearer, who - on the advice of the Crown, who feared that Manley would declare a republic or legitimize the Communists enough for them to take power and do so - refused to acknowledge Manley as Prime Minister, instead advising Prime Minister Clifford Campbell to form a minority government and immediately hold new elections. Manley proceeded to, alongside CPJ leader Walter Rodney, announce a Unilateral Declaration of Independence. Though negotiations between Manley and the British government (helped by the fact that Prime Minister Benn supported Manley, albeit without a Parliamentary majority behind him) eventually led to an agreement and an averted civil war [8], a combination of general unrest and falling exchange rates led hundreds of thousands of Jamaican refugees to migrate - legally or illegally - to America, where they clustered in New York and Florida, massively influencing local cultures.

Immigration was one of several issues where Congress - dominated, after 1976, by broadly center-left coalitions in both houses - took the lead, more or less as a consequence of Briscoe's refusal to. In 1977, the Immigration Modernization Act was proposed, the first major change to American immigration law since Roosevelt's 1959 effort to remove racial discrimination from existing codes. The law would finish abolishing the National Origins Formula, extending certain protections and a pathway to citizenship to 'alien residents' who fit certain legal criteria. Despite strong backlash among more conservative voters, many of whom believed that the law would allow millions of the world's poor to mooch off the American welfare state, the bill narrowly passed both houses - before unexpectedly receiving a pocket veto from Briscoe. Though negotiations to create a second draft would eventually succeed in 1978, the whole episode - with Briscoe refusing to take a stand on the bill until the last moment - left a bad taste in most Congressmen's mouths.

It would only get worse when the issues threatened Briscoe's personal business. Farmworkers had long been left out of American labor law, an omission that went all the way back to the original Wagner Act. But that didn't stop organizers from trying anyway - though CIO efforts in the late '40s and early '50s had mostly failed, a new wave of organizing efforts in the verdant Imperial Valley of California and Rio Grande Valley of Texas produced the Congress of Organized Farm Workers (COFW) in 1976. Leaders like Larry Itliong and Dolores Huerta organized strike and boycott campaigns across the nation. While Briscoe was too aware of what it would do for the Democratic Party to attempt to suppress unions to openly go through with his plans (revealed posthumously in Bob Bullock's papers) to use the National Guard to break the strike, and too conscious of his own interests to endorse Jerry Brown's suggestion of increasing import quotas for crops from overseas, he was also not interested in intervening - as many labor leaders asked him to - on the side of COFW. The confrontation would drag on well into the 1980s.

But COFW was only one aspect of a broader movement towards union militancy, represented by the Mazzocchi campaign, Jock Yablonski's successful bid for the UMWA presidency, and Eddie Sadlowski's efforts to reform the Steelworkers. Since the 1930s, the alliance between labor and the Democratic Party had done much for both - but it had also yoked the labor movement to an often-corrupt and often-corrupting status quo and allowed individual leaders to gain immense power as middlemen. This was true even of the more-radical CIO, which faced a string of scandals throughout the 1970s. It was time for a change, especially as growing deindustrialization led to calls for worker-led practice changes, cooperative ownership schemes, and other reforms. On May 30, 1977 - forty years to the day after the Memorial Day Massacre - Tony Mazzocchi, Jock Yablonski, Eddie Sadlowski, Dolores Huerta, Philip Vera Cruz, and several other labor leaders announced their creation of the National Congress of Workers' Organizations, an attempt at reversing the perceived slide in workers' power and rights since the halcyon days of the Roosevelts.

Briscoe responded to all of these developments by retreating further into seclusion, spending more and more time on his ranch and delegating even more power to figures like Bullock. One piece of good news was the 1978 launch of Olympus, the first permanently-occupied space station. Launched as preparation for the lunar base, Olympus carried an initial complement of three researchers, soon expanded to six, and was viewed as a useful intermediate step between Earth and the Moon. It would soon be joined by Mir in 1980, as well as plans for British, French, and Chinese stations. Briscoe also presided over the launch of the first two Odyssey space probes in 1977, which between them visited all five Outer System planets. Though the Briscoe Presidential Library and Museum features large murals of SSA, the Odyssey probes, and Artemis X (the first American crewed mission to the moon, led by Charles Duke), it is worth noting that - like most of the rest of the Briscoe administration - Briscoe had no leadership role in it happening, though he did reject suggestions to cut funding for non-lunar spaceflight programs.

The greatest positive legacy of Briscoe's second term (aside from the watered-down IMA) was 1979's Depository Institutions Reform and Accountability Act. Local depository institutions - in particular, credit unions and savings and loan associations - had been the backbone of rural America since the Depression, serving both financial and civil society roles. But a drumbeat of scandals (most prominently involving Rhode Island Governor Fernand St Germain, who was arrested in 1978 for fraudulently accepting a $1.8 million dollar no-down-payment loan in his wife's name) and insolvencies (most notably in Mississippi and Alabama, where recovery from 1977's Hurricane Carlos had been difficult) had made it clear to federal regulators that something was going to have to give. Briscoe, unusually, made an actual effort to push the cause, putting in quiet words with more than a few Senators; in the end, local depository institutions traded compliance with Federal Reserve regulations and greater transparency requirements for the ability to charge higher interest rates, greater rights to diversify their holdings, and better deposit insurance terms. The long-term effects of DIRAA are still controversial.

