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Thread: The United States: 'Advantages without Obligations'

  1. #1
    The Fuehrer of the Dance Mettermrck's Avatar
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    The United States: 'Advantages without Obligations'




    January – June 1936: The Presidential Election – Part I

    While Spaniards bled in a bloody civil war and all Europe looked on in morbid fascination...while Chinese troops – Communist and Nationalist – waged a defensive struggle against invading Japanese sweeping through Peking down into the Yellow River valley...and while the Berlin Olympics strove to lull the world into a confidence of peace, the United States engaged in its four-year ritual of the election of its President, as the incumbent Democrat, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, strove to secure a second term and protect the programs he had put into place during his first term, collectively known as the New Deal. These had been enacted to combat the economic and social upheaval of the Great Depression, which had caused massive unemployment and a loss of confidence in institutions and the government. There were positive signs to be pointed to, as more Americans were returning to work, and, despite massive expenditures of capital - a move criticized by some - there were also those who found hope in what the President had accomplished thus far. It promised to be a spirited campaign.

    His opponent for the election was Alf Landon, former Republican governor from Kansas and one-time Progressive supporter of Teddy Roosevelt back in 1912. He was a fiscal conservative who also believed that the government should address social issues. He accepted some of the New Deal but also found it hostile to business and full of waste. An oil man from Kansas, Landon had a business background and a respect for the working man, concentrating his attacks particularly on big government, as he was a politician who opposed anything with the adjective ‘big’ – be it big government, big business, or big military. In 1932, he was one of the few Republican governors who had survived reelection and was therefore considered a strong candidate for President. However, one of his many weaknesses was his poor campaigning skills, preferring to ignore the primaries and leaving much of the strategy to his campaign staff.

    By June, as Europe and Asia bled – and Americans did not notice – the conventions approached and the campaigns heightened. It was clear that Roosevelt was going to retain his Vice-President, John Nance Garner, on his ticket, particularly for the strong support this would earn him in Texas. Political pundits observing the approaching Republican National Convention in Cleveland anticipated the selection of Frank Knox as Landon’s choice for Vice-President. Rough-Rider in the Spanish American War, publisher of the Chicago Daily News, and key Republican fund raiser since 1934, he had been seriously considered as a Presidential candidate in his own right until withdrawing his name from the race. Nevertheless, he would be an effective source of support for Landon in the coming months.

    With Roosevelt leading comfortably and enjoying immense popularity, most observers anticipated a comfortable reelection and there was little reason to expect otherwise.

  2. #2
    Imperium et Libertas Evil Capitalist's Avatar

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    Thumbs up

    Ah- the man who got me hooked on this forum returns! Here's hoping there will be no CTD this time.

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    Viscount of Sunderland Lord British's Avatar

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    It's good to see you back at the HoI AAR forum again Mettermrck.
    "Two cities have been formed by two loves: the earthly by the love of self; the heavenly by the love of God." - St. Augustine

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    The Fuehrer of the Dance Mettermrck's Avatar
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    Thanks, gentlemen. It feels real good to be back and writing. I think you're going to enjoy this AAR.

  6. #6
    The Fuehrer of the Dance Mettermrck's Avatar
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    June 1936: The Presidential Election – Part II

    As the election season moved into the convention phase, Roosevelt enjoyed a comfortable lead and most newspapers and polls were placing him ahead of Landon by substantial margins. Very few, save isolated cases such as the Literary Digest, ventured to point to a Landon victory. With the popularity of the New Deal amongst most of the Democrats, it was clear that to be beaten, the Republicans were going to have to mount a formidable challenge, or else be fortunate and hope for Roosevelt to provide an opening. One such came in early summer, with Roosevelt’s decision to sign the undistributed profits tax.


    Roosevelt’s policies typically made business leaders nervous


    A clear move against business interests and corporate profits, it was also somewhat of a setback to economic expansion. And it was a demonstration of Roosevelt’s attitudes towards business, something which made many corporate boards nervous. Landon himself, however, was not shrewd enough to exploit this opening assertively. He was timid and shied away from campaigning in the primaries. It was typically his strategists who would employ the most effective attacks on FDR and his programs. Landon’s own lukewarm opposition to Social Security was bearing little fruit as well. His poor campaigning was directly contributing to the widespread sentiment for a Roosevelt reelection.

