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American Commonwealth

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Originally created as a simple “who-would-you-vote-for” poll in the Shared Worlds forum by lord caedus, resulting in a huge - and only surprising in universe - victory for the Bernie Sanders-led Progressive Democrats over Hillary Clinton's Liberals, Mitt Romney's Conservatives, Ron Paul's Libertarians, Elizabeth May's Greens and Pat Buchanan's American Heritagers, the thread soon evolved into a universe of its own based on the poll and the posts in the poll thread, focused on a massive USA+Canada+Bahamas called the American Commonwealth and its politics, considerably more aligned with today's Canada than today's United States. A few contributors update the universe with political developments more or less based off the real world's events as well as information about the universe told through Wikipedia-style infoboxes or infodumps.

Admittedly, the world is a Type III on the Sliding Scale of Alternate History Plausibility, with very few fictional characters playing anything close to a major role over 250 years after the POD, as well as a somewhat diminished Butterfly Effect causing TTL's history to run similar to OTL history.

A second general election was held in November 2013 and resulted in a virtual three-way tie between the Progressive Democrats, Liberals and Conservatives, although this poll was “skewed” to provide a plausible outcome given the trends previously established in the thread by the contributors. The Liberals and Progressive Democrats formed a coalition government with the Liberals as senior partner, and the inevitable predictions for a third election in 2014 were quashed by lord caedus because he did not want to do so much election work again so soon.

History of the American Commonwealth

The main POD is an avoidance of the American Revolution as a result of successful negotiations in the middle of the crises following the Seven Year's War. The resulting negotiations led to a Canada-esque Commonwealth of America (commonly renamed the “American Commonwealth” both in-universe and out). Benjamin Franklin, as the main proponent of such a scheme (see his earlier Albany Plan), becomes the “Father of the Commonwealth” and the first American Prime Minister.

The Commonwealth plays a subservient role to Great Britain for the next fifty years, with many Americans participating in the Napoleonic Wars in Europe or forcing Napoleon out of Louisiana in 1803 (there was no Louisiana Purchase ITTL). The abolition of slavery across the empire in 1832 during the ministry of John Calhoun causes a prolonged version of the Nullification Crisis (called the “Emancipation Nullification Crisis”) that eventually sees slavery abolished after Calhoun is defeated by Henry Clay in the 1839 elections. The annexation of the Republic of Texas causes TTL's Mexican War, the noticeable difference being that the United Kingdom props up the struggling Republic of Yucatan during the conflict, causing that republic's survival to the present day.

As a result of a successful Mexican War, British soldiers leave the commonwealth after realizing that the colonials have got it under control. Unfortunately, less than three years after the Mexican War ends, the Republican Uprising breaks out in 1851. The uprising fails because of the fragmented nature of the rebels, and it fails within a year, with Atlanta being burned during the final days of the revolt (a shoutout to Sherman's March to the Sea). Thus, there is no Civil War, but Americans participate in several wars that they did not IOTL between 1861 and 1914: the French-Mexican War (which wound up being ended before Maximilian could become emperor due to the fact that the Commonwealth did not have a breakaway south to deal with), the Colombian Intervention (a joint American/British filibuster that ended the Colombian civil war in 1862, but not before a certain Captain Custer rushed foolishly into Bogota and got his regiment destroyed), and the Second Boer War. TTL's Spanish-American War is the Cuban War, which sees Great Britain help America rip some of Spain's remaining colonies away and results in America gaining Puerto Rico while Great Britain nabs Guam and the Philippines.

In 1914, the Americans are led by Eugene Debs, the first socialist prime minister in the world and in return for his country entering World War I, he makes the British promise independence (by way of an earlier Statue of Westminster) after the war's conclusion. The war goes similar to OTL, with the only major changes being American-British policing of the Dardanelles causing Greece to retain almost all of the western side of the Bosphorus Strait. The Great Depression hits around the same time, but with different causes. The fall of the Social Democrats as a result of World War I and the Roaring Twenties sets up the miraculous turnaround for Bernie Sanders's Progressive Democrats in 90 years' time (when the TL “started”).

William Mackenzie King leads the Commonwealth through the Great Depression and World War II. Due to political pressures, Mackenzie King is forced to keep Commonwealth involvement in Europe at a bare minimum until the attacks on Pearl Harbor cause the Commonwealth to engage in total war against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Mackenzie King also reluctantly drops the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 as a result of pressure from one Harry S. Truman.

