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Tommy4ever

Papa Bear
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Sep 13, 2008
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1703891582876.png

Here we go again! And my first ever HoI4 AAR to boot. I've had in the back of my mind the idea of doing an American AAR in the Kaiserreich universe for about a decade - since I first played the mod in Darkest Hour. I have decided to finally scratch the itch. We will start with a look at the 1936 Presidential election - the central backstory to any American KR playthrough. I will then go back and tell the backstory of how we got to this point, taking my own take on the history leading to this point, even if I differ in parts from the official KR lore. After that we will move forward from November 1936 towards the ACW2 and beyond. I will keep my cards close to my chest on which faction I will be playing in game, I kind of love playing all of them so even now my decision isn't final.
 
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I absolutely love Kaiserreich AARs!
 
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A Very American Nightmare – The 1936 Presidential Election
A Very American Nightmare – The 1936 Presidential Election

Democracy depends upon the willingness and ability of millions of people to come together in common values, institutions and brotherhood. As the results of the Presidential election that year would show, by November 3 1936, the citizens of America had ceased to be able to even begin to comprehend one another.

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The results were as catastrophic as they were dramatic. No fewer than five major candidates had spent the preceding months criss-crossing the nation in a heated and periodically violent campaign, with each of them securing victory in at least one state and carrying millions of votes. However, not one of them would succeed in mustering as much as three tenths of the popular vote or come anywhere close to a majority in the electoral college. Results were also highly regionalised, with many parties uncompetitive in large parts – and totally anathema to voters there – while having concentrated support elsewhere – contributing to the splintering of the American public consciousness.

Democratic Party – Garner/Green

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Vote Share: 11.33%
Popular Vote: 5,195,188
Electoral Vote: 4
States Carried: 1 (RI)

Nance Garner, known as ‘Cactus Jack’ in his native Texas, had entered the electoral cycle expectant that, despite a poor Democrat performance in the 1934 midterms, the unpopular of the outgoing Republican Hoover administration would make him the favourite to come out on top in an unpredictable contest. He could hardly have been more wrong.

Although placing fourth in the popular vote with a paltry 11%, the Democrats finished a remarkably poor fifth in the electoral college. Indeed, Vice Presidential pick and Governor of Rhode Island secured the party’s only victory as the Democrat ticket won by just over 2,000 votes in his home state. The party only managed over 30% of the vote in two other states – Texas, Garnett’s home state, and Virginia.

For a party that had held the White House for 16 years between 1912 and 1928 under the Presidencies of Woodrow Wilson and William McAdoo, the fall from grace was stunning. As recently as 1932, the Democrats had been strong enough to run Herbert Hoover to a stalemate in the Presidential election while a strong midterm performance had made it largest party in both Houses of Congress in 1930. Now it survived only as a regionally significant, albeit losing, oppositional force across the South and New England, reduced to fringe party status throughout the rest of the nation.

Of the two traditional parties, the Democrats had been suffered far more intensely from the rise of the radical insurgent parties. In the North, the Socialists had chased the Democrats away from historic bases of support among unionised industrial workers and left-wing intellectuals while in the West, Olson and his Farmer-Labor Party had co-opted the Plains radical tradition for itself. But the greatest threat to the party was none other than one-time favourite son Huey Long and America First, which had not only taken over the majority of the party’s voter base wholesale but also but siphoned off much of its grass roots organisational structure, above all in the South but also right across the nation. What remained was a Bourbon Democrat rump – conservative, elitist and woefully ill-prepared for the militant mass politics of the day.

Farmer-Labor Party / Progressive Party – Olson/La Follette

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Vote Share: 8.14%
Popular Vote: 3,733,448
Electoral Vote: 22
States Carried: 4 (MN, MT, ND, NV)

While all five of the major Presidential tickets in the 1936 election had highly regionalised support, none was more so than that of Minnesota Governor Floyd Olson and Wisconsin Senator Robert La Follette Jnr, which ran under the banner of the Farmer-Labor Party or Progressive Party in different states. East of the Mississippi, the ticket struggled to compete for 1 or 2% of the vote alongside other tiny fringe candidates. However, in the West it was the premier force of anti-establishment radicalism – crushing what remained of the Plain and Mountain West Socialist tradition and outcompeting America First among the millions of angry rural voters of the Western half of the Republic. With its greatest strength in the North close to the Canadian border, where it picked up three of its four state-wide victories and fell to narrow losses in South Dakota, Wisconsin and Idaho, it was a competitive in well over a dozen seats.

The Olson Presidential candidacy was among the latest to formulate in 1936. Olson tapped into the long tradition of rural Populism, which had flourished as a third party force in the late nineteenth century by channelling the frustrations of homesteading farmer of the American West. In 1892 the Populists had carried five western states, before their movement later rallied behind the movement of the radical Democrat William Jennings Bryan in his three failed Presidential campaigns of 1896, 1900 and 1908. This radical impetus had never truly been extinguished, and revived again for Robert La Follette Snr, the father of Olson’s 1936 running mate, to launch a strong third party campaign in 1924, again winning widespread support in the Plains and Mountain West and winning his home state of Wisconsin.

The place of the Populist tradition within American politics grew more strained as the traditional parties broke down and the forces of Syndicalism and Longism grew in strength. While both insurgent movements could claim a share of this tradition, many sought a radical democratic alternative to both the traditional parties and the new extremist movements. In Minnesota the Farmer-Labor Party and in Wisconsin the Progressive Party had functioned as independent entities in their own right for many years by the late 1920s and early 1930s when they came into direct competition with the advancing power of syndicalism. It was in this competition with red tide from the east that they developed a distinct centre-left and progressive philosophy that rejected the bigotry of the Longist, the class war of the syndicalists and the anti-democratic ideology of both.

