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Crimson Banners Fly: The Rise of the American Left

Part 6: Chapter XXII - Page 148
tr1916.png

President Roosevelt Casting His Ballot, November 7th, 1916 - Source: Wiki Commons

The victory of the Roosevelt Campaign in locking down New York State on Election Day set the novel tone that Bryan would, in fact, be the candidate playing 'catch-up' moving forward: A complete reversal of what most contemporary analysts predicted on the eve of the vote. Some hypothesized that either the Autumn Offensive would flood new, pro-Roosevelt voters to the polls or Bryan would sail to the White House on an antiwar wave, a backlash of the administration's foreign policies. In either case, prominent journals and newsprints like the New York Times considered Bryan the frontrunner, and wrote that a Roosevelt win would manifest only through a gradual, come-from-behind effort. Thus far, the exact opposite scenario was unfolding.

Progressives prevailed in areas that had grown accustomed to voting for the Columbian standard-bearer, including the densely populated cities of Newark and Jersey City, but it was not until the Democratic-tilted rural counties ticked in with their reported ballots that Bryan appeared on the metaphorical radar. Roosevelt was certified as the clear winner regardless of agrarian Democratic votes evening the score to some extent. Rural portions of the Garden State opting for the Democratic nominee was nothing new, though this trend was now exacerbated as never before. Agricultural workers and populistic tenant farmers returned to the Jeffersonian fold in droves, doubtlessly due to Bryan's unique appeal to these types of voters. President Roosevelt retained a modicum of support among this group for his conservation agenda and anti-trust reputation, but this was an absolute core of Bryan's base. One of Thomas Marshall's greatest flaws as a presidential candidate was his flagrant inability to captivate this exact crowd as excellently as Bryan did. Now Bryan was back on the trail, and it certainly paid off.

Four years earlier, Roosevelt conquered the West. He once nabbed the Great Plains with ease, wiped the floor with Governor Marshall in the Mountain states, and reigned supreme on the West Coast. Due to the mass exodus of farmers and other rural workers from the Progressive camp (and the distinct absence of Hearst splitting the Democratic vote) the American West was hotly contested. Bryan confidently regained Nebraska for the Democrats and did the same in the border states of West Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. Likewise, the depreciation of non-Democratic voters returned Wyoming and Colorado to Bryan - with the latter state's turnaround accredited to a November rally featuring Bryan with Senator Charles Thomas. Utah, thrice a Republican state on the federal level, shifted to the Bryan Column just as it did in 1896 and 1900. The Nebraskan may not have won over the Northeastern U.S. with his promise of a more moralistic nation, and Wilson's presence on the ticket may not have swayed the voters of New Jersey, but the nominee reawakened a dozing Bryanite crowd and effortlessly tapped into that often underrepresented electorate.

Democratic margins in the South were astronomical. Southerners despised Roosevelt, hated him for dragging the country to war, and deeply distrusted his expansion and perceived overreach of the federal government. Democrats did not quarrel with the president on the prosecution of trusts or other matters that contested the rule of consolidated industries, but they vastly disapproved of the breaking of the Washington doctrine (i.e., "no entangling alliances") and the ongoing push for mandatory service in the armed forces. Senator Watson's sentiments on this front were felt by Americans below the Mason-Dixon line, and they universally voted to elect Bryan president and Wilson vice-president. The Great Commoner outperformed his Democratic predecessors in the Solid South, scoring upwards of 90% of the vote in states like South Carolina and Louisiana. Remarkably, Seidel captured decent enough margins in Florida and Texas to land in third place over the totally absent and now thoroughly humiliated John Weeks.

Indeed, it was Emil Seidel, not Theodore Roosevelt, that attracted the scorn of William J. Bryan in the days preceding November 7th. The Socialist Party won favor by tens of thousands of disaffected Progressive voters, and it too fared splendidly with white, working-class voters. Bryan desperately needed a minimum plurality support by this voting bloc in order to stay afloat in the Midwest. Reports of Seidel's surge disrupted that quest. The Democratic nominee was uninterested in polling, a project he called "political gamesmanship," but the likelihood is high that he fretted over an overperformance by the left-wing political party, and much to his chagrin, the industrial Midwestern states were precisely where the Socialists did their best in this election.