    Yet also in early summer, a second issue surfaced which was to reshape the nature of the 1936 election: oil. Since the discovery of the first major lode in Titusville, Pennsylvania in 1859 leading up to the major strikes in Spindletop in Texas in the early twentieth century, the United States had had a massive interest in the exploitation and development of crude oil throughout its territory and in the world. The automobile, the airplane, the ship...all of these made oil a central interest in the American economy. Its executives were its aristocrats. And in 1936, anything which affected business interests could not help but affect oil interests.


    The 1936 oil treaty with Afghanistan was criticized for its delayed implementation


    Early in the year, the United States negotiated an exclusive treaty with Afghanistan for the exploitation of any oil reserves to be found in its territory. Although the treaty was eventually signed and ratified, the major oil companies, such as Socal (Standard Oil of California – later Chevron), Socony-Vacuum (Standard Oil of New York – later Mobil), and Jersey Standard (later Esso then Exxon), had bristled somewhat at the delay in finalizing the terms and were distrustful of the Roosevelt’s administration’s commitment to overseas oil exploration. This, however, was minor in comparison to the problems taking place next door.


    The development of the worker movement in Mexico worried American oil interests


    In Mexico, there were ominous clouds spreading as the left-wing movement of Mexican workers, slowly coalescing under the leadership of the dynamic Lázaro Cárdenas, became more activist. With growing restlessness under the CTM, there were great fears for the interests of foreign oil companies in Mexico, though the Mexican government continued to issue reassurances to the contrary. Warnings to the administration were ignored or minimized, and this situation became a factor in a growing issue that would become critical in the coming election.

    To secure the key ‘oil states’ of Texas and Oklahoma, FDR relied upon his Vice-President, John Nance Garner and his clout to secure the influence and financing to which his position in Texas politics entitled him. However, as the conventions approached, there were signs of dissatisfaction with the adiministration, and, for those who were sharp enough to look, some doubt as to where ‘big oil’ might jump.

  7. #7
    Fat Cat Public Servant Sir Humphrey's Avatar
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    Great to see you back, and great start. Is there a republican victory in the offing?
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    Nice. Welcome back Mr M!

    You have been sorely missed. I take it this is another CORE story? Difficulty? Playing style? Cant wait to see this one unfold!

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  9. #9
    The Fuehrer of the Dance Mettermrck's Avatar
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    Sir Humphrey: You'll see.

    2Coats: Thanks, sir. I'm glad to be writing again. This is definitely a CORE one, 0.83, normal/normal USA. It's a little more relaxed than my old style, meaning I intend to enjoy myself and have some more fun with the story instead of fussing with exact historical detail. But I also hope to tell a good intriguing story. I won't give away anything ahead of time though!

  10. #10
    The Fuehrer of the Dance Mettermrck's Avatar
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    June – July 1936: The Presidential Election – Part III

    The Republican National Convention in Cleveland, from June 9-12, was expected to be the confirmation of Alf Landon and his running mate, Frank Knox, as the party’s choice to take on FDR for the fall campaign. Most of the faithful gathered in the convention hall were anticipating the result, and there were some signs already printed to this effect, ready to be displayed prominently from the convention windows the next day, ready for the candidate’s acceptance speech. There was an atmosphere of dull calm as the clerk finished droning out the attendance for delegations present and the crowd attempted to work itself into acceptable frenzy. Yet they wouldn’t have to worry about that for long as the former Governor of Maryland, Harry W. Nice, strode to the podium. A distant candidate for the Vice-Presidency nod himself, Nice was given the honor of introducing the party’s VP selection. Awaiting the choice of Knox, the crowd stirred a little but was respectfully quiet as he began his speech. It took him two and a half minutes to work his way through the platitudes and compliments of the Republican party and their cause.

    Caught up in their expectation of Knox’s announcement, few in the crowd would notice something odd about the introduction Nice was giving for the candidate. It became all too clear, however, when Walter E. Edge, former Governor of New Jersey, was announced as the choice. There were seconds of stunned silence before certain delegates, warned ahead of time, began a roaring chant which, as was typical of national conventions, would acquire a mind of its own and catch on. The room gradually picked up the cheer and the convention fell into step. Within an hour or two, most of the delegates would get the word from the party hierarchy – this is our man – and any hints of dissent was quickly quashed. But for a few seconds in June 1936, national politics in the United States shifted and the Republican party was caught completely by surprise.


