WI: George H. W. Bush won in 1980?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by rick007, Sep 28, 2015.

  1. rick007 Well-Known Member

    Dec 11, 2006
    Exactly what it says on the tin. What if George H. W. Bush had beaten Reagan in the primaries and won the presidency in 1980? Who would his VP be? His cabinet? Would he get shot at by Hinckley? If he survives would he get a second term? How would this change the world?
  2. dw93 Can't Afford to be a Donor

    May 8, 2015
    I've seen some threads like this before. Bush probably picks a right winger to be his running mate (Paul Laxalt, Jack Kemp, etc...) to balance the ticket. Unless this produces enough butterflies (namely the hostages being released), Bush beats Carter, but not by as big of a margin as Reagan did. As for his cabinet, think of a mix of Ford's, Reagan's, and Bush's of OTL. Hinckley shooting him would be a mystery to me, it could happen, it may not. Does he get a second term? It depends, if he cans Volker, that can delay or even prevent the economic recovery and hurt him politically, so could a scandal. On the other hand, the Democratic party was a mess in the 1970's and '80s so a bad nominee or a divided party could give Bush a win in '84.

    How does it change the world? The cold war may end sooner, but no later than it did OTL. I doubt Bush would be as reckless as Reagan was in his first term OTL. Both political parties are more moderate today without Reagan, nor is the religious right a political force to be reckoned with. The debt and deficits would be smaller to.
  3. David T Well-Known Member

    Nov 8, 2007
    OK, I can't resist recycling this one:


    George Herbert Walker Bush thought back on the long campaign that led him to
    where he was now--the Republican national convention in Detroit where he was
    now the party's presidential nominee. He felt certain he could defeat Carter
    in November, what with the poor state of the economy and the Iranian hostage
    fiasco and Russian troops in Afghanistan. How fortunate that Reagan, a bit
    too overconfident of his one-on-one debating ability, had agreed to a two-man
    debate in New Hampshire. Had Reagan insisted on letting Bob Dole and Howard
    Baker and the other candidates in, either Bush would have had to agree (and
    let the anti-Reagan vote be split) or else insist on keeping the others out,
    which would make him look bad--an "Establishment" candidate out to muzzle all

    But there was no point in dwelling on the past. His victory against Reagan,
    both in New Hampshire and subsequently, had been narrow--but he *had* won.
    Now there was one more big decision left--who would his running mate be? It
    had to be a conservative, to satisfy the Reaganites. But not someone like
    Reagan himself, or even Jack Kemp. They had their own power bases, and they
    could defy him--even openly--if they felt his administration wasn't
    conservative enough. No, he needed someone who was young, who was very much
    of the Right, but whose loyalty he felt he could count on. A good debater
    who could really cut into Mondale in the vice-presidential debates.
    Suddenly, a name occurred to him: Congressman Robert Bauman of Maryland! A
    New Right conservative, and a Catholic, too. He would be just perfect for
    wooing the "family values" people...

    Fast forward through election and John Hinckley's assassination of President
    Bush in 1981. We proceed to a day in the summer of 1981 when President
    Bauman, faced with an ugly threat of blackmail by someone with surveillance-
    camera footage of an encounter Bauman had thought was secret, makes a
    television address to a stunned nation. "My fellow Americans: I have
    something to say which may shock you. Indeed, in a sense it is a shock
    to me, because I now realize that I have been living in denial
    for many years..."

    Simon, Kovalenko and Bomster like this.
  4. rick007 Well-Known Member

    Dec 11, 2006
    Anyone else have any thoughts?
  5. Kalmar New Member

    Mar 31, 2014

    If he picked Kemp as VP and his Inner Circle rallied around his Presidency I could see him easily pull 2 terms.
    The Dems were not centered enough in the 80s to pull a win. With his CIA past he would likely not be put in position to get shot by Hinkley and would no doubt
    have dirt on most everyone in government. In effect, he would be his own J. Edgar Hoover. The USSR would fold quicker and Kemp would win a succersor term as VP
    and 2 term it as the Soviet Union falls apart. Supreme Court would be hard right for many years to come and society would suffer rights violations and slide fast
    to rioting by the mid 90s due to a flailing economy. Supply side never works for the mass of the population. Reforms would be hard to happen with the SCOTUS in
    place so heavy handed suppresion from 94-96 leads to a suspension of the 96 election "till a less troubled time" in President Kemp's words. A failure for the Republican
    party as they get swept out of office in State and Local elections and force an emergency Presidential election in the fall of 97. As President Clinton takes office he
    has Carte Blanche with super majorities in both Senate and House, he calls for Impeachment of 4 SCOTUS Justices and no one can stop it. By 2000 the SCOTUS is hard Left
    and sweeping reforms take root. The Single Payer health system is a major relief to the masses and VP Gore's reforms to environmental law stimulate a new economic growth
    in Renewables and Education. After a long long national nightmare the sun shines again and no one ever misses the GOP.
    THeaven and TimTurner like this.
  6. rick007 Well-Known Member