For a time in the summer of 1936, with the strength of America First and the Socialist Party becoming ever more clear, Olson had been at the forefront of an attempt to negotiate a broad alliance with the Democrats and Republicans that would keep the anti-democratic parties at bay. Despite the failure of this initiative, Olson chose to forge ahead with his own candidacy – setting the Great Plains alight but making little impact in the East.

Republican Party – Landon/McNary

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Vote Share: 24.15%
Popular Vote: 11,074,235
Electoral Vote: 112
States Carried: 16 (CA, CO, CT, DE, ID, KS, MA, ME, NE, NH, OR, SD, UT, VT, WA, WY)

When he was nominated as the Republican candidate to succeed one of the most unpopular Presidents in American history in Herbert Hoover, Kansas Governor Alf Landon was presented with one of the greatest hospital passes in political history. Although visibly uncomfortable with the fiery heat of an electoral contest of this unprecedented nature, Landon and his running mate, Oregon Senator Charles McNary, performed admirably.

In the West, New England and Mid Atlantic, the Republican ticket remained highly competitive while it retained a degree of residual support in the now-Socialist dominated Mid West and parts of the South, where it had been a fringe force since Reconstruction. Nationally, the Republicans finished within striking distance of the two insurgent parties, despite slumping to less than a quarter of the popular vote, but ultimately fell to third place.

Landon had gone to the country with a fierce defence of the American Dream, business, sound public finances and the democratic institutions of the United States with a message that, despite her troubles, America remained on a proper course. After Howard Taft in 1912, he was the first Republican to fail to finish as either winner or runner up in a Presidential election. Nonetheless, he had proven the continued relevance of liberal democratic ideals to America amid the tumult. Indeed, while the two traditional parties had sunken to unprecedentedly low support, it spoke volumes that their combined vote share was significantly higher than either America First or the Socialist Party had managed.

Socialist Party – Reed/Thomas

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Vote Share: 28.33%
Popular Vote: 12,990,660
Electoral Vote: 188
States Carried: 8 (IA, IL, MI, NY, OH, PA, WI, WV)

The Socialist Party, the political wing of the Combined Syndicates of America, represented the most complete challenge to the established order of American society with a programme that promised the complete upturning of the institutions, economy and class structure of the United States in line with the revolutionary syndicalist regimes across the Atlantic in Britain, France and Italy. Along the charismatic radicalism of Jack Reed was to balanced by the relative moderation of his Vice Presidential pick Norman Thomas, a formerly the Mayor of New York City and Socialist Presidential nominee, there was little to disguise the magnitude of their political offer.

American socialism had been building towards this moment for at least a quarter of a century. After the pioneering campaigns of five-time Presidential candidate Eugene Debs between 1900 and 1920 had built up a base for socialism in America, the syndicalist movement enjoyed explosive growth from the late 1920s as American capitalism juddered to a halt under the weight of the Depression; the example of the European revolutions brought weight and inspiration to syndicalist ideals; and the American movement itself consolidated and professionalised itself. By 1928 the Socialist Party had elected its first Senator and wielded a strong cohort in the House of Representatives, in 1932 it denied either major party an electoral college victory and through the Presidential election to Congress – resulting in the re-election of Herbert Hoover to the consternation of many.

For a time, and with the American societal crisis intensifying, the onwards march of syndicalism appeared unstoppable and inevitable. However, in the mid-1930s other radical alternatives to the status quo emerged. For all their hatred for one another, the America First movement appealed to very similar emotions as the syndicalists with its appeal to redistribution, a fight against poverty and upturning of the existing order, while the late emergence of Floyd Olson’s Populist candidacy scattered the embers of Plains socialism almost entirely.

Despite all this, in election day more Americans would cast their ballot for Jack Reed than anyone else with nearly 13 million putting their faith in revolutionary change. Given this, it is remarkable that the Socialists won in just eight states and scored only derisory support across great swathes of the country. Indeed, outside of the industrial cities of the Mid West and Mid Atlantic, the coalfields of Appalachia and a handful of coastal Pacific cities – principally Seattle and Portland – the party had vanishingly little support. Its electorate was tightly focussed on unionised workers, left wing intellectuals and a handful of key ethnic minorities – notably the Jews of New York and Blacks who had migrated to the Northern cities over the preceding decades. Although it won in only eight states, these included the four most populous in the Union as well as the seventh most and the largest part of the nation’s industrial capacity.

Reed fell well short of outright victory, and even finished behind Huey Long in the electoral college, nonetheless with a plurality of the popular vote he held a clear claim to victory. In a wild election party in New York, he would announce himself as the rightful President Elect and called upon his followers to prepare themselves to defend his claimed victory.

America First Party – Long/Lemke

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Vote Share: 26.72%
Popular Vote: 12,249,418
Electoral Vote: 205
States Carried: 19 (AL, AR, AZ, FL, GA, IN, KY, LA, MD, MO, MS, NC, NJ, NM, OK, SC, TN, TX, VA)

Huey Long was the single greatest unknown entering into the 1936 Presidential race. His party was young, untested electorally, but extremely militant and belligerent as he promised to bring down the established order in Washington and destroy the spectre of syndicalism.