    The announcement of Walter E. Edge as the Republican vice-presidential candidate was a complete surprise even to the party


    Two weeks priors to this stunning event, Alf Landon had arrived in New Orleans for a two day stay as part of a campaign swing through the south on his way eastward. During this stay, he was requested at a meeting with a Spencer Dolman. Though the arrangements for the meeting were kept quiet, and the itineraries of both men were scheduled so as to appear innocuous, there was little coincidence that Mr. Dolman was a known associate of Morgan Rathbone, an executive for Jersey Standard, one of the leading American oil companies. Landon, as a small oil businessman, was notably distrustful of big businessman, something which made the meeting an act of necessity more than one of desire.

    The men whom Mr. Dolman represented were nervous. Their interests were clearly being threatened by the man whom Landon was running against. Roosevelt’s soft support of American oil interests, his ignorance of the Mexican disturbances, and his known dislike of the Japanese war in China, made the Democratic party a bitter pill in 1936. Yet neither was Alf Landon an attractive alternative. A known opponent of big business, he was a lukewarm campaigner and was behind in the polls. There were investments to be weighed and measured. There were concessions to be proposed and accepted – on both sides. It would last hours, packs of cigarettes, and several meals. In the end, it was Landon’s staff who were the ultimate persuaders. Finally, as evening fell, there was a handshake. The candidate’s flight left that night for St. Louis, and the deal was done.

    Landon lived up to the first request made by the men whom Mr. Dolman represented. Two weeks later, Walter E. Edge was picked as Vice-President, infuriating Frank Knox and many in the party faithful and causing many to wonder if their candidate had lost a step or two. Edge was a mild straight-shooter politician and had no connections to oil or barely anything outside his home state. Why the oil interests would want him as his running mate was a mystery to Landon, but it was done. The pact had been sealed and things were being set into motion.

  11. #11
    Fat Cat Public Servant Sir Humphrey's Avatar
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    The plot thickens!
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    Comrade Great Old One cthulhu's Avatar
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    Excellent Mettermrck! Being an Oliver Stone fan myself I get the same vibes from your AAR as from two of my favorite movies: Nixon and JFK. The meeting with shady movers and shakers reminds me of scenes in both films. "Just give me the Presidency and I'll give you your damn war."
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  13. #13
    Dad of two Korppi's Avatar

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    Very nice aar, I like it very much. And now start to wait new updates.

  14. #14
    Sayonara Zetsubou Robusuta
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    It looks like theres another great AAR by Mettermrck! More great writing and just because I feel obligated to tell you, nice choice of font!

  15. #15
    The Fuehrer of the Dance Mettermrck's Avatar
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    I'm glad you are enjoying it. I must say, this AAR is so much fun to write. I'm just winging away, having a blast with the story. I put Radio@Netscape on to the Big Band/Swing station, and I get in that 1930s groove.

    cthulhu, I kinda know what you mean, with the whole 'big business' thing. I don't want to replicate the 1950s decades earlier, but I enjoy the maneuvering going on.

    Thanks, Semi-Lobster, bookman old style is my favorite font now. I never leave home without it.

  16. #16
    The Fuehrer of the Dance Mettermrck's Avatar
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    July – November 1936: The Presidential Election – Part IV

    On June 13, 1936, most of the national newspapers had announced the Republican ticket, and for most Americans, Landon-Edge was no different than Landon-Knox. For a month, as the Democrats had their chance to officially nominate their man for reelection and the national race was officially launched, it seemed that, even in expert political circles, there was no appreciable difference. Landon was still a timid campaigner, his running mate did not appear to be a dynamic speaker, and the loss of Knox was actually a liability in the Midwest. If anything, the Democrats were delighted at the surprise switch in Cleveland. And both parties wondered just what it was that Alf Landon and those around him were thinking as July waned and FDR remained comfortably ahead in the polls.

    Yet as August began, the Democrats would have worries of their own to contend with and would not have the time to enjoy the lethargy of their hapless opponents. By the first week of the new month, the first indications began to come in. Something was not right in the state of Texas. National Committee members, reviewing ‘war chest’ funds for the coming campaign, began to notice a small but appreciable decrease in contributions from that state...and not just from average contributors. These decreases were from the kinds of places that made eyebrows raise. There were also noticeable drops in other states, including Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Kansas, though none was on such a vast scale, nor represented such a vital state. As the weeks wore on, these decreases would grow larger. Phone calls were made, and the Vice-President, John Nance Garner, was called in to consult. Within an hour, he was on a plane to his home state.

