Who won the Civil War anyway? We have a president from Arkansas and a vice-president from Tennessee. The House was recently run by a Georgian, and the president pro tem of the Senate is South Carolinian. Everywhere you turn in Washington, you find a Southerner, and no matter whether you're left or right, sane or Perot, moose or squirrel, you can always find a Southerner to blame for the country's problems. With Southerners one, two and three heartbeats away from the president, it would take more than a few potshots at the White House to put the Northerner back in charge. It would take an entire alternate history.
To get a feel for the presidential politics of alternate history, we can study election statistics to determine which Southerner did best in the southern primaries (and which Northerner did best in the north). After giving this man his party's nomination, we can then look at which party did best in each section during the general election.
So let's start in 1963; Martin Luther King stands under the Washington Monument in the nation's capitol, addressing a crowd of countrymen who have come to commemorate the anniversary of the abolition of slavery. He declares that he has a dream etc., until the police break into the crowd with clubs and attack dogs. They beat King senseless and dump him in the city jail for sedition, because this is a country that doesn't have to put up with that sort of crap. The capitol is Richmond; the country is the Confederate States, and the anniversary was the fiftieth, because the South won the Civil War, and slavery wasn't abolished here until 1913:
The 1964 election passed quietly in the United States. In fact, President Kennedy (who had never even visited the Confederate city of Dallas) was so popular that the Republicans hardly bothered to oppose him. Instead they offered Barry Goldwater as a ritual sacrifice to be buried alive under the nation's biggest landslide ever (405 electoral votes to 5).
Kennedy's popularity made the Sixties an idyllic era of wholesome tranquility unparalleled in Yankee history. The crusade against communism in Vietnam gave the Union a high moral purpose; black people living north of the Potomac had enjoyed equal rights for almost a hundred years. Even today, the Sixties are considered the golden age of the United States, as we can see in the whimsical Oliver Stone farce, Born on the Fourth of July, where a returning war hero sets out on a wacky roadtrip, hoping to be in Washington for his nation's birthday.
In 1968, the Kennedy Dynasty was poised to continue under brother Bobby, until an assassin in California put an end to the dream. (Oliver Stone's cozy and sentimental RFK, reassures us that the "lone nut" theory is the only plausible scenario.) The Democratic nomination therefore went to the jolly veep, Hubert Humphrey, at the peaceful and completely routine Chicago convention. However, the strict gun control laws passed by Congress in the wake of Robert Kennedy's assassination -- and the socialized medicine passed as part of the New Frontier -- angered enough Yankee conservatives to give a narrow presidential victory (244 E-votes to 166) to the perennially sinister Richard Nixon.
As time passed, Nixon became increasingly unpopular. In the post-coital depression that followed the Kennedy era, the Union came to realize that the war in Vietnam was an endless quagmire. The men and money being shovelled into Southeast Asia were disappearing down an enormous rathole, with all the blame being dumped on the chief rat himself, Richard Nixon. Not one to go down without a fight, Nixon engineered a stunning reelection over George McGovern (390 to 17); however, when Nixon's reelection tactics became public in the Watergate scandal, his presidency shrieked and crumbled to dust faster than a vampire at sunrise. He resigned in favor of his vice-president, Gerald Ford, who took advantage of the public sigh of relief that Nixon was finally gone to narrowly defeat Jerry Brown in 1976. (228 to 179)
The Ford years passed well enough. No volcanic rifts opened and sucked large cities into the Earth's core or anything like that. When the Iranians seized the U.S. Embassy, Ford sent the Marines into Tehran and rescued them, or at least the ones who weren't accidentally killed in the rescue.
When his second term expired, Ford retired to California to practice not hitting squirrels with golf balls. The 1980 election saw the Democrats attempting to restore the Kennedy dynasty, this time with brother Ted, but with a trail of soggy women behind him, Kennedy was easily trounced by the beloved former actor, Ronald Reagan (370 to 37).