It had been during his successful term as the Democratic Party Governor and later Senator of Louisiana, during which he had built up an impregnable statewide political machine by fair means and foul and started to articulate his distinctive Share Our Wealth programme. This called for a decisive break with the dour pro-business politics of the Democratic establishment in favour of radical government action, economic redistribution, a response to the acute problems of rural poverty and limits on the accumulation of great fortunes.

These ideas made him the darling of the Democrat base in the early 1930s, but he nonetheless lost out on the party’s 1932 Presidential nomination as deals in smoke-filled backrooms handed it to the conservative Albert Ritchie instead. After the indecisive result of the election that year left it to Congress to decide the winner and the Democrats agreed to grant Hoover a second term in exchange for some political concessions, Long was incensed and left the party in a rage.

It was only ahead of the 1934 midterms that he launched the America First Party, adopting the Share Our Wealth Programme alongside a forthright nationalist policy, and secured scores of victories, chiefly in the Deep South and at the expense of his former party. With proof of concept secured, Long announced his intention to build on this foothold with a run for President, coining his famous slogan “Every Man a King”.

After 1934, America First grew explosively and attracted support from an array of different constituencies. While Long himself liked to focus on his economic programme, nationalism and anti-syndicalism, his movement unleashed forces that he had limited control over. Contradictorily, while the party, particularly in its southern heartland, had a fiercely nativist hostility to Catholicism and immigration in defence of the traditionally Protestant American national character, one of Long’s most prominent allies was the Catholic Priest Father Coughlin whose influential radio show brought the Longist creed to the millions of working class Catholics in the Northern states that had once been central to the Democrat political base. Indeed, in Indiana – in which Long would stun the Socialists by building a winning coalition in 1936 – the America First electorate relied on the organisational prowess of both anti-Catholic Klansmen, who remained influential in the state even as they had declined elsewhere, and anti-socialist Catholic clergymen for its success. Anti-Semitism was also widespread, and a somewhat unifying force, within the movement – with hatred of syndicalism and finance bleeding into ancient prejudices that witnessed the prominence of Jewish figures on Wall Street and among the Combined Syndicates alike and saw a conspiracy against the American race.

Perhaps above all, Long promised to be the strongman who would cut through the corruption and impasse of Washington politics, destroy the syndicalist menace and ensure the continued survival of the United States at a time of existential peril.

Like the syndicalists, the Longists also retained a large paramilitary wing, the Minutemen, with which they intimidated their rivals, did battle with syndicalists where they found them and sought to project an image of militant vitality and strength.

On election day, remarkably, the America First Party had the only Presidential ticket that won at least 10% of the vote in every single state, leading Long to claim that he led the only truly national party. This support was highly concentrated in the Deep South, where America First secured the lion’s share of the Democratic supermajorities but was also strong across the South West, the Border States and into the Mid Atlantic – with Long notably winning states as far North as Indiana and New Jersey.

Had it not been for poll taxes and other turnout suppression methods keeping voting limited in the South, as had been the case for several decades, Long might well have beaten Reed to the popular vote. Nonetheless, he finished narrowly ahead of his socialist rival in electoral college votes, although well short of a majority in his own right, while losing in the popular vote. Despite this, Long echoed the actions of his main rival by celebrating “the most important victory in the history of the Republic”, and readying his Minutemen to enforce his triumph.

The Aftermath

Despite the victory claims of Reed and Long, the archaic machinery of the American Constitution did not recognise either man as the rightful President. This was an election in which there had not been any winners. With no candidate achieving a majority in the electoral college for the second consecutive electoral cycle, the fate of America would be decided behind closed doors in the Houses of Congress.

According to the arcane of the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, the House of Representatives – hopelessly divided between the parties – was tasked to decide the next President from among the three candidates with the most electoral votes: Long, Reed and Landon. Meanwhile, the Senate, in which the traditional parties remained notably stronger, was to appoint a Vice President from the two candidates with the highest number of electoral votes: namely William Lemke and Norman Thomas. It was not out of the question, legally speaking, that Congress might select candidates from separate tickets.

This was a recipe for total hysteria and chaos. With both Long and Reed claiming victory while sharpening their swords with the American establishment looking on in paralysed horror, within six months the United States would be consumed by the flames of the most bitter and destructive conflict in its history – the Second American Civil War.

This history tells the story of how the greatest nation on earth reached this point of ultimate despair, the consequences of the election and the carnage of the civil war that followed as America forged a path forward amid a world tumbling into darkness.
 
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And the bonus points for the mega alt-history political nerds, yes I did create a detailed state-by-state results spreadsheet to put this together:

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Am following! Will comment in more detail a bit later, but:
And the bonus points for the mega alt-history political nerds, yes I did create a detailed state-by-state results spreadsheet
Ah, a nerd after my own heart! :D

PS: the preamble nicely summarises the chaotic background to this alt-history setting. Looking forward to how it pans out and which side you take.
 
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America is very divided. Even if one party wins the Second Civil War, I imagine that there will be a long reconstruction period...

Who will the House pick? Landon is the most conservative (and, therefore, "traditional") option right now, but that would anger both Long and Reed, who have private armies. What's the party distribution of the House and the Senate, and how well does that correlate to support for these candidates?

Will the Democrats and Progressives remain loyal to the nation and the electoral process?

This election would honestly provide a great argument for the Alternative Vote if it actually happened, honestly.
 