    Garner was no stranger to the Texas machine, being the practical head of much state patronage and quite familiar with who were the right men to consult. Having such power and being linked to the Roosevelt administration might have perhaps relaxed his guard, and Garner received what could be described as the ‘polite brush-off’ from men who, only months ago, he could’ve counted on without question. He immediately flew back to Washington to consult with the Democratic leadership. His instincts told him that they were testing for some major concession, and that a carrot and stick approach would be required to get them in line, but he couldn’t help but be worried. Something was terribly wrong.

    If they knew the truth of it, they would be even more frightened. For even as the Democratic coffers were slowly being drained, the Republican coffers were slowly being filled, in precisely those states over which Garner and the others were agonizing. The men whom Garner had consulted with, who were in fact the same men who Spencer Dolman represented, had made their choice, and in Alf Landon, they believed they had found someone they could use once they got him into office. This, of course, was the first step – getting him into office. Money was only part of it. Someone had to make the timid campaigner less timid. In mid-August, Mr. Dolman recommended the appointment of a Jonas Kemper to Landon’s staff as a political consultant – a man with very little affiliation with Dolman or his interests. As a political veteran, Kemper could be expected to breathe some fire into the Landon camp, and this he proceeded to do.


    The Landon campaign eventually began to gain ground in September


    By September, the Landon campaign made the first key shifts that made the Democrats take notice. On September 12, 1936, in Philadelphia, Landon gave a major policy speech decrying interventionist sentiment in the Spanish Civil War and favoring strengthening the Neutrality Acts in a such a way as to allow companies to trade actively with both sides of the conflict. Roosevelt, who had seemed comfortable in downplaying the issue, shied away from the discussion and instead gave a test speech on the war in China. Hinting about restrictions on trade with the aggressive Japan, Roosevelt aroused the ire of business interests and to many pundit’s surprise, Landon lashed back within a week with a speech of his own, criticizing FDR and promoting free trade with Japan and China. Landon, who’s position on the Neutrality Acts had been considered somewhat ambiguous, was suddenly assertive, and isolationists were delighted.


    Landon’s sudden assertiveness during the fall campaign attracted many supporters in the isolationist wing


    September moved into October, and the wrangling continued. Despite the new vigor of the Republican campaign, FDR was still a formidable opponent to take on. His lead in the polls had dropped a few points, but he was still ahead, and he still retained immense popularity across the nation for the New Deal and his innate sense of optimism. Landon, for all of his debating points, was identifying with business and foreign policy questions that it was hard for the common farmer or merchant to relate to. Yet the men with the money were listening and they were opening their wallets. And in the last few weeks of the campaign, both parties couldn’t help but notice that the gap between the two candidates was closing. Roosevelt was mere points ahead in the polls, and several papers were beginning to put Landon ahead.

    In the last week, Landon made his first and only mention of Mexico in a speech. As most of his campaign was being built around non-interventionism, his phrases against the disorder in Mexico were couched as concern for our ‘wayward brethren’, ‘responsibility for those under our care’, and he placed the text as a small part of a larger speech on foreign policy. It was another request of Mr. Dolman’s, and Landon complied, surprised at the polite reception the speech received. In that same week, it was reported to FDR that without major concessions to ‘certain parties’, the security of key states such as Texas and Oklahoma could not be wholly guaranteed.

    Finally, November came and all the speechifying, maneuvering, and spending came down to a single day – Tuesday, November 3rd, 1936.



  17. #17
    Mad Scientist Meltdown1986's Avatar
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    A new AAR by Mettermrck, what a pleasant surprise. Do I detect innuendoes at the present political situation in a not-so unimportant Northern-American Nation?
    "A true Warrior fights for victory, not for Glory"
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  18. #18
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    A cliffhanger! Great AAR!
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  19. #19
    M.I.A 2Coats's Avatar
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    Damn I cant pick an option. Mettermrck any chance you could use Macromedia director add a button to a link that actually chooses the option?



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  20. #20
    The Fuehrer of the Dance Mettermrck's Avatar
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    November 1936: The Presidential Election – Part V

    Early returns from the East Coast set the tone of the 1936 election, and it was clear that the Republicans were picking up states in unexpected places. For Landon’s part, it became very clear how effective Edge’s selection had been, for his reputation as a no-nonsense reputable politician carried great weight in the Northeast and, combined with fresh infusions of funds from Mr. Dolman’s associates, early Republican victories in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Connecticut, surprised and stunned most political experts, as did a surprisingly high showing in New York, though Roosevelt won this decisive state with its 47 electoral votes.

