PDA

View Full Version : Alternate presidents



EmmersonGrant
04-24-2012, 06:41 PM
In my WIP the US government has had a undetectable spy network since the '50's, so the political and economical area has changed. Picture the US holding the winning cards whenever they had to play hardball.

Key change is that Watergate never happened -they did bug the Democratic National Committee, but the break-in was never detected, letting Nixon complete his second term.

What I need is your most educated guesses on who could have been president after him and who could be the president today?

fireluxlou
04-24-2012, 06:45 PM
Anyone could be the president today, there's been a lot of presidents since Watergate. I get a Fringe feeling from this story though :P

alleycat
04-24-2012, 06:57 PM
Just purely guessing . . .

Reagan might have been the nomination on the Republican side in 1976 (he almost was anyway), and possibly Jerry Brown on the Democratic side. The economy was still an issue and people were still getting over the aftermath of the Vietnam War, so it's hard to say who would have won. I might give the edge to Reagan. It's as plausible as anything else.

President today given your criteria? That's even harder to guess.

RichardGarfinkle
04-24-2012, 07:05 PM
I think we need more details.
Who controls this spy network and what does it do?
Does it only gather information?
Does it blackmail?
Does it assassinate?
Does it have a political bias?

RemusShepherd
04-24-2012, 07:09 PM
In my WIP the US government has had a undetectable spy network since the '50's, so the political and economical area has changed. Picture the US holding the winning cards whenever they had to play hardball.

Key change is that Watergate never happened -they did bug the Democratic National Committee, but the break-in was never detected, letting Nixon complete his second term.

What I need is your most educated guesses on who could have been president after him and who could be the president today?

This is a fun question, but it leads to speculation. You don't need an expert, you just need a good dreamer. :)

If the US had complete spy supremacy, the Soviet Union would have collapsed a decade earlier, probably in the term of whoever came after Nixon. That could have been Gerald Ford (assuming Agnew still resigned after his own scandal), unless Ted Kennedy decided to run in 1976. I don't think any other Democrat -- Carter, Jerry Brown, or George Wallace -- could have won in 76 without the Watergate scandal as backdrop.

I believe your alternate universe revolves around George H.W. Bush. Ford made him the head of the CIA in 76. If Bush decided that he liked being the head of the most powerful spy agency on Earth, he might not have gone into politics. But if he decided to go into politics he would be unstoppable, and would likely have taken Reagan's place as the dominant Republican in the early 1980s. Bush is holding all the reins in your world. I would expect that his son, Dubya, would never go into politics. Dubya went into politics to do better than his 'failed' father; if his father never failed at anything, Dubya would probably continue being a rebel. Jeb might aim for the presidency, though.

Fast-forwarding to 2012, it's almost impossible to say who might be president now. A super-dominant CIA would have been able to assassinate the leaders of Iraq and Iran and would have caught Al Qaeda before they became a problem. There would still have been the Great Recession, although it might have come earlier. Things would not necessarily be better, although without the threat of terrorism I wouldn't say that they were worse.

Without any serious international problems, America might have become even more focused on social issues and the rising inequality of wealth than we are in the real world. The president would either be a sincere populist like John Edwards (although I doubt him, specifically, because of his character flaws) or a religious fundamentalist like Pat Robertson (although I doubt him because he's too old in 2012.)

I suggest you make up two characters, a populist and a fundamentalist, and decide for yourself how their campaign against each other would go.

All this is just my own opinion, of course. As I said, predicting the future (or alternate present) based on human decisions isn't science and doesn't require an expert. Just a little knowledge about people, and the ability to spin stories.

Williebee
04-24-2012, 07:13 PM
I think I'd go a slightly different way. Create a Senator or Rep. from somewhere -- maybe pick a state that has never had a President before.... "Machinate" him or her up through the ranks, committees, back room committees and such.

EmmersonGrant
04-24-2012, 07:25 PM
I think we need more details.
Who controls this spy network and what does it do?

