WI: The US Vice Presidency Without Mondale

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by GSD310, Nov 9, 2019.

  1. GSD310 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2017
    Just encountered a memo written in December 1976 by the then Vice President-elect Mondale which has been credited in shifting the US Vice Presidency into having a more substantive role in an administration as an advisor to the president.

    http://www2.mnhs.org/library/findaids/00697/pdf/Mondale-CarterMemo.pdf

    The question is, say Carter picks a different running mate and this memo doesn’t get written and approved, how would the vice presidency progress through the years?

    How would this effect running mate picks without there being the precedent or the notion of having the VP as an advisor?

    Would the evolution of the vice presidency as OTL would happen without Mondale’s memo regardless?
     
    gap80 likes this.
  2. Theoretical_TJ Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2014
    Location:
    Texas
    It's an office begging to have some kind of power attach by tradition, if nothing else because personalities alone stretched over 8 years can establish new traditions. If not Mondale, it'd have been someone else.
     
  3. Whanztastic BohemianAmerican Defenestrater Monthly Donor

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2009
    Location:
    Ft. Dearborn
    As power consolidated in the executive branch, some would have to spill over eventually.
     
    gap80 likes this.
  4. Historian299 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2019
    I mean, George HW Bush was really active in the Reagan Administration. His experience as CIA director and ambassador made him important for foreign policy decisions

    Plus it was clear he was running in 1988 and was on standby in case Reagan’s senility became an issue.
     
  5. Galba Otho Vitelius Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2016
    The power of the Vice Presidency was enhanced by both the 22nd and 25th Amendments, the former formally term limited presidents and made the vice president the natural candidate of the administration party after a second term (four out of six times this situation happened starting in 1960), the latter in formally spelling out that the Vice President becomes President in the even of a vacancy.

    However there is no constitutional reason for the Vice President to become an administration functionary and you could certainly see a different, more independent role with different personalities.

    One point worth mentioning is that, along with 1960, the 1976 presidential election was one of the two were the Vice Presidential candidate selection may actually have made the difference in the outcome. This is because both were really close, so just about any factor could change the result. Mondale did well in the first vice presidential debate against Dole and he helped overcome any doubts northern liberals had against Carter. Carter's national popular vote margin was only 2.1%, and he carried Ohio by 0.3%, Wisconsin by 1.7%, and Pennsylvania by 2.8%. The potential is there to reverse the result.

    According to the Wikipedia article on the 1976 Democratic convention, "According to Jimmy Carter,[4] his top choices for Vice President were: Walter Mondale, Edmund Muskie, Frank Church, Adlai Stevenson III, John Glenn, and Henry M. Jackson." Probably to get an actual reversal you would have Carter go with Church or maybe Jackson. With Glenn he still carries Ohio. With Stevenson he probably carries Illinois (Carter lost by 2%). Jackson might help in Washington (Carter lost by 3.9%) but could hurt him elsewhere. Muskie has similar strengths to Mondale but is not as strong a candidate overall.
     
  6. Theoretical_TJ Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2014
    Location:
    Texas
    World War II started it because the stakes were a lot higher (higher than at any time since the Civil War) if the President died in office. To a certain degree, the sour experience of Edith Wilson also contributed.

    The Cold War and nuclear weapons made it to where another leader actually needed to be in the wings if the President was killed.

    Reagan’s age wasn’t the extreme liability it could have been because in the Cold War era love him or hate him, there was no question H.W. Bush would have been able to lead the country, especially if the bombs went off everywhere.

    Now the question will be whether Cheney is the zenith or merely a landmark that will be surpassed in power at a later stage with a fully competent (in terms of mental and physical capacity). Both Biden and Pence have been lower key VPs, in Biden’s case to be an anti-Cheney and Pence simply because Trump is a larger than life personality that would overshadow anyone less than LBJ or FDR.
     
    gap80 and Maniakes like this.
  7. GeographyDude Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2014
    I just don’t think Bush had this role.

    Because of Reagan’s “Nashua moment” and his showing Bush up, he believed Bush was not of presidential mettle or something of that sort.