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This election would honestly provide a great argument for the Alternative Vote if it actually happened, honestly.
Yes, it’s the system Australia uses in its Lower House seats (we call it preferential voting), and they then choose the PM in the Westminster system (by the parties), there being no presidential election. I could see how it would be good in this kind or situation, either that or the run-off model (though in this case if between the two top candidates would be pretty explosive anyway.
 
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The powderkeg is lit. It seems only corruption can give any other result than the top two. But nevertheless it is too late.
 
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The False Dawn of An American Century – The United States in 1920
The False Dawn of An American Century – The United States in 1920

In the first fifth of the 1900s, the world seemed to be advancing into the American Century, one in which the United States would emerge as the lodestar of the entire globe. Over the preceding century, America had spread out its civilisation across an entire continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific, taming and settling the Western frontier. Having first overtaken the United Kingdom at the end of the preceding century, America’s economy continued to grow rapidly – greatly outpacing its main European rivals. Meanwhile, the Woodrow Wilson administration was able to sidestep the Great War, known as the Weltkrieg on much of the Old Continent, further strengthening American dominance as she avoided the death and destruction of war and replaced Britain as the world’s creditor, with the defeated Entente powers in particular owing vast sums to American interests. While Europe was debt addled, broken down, rocked by Revolution and placed under a German hegemony, the people of the United States enjoyed the highest standards of living the world had ever seen, while their nation’s economic might was now almost completely undisputed.

For all its economic might, the US was not an entirely happy society. While America had acquired immense wealth, it had also developed a yawning divide between elites with unprecedented riches and the masses of poor workers and farmers who barely made enough to get by. Whatsmore, American society was also blighted by a dizzying array of racial and ethnic tensions, between the downtrodden Blacks and the White majority, the remaining Native American tribes, still deprived of full rights long after abandoning armed resistance to Federal rule, and between the and among the dozens of different immigrant and immigrant-descended communities of the country and the nation’s Anglo Saxon Protestant core.

The Reds Rise

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Although the reforms of the Progressive era of the 1900s and 1910s had alleviated some of these social and class divisions, the States nonetheless remained ripe soil for the arrival of a new idea from the Old World – revolutionary syndicalism. The United States had long been an outlier among the industrial nations of the world for the weakness of its socialist movement. Although industrial militancy and socialist ideology had been gaining ground before the Great War – with perennial Socialist Party candidate Eugene Debs achieving a respectable 6% of the popular vote in the 1912 Presidential election – it had nonetheless remained a fringe force. Events in Europe at the close of the Great War would change this forever.

As one by one the Entente powers of continental Europe collapsed under the weight of the impossible exertions of total war, war between nations was replaced by war between the classes. First in Russia in 1917 and then, as their nations fell to military defeat to the Germans, in Italy and France in 1919 revolutionary socialist forces sought to seize the reigns of power and sent their mighty nations hurtling into gruesome civil wars. Although the Russian Bolsheviks were eventually defeated, and the Italian socialists saw their nation partitioned – securing only part of it for their revolutionary state, France – one of the world’s premier economic, cultural and military powers – would rekindle its eighteenth century role and become the hearth of world revolution once more as the Commune of France.

Although the bloodthirstiness of these civil wars and the revolutionary regimes that they forged would stun the world, as would the scale of their transformative socio-economic vision, the existence of actual existing socialism, and its enduring strength in France at least, would electrify the American Left. As early as 1917, the then youthful journalist had witnessed the Russian Revolution first hand, bringing the drama of the Bolshevik seizure of power to the American consciousness with his famed Ten Days That Shook The World. Meanwhile, many other had been attracted to the more democratic and trade union focussed syndicalist politics of the French Revolution.

At an emergency conference in 1920, the beginnings of a unified American Revolutionary Left was born as the Socialist Party and the radical Industrial Workers of the World trade union, the Wobblies, agreed to reconciliation and unity with a broad Leftist tent that could accommodate Bolshevik-style Communists, more moderate socialists and trade unionist syndicalists. Over the next decade and a half, this new American Left would turn the nation’s politics on its head.

The Southern Institution

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The perennial elephant looming over American society was race and the question of its large Black minority. From the late nineteenth century, and largely concluding by the first years of the twentieth century, the Southern state, in which almost the entirety of America’s Black population then resided, formalised the system of white supremacism and segregation known as Jim Crow. While Blacks would be nominally entitled to ‘separate but equal’ services and the rights of citizenship, they were effectively disenfranchised, routinely abuse, threatened with lynchings and murder, and discriminated against as a matter of course. This marked the lowest point in the position of Black Americans since First American Civil War and the abolition of slavery. Nonetheless, this system, while appearing monolithic, was not unchallenged by 1920. In 1909, the NAACP and began to campaign for the dismantling of Jim Crow and equal rights for Blacks, the organisation would find a particularly receptive audience among the syndicalist movement – which would adopt racial equality wholesale into its platforms. Of greater significance was the beginning of the Great Migration during the 1910s – setting off one of the largest mass movements of people within a country in history as African Americans set off in their millions to leave their homes in the South, alongside all the oppression they faced there, to move to the richer, labour hungry, industrial cities of the North and West.