By 1980, Briscoe's reputation was generally not very positive. Deindustrialization had hit the Rust Belt in earnest, costing millions of jobs; the political situation was badly gridlocked, in part because of increasingly volatile partisan conflict, in particular over civil rights issues Briscoe made no effort to move America forward on; the world situation was not much better, as India slid rapidly into another phase of civil war, much of Western Europe was suffering from the same issues as the Rust Belt, and the Soviet Union increasingly retreated into its own domestic political issues. More than that, Briscoe's Presidency was not one of solving problems - indeed, the man spent more than half of it in Uvalde, which felt to many like a wasted opportunity. Since his retirement, though, many former critics have softened on him - he may not have been a transformative President (though, in an environment of swiftly changing political coalitions, it is unclear that anyone could have been under the circumstances), but he had the good sense to get out of the way of new developments like the rise of China and the digital revolution, while still making an effort to preserve the world he knew and understood. His post-Presidential efforts, through the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, have certainly bought him more than a little goodwill with the nation's historians.


[1] LaRouche was forced to resign from the NDPC in 1978 after accusations of unethical employment and fundraising practices, as well as violations of the Hatch Act in advance of a planned run for President. His attempts at entryist takeovers of several local party apparatuses and third-party runs would be seriously encumbered by his 1980 convictions for mail fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit extortion, leading to a twelve-year sentence in federal prison.

[2] A term coined by John Kenneth Galbraith, who served as Secretary of the Treasury from 1948 to 1949 and 1953 to 1961. His brief candidacy for the Democratic nomination was thwarted by several people suddenly remembering the existence of the Natural-Born Citizen Clause and the fact that Galbraith had been born in Ontario, but not until after he won the primary in his home state of Vermont.

[3] Famously, in a 1970 appearance on NET, Nader refused to sing along with the theme tune to Sam and Friends as written, instead singing "You and I / all will see..."

[4] Rumors that the main dyad of Gore Vidal's 2001 novel The Contenders were based on Nader and LaRouche, who seemed to share a special animus during their mutual time in the spotlight, have never been confirmed by the author. Reportedly, neither of them were happy with their 'depiction'.

[5] Briscoe retained almost all of his predecessor's Cabinet who did not take the initiative to retire, and frequently either delegated the task of appointing their replacements to figures like Chief of Staff (and 'Real President') Bob Bullock or failed to nominate anyone at all; most famously, after Director of the National Arts and Culture Administration Joel Wachs resigned in 1977 to run for the mayoralty of his home city of Los Angeles, Briscoe attempted to appoint former SAG President Ronald Reagan, who had died in a plane crash two years prior, then failed to appoint a permanent Director for eighteen months, leaving George Stevens Jr. to serve as acting Director until Briscoe finally elevated him to a permanent role.

[6] More than a few independent observers have put the full death toll an order of magnitude higher than the official numbers. In particular, Bengal and Assam have been accused of systematically underreporting both intercommunal violence between Muslims and Hindus and the extent of tribal separatism in outlying parts of Assam. Famously, a 1976 attack on a passenger train between Shillong and Gauhati that claimed 67 lives was officially reported as a mundane accident with ten fatalities until reporters for the Anandabazar Patrika investigated in 2004.

[7] Rumors that Dornan laughed for two consecutive minutes after Pat Caddell of FiveFortySix suggested a unity ticket are unconfirmed.


[8] The Royal Palm Agreement, mediated by former Cuban President Fidel Castro, stated that elections, moderated by international observers, would be held for a constituent assembly, which would draw up a constitution for an independent Republic of Jamaica (free to remain within or leave the Commonwealth), which would then be put to a vote. Held in August 1977, the election gave the new constitution a 52% majority.
 
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How did the partition get Averted?
More or less, Wallace's more focused commitment to the Global South led him to listen more closely to INC leaders during the independence negotiations, leading him to exert a bit more influence on Attlee to consider the ramifications of Partition on the new minorities in both would-be countries. Attlee listened, and post-independence Congress leaders made a concerted effort to include Muslims from would-be Pakistan from the get-go as a way of cutting Jinnah's legs out from under him.
 
Presidential review time.

And holy shit what a term. Turns out India/Pakistan haven't really been divided yet, and that's caused a problem. There's also the growth of China, and finally, the most groundbreaking development: none other than the fucking INTERNET.

In presidential terms, he was fine, instituting some nice reforms (like the environment one in term 1) but slowly sliding into unpopularity from the public.
 
I posted this on another thread but, if a movie is made about Briscoe's presidency, I can see Paul Sorvino (most known for Goodfellas, although he had many more solid roles than that) playing Briscoe, as there is a resemblance between them. (1)

Good to have Uvalde be known for something better than...what happened in May of 2022.

(1) Funnily enough, Sorvino starred on Law and Order as Chris Noth's partner (Phil Cerrata) before he left and was replaced by Jerry Orbach, who played...Lennie Briscoe, probably the most popular character in that universe, IMO...
 
Presidential review time.

And holy shit what a term. Turns out India/Pakistan haven't really been divided yet, and that's caused a problem. There's also the growth of China, and finally, the most groundbreaking development: none other than the fucking INTERNET.

In presidential terms, he was fine, instituting some nice reforms (like the environment one in term 1) but slowly sliding into unpopularity from the public.
Would a balkanized India /Pakistan have been necessarily better?
 
I posted this on another thread but, if a movie is made about Briscoe's presidency, I can see Paul Sorvino (most known for Goodfellas, although he had many more solid roles than that) playing Briscoe, as there is a resemblance between them. (1)

Good to have Uvalde be known for something better than...what happened in May of 2022.

(1) Funnily enough, Sorvino starred on Law and Order as Chris Noth's partner (Phil Cerrata) before he left and was replaced by Jerry Orbach, who played...Lennie Briscoe, probably the most popular character in that universe, IMO...
I've considered naming him the Uvalde Guy as part of my presidential nicknames series that started way back in Watchtower.
 
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