    The damage continued as returns came in from states in Northeast. Republican gains could not be overestimated, and huge gains in cities such as Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh were reported. In addition, the influence of Landon’s running mate continued to bear fruit in states like New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and, in the greatest Republican coup of the evening, Pennsylvania and 36 electoral votes, a state which only a week before, had been solidly predicted as Democratic. By seven in the evening, Landon was actually running ahead of his opponent.

    But this would change quickly enough. The Midwest was sharply divided, and the removal of Knox from the Republican ticket was seen as a sour blow to their fortunes there. Indiana went for the Democrats, and Ohio, despite its strong industrial base, was too close to call. As the returns creeped in from the South, Roosevelt picked up state after state in what was seen as his most formidable weapon: 124 electoral votes in eleven states. They rolled in one by one....Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas. Along with New York, the South would put Roosevelt two-thirds of the way to victory.

    At eight-thirty, however, the tide changed just as fast. Landon took Louisiana. Immediately, the word went out: The Republicans had broken the South. Fifteen minutes later, Texas went Republican. For the Democratic Party, it was a disaster of the highest order. Within a half-hour, more states would roll in from the West and Midwest, and the candidates remained close, but it was clear that Landon had achieved a sweep of the “oil states” – Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma – and their 44 votes. As a Shreveport newspaper would headline on the morning of the 4th, ”Oil Sweeps Dixie!”


    The loss of the oil states broke the solid Democratic hold on the South, which they had enjoyed since the end of Reconstruction


    Darkness fell in the east, and still there was no decision. The parties traded states. The Republicans picked up Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado, while the Democrats took Minnesota, the Dakotas, Montana, and Idaho. In the Midwest, Roosevelt surged ahead with a key victory in Wisconsin but lost Detroit when Michigan and its 19 votes went Republican. Landon took at last took Ohio, along with Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and still it wasn’t enough. It would all come down to Illinois and California – 29 and 22 votes, respectively.

    Early returns in both states read solidly Democrat. Both states had went for FDR in 1932, and there was little reason to doubt that now. Confident, there are those who might have relaxed and those who did not, for with hours left in the polls, the machines went to work. The men for whom Mr. Dolman worked were not about to come so far without the utmost investment. There was too much at stake. Chicago and San Francisco were but two areas where things happened, men arrived, envelopes appeared, and handshakes were made. At ten-fifteen, Illinois went Republican, just barely. At eleven-forty-five, California followed. The Democrats howled, but for the moment, the election was over. Alf Landon and the Republican Party had won.



    Alf Landon – Walter E. Edge (Republican), 22,793,195 votes (51.2%), 280 electoral
    Franklin Delano Roosevelt – John Nance Garner (Democrat), 21,637,985 votes (46.1%), 251 electoral
    William Lemke – Thomas Charles O’Brien (Union) 892,267 votes (2.0%), 0 electoral
    Norman Thomas – George A. Nelson (Socialist) 187,833 votes (0.4%), 0 electoral
    Earl Browder – James W. Ford (Communist) 80,171 votes (0.2%), 0 electoral
    D. Leigh Colvin – Claude A. Watson (Prohibition) 37,677 votes (0.1%), 0 electoral)
    TOTAL: 45,629,128 votes (100.0%), 531 electoral


    The presidential of 1936 was many things to many people, depending on where your place was in American society. For the farmer or worker, there was an air of disappointment, and the feeling that the government had let them down by removing the one man who had tried to help them in their time of need. Though they knew little yet of Alf Landon, they couldn’t help a feeling of uncertainty over FDR’s electoral loss. For businessman, small and especially large, it was a triumph. Typically, the Democratic party had become identified as unfriendly or overregulating towards economic freedoms and those who’s pockets were finally being refilled after the Depression – never minding the New Deal – were growing resentful of the government’s dipping hand into their affairs. A Republican victory was seen as a mandate to roll back the New Deal, to peel off some of the more unpopular provisions or, in the case of some of the harsher businessmen, to remove it altogether, those this was highly unlikely.

    Intellectuals were divided, both right and left. The Democrats had become the champions of social progress, and their programs of putting America back to work were seen as an example of evolution in government attitude and involvement in the protection and nurturing of its citizens, a cause which liberals and socialists both championed. The Republicans, however, had somehow forged an unexpected coalition of business and isolationist interests that supported strong neutral trade and a commitment to fiscal responsibility. It was clear that many budget programs, both social and military, were going to be at issue because of the result of 1936. Nobody knew if the country was destined to turn back the clock to before 1932 or if it was too late and something entirely different was about to happen.

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