It was a Nazi project, stumbled into by the US army as they liberated Europe in 1945. It was mothballed and was rediscovered it in the 1960's and went live in 65. It uses specially trained agents that gain access to anyone's brain when they are asleep. At first they can only access it, but in the 80's they find a way to exert control. This fell into Nixon's lap and, as you can see, would have loved the hell out of it.



Does it only gather information?

Yes, but always with the purpose to be used as leverage. It's one of the special services, answerable only to the presidency.


Does it blackmail?
Does it assassinate?

Yes and yes. And they can have anyone be their patsy. With their control, arguments like "I saw myself grab the gun and killing him." take a whole new meaning.


Does it have a political bias?

Oh yeah. The Army rediscovered the project and got one of their own to spearhead it, but when they started getting results, it was taken all the way up and the president at the time was Nixon.

My MC is going to stumble into the whole mess, discover the origins of the project, find out how he's intimately connected to it and face the tough choices: will he expose it, join them or be destroyed by it?

fdesrochers
04-24-2012, 07:32 PM
I think we need more details.
Who controls this spy network and what does it do?
Does it only gather information?
Does it blackmail?
Does it assassinate?
Does it have a political bias?

With this as a list to build upon, literally anyone you want for President for current events. Heck, **I** could be elected President, for want of an American Passport and Birth Certificate; this recently seemed to occupy an inordinate amount of time with some of you guys south of the border. Enough black market chicanerie could solve this problem.

Essentially you're creating historical fiction, which could be justified with enough background and reasonable supposition. We Canadians get a kick from American politics every once in a while; given the obvious policy and economic impacts to Canada, it's only natural. From my perspective, any of the more notable current Democrat or Republican figures during that time frame could justifiably be explained into the Presidency. Given the earlier Fringe reference, which I got as well when I read the OP, even the dead ones could be explained into office.

Google-fu the junk out of the Republican and Democratic primaries over the intervening years and see what issues drove the debates of the day, as well what allowed incumbents to win, or loss to the challenger. You may see some trends in policy and news coverage that might have drastically averted a certain result (ie. Dan Quayle's spelling flub comes to mind - LOL).

Snick
04-24-2012, 08:42 PM
Even without the Watergate break-in, people would have been sick of Nixon by 1976; a lot were well before then. Carter might have been elected in '76 anyway. He was a break from the Washington gang. Everything might be the same, exept that people wouldn't call every scandal "-gate". Then again, Pat Paulson might have gotten elected.

DavidZahir
04-27-2012, 09:58 AM
Well, the 72 Democratic Convention was fairly extreme, in a way the 92 and 96 GOP Conventions were, albeit towards different extremes. In 1976, assuming Nixon remained in office, seems to me the Republicans would have had the upper hand. Either Ford, Reagan or maybe Haig would most likely follow Nixon.

In 1980, we'd almost certainly see the Republican President run for re-election. But lets not forget civil unrest was still intense and that period saw several assassination attempts. Entirely possible whoever won in 1976 might have died in office. Given a choice, Ford would have had Dole as his VP. Let us presume now-President Dole runs for election in 1980 but faces a challenge from Ronald Reagan. This weakens the GOP and helps the Democrats win the White House.

In this scenario, it seems most likely Ted Kennedy might become President. I think he'd be a one-term President, because he'd have too much to live up to.

So, 1984. Let us imagine Ronald Reagan VS Ted Kennedy. Reagan wins, but his failing health means he too is a one term President. Come 1988 methinks the Dems would nominate either Dukkakis, Gore or Hart. Just for fun, let us say it is Gary Hart who wins against Republican Alexander Haig, Reagan's VP. A younger, more charismatic man against the increasingly elderly establishment.

A lot depends on exactly who Hart would have as a running mate. If Hart chose (for example) Bill Clinton then it seems likely he would run and win following Hart one or two terms. If in fact Hart served one term, losing to the GOP in 1992, Clinton would almost certainly then be the nominee in 1996 and likely win then and in 2000. As far as a Republican successor to Hart, my guess would be Lamar Alexander or Pete Wilson.