Seidel won over 10% of the vote in unlikely SP havens like Florida and Oklahoma, but in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, the Socialist mayor shocked the system. He surpassed the total GOP vote in these four states, equaled the Democrats' in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and managed to outshine Bryan in the latter two. Wisconsin was, by far, the Socialists' strongest showing in 1916. The Badger State, where the mayor barnstormed at the start and end of his national campaign, delivered to the Socialist Movement an encouraging sign in the makeup of its ballot count. It resulted in Seidel's 31% of the vote to Roosevelt's 33%, Bryan's 26%, and Weeks' 10%. Debs took roughly 17% of the Wisconsin vote in 1912, Haywood managed 12% in 1908, but in no state had a Socialist succeeded in breaking the upper 20 percentile. It was astounding, and a discernible wake-up call to the powers that be.

Needless to say, Roosevelt carried pluralities in the Midwest with Indiana as the sole exclusion (To note, historians point to high numbers of German-Americans voting Progressive, not Socialists winning over Democratic voters, as the tipping point in the Midwest). Progressives' prosperous roundup of the industrial Midwest granted them a moment to breathe, but winning the election still necessitated commanding finishes in as many of the remaining states as possible. As such, Roosevelt grabbed Kansas, Washington, and the Dakotas as expected, succeeding in each with about the same percentages as 1912. The American Southwest, namely New Mexico and Arizona, was eventually called for Bryan with margins around 5-8% apiece. Bryan too won a plurality in Montana, Idaho, and Nevada - all states won by the Columbians four years ago and the former two since the inception of the Progressive Party. Oregon was called for Roosevelt on the evening of Election Day, and on the morning of November 8th the Californian Secretary of State confirmed the incumbent as the winner of the state's thirteen Electoral Votes - a win Roosevelt affably credited to Vice President Johnson, Governor Stephens, and Speaker Jones to the day he died.

Thereby, thankfully without the need of a contingent election, Theodore Roosevelt was elected to a third term as president of the United States.
He thereafter received 275 Electoral Votes to Bryan's 239.
 
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I don't understand. 😕
You ever root for something in fiction and it just never quite makes it?

I'm not actually frustrated, I just thought it was funny in a bitter kind of way how close Seidel got to winning a state.

These were all great updates. I wasn't clear enough.

That was more for everyone else in the thread rooting for a certain outcome rather than something pointed at you.
 
You ever root for something in fiction and it just never quite makes it?

I'm not actually frustrated, I just thought it was funny in a bitter kind of way how close Seidel got to winning a state.

These were all great updates. I wasn't clear enough.

That was more for everyone else in the thread rooting for a certain outcome rather than something pointed at you.
Oooh I see. Yeah I understand. 31% is pretty impressive for the Socialists though :)
 
As strong as a Bull Moose! That's Roosevelt for ya! I, however, fear that this third term would be bloodied by that of the Great War. Especially if the Canadian Front starts to advance in the wrong way...
 
You've offered only a little morsel of a hint, but might the bull moose be in some way incapacitated due to the injury becoming infected or something? Not that I find it likely, he's a tough bugger.

Also it's perfectly plausible for the Progressives to enact some progressive policies during wartime - we're all in this together, etc, sending women to the factories means we need to expand support for childcare to support the American family, racial integration in the armed forces, partial nationalization of industrial trusts due to wartime exigencies, etc. As another example, while I doubt that America of all places would introduce rationing, ration books are another means to introduce food security support for the poor, and when they're rolled back in peacetime they could leave a food stamp program behind.
 
You've offered only a little morsel of a hint, but might the bull moose be in some way incapacitated due to the injury becoming infected or something? Not that I find it likely, he's a tough bugger.