Reagan was a fanatic opponent of government involvement in national affairs, so this makes it easy to remember the major accomplishments of his administration: none. The government shut down and stopped its nitpicking regulation of banks, airlines, Wall Street and the oil industry, so the most notable events of the Eighties were produced by the private sector: bank failures, plane wrecks, stock swindles and oil spills. Even foreign policy was turned into a private enterprise operation, with Colonel Oliver North selling guns from the White House basement to the Confederate Army in Nicaragua. When he was caught, North skipped the country with a suitcase full of money and was elected to the Confederate Senate from his new home in Virginia.
Although most people don't remember this, there was a presidential election in 1984. It featured a long, tight, down-to-the-wire primary race in which two Democrats, Gary Hart and Walter Mondale, fought each other for the honor of being humiliated when Reagan was re-elected by a landslide in 1984.
The election that people do remember occurred in 1988 between two Massachusetts men, George Bush and Michael Dukakis, easily the two dullest humans ever to hit the campaign trail. It was one of the cleanest, most thoughtful elections of the modern era (probably because Lee Atwater was a Confederate, working to elect Pat Robertson), and the Republican Bush was elected with 496 electoral votes to 111.
The high point of the Bush years was, of course, the Gulf War, in which an American led coalition chased Iraqi invaders out of Kuwait. For a brief moment, Bush was being hailed as a new Roosevelt -- Teddy or Franklin -- it didn't matter -- the U.S. finally had a President that wasn't going to be pushed around by second-rate bullies. Then the Soviet Union disappeared, and Bush was Washington, Napoleon and God all rolled into one.
In a couple of years, however, the economy turned sluggish, and Bush was rapidly being cast as another Herbert Hoover. In fact, public opinion polls showed that Bush could easily be the first US President to be denied reelection since the aforementioned Hoover. Even when the Democrats scrounged yet another terminally dull Massachusetts Greek, Paul Tsongas, to be the party's standard-bearer -- even that wasn't enough to save Bush's bacon, and he was soundly thrashed, 370 electoral votes to 168.
So, in January of 1993, the world's last remaining superpower got its first Democratic president in 26 years: Paul Tsongas. And in January of 1997, the United States got its first president to die in office since Roosevelt, when Tsongas succumbed mere days short of the end of his first term. His vice-president, Dick Gephardt of Missouri, was quickly sworn into office, while the electoral college hastily reconvened to pick another winner of the 1996 presidential election. They passed the mantle to Dick Gephardt, and Chief Justice Renquist crossed "Tsongas" out of the oath of office, and scribbled in "Gephardt" instead.
A new era of Confederate politics began when Lyndon Johnson was elected president in 1964 (81 electoral Votes to 47). It had been a tough race; Johnson had carried his own state by only 3,000 votes -- even though there were more votes in the ballot boxes than there were people on the planet, so okay, maybe it wasn't entirely a new era, but you get the drift.
A Democrat like every Confederate president before him, Johnson inherited a troubled nation with the lowest per capita teeth in North America. Shunned abroad for its segregationist policies, racked by race riots and bogged down fighting a communist insurrection under Castro in Cuba (a conquered territory since the Spanish-Confederate War of 1898), the Confederacy needed a major overhaul, and Johnson took it on himself to drag the country into the 20th Century. He released hundreds of political prisoners and bullied Congress into passing the Voting Rights Act, which gave full citizenship to the nation's blacks.
The Sixties were a turbulent era for the Confederacy. The hard, emotional upheaval in music begun by Elvis Presley continued when Florida-born Jim Morrison and Texas-born Janis Joplin introduced a mystically poetic style of country and western to the Grand Ole Opry. President Johnson was reviled for the liberation of the blacks and the loss of Cuba, while the 1968 murder of Martin Luther King in Memphis provoked riots that killed hundreds.
As Johnson's troubled six-year term came to an end, the conservative wing of the Democratic Party split off in anger. Meeting in Miami, they joined the Whigs (the feeble opposition party for the past hundred years; the Confederacy had outlawed the Republican Party of Lincoln right from the start.) to form the new American party, which nominated Governor George Wallace of Alabama. Having endeared himself to the nation when he had used the Alabama state militia to chase all federal judges from state (perfectly legal under the C.S. Constitution), Wallace won the 1970 presidential election with a promise to return to the good old days. He easily beat Terry Sanford of North Carolina, 103 E-votes to 25, and then had him arrested as a communist.