So in 2004 let us say the Republican John McCain goes up against Howard Dean or John Kerry. Given that in your scenario I don't think 9/11 would have happened, the economy would likely be the most important issue.

This is of course just one scenario.

Snick
04-27-2012, 04:42 PM
I really can't imagine another Republican being elected in 1976. Even Ralph Nader would be more likely than a Republican.

DavidZahir
04-27-2012, 07:18 PM
Maybe, but the country was very polarized at that point and the Democrats had veered very far to the Left (or so it seemed). Recall that Nixon won 49 states in 1972! Of course that was to some degree at the expense of the rest of the party, since his re-election campaign pretty much ignored all the GOP candidates for other offices! But without Watergate, the big achievement of that presidency would be seen as detente and finally getting our troops out of Vietnam. Of course, without Watergate he might have chosen some other new VP than Ford, while whoever succeeded him would be looking at a heavily Democratic Congress.

Plus I think history tends to throw us wild cards. When I wrote the above I was extremely tired and just shot something from the hip. To give an example of how things shape up (at least IMHO) it seems unlikely Reagan would be so popular had he not followed Carter (viewed by so many at the time as a disaster, not least because of the Iran Hostage Crisis, which in your scenario wouldn't have happened most likely) and had he not survived an assassination attempt with so much personal gallantry. Change the context of his presidency, you change the context of later GOP candidacies. For the past several election cycles each party seems to be looking for a reincarnation--the Democrats of JFK, the Republicans of Reagan. In the scenario I described earlier, Ford died because one of his would-be assassins succeeded. But what if that had happened to Reagan instead? Then it depends upon who his VP might have been (and recall he chose Bush as his nearest rival for the nomination that year).

At the same time, by the 1980s we see the GOP starting with that pattern we've seen since then of giving the nomination to the guy whose "turn" it seems to be. The big exception to that was 2000 when Bush 2 got the nomination. While the Democrats have a pattern of looking for someone fresh and exciting or at least unexpected coupled with a desire to see someone as Kennedy-esque as possible.

Assume for a moment that pattern continues, it gives a clearer idea of who might be nominated. As far as foreign affairs goes, one would assume detente in general worked well, that the Iran Hostage Crisis as well as 9/11 would not have occurred. Most likely the Gulf War would still happen but not the invasions of either Afghanistan or Iraq. Yet might that give greater weight to events in which the USA was not directly involved? Like the Rwanda Genocide? Or "ethnic cleansing" in the former Yugoslavia? Frankly I'd also suspect that the trend of de-regulation and rolling back economic safeguards which began in the 1970s would (sans Bush's wars) have continued. Ultimately, the economic crash of 2007 might have been delayed then for perhaps a few more years--and been much worse when it arrived. By now we'd be inside a full-blown second Great Depression.

Snick
04-27-2012, 08:23 PM
Maybe, but the country was very polarized at that point and the Democrats had veered very far to the Left (or so it seemed). Recall that Nixon won 49 states in 1972! Of course that was to some degree at the expense of the rest of the party, since his re-election campaign pretty much ignored all the GOP candidates for other offices! But without Watergate, the big achievement of that presidency would be seen as detente and finally getting our troops out of Vietnam. Of course, without Watergate he might have chosen some other new VP than Ford, while whoever succeeded him would be looking at a heavily Democratic Congress.

The country was sick of Nixon; although it is hard to tell how much of that was Watergate.


Plus I think history tends to throw us wild cards.Yes, Carter was the wildcard. I don't think that he was inevitable, but there would have been someone like him.


When I wrote the above I was extremely tired and just shot something from the hip. To give an example of how things shape up (at least IMHO) it seems unlikely Reagan would be so popular had he not followed Carter (viewed by so many at the time as a disaster, not least because of the Iran Hostage Crisis, which in your scenario wouldn't have happened most likely) and had he not survived an assassination attempt with so much personal gallantry. Change the context of his presidency, you change the context of later GOP candidacies. For the past several election cycles each party seems to be looking for a reincarnation--the Democrats of JFK, the Republicans of Reagan. In the scenario I described earlier, Ford died because one of his would-be assassins succeeded. But what if that had happened to Reagan instead? Then it depends upon who his VP might have been (and recall he chose Bush as his nearest rival for the nomination that year).