Also it's perfectly plausible for the Progressives to enact some progressive policies during wartime - we're all in this together, etc, sending women to the factories means we need to expand support for childcare to support the American family, racial integration in the armed forces, partial nationalization of industrial trusts due to wartime exigencies, etc. As another example, while I doubt that America of all places would introduce rationing, ration books are another means to introduce food security support for the poor, and when they're rolled back in peacetime they could leave a food stamp program behind.

Yeah, I figure that would be something Teddy would be doing to maintain to support for the war along with making it so anyone trying to get rid of them will face alot of problems.
 
Part 6: Chapter XXII - Page 149a - 1916 Election Results II
1916 Congressional Elections

Senate
Democratic: 37 (+7)
Progressive: 32 (+1)
Republican: 26 (-8)

Socialist: 1 (0)


House
Progressive: 156 (-2)
Democratic: 126 (+9)
Republican: 115 (-20)

Socialist: 31 (+13)
Civic League: 6 (0)
Independent: 1 (0)


Senate Leadership
Senate President Hiram W. Johnson (P-CA)
President pro tempore John H. Bankhead (D-AL)
Caucus Chairman Robert L. Owen (D-WV)
Conference Chairman Robert La Follette (P-WI)
Conference Chairman Warren G. Harding (R-OH)


House of Representatives Leadership
Speaker Wesley L. Jones (P-CA)
Minority Leader Champ Clark (D-MO)

Minority Leader James R. Mann (R-IL)
Minority Leader Meyer London (S-NY)
Minority Leader Daniel A. Driscoll (CL-NY)

On the presidential stage, Theodore Roosevelt vanquished William Jennings Bryan and attained slim yet definitive Popular and Electoral Vote pluralities. Progressives succeeded and outmaneuvered the polls, though their failure to blow the Democratic candidate out of the water appeared to exemplify the lack of a coherent mandate. Congressional, gubernatorial, and municipal elections played out much the same, with no overall impression of victory for any one domestic or foreign policy proposal over another. The war had drawn new lines in the sand and tug once-allied demographics apart from one another, leading to an indeterminate conclusion. Hearty results for congressional Columbians preserved their standing in the House of Representatives and allowed for a Senate pickup, Democratic candidates excelled spectacularly in statewide Senate races whilst failing to bump off Progressive House incumbents, and Socialists made substantive gains on all levels apart from the upper chamber.

The Republican National Committee in 1916 looked to the congressional races to salvage an otherwise disappointing year. John Weeks, within committee ranks, was never viewed as a figure capable of surpassing some of his less controversial predecessors in the presidential contest. It was thought that the nominee would run about even with Knox, thereby adequately meeting subpar expectations and kicking the can down the road for a post-Roosevelt political comeback. News of Emil Seidel garnering more support than Weeks in the October polls crumbled RNC morale as they began to realize the upcoming electoral abyss. Coming to terms with an all but certain presidential defeat prior to Election Day, the RNC expended all available inertia on conserving its three-seat Senate majority and somehow dispelling reports of a party in absolute disarray. Relevance in and of itself superseded tangible Election Day gains. The prime issue with that concept was its near impossibility.

For over twelve years, Senator Charles W. Fairbanks of Indiana was in a position of leadership atop Senate Republicans. He famously (or, infamously) pulled Roosevelt to the right during the 1906 Grand Bargain, initiated the upper chamber's investigation into President Hearst's alleged corruption, received over two-hundred delegate votes for president at the 1912 Republican National Convention, and, as conference chairman, became the most powerful ranking Republican in the Senate. The mustachioed Hoosier waddled slightly leftward in his tenure to accommodate for the natural shift of the political tide, and frequently uplifted bipartisanship (particularly with moderate Progressives) as a sign of a functioning government. In 1916 he announced an intent to retire from Congress, joining prospective retirees Thomas B. Caltron (R-NM), Eugene Hale (R-ME), and William J. Browning (R-NJ). Fairbanks' departure from the Senate most consequently opened the door to a new leadership slate.