Under the Confederate Constitution, President Wallace could not run for reelection in 1976, even though he was still in fine health after not being shot while campaigning in Laurel, Maryland, which was outside the Confederacy so he didn't even go there. The American party therefore chose the sporadically indicted John Connally of Texas to lead the ticket. The Democratic Party, however, had rebuilt itself on the promise of not rocking the boat anymore, which brought victory to its candidate, the painfully decent (and therefore doomed) Jimmy Carter (118 to 12).
After only a couple of weeks, the Confederates were sick of the Wile E. Coyote efficiency of the Carter Administration, but their Constitution guaranteed him a full six years so there was nothing short of armed rebellion that they could do about it. Armed rebellion, however, hit one outpost of the Confederacy when Nicaragua (A C.S. protectorate since 1912) fell to the communists. Carter gave the new Sandanista government his immediate and unconditional blessing on the theory that the people of Nicaragua had spoken, or at least the people of Nicaragua with guns, so there wasn't anything he could do about it, except maybe invade, but nobody wanted another Cuba, did they? In 1982, when Confederate voters finally got their chance to answer yes, they dumped the Democrats and elected the American Party candidate, Howard Baker of Tennessee. (118 to 12)
Confederate troops landed in Nicaragua within the month.
The question of what to do about Miami plagued the Baker years. Miami was a zit on the nose of the Floridian Peninsula, crammed with drug smugglers, gun runners, mercenaries, and refugees from every Caribbean bloodbath. The whole of South Florida became a poisoned zone of desolation as the Everglades were methodically drained and paved. An annoyed Mother Nature therefore retaliated and slammed a string of hurricanes into the city during the opening festivities of Tourist Killing Season, sweeping the revelers out to sea.
In 1988, the Confederacy saw a hard fight in the Democratic primaries between Jesse Jackson of North Carolina and Al Gore of Tennessee. With twenty-two years of practice behind them, the black voters of the Confederacy were ready to reach for the top slot, and Jackson squeaked into the party's nomination, which of course guaranteed victory for the Virginia televangelist, Pat Robertson, who became the 21st president of the CSA after an easy electoral shutout. (130 to 0)
The Robertson years were quiet. Since the Confederacy already funded religious schools and outlawed abortion and gaiety, there really wasn't a whole lot for Robertson to do. He passed the time by having Jesse Jackson burned for heresy and Chuck Robb stoned for adultery, but aside from that, nothing changed. African-Confederates were placated, however, by seeing one of their own appointed to the Supreme Court (Clarence Thomas of Georgia).
The Confederacy had always depended on the nuclear umbrella of its northern neighbor to protect it from godless Communism, but with the fall of the the Soviet Union in 1991, the Confederate leadership realized that their former partner/ancient rival to the north now had a monopoly on superpowerdom. Paranoid that the USA could now do as it pleased -- including launch a southward war of reconquest -- the Confederate research facility at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, embarked on a crash program of weapons development. In the last year of the Robertson administration, the Confederacy tested its first atomic weapons in the Texas badlands, and Southrons felt much safer.
In 1994, the American Party continued its hold on the Confederacy when the team of Newt "The Lizard King" Gingrich and Jesse Helms was elected over the Democratic team of Bill Clinton and Al Gore (108 to 39), after stories of Clinton's womanizing surfaced. Then, in 1999, Gingrich was impeached for womanizing, so the electorate felt pretty silly.
So, curiously, both nations approach the 2000 elections with presidents who were not specifically elected to their offices. In fact, the president of the United States is from a state which the Confederacy has always considered its 13th Star, an illegally occupied slice of the true South, so with President Helms rattling the saber for the reclamation of Missouri, and President Gephardt wanting to close the US border to the cheap labor of Dixie, both nations approach the twightlight of the millennium with gathering war clouds.
Last updated November 1999
Copyright © 1999 Matthew White