Ford died? Huh?

The 1980 election was about economic issues. Do you remember the stagflation of the 1970's? Do you remember the interest rates and inflation? Those came out of the oil embrgos, and whoever had been President in 1980 would not have been re-elected.


At the same time, by the 1980s we see the GOP starting with that pattern we've seen since then of giving the nomination to the guy whose "turn" it seems to be. The big exception to that was 2000 when Bush 2 got the nomination. While the Democrats have a pattern of looking for someone fresh and exciting or at least unexpected coupled with a desire to see someone as Kennedy-esque as possible.

Assume for a moment that pattern continues, it gives a clearer idea of who might be nominated. As far as foreign affairs goes, one would assume detente in general worked well, that the Iran Hostage Crisis as well as 9/11 would not have occurred. Most likely the Gulf War would still happen but not the invasions of either Afghanistan or Iraq. Yet might that give greater weight to events in which the USA was not directly involved? Like the Rwanda Genocide? Or "ethnic cleansing" in the former Yugoslavia? Frankly I'd also suspect that the trend of de-regulation and rolling back economic safeguards which began in the 1970s would (sans Bush's wars) have continued. Ultimately, the economic crash of 2007 might have been delayed then for perhaps a few more years--and been much worse when it arrived. By now we'd be inside a full-blown second Great Depression.

I love alternate history.

DavidZahir
04-28-2012, 06:34 AM
The country ws sick of Niixon; although it is hard to tell how much of that was watergate.And yet, he'd won in the biggest landslide in history in 1972. I'm just saying.



In the scenario I described earlier, Ford died because one of his would-be assassins succeeded. But what if that had happened to Reagan instead? Then it depends upon who his VP might have been (and recall he chose Bush as his nearest rival for the nomination that year).(Emphasis added)Ford died? Huh?

blacbird
04-28-2012, 06:38 AM
You can make a case that Watergate fostered Carter, and that Carter made Reagan possible, and that Reagan (by choosing GHWBush as VP) made his son GWB possible (God knows there's no way he'd have ever risen to the forefront of politics without that paternal connection). But beyond that, everything is a wildcard. Too much time has passed and far too many variables. Ted Nugent could be President today.

caw

Snick
04-28-2012, 06:43 AM
Quote:
Quote:
In the scenario I described earlier, Ford died because one of his would-be assassins succeeded. But what if that had happened to Reagan instead? Then it depends upon who his VP might have been (and recall he chose Bush as his nearest rival for the nomination that year).(Emphasis added)
Ford died? Huh?

Yes, what was that about Ford being assassinated?

blacbird
04-28-2012, 08:18 AM
Yes, what was that about Ford being assassinated?

I think it was intended as a hypothetical "what if". In the real world, Ford narrowly escaped assassination twice, in quick succession, both in failed attacks up close and personal by crazy women wielding handguns. One of those was the infamous Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, a major disciple of Charles Manson, who was not directly involved in any of the Manson murders, but who steadfastly supported him. She has now served her prison term, and was released a couple of years ago, as I recall, still unrepentant over her support of Manson.

caw

Snick
04-28-2012, 03:44 PM
I think it was intended as a hypothetical "what if". In the real world, Ford narrowly escaped assassination twice, in quick succession, both in failed attacks up close and personal by crazy women wielding handguns. One of those was the infamous Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, a major disciple of Charles Manson, who was not directly involved in any of the Manson murders, but who steadfastly supported him. She has now served her prison term, and was released a couple of years ago, as I recall, still unrepentant over her support of Manson.

caw

Oh yes, Squeaky, she missed Ford, but maybe she would have been more effective, if Nixon served his second term.