Maine Senator Eugene Hale's retirement likewise blew wide open the opportunity for a Progressive senatorial pickup. He was urged at length by GOP colleagues and allies to reconsider the decision, but at 80-years old he considered his time in government at an end. Republicans fell into despair, figuring their loss in Maine was all but inevitable. Virtually every forecast as early as July suggested Roosevelt as the winner of the state's six Electoral Votes. Senator E.M. Thompson (P-ME) won his seat with 42% of the vote in 1912 against an 'Eastern Establishment' Republican, even though Hale himself managed 74% in 1910 and 72% in 1904. Waterville Mayor and State Representative Charles F. Johnson, a Democrat who recently changed affiliation to the Columbians, declared his candidacy for Hale's seat and was considered an early frontrunner. Four respected state polling agencies found Johnson with an averaged 5-point advantage over any challenger. Then, in a stunning turnaround which defied expectations, the Republican candidate took control of the situation. To the immense fortune of the Maine Republican Party, Eugene Hale's son, Frederick Hale, agreed to take up the family mantle. He was perhaps the only member of the GOP fit to win this election, and he did just that: 46% to 39%.

Republicans would hardly be as lucky in dozens of other races as they struggled to escape Weeks' shadow. Nine senatorial candidates running on their respective GOP tickets lost to either Democratic or Progressive challengers. Senator Du Pont (R-DE) lost by four points to neutrality proponent John Bassett Moore (P-DE), a former Republican and Secretary of State under President Depew. Senator Moses Clapp (R-MN) was defeated in a close re-election fight against Progressive internationalist and federal prosecutor Frank B. Kellogg. Peace Democrat James A. Reed (D-MO) prevailed in his race versus incumbent Senator John McKinley (R-MO), industrialist Walter S. Dickey (P-MO), and anti-militarist Kate Richards O'Hare of the Socialist Party. Democratic state party chair Andrieus Jones ousted Senator Thomas B. Catron (R-MN), citing his vote on the war resolution as reason enough to force the sitting congressman to a timely retirement. Democrat John Burke, the former North Dakotan senator who had narrowly lost in 1914 against Progressive James H. Sinclair, returned to bring down three-term incumbent Porter J. McCumber (R-ND). In the special election to fill Fairbanks' seat, perhaps the most symbolic of any race of this caliber, Indiana RNC Chairman Harry S. New (R-IN) was defeated by Governor Thomas Marshall (D-IN) in a landslide.

Fairbanks notwithstanding, the most well-known and respected figure of Republican politics was undoubtedly Henry Cabot Lodge. Serving the public since the 1880s, the Massachusetts politician pioneered the familiar imperialist practices of the United States alongside Roosevelt and Beveridge, remaining friendly with both presidents despite any differences in procedure and demeanor. He was known as the quintessential Man of the Senate and a power-broker unmatched by his contemporaries. Few in government possessed the same degree of influence as Lodge, and that paradigm held true regardless of the party's slow-motion collapse from 1904 to 1916. His home state awarded the senator a 73% majority in 1910, but six protracted years had since elapsed. Lodge's passionate insistence that Roosevelt advance Preparedness and subsequently enter the Great War was not greeted kindly by the Massachusetts Progressive Party: An organization that once endorsed the incumbent for re-election but increasingly drifted away from the senator as the war dredged on. Massachusetts Progressives supported President Roosevelt as a superior option to Weeks and likewise desired a senatorial candidate superior to Lodge. Their nomination eventually fell to Representative Alvan T. Fuller (P-MA).