The Commonwealth emerges as the dominant rival to the Soviet Union after the war, and the Cold War proceeds largely along similar lines as OTL. The major differences include:

  • Involvement in Vietnam is never escalated and the conflict becomes a large, drawn-out affair that sees American special forces engage a mess of warlords and Vietcong that cause South Vietnam crumble until the communists win in 1979.
  • The Conservatives (led by Harold Stassen) lead a successful invasion of Cuba against Fidel Castro's communist regime in 1962 (no transfer of government around the 1961 mark led to the Bay of Pigs operation being planned, funded and executed properly). Stassen is forced to involve American troops in the operation (some of whom kill a former American soldier named Lee Harvey Oswald once he fires on oncoming troops) and as such, loses the prime ministry to Lyndon Johnson.
  • Lyndon Johnson emerges as one of the greatest prime ministers in the universe's history without Vietnam. He ends the system of racial segregation common in the southern provinces (notably as a result of the civil rights movement, led by Social Democratic leader Martin Luther King Jr. and the exiling of the segregationists from the Conservative Party by Stassen), changes the voting system to mixed-member proportional instead of first-past-the-post and reforms the senate and supreme court.
  • The stronger and savvier American leadership of Pierre Trudeau compared to Jimmy Carter leads to the Iran Hostage Crisis ending much quicker than OTL. America and Iran are still on bad terms in TTL's present, though.
  • Ronald Reagan retires in disgrace rather than be forced out of office once the Iran-Contra scandal comes to light. Despite the fact that his successor, George H.W. Bush largely wraps up the Cold War and his disgrace in Iran-Contra, Reagan is still seen by the right-wing of the Conservative Party as a great prime minister.

Following the Cold War, TTL's America largely follows in the path of the OTL United States with regards to foreign adventures, with the main exception being engagement in the Balkans in 1998 under Dick Gephardt that sees Kosovo become independent much earlier. With regards to domestic politics, the country runs through seven prime ministers (G.W. Bush, Paul Tsongas, Joe Clark, Gephardt, George W. Bush, John McCain & Hillary Clinton) before Bernie Sanders is elected in 2010, and then Jeanne Shaheen in 2013.

State of the World

As mentioned, the TL is very convergent with OTL, so it's much easier to mention what's not similar to OTL during the present*:

  • The American Commonwealth is currently led by Prime Minister Jeanne Shaheen in a Liberal-Progressive Democratic coalition from the capital of Philadelphia. The government system is similar to OTL Canada's, with some exceptions: the aforementioned mixed-member proportional system, the existence of a very small number of American peers (the Kennedy family being a notable member), the somewhat confusing terminology for state premiers (they are referred to as “governors” in provinces that were the first to join the new commonwealth in 1785 and premiers elsewhere) and the recently-reformed senate (now elected by state assemblies for 8 year-terms, but with the vast majority of senators grandfathered in to serve until they are 75) that has two seats reserved for Native Americans (called “aboriginals” in-universe) and a fixed-term parliament (although the *current* parliament is exempt). The Commonwealth's provinces and territories differ from OTL Canada & the US' in the following ways:
    • Alabama and Mississippi are landlocked, with their coast line and the part of Louisiana west of the Mississippi River making up the province of West Florida (OTL Florida is called East Florida).
    • Arizona and New Mexico are combined into the province of Arizuma.
    • Arkansas is spelled “Arkansaw” and Prince Edward Island is called “St. John's”.
    • The Bahamas are a province, while Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands (both OTL American and British) form the province of Puerto Rico-Virgin Islands.
    • British Columbia and Washington State make up the province of Columbia.
    • The Dakotas are not split up.
    • Lake of the Woods (in OTL Minnesota) belongs to Manitoba. Minnesota controls Isle Royale (OTL Michigan), though.
    • OTL Northern and Northeastern Quebec are the territory of Ungava.
    • OTL Northwest Ontario is the province of Hudson, with its capital at Thunder Bay.
    • Nova Scotia contains OTL New Brunswick as well.
    • Oklahoma (minus the panhandle) is the province of Sequoyah.
    • Oregon also contains OTL Idaho.
    • Texas contains the OTL Oklahoma Panhandle.
    • The remainder of Ontario and Quebec make up the province of Canada.
    • Wisconsin contains the OTL Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
  • China controls the puppet state of Tibet. The Dalai Lama, the supposed head of the Tibetan government, is in semi-permanent seclusion “for his security”. Hong Kong is also more democratic than OTL, with its legislative council now being almost 3/4 elected by direct elections.
  • Cuba is a liberal democracy whose president and new president-elect are IOTL Cuban refugees who later became politicians in the United States.
  • Colombia is never shorn of Panama.
  • Finland, France, Greece and Italy are all constitutional monarchies. Finland's monarch is also the queen of Sweden, although a new monarch will end the personal union once she takes the Finnish throne in 2016.
  • The Gambia and Senegal make up TTL's Senegambia.
  • Germany is larger than OTL, with its border with Poland being the Oder River instead of the OTL Oder-Niesse Line.
  • Great Britain controls Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. It also uses the single-transferable vote method of elections instead of FPTP.
  • Greece controls all but a few miles of the western side of the Bosphorus Strait. As a result of its desperate financial straits during the economic downturn, it recently sold a few islands near Turkey to that nation.
  • Haiti is led by Michel Dessalines (an original character) who shows signs of becoming a fearsome authoritarian dictator in the democratized and still extremely poor Haiti.
  • Japan controls the two Kuril Islands.
  • The Philippines has a parliamentary system of government.
  • Romania and Moldova recently agreed to a plan that would unite the two nations by 2020.
  • Russia is led by Vladimir Putin, who is more openly dictatorial than IOTL. He also controls the puppet republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which Russia forced Georgia to grant independence to following TTL's Russo-Georgian War in 2008.
  • Samoa (containing both OTL Samoa and American Samoa) recently became the 15th Commonwealth Realm after being granted its independence in 2012.
  • Sierra Leone contains both OTL Sierra Leone and Liberia. It has recently become a democracy after a series of devastating civil wars.
  • Syria's leader Bashar al-Assad was recently overthrown and placed under arrest in a military coup by a group of colonels led by Rashid al-Rahman (fictional) following his regime's mishandling of the Syrian Civil War. The civil war took a much more confusing and bloody turn compared to OTL. Al-Rahman recently agreed to sign a peace treaty with Israel in exchange for the Golan Heights after the war ends.
  • West Papua gained its independence from Indonesia in 1969 after America refused to allow Indonesia to conduct an undemocratic independence referendum (what happened IOTL).
  • The European Union has a stronger central government than *here*, with the European Parliament being the main engine behind the supranational organization. The EU Parliament is currently led by European Chancellor Joseph Daul's center-right coalition. The difference in members from OTL are: Croatia is the newest member, while Bulgaria, Denmark, Iceland, Romania & Sweden are not members.
  • The Nordic nations (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway & Sweden) form together into the Nordic Council. A new list of reforms recently gave the Nordic Parliament control over the group's combined foreign policy and militaries.