    Dec 11, 2006
    I know that Kemp was right but I don't think he would be that bad. And having Bush I in office for the '80s would be better than Reagan, I feel.
    Bomster likes this.
  7. Paul V McNutt Paul V McNutt Banned

    Nov 20, 2007
    I am thinking Kemp is the running mate. Of course, with the recession and the hostage crisis, they win. He is obligated to press for the Roth Kemp Tax and budget cut like Reagan did. He probably engages the Soviets more. In the good economic times of 1984. Kemp wins in 1988 thanks to the continued prosperity.
  8. Dunning Kruger Often Wrong But Never in Doubt

    Jul 6, 2013
    Los Angeles, CA
    The Republican Party might still be sane without having the Reagan Myth to distort reality.
  9. GeographyDude Well-Known Member

    Jun 9, 2014
    I think this is a fair enough and important question:

    Was it the tax cuts and deficit spending of the Reagan administration which helped to pull the U.S. economy out of recession?


    And maybe Bush decides to forget this whole "balance" the ticket business, and offer the VP spot to someone a lot like himself who he feels he can work with and who he feels is fully capable of stepping into the presidency on day one.
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2015
  10. freivolk Well-Known Member

    Sep 19, 2006
    I have the feeling, Bush didn´t saw the Vice-Presidency as an element of "balancing the ticket", but as an element of patronage, with whom you give fine young men with the right family background a career boost. He himself tried to become VP several time under Nixon and Ford and I think this attitude explain Dan Quayle. So I think he would chose somebody like Quayle.
  11. rick007 Well-Known Member

    Dec 11, 2006
    In that case, who would be the most likely candidate?
  12. rick007 Well-Known Member

    Dec 11, 2006
    Would Bush consider putting one of his primary rivals in the VP slot? Howard Baker? Bob Dole? Harold Stassen?

    Or maybe someone who declined to run for president like Pete Du Pont. Or Charles Mathias. Or Chuck Percy.

    What do you think?
  13. Thekidwithnoname New Member

    Feb 24, 2018
    If you haven't seen the video "What if Reagan never became president" by AlternateHistoryHub go watch it because it details everything quite nicely
  14. rick007 Well-Known Member

    Dec 11, 2006
    I saw that one too. I don't Bob Dole would succeed H.W. At least not in '88.
  15. emk163 The Magical Mystery Tour

    Feb 27, 2017
    Now that's a great twist.
    Bomster likes this.
  16. rick007 Well-Known Member

    Dec 11, 2006
    Huh. I don't think it would happen that way. For one thing, I don't think H. W. would die.
  17. Amadeus Well-Known Member

    Mar 19, 2017
    Assuming that Bush would just so happen to be in the exact same place at the exact same time as Reagan, and that Hinckley would somehow manage to get as close to Bush as he did Reagan. Both of these are not terribly likely, and Bush dying is even less so. There's a reason that no U.S. President has been assassinated since JFK: after Dallas, the Secret Service beefed up security so much it's extremely hard to kill a President. In the event that Bush wins in 1980, he is highly unlikely that he assassinated. If the economy still improves in 1983-84, then Bush serves two terms and keeps the Republican Party in a more moderate direction than it took under Reagan.
    darklordoftech likes this.
  18. Simon Thread Killer Extraordinaire

    Sep 20, 2009
    Yeah, no. He was Director of the Central Intelligence for all of 357 days–not even a full year–in large part because, as I understand things, he was an outsider and considered a safe pair of hands in the wake of the Church Committee. It was the 1980s not the 1950s and '60s with Bush as a new Hoover. The idea that he had access to 'dirt on most everyone in government' would seem to be rather disproved by the troubles the Reagan and Bush administrations ran into in our timeline.
  19. Bomster Who is the spiciest memelord?

    Mar 26, 2018
    Hell, Arizona
    This scenario really fascinates me. Even if Bush is not assassinated, having Bob Bauman as Veep brings up some serious consequences in 1980's America...
  20. Thomas Jefferson Well-Known Member

    Jun 11, 2012
    Hinckley is probably butterflied away, Bush attempts to restrain the budget deficit, which slows economic growth, but you probably still see a recovery from the early 1980s recession in time to get him reelected in 1984. Bush pursues a foreign policy that's more or less similar to Reagan, but pursues a much more moderate social policy. There's no Bork nomination, and consequently judicial nominations in general are much less contentious. Bush's stance on abortion was considered middle-of-the-road in 1980, and there were still a fair number of pro-life Democrats at the time, so you might not see the pro-life movement crystallize around the Republican party as much as it did IOTL. Bush probably isn't any better than Reagan on AIDS (Reagan personally knew gay people and doesn't seem to have had a problem with them, whereas Bush would probably have had the typical attitude of a conservative WASP born in the 1920s).