Sensing a rare opening in their state's political sphere, the Democratic Party of Massachusetts went all-in on the Senate race and opted to field their best bet against Lodge. Boston Mayor and former 9th District Representative John Francis Fitzgerald (D-MA) threw his hat into the ring to topple an incumbent he deemed, "Morally and ethically unsound." Fitzgerald, the son of Irish immigrants, rose to the forefront of Boston politics starting in 1891, and gradually worked his way to Boston City Hall. He wrestled with Democratic city bosses for control over the government, mounting a campaign that ended in the passage of a $9 million investment act for Boston Harbor. In 1916, upon his nomination by the state party (likely a Platt-like move to expunge Fitzgerald from the city), the Bostonian embarked on the electoral campaign of a lifetime. He rallied hard against Lodge from day one, coining the senator a fossil of a bygone age. With Fuller criticizing Lodge's foreign policy from a pacifistic point of view, Fitzgerald tied the incumbent to the Atlanticism movement, denouncing "forces that would see our government allied with colonists and oppressors. The interests of America are one with Ireland, not the boot under which she suffocates." Captivating Irish Progressives and Massachusetts Democrats, Fitzgerald secured 35% of the vote to Lodge's 34% and Fuller's 24%, thus delivering a shockwave across the entire political spectrum.

Judging from this phenomenon, the nationwide rejection of the rump, out-of-step Republican Party, the country was steadily reverting to its traditional two-party system. GOP officeholders and voters primarily directed their outrage not at John Weeks and his lackluster campaign, nor at Roosevelt, but at the national leadership for its inability to stave off repetitious calamity. Remnants of the long-discarded McKinley and Reid-era policies of abject and unthinking congressional obstruction failed. Fairbanks and Butler's strategy to cooperate with moderates in opposing parties went nowhere. Now, Committee Chairman Joseph Burnquist (R-MN) was proven to be precisely as inept as the previous chairs. Survival required something untried. Knox, not unbeknownst of resentment facing his class of party leaders, bowed out of consideration for Senate conference chair. That title was therefore won by Senator Warren G. Harding of Ohio, a thoroughbred business conservative. "We Republicans," he declared,
"mean to hold the heritage of American nationality unimpaired and unsurrendered. We are united in our resolve to safeguard America and preserve our independence. We were resolved then, even as we are today, and will be tomorrow, to preserve this free and independent Republic against all enemies, foreign and domestic."

Senators Elected in 1916 (Class 1)
Henry F. Ashurst (D-AZ): Democratic Hold, 54%
*William F. Kirby (D-AR): Democratic Hold, 67%
John D. Works (P-CA): Progressive Hold, 60%
George P. McLean (R-CT): Republican Hold, 50%
John B. Moore (P-DE): Progressive Gain, 41%
James Taliaferro (D-FL): Democratic Hold, 76%
*Thomas W. Hardwick (D-GA): Democratic Hold, 91%
Gilbert N. Haugen (P-IA): Progressive Hold, 44%
James A. Hemenway (R-IN): Republican Hold, 43%
*Thomas R. Marshall (D-IN): Democratic Gain, 46%
Frederick Hale (R-ME): Republican Hold, 46%
Charles J. Bonaparte (P-MD): Progressive Hold, 44%
John F. Fitzgerald (D-MA): Democratic Gain, 35%
Roy O. Woodruff (P-MI): Progressive Hold, 40%
Frank B. Kellogg (P-MN): Progressive Gain, 40%
James K. Vardaman (D-MS): Democratic Hold, Unopposed
James A. Reed (D-MO): Democratic Gain, 50%
Charles N. Pray (R-MT): Republican Hold, 33%
Gilbert M. Hitchcock (D-NE): Democratic Gain, 44%
Key D. Pittman (D-NV): Democratic Gain, 39%
Mahlon R. Pitney (P-NJ): Progressive Hold, 45%
Andrieus A. Jones (D-NM): Democratic Gain, 45%
George B. McClellan, Jr. (D-NY): Democratic Hold, 40%
John Burke (D-ND): Democratic Gain, 36%
Myron T. Herrick (R-OH): Republican Hold, 42%
Philander C. Knox (R-PA): Republican Hold, 50%
Henry F. Lippitt (R-RI): Republican Hold, 51%
Kenneth McKellar (D-TN): Democratic Hold, 56%
Charles Allen Culberson (D-TX): Democratic Hold, 82%
George Sutherland (R-UT): Republican Hold, 51%
Carroll S. Page (R-VT): Republican Hold, 64%
Claude A. Swanson (D-VA): Democratic Hold, Unopposed
Miles Poindexter (P-WA): Progressive Hold, 55%
Nathan B. Scott (R-WV): Republican Hold, 44%
Robert M. La Follette (P-WI): Progressive Hold, 63%
Robert D. Carey (P-WY): Progressive Gain, 40%