*-Note: Many OTL nations have different national leaders ITTL.

American Party System

The party system is somewhat influx in-universe, as the Progressive Democrats, a left-wing party similar to Canada's NDP and the progressive members of the Democratic Party, emerged as a major party in 2010. They are currently led by Amy Klobuchar, who narrowly defeated Thomas Mulcair to take over from Bernie Sanders in May 2014.

The largest major party (seats-wise) are the Liberals, led by Jeanne Shaheen (who defeated Barack Obama and Tim Kaine for the party leadership in early 2011) and make up mostly members of the OTL Democratic Party and Liberal Party of Canada. They currently are the slightly senior partners in a coalition with the Progressive Democrats.

Rounding out the major parties are the Conservatives who are split between the Rockefeller Republican-esque “Red Tories” and the more conservative (in this case meaning Reagan-era Republicans without an emphasis on social issues) “Blue Tories”. The Conservatives are led by Bobby Jindal, who has revitalized the Blue Tory wing in his party and dismantled the former Progressive Democratic-Conservative coalition that ruled from 2010 until early 2013.

“Second-tier” parties, (parties that do not have the support to make their leader prime minister but can be kingmakers in coalition politics) include: the Libertarians, led by Bob Barr (who took over for a retiring Ron Paul), the environmentalist Greens (led by Elizabeth May and who supported the minority Progressive Democratic government from early 2013 until the general election later that year), and the right-wing American Heritage Party (led by Tom Tancredo), which is made up of a combination of nativists, the religious right and hardcore social conservatives

The only other parties in the current federal parliament include: the Progressive Conservatives (led by John Tory), the remnant of a group of Conservatives who split off when Reagan became their party leader, now mostly relegated to New England. Alaskan Independence (led by Don Young) are a right-wing party exclusive to Alaska who generally take that province's riding seat. The Republican Party, led by Russ Feingold, is a left-wing party that posits the unpopular (IU) idea of abolishing the monarchy.

Like Canada, the party system is different for each province compared to the national one (although Ungava, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories use consensus government instead of a party-based system). Many provinces' politics somewhat mirror the federal scene, but many provinces have their own unique parties or their own dynamics which are very odd by federal standards, with the most unique being Columbia and Rhode Island.

shared_worlds/american_commonwealth.txt · Last modified: 2019/03/29 15:13 (external edit)