Migration and Nation

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Another great force affecting social change in America was immigration. Until the middle of the nineteenth century, excepting African and Native Americans, the United States had maintained a homogenous culture of Protestant British – English, Scottish, Ulster-Scots and Welsh – descent with modest components from other parts of Western Europe. From that point it began to acquire large numbers of immigrants from outwith this core population – principally Irish Catholics and Germans – but nonetheless retained both a clear Anglo Saxon Protestant majority and a shared Western European culture. From the end of the century there was a sea change in both the scale and character of immigration drawn to the Republic. Although Western European migration – mostly from Ireland, Germany and Scandinavia – continued, from the 1890s the largest source of immigration shifted to Southern and Western Europe. Over the next thirty years millions of Italians, Jews, Poles, Hungarians, Greeks, Russians and other Slavs would sail across the Atlantic to make their home in the United States. Between 1917 and 1920 alone the level of migration almost tripled as millions fled the civil wars and syndicalist takeovers afflicted Europe. These populations were far more culturally, religiously and linguistically distinct from the American majority than previous waves of migration. During this time there was even a rise in non-European migration, with populations of Japanese and Chinese settling on the West Coast in their tens of thousands, while new Middle Eastern communities from the Ottoman Empire, in particular Levantine Christians, made their homes around New York and the Mid West. By 1920, immigration had never been so great, the foreign-born population was at its highest ever level and within the space of a generation the character of American society had visibly shifted.

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Inevitably, immigration of this character and scale illicit a potent backlash. In 1915, the film Birth of a Nation debuted and quickly became the first Hollywood blockbuster in history as it captured the swirling nativist mood as it told the story of the rise of the first Klu Klux Klan in the post-Civil War South. Then President Woodrow Wilson screened the film in the White House and commented that “it is like writing history with lightning”. Inspired by the film, the new Klu Klux Klan was launched later that year and quickly attracted millions of members nationwide. Although basing itself on purported Southern traditions, the Klan had massive success well beyond the South – with its strongest chapters in Indiana. The movement was secretive and violent, frequently engaging in lynchings against African Americans, with an ideology that was fiercely white supremacist but also drew much of its attraction from its anti-immigration intent, and its identification with Anglo Saxon Protestant majority against external enemies – be they Blacks, immigrants, Catholics, Jews, socialists or anti-prohibitionists.

Whiskey Away!

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And the idea of Prohibition stood equally strong among America’s many discontents in 1920. The idea that alcohol should be marked as poison and its sale prohibited grew into a major force across the Protestant world during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, having grown as a more radical offshoot from the broader Temperance movement – that had sought to encourage individuals to abstain by their own choice. It united a coalition of Protestant moralists – in particular those of Pietist, Presbyterian and Evangelical denominations – and left leaning social reformers and enjoyed by far its greatest popularity among women, who were the primary victims of the rampant alcohol abuse of the time. The impact of alcohol and its abuse on industrialising societies had been stark and visible for decades, being associated with poverty and often the most extreme deprivation, domestic violence against women and children, the financial and physical neglect of families, unruliness and disorder and the profiteering of unscrupulous industrialists. Campaigners saw the abolition of the drinks as a root to a happier, fairer and more equal society, a core part of progressive reform agendas of the day in a number of countries. Prohibitionism reached the peak of its international influence in the 1910s and 1920s, with dry laws implemented in most Canadian Provinces, a number of Scandinavian countries and, at a local level, in large parts of Scotland.

The United States was at the centre of this surge, with large swathes of the country implemented bans on the liquor trade at either a state or county level while fervour for Prohibition strengthened in both major parties and the wider electorate. This was not to say that its popularity was universal. Catholics and Germans of all denominations, large constituencies across much of the country, were implacably hostile while many influential industrialists with a stake in the large domestic drinks industry were equally opposed, with others critical of the idea on more libertarian grounds. Nonetheless the administration of Woodrow Wilson, an advocate of Temperance although critic of outright Prohibition, the prospect of a nationwide Federal ban on the drinks trade appeared to be in reach with a clear cross-party majority in favour in both Houses of Congress. In 1919, a constitutional amendment that would have implemented such a ban came close to passing but was ultimately frustrated by the determined filibustering of ‘wet’, pro-drinks trade, Senators. Although defeated at this point, the broader Prohibitionist movement remained a potent force in American society, and attached itself to the distinctive self-image of America’s Anglo-Saxon Protestant core.

The 1920 Presidential Election and William McAdoo

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Despite these swirling troubles, in the midst of a strong economy and having avoided the War, the Wilson administration remained highly popular as the President came to the end of his second term. Although Wilson maintained hopes of running for an unprecedented third term, with his health failing and the taboo of breaking George Washington’s convention he was convinced to step aside and allow his son-in-law William McAdoo, who had served as an able Secretary for the Treasury during his administration, to contest the Democratic Party nomination. A creature of his southern roots and the Progressive era in which he lived, McAdoo had a punchy platform calling for further social reforms to east inequalities and poverty, renewed efforts to pursue Prohibition despite the legislative failure of 1919, action to limit immigration and the defence of Jim Crow laws and even the applicability of segregation to the Federal government. McAdoo would face stinging resistance from Northern Democrats, in particular Catholics who despised his Prohibitionism and air of anti-Catholicism. Indeed, his success at the convention was aided by the endorsement of key leaders of the Klu Klux Klan – an organisation that he refused to deny but did not admit membership of. Nonetheless, with Wilson’s backing, he was able to carry the convention and secure the Presidential nomination.