* Special Election
 
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"We Republicans," he declared, "mean to hold the heritage of American nationality unimpaired and unsurrendered. We are united in our resolve to safeguard America and preserve our independence. We were resolved then, even as we are today, and will be tomorrow, to preserve this free and independent Republic against all enemies, foreign and domestic."

I had some thoughts....

This is either halfway-out-the-door bluster or the preamble for a nasty turn in Republican politics.

With the left-progressives on borrowed time in their party and the moderate republicans discredited by their lacklustre leadership, their corner of American politics is going to leave at least two major parties in the hands of increasingly reactionary jingoists.

The Republicans and Progressives up to now have had a very incestuous relationship and if something should happen to Roosevelt in the next four years, that's going to create a massive mess that might have the militarist/new nationalist Progressives either heading back to the Republican party (if somehow the left Progressives take control while the rest of the party is disorganized from the loss of TR) or colluding with them in an anti-leftist candidacy.

Even OTL, there were massive sympathy strikes in the US for the Russian Revolution. If something even more disruptive happens ITTL, say around the time of a major offensive that either forces a retreat or an armistice, you may have Republicans taking up the "Stabbed in the back" narrative against the Socialists (the party that's coincidentally choking them out of electoral viability).

With that narrative in hand, a LaFollete candidacy in the Progressive Party, and an emboldened/ascendant socialist movement feeding off of post-war recession and anti-war cultural aggrievement you have a powderkeg for a Republican resurgence. Whatever gains the Socialist make in the next few years probably won't be enough to overcome the coalescing of the conservative elements of the political landscape.

And if a de-facto fusion ticket is on the ballot with Right-wing Democratic,Republican and Progressive support, that looks an awful like fascism in the making.
(Fascism is rooted in a defense of tradition, culture, the status quo social arrangement. The Party of Lincoln is a good contrast to a red mob of traitorous foreigners, no?)

The Progressives won't like Roosevelt's legacy being tarnished by any mass actions, especially in the LaFollette's don't denounce it harshly enough.

Bryan OTL died in '25, but with a stressful campaign under his belt plus the added stress of being much more involved in Democratic politics ITTL, he might die earlier as well.

When the two dominant parties lose their lightning rods and the Republicans start tapping into national outrage, what happens?

Bad things, methinks.
 
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If something even more disruptive happens ITTL, say around the time of a major offensive that either forces a retreat or an armistice, you may have Republicans taking up the "Stabbed in the back" narrative against the Socialists (the party that's coincidentally choking them out of electoral viability).
A stab in the back naritive will only happen if the US loses the war. And considering how weak the Entant is ITTL, the US will not lose. If the Russian Revolution occurs Britain will have to Sue for peace.
 
A stab in the back naritive will only happen if the US loses the war.
Not necessarily, people just have to dissatisfied with the outcome. If the ending of the war comes about in any way that the political establishment of the US can effectively blame the Socialists for ruining, then a "stab in the back" narrative can form.
 
Not necessarily, people just have to dissatisfied with the outcome.
Well, given they got in from British belligerence, I'd think the main goal would be just to have the British decline in standing and increase their own in response, relying on debt and perhaps some stuff with their sorta-allies. After all, I could see the US trying to negotiate something with the Ottomans during this.
 
I'm sure that the Americans would want to annex Canada, or at least the English speaking parts.

The Ottomans are gonna fall apart regardless.

That would end badly trying to annex Canada; it would make them look worse and it'd be a nightmare. Like, they wouldn't be able to really justify it and it would cause more damage in the long run.

And let's see what happens with the Ottomans. After all, they might be wiling to lose Arabia, but try and keep the Levant plus Iraq.
 
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