    And as inaccurate and unfair as this is, I think this is where Reagan was at.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2019
  8. Tjakari Locusts and Fishbones

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2013
    Location:
    Alba Longa
    I think this is more the case because of how shifty the executive branch is. Like literally shifty, the ground isn't stable. It's too easy for someone to either fall out of favor with the POTUS or outright lose their jobs. The kinds of machinations that you could do within a more stable presidency just aren't as viable when everyone around is more focused on maintaining their own standing rather than changing horses.
    Pence is just as much on his toes as anyone.
    Trump's personality is just the source of the instability, it's not a matter of being overshadowed.
     
  9. marathag Well-Known Member with a target on his back

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2013
    Or just the guy to be there at Kremlin funerals.

    Poppy Bush had a 'wimp' problem, or as George Will said of the Bush administration of “intellectual and moral flaccidity”

    So say in 1981, Poppy pulls a Putin and really embraces the full Texan image, hunting, ranching, all that.
    Poppy abandons all that Yankee stuff like yachting.

    Would he have better luck getting reelected?
     
  10. ejpsan Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 2, 2012
    How much power the Vice President has is entirely dependent on how much the President is willing to give, in the first term of the GWB administration Vice President Cheney had a lot of power but in the second term it was gradually eroded.
    One of the main jobs of the Vice President is to reach out and keep in contact with the party faithful, raise money, and campaign for party members, basically to do the non Presidential part of the job that the President can't be seen to do.
     
  11. GeographyDude Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2014
    Mike is the one guy in the Trump administration who can’t be fired.

    Now, he doesn’t want to be embarrassed, especially in front of people whose opinions he cares about, like his fellow conservatives of the evangelical wing. I think this is called a person’s reference group.
     
  12. Historian299 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2019
    In my opinion any democrat would have won in 1992 just because of voter fatigue so I say no
     
  13. David T Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2007
    It is almost an ancient tradition that a president proposes a "new, more substantive role" for the vice-president--dating back to the days when Harding made Coolidge the first VP to regularly attend cabinet meetings, FDR's making Henry Wallace chairman of the Economic Defense Board, Truman making Barkley the first vice-president to sit on the National Security Council, JFK for the first time giving a vice-president (LBJ) office space in the Executive Office Building next to the White House (in addition to and apart from his Senate facilities on Capitol Hill) and heading the National Aeronautics and Space Council, etc. The truth is that both before and after Mondale the VP's role largely depended on the particular president (and vice-president) "Bush [as Reagan's' VP] apparently retained the influential presidential advisory role established by Mondale, but it was by no means a guaranteed status for future successors. Such influence, it has been observed, “remains conditioned by factors that evolve with each new administration.”" https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL30842.pdf For example, with Quayle there was to some extent a reversion to the secondary roles performed by previous vice-presidents--chairing the Council on Competitiveness, etc. "As Bush committed American armed forces to combat in the Persian Gulf region in early 1991, Quayle’s meetings with the President became more frequent, but his influence as an adviser in this area was not immediately clear.110 During the prosecution of the Gulf War, Bush, by one assessment, “seemed increasingly mature and self-assured,” while Quayle “seemed to some as commensurately less so.”" Ibid.
     
    V-J and Amadeus like this.
  14. GeographyDude Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2014
    Okay, sounds like the source is saying this, but I think it’s just flat-out mistaken. Instead . .
     
  15. David T Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2007
    A criticism Reagan made of Bush during the 1980 campaign (before he had even chosen Bush as running mate) really doesn't tell us much about how important an advisor Bush was or wasn't during Reagan's presidency.
     
  16. GeographyDude Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2014
    Thats true as far as that goes. But I think (some) later bios say Reagan picked Bush rather reluctantly and did hold this belief that he wasn’t of presidential caliber or something of that sort.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2019 at 10:05 AM
  17. GeographyDude Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2014
    This is eleven days before Hinckley’s assassination attempt on March 30, 1981.

    And nay a mention of Vice-President George Bush in the entire article.
     
  18. V-J Resources From Westminster

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2007
    Location:
    Norþanhymbra
    No, it's not mistaken, you're stopping the clock at 1980. Reagan really had a bad opinion of Bush from the primaries and didn't particularly want to choose him as running mate, but once that happened they developed a fairly strong working relationship. They had weekly political lunches and Bush was pretty well in the loop of that White House.
     
  19. GeographyDude Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2014
    But what about the above Christian Science Monitor source?
    I think you’d agree this is quite a bit more influential than a once-a-week lunch.

    And I understand Meese, Baker, Deaver remained in Reagan’s inner circle throughout his first term, and in different roles, well into his second.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2019 at 10:29 PM