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In the first Presidential election in which American women had the right to vote, McAdoo would meet Republican nominee Warren Harding in an incredibly close race. While there were strong showings by third parties – Eugene Debs returning for a fourth Presidential run and beating his previous 1912 record with 7.2% of the vote while the Prohibitionist Aaron Watkins matched his party’s 1892 high point with a 2.2% vote share – the contest remained a clear two horse race. Harding and McAdoo would be separated by just 200,000 votes among more than 37 million and, in one of the tightest elections in American history, just 3 electoral college votes. In this dead heat, Harding won the popular vote by a hair’s width, but McAdoo claimed an electoral college majority and with it the Presidency. Moreover, the spectable of the winner of the popular vote losing the election, something that had not occurred since 1888, shook the faith of many in America’s institutions. It was a harsh blow for a Republican Party that had not lost consecutive Presidential elections since before the Civil War until 1916, and continued an era of Democrat dominance into the 1920s, with McAdoo’s party accompanying his victory by retaining control over Congress.
 
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Am following! Will comment in more detail a bit later, but:

Ah, a nerd after my own heart! :D

PS: the preamble nicely summarises the chaotic background to this alt-history setting. Looking forward to how it pans out and which side you take.

Glad to have you aboard! What's the point of spending hours making an imagined election spreadsheet if you don't share :p :D.

America is very divided. Even if one party wins the Second Civil War, I imagine that there will be a long reconstruction period...

Who will the House pick? Landon is the most conservative (and, therefore, "traditional") option right now, but that would anger both Long and Reed, who have private armies. What's the party distribution of the House and the Senate, and how well does that correlate to support for these candidates?

Will the Democrats and Progressives remain loyal to the nation and the electoral process?

This election would honestly provide a great argument for the Alternative Vote if it actually happened, honestly.
Yes, it’s the system Australia uses in its Lower House seats (we call it preferential voting), and they then choose the PM in the Westminster system (by the parties), there being no presidential election. I could see how it would be good in this kind or situation, either that or the run-off model (though in this case if between the two top candidates would be pretty explosive anyway.

On electoral systems - the US system is of course bizarre and takes the oddities of FPTP to their greatest possible extremes. A run off or AV-style system could allow for a President to emerge here who at the very least could claim to command majority support in some shape or form.

As for who the House will actually pick. Herein lies the interesting question! After the previous election in the KR timeline 1932 (which also went to the House - with a Republican and Democrat narrowly divided) new legislation was passed that meant that the incoming Congress would elect the new President rather than the outgoing one (as had been the case in 1932 - this also happened in OTL at the same time in history). That is significant as, in line with these Presidential results, the incoming House elected on the same day is going to have a lot more America Firsters and Socialists than the outgoing House. That is of course, if no one seeks to conspire to amend or change that particular rule before the new Congress takes office in January - a full two months away.

Suffice to say, when we make our way back to 1936, plenty of drama awaits!

The powderkeg is lit. It seems only corruption can give any other result than the top two. But nevertheless it is too late.

We will have to await and see how this result plays out, but rest assured - there will be blood ;).
 
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Wait, Prohibition failed in this timeline? Which party lost more votes to the Prohibition Party?

Why did Cox (OTL's Democratic candidate) lose the Democratic nomination to McAdoo here? Is it a result of less participation by America in WW1?
 
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Subbed! Will be following this eagerly

Every man a king! :D
 
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Harding and McAdoo would be separated by just 200,000 votes among more than 37 million and, in one of the tightest elections in American history, just 3 electoral college votes. In this dead heat, Harding won the popular vote by a hair’s width, but McAdoo claimed an electoral college majority and with it the Presidency.
Very squeaky indeed. McAdoo (who I hadn’t heard of much, if at all, before) seems a rather conflicted and dodgy package.
the spectable of the winner of the popular vote losing the election, something that had not occurred since 1888, shook the faith of many in America’s institutions.
Yes, well that can happen … :eek: One suspects (and I’m unfamiliar with KR lore) that McAdoo’s chalice may end up having a dash of poison in it.
 
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No prohibition? Good on them. No big mafia with loads of money then, I guess.
 
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The Twenties Roar – 1920-1925
The Twenties Roar – 1920-1925

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The early 1920s were a time of intensifying industrial conflict across America. In West Virginia, with its teeming coal mining communities, strikes turned to outright violence during the Mingo War of 1921. There, conflict between unionised miners and mine owners and the blackleg labour they employed reached the point of guerilla warfare. The fighting would draw in sympathetic union men into West Virginia to join the cause, particularly from fellow Appalachian mining communities in neighbouring Pennsylvania and Kentucky. It would also draw together the non-revolutionary American Federation of Labor and the revolutionary International Workers of the World into close cooperation in support of the miners. Fighting in West Virginia culminated in the Battle of Blair Mountain – which saw pro-union militias overwhelm their anti-union opponents and take effective control over large parts of the state. Some among the miners hoped to push on and march of the state capital in Charleston to overthrow the state government and replace it with their own. In the face of outright insurrection, the Federal government intervened – employing air power and artillery to put down the miners and restore order across the state.

This was not the only example of industrial action escalating into violence. On the other side of the nation, the city of Seattle would famously ape nineteenth century Paris with the establishment of the Seattle Commune in April and May 1923. Vicious strikes had been crippling the city for weeks, escalating to the point of a general strike that effectively completely shut down Seattle economy. At this point, strike leaders took the ambitious decision to establish a ‘Commune’ government for the city controlled by a Commission of the unions and worker representatives involved in the strike – a parallel and hostile syndicalist administration to the elected city government. In response to this, President McAdoo demanded the immediate disbanding of the Commune and deployed the army to surround the city. Fearing a massacre, as faced by their fellow strikers in West Virginia, the Commune voluntarily dissolved itself and called for an end to the strikes – restoring order to the city.

Incidents like the Mingo War and Seattle Commune were merely the most visible during a period of militant industrial action and proliferating syndicalist ideology. The response from government, and much of wider society, was the Red Scare. This involved a period of near hysterical anti-syndicalist propaganda and political suppression with union and socialist leaders subject to arrest and imprisonment on the grounds of sedition. The Red Scare also fed into existing anti-immigration sentiment, with syndicalist ideology being associated with Europe and finding particularly potent support among European immigrant populations, in particular communities like Jews, Poles, Russians and Italians who were already marginalised.

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A large part for the rise in industrial conflict during this period was the fact that the economy was running hot and working men wanted to secure their piece of America’s bubbling prosperity. With the economy having remained strong during the 1910s despite the war in Europe, the conclusion of the conflict had opened up the Old Continent for business once more – providing vast new markets for American goods in countries whose industries remained sluggish after years of distortion under war economies. At home, social programmes instituted by the McAdoo administration helped to put money in the pockets of poor Americans and further expand the domestic market. Meanwhile, technological innovations were opening up whole new sectors for mass expansion. Perhaps the most iconic of these was in the field of car production. While Henry Ford had debuted his Model T as early as 1908, it was during the 1920s that auto mobiles started to become affordable for the masses with millions of cars on American roads by the middle of the decade.

In the political field, President McAdoo had tried to revive the Prohibitionist legislation that had been frustrated in 1919, but found that the backing for a nationwide Federal ban in Congress was loosening. Within the Democratic Party, the Catholic component of the party’s electoral coalition was slowly rising in importance while maintaining its implacable hostility to Prohibition. Across the floor, many Republicans were also waning in their enthusiasm for the policy – particularly as the incumbent President looked to associate himself with the cause personally. Without the overwhelming backing necessary to push through a constitutional amendment, the cause of Prohibition remained short of its ultimate goal. Nonetheless, Prohibition laws remained in place across the majority of states and were still spreading further – covering the entirety of the South and much of the West and Mid West in particular.

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While the President had failed in his Prohibitionist ambitions, in the field of immigration reform he achieved much greater legislative success. While the cross-party consensus around alcohol had weakened in the early 1920s, it was strengthening significantly on border policy where the refugee wave of 1917-1920 and continued elevated levels of migration into the new decade were causing significant strain on American society. With Republicans and Democrats united, McAdoo oversaw the passage of the 1924 Immigration Act. These new laws represented a sea change from what had come before. Principally, it drastically reduced overall migrant numbers by implementing a fixed quota for new visas. Importantly, visa quotas were awarded on a country-by-country basis, with the quotas linked to the country of origin of the American population in the 1890 census. This had the effect of leaving immigration from Northern and Western Europe, and especially the British Isles, relatively open while reducing the numbers from Eastern and Southern Europe from the millions to the tens of thousands. Finally, all immigration from the continent of Asia was banned entirely. This aspect of the Act caused a serious diplomatic incident with Japan, the main source of Asian immigration by the 1920s, which temporarily withdrew its ambassador from Washington in protest and sharply raised tariffs on American imports in retaliation. Nonetheless, the Act was a clear success – doing a great deal to ease the broiling Nativist angst of the time and giving respite to the country from the previous runaway immigration figures.

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It was little coincidence that the passage of McAdoo’s Immigration Act coincided with the beginning of a steep decline for the Klu Klux Klan. The Klan had peaked in its membership and power in the early 1920s, when it terrorised Blacks, liquor bootleggers and their political supporters, Catholics and Jews. By the middle of the decade its early image as patriotic fraternity was long gone, having been replaced by an overt thuggishness and association with lynchings – particularly in the South – that had distanced it from polite society. With the sense of national threat from migration-driven demographic change largely addressed, much of the fear that had once fuelled its popularity ebbed away. In the years after 1924, nationwide Klan membership fell from the millions to the hundreds and, by the 1930s, the tens of thousands. American nativism remained a potent social and political force, but never again would the hooded robe be its principal expression.

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With the economy purring and the key achievement of the Immigration Act to his credit, President McAdoo was confident of re-election in 1924. While the sitting President would sail to the Democratic renomination, his Republican rivals were engaged in a far more bitter and closely contested struggle. The party was split, to a large extent, along left-right lines. On the left, the insurgent Wisconsin Senator Robert La Follette Snr combined Teddy Roosevelt-inspired Progressive reformist ideas with the flair of the old rural Populist movement with its attentiveness to the mentality of the poor farmers of the West and its disdain for urban elites. In opposition, the conservative pro-business party establishment of the party crowded around James Eli Watson, the leader of the effective Indiana Republican machine where he served as Senator. The Republican convention was visibly split, but, in what many regarded as a stitch up by party elites, Watson secured a narrow victory over La Follette the nomination.

Enraged, La Follette rejected Watson’s candidacy and walked out of the convention – swearing to run as a thirty party candidate. With a clear left-leaning campaign, La Follette lit up the election and attracted a broad array of endorsements from Progressives in both the Republican and Democratic camps, and even secured the nomination of the Socialist Party, with the ageing Eugene Debs unable to run again and moderates in the party seeking to avoid splitting the left wing third party vote.

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On election day McAdoo stormed to an electoral college landslide. Carrying all 28 states that had secured him his narrow election in 1920, he added victories in Oregon, Washington, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and South Dakota – ironically benefitting from strong performances from La Follette in the states of the Mingo War and Seattle Commune to win both. With both major parties losing support to the strongest third party candidacy since Teddy Roosevelt in 1912, La Follette played an outsized role in shaping the election – pushing McAdoo in particular to adopt promises of further and deeper social reforms to head off the threat from his left flank. Ultimately, despite an impressive 18% of the vote and a string of second placed finished across the West, La Follette was only able to win his home state. While Democrat support 2.5% lower than in 1920, the Republicans were down by a more imposing 7.2%, resulting in their heavy defeat which saw James Watson humiliatingly beaten even in his home state of Indiana.

The Congressional elections painted a similar picture, with the Democrats retaining the majorities in both houses that they had held for more than a decade. Notably, La Follette’s Presidential run aided a large cohort of left-wing candidates from minor parties that had backed his candidacy and cooperated locally to ride his coattails into the House of Representatives. With victories in Chicago, Detroit and New York City, the Socialists secured 5 Representatives, while the Farmer-Labor Party and La Follette’s own pop-up Progressive Party won a further dozen seats between them. This represented the largest third party faction in Congress since the 1890s and the heyday of the Populist Party.

Victory saw McAdoo match his father-in-law Woodrow Wilson with two election victories, undoing the stain of his controversial 1920 victory, and saw the Democratic Party secure its longest string of consecutive Presidential victories in its history – continuing a veritable dark age for the Republican Party.

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The preceding years had been a time of both excitement and growth and frustration and hardship for the causes of labour, socialism and syndicalism in America. The impact of the Red Scare and the experience of a first Presidential election since 1904 without a Socialist candidate in 1924, a compromise that had failed to produce any lasting success, had shaken the confidence of the movement. Yet, ultimately, it remained resilient and, most importantly, these more difficult years had brought the forces of the American radical left together as never before. In the summer of 1925 a special Pan-Union Congress was convened in Philadelphia with the purpose of unifying the entire American labour movement behind a single syndicalist platform.

Although debate was fierce, with the AFL reluctant to sign up to revolutionary pledges or surrender its independence, all parts were able to agree to the creation of the Combined Syndicates of America. The CSA would act as an umbrella organisation, coordinating all union activity across the nation. It would also have a political pledge to work towards the revolutionary transformation of American society on syndicalist lines. As a compromise, the AFL and other smaller non-revolutionary unions were placed under an autonomous branch of the CSA that would participate in the organisation without agreeing to this revolutionary pledge.

Further to this, the Combined Syndicates would tighten their relationship with the Socialist Party – formalising its adoption of the party as its political wing and strengthening its financial connection to it. American socialists would never again stand for election under any flag but their own.

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The light of America’s glorious early 1920s screeched to a sudden and shocking stop in 1925 as across the Atlantic the United Kingdom fell to syndicalist revolution. Britain’s economy was second only to the United States’ in its size, it was America’s largest and most important trading partner, the nexus point of what remained, even after defeat in the Great War, the largest empire in world history and crucially too the nation more intimately culturally connected to the United States than any other. The fall of the United Kingdom and the rise of the Union of Britain would impact the entire world and change the trajectory of American history, sending the Republic on the path to the darkness and war of the 1930s.
 
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Wait, Prohibition failed in this timeline? Which party lost more votes to the Prohibition Party?

Why did Cox (OTL's Democratic candidate) lose the Democratic nomination to McAdoo here? Is it a result of less participation by America in WW1?

Yes, its a part of the KR lore that Prohibition just fails in America and then everyone forgets about it. In my vision a movement that has the sort of mass support it did in 1919 isn't going to just disappear overnight - so it will remain a question in American political life for some time to come.

McAdoo becoming President is another aspect of official KR lore. The biggest difference here is that America keeps out of WWI and the economy is booming in 1920 - so the sitting administration is popular, and McAdoo, as the key man with a hand on the tiller of the government's economic policy, has a lot of credit in the bank.

Subbed! Will be following this eagerly

Every man a king! :D

Glad to have you aboard! And don't worry, we will get to Huey in good time ;).

Very squeaky indeed. McAdoo (who I hadn’t heard of much, if at all, before) seems a rather conflicted and dodgy package.

Yes, well that can happen … :eek: One suspects (and I’m unfamiliar with KR lore) that McAdoo’s chalice may end up having a dash of poison in it.

Yes, I remember the first time I ever heard his name was when I read an article discussing the OTL 1924 Democratic convention as being among the most conflicted in American history, with the Klan (influential in the Democratic Party at the time) pushing hard for him to get the nomination, which he narrowly missed out on. An interesting figure to be sure, both in real life and the KR timeline (and this story!).

And you weren't wrong about that dash of poison ;). Things have been good up to now for McAdoo's Presidency - its only downhill from here.

No prohibition? Good on them. No big mafia with loads of money then, I guess.

The absence of nationwide Prohibition is going to weaken organised crime in America for sure - with the big cities they operate in mostly being places which have not implemented dry laws. But as a political cause, Prohibition is not dead yet.

Ahh, looking forward to this!

I hope you enjoy the ride! Turbulence can be expected to begin in the near future ;).
 
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McAdoo did better than I might have expected in his first term and the 1924 election, but it seems events across the Atlantic will sour his second pretty quickly.
 
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Wait, the CSA predates the Second ACW? Having an organization like that is playing with fire - how close is it to a government at this point? Will it become more governmental over the course of that conflict?

Did anything happen in AZ here? In OTL, we had a mass deportation of workers from Bisbee during WW1, so I'm curious as to what's happening in the west.
 
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Great stuff so far! I really like the background depth you're adding as preamble to the Second ACW and how things split they way they do. The context will be especially informative when we get caught back up with the "present" and see how Congress votes to decide the 1936 election.
 
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