How is this timeline so far?

  • Great

    Votes: 39 48.1%
  • Good

    Votes: 30 37.0%
  • Okay

    Votes: 8 9.9%
  • Bad

    Votes: 1 1.2%
  • Implausible

    Votes: 3 3.7%

  • Total voters
    81
What is this?

A timeline where an underrated figure from Rhode Island becomes president. His name is Buddy Cianci. At one point he was considered a rising star in the Republican Party so I got an idea.

Why?

I got bored at school.

How long will this last?

Hopefully until I finish it or get bored of it.

When will the first chapter be posted?

Some time after school.
 
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Chapter I: For the want of a Guardian Angel
Gerald Ford was in Sacramento California, greeting his supporters when the history of America changed forever. Little did he know, this beautiful, warm day, was the day that set America up for the 1980s. A time of systematic corruption that made Italians blush, malice, and one crisis after another that piled onto make the 1980s an unforgettably if not terrible decade for not only America but Italy, Iran, and Panama. If only his guardian angel was there that faithful day otherwise America may have remembered the 80s differently. One of peace and prosperity if they had been lucky. Unfortunately, his guardian angel presumably took the day off on the worst possible day. A women named Squeaky Fromme approached him and unholstered a gun. More than an entire lifetime happened in three seconds.

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Gerald Ford seconds before being shot.

In three seconds, American history was forever changed. In three seconds, millions of lives would be altered all over the world. In three seconds, four bangs pierced the air and Gerald Ford collapsed onto the ground, clutching his suit. Two of the bullets hit him in the chest near his heart, one missed entirely, and one pierced his lung. Massive bleeding from his chest started just as blood began to fill up his lungs. The secret service rushed him to the hospital but unfortunately his injuries were more serious than originally thought. On the ambulance ride to the hospital, he coughed up blood and went into a coma. The damage caused by the bullets required emergency surgery to give him a chance at survival and as soon as he arrived at the hospital he was put under surgery. The doctors tried their best to save their president, but it was all in vain. Gerald Ford officially died two hours later from his injuries.

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Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme's mug shot shortly after her arrest.

Many had hoped Watergate had been the end of America’s woes. But with the murder of Gerald Ford just a little over a decade after the murder of John F. Kennedy it reignited the feelings fear, and uncertainty not seen since the Great Depression. When Betty Ford was informed of the murder of her husband her faced turned pale and she collapsed into tears on the White House sofa. Secret Service members attempted to console her but to no avail. The death of her beloved husband sent her understandably into a spiraling depression for the next couple of years. This was unfortunately a precursor to what would be seen in America. In less than two decades three presidents would leave office in body bags. In sixteen years, one president would resign in disgrace, and one would appear in an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs in court. If only Ford’s murder was avoided then maybe the 80s, or as they’re better known as the Decade of Malice would’ve been avoided. To quote the great Chief Justice Buckley as he would say in 1986 on the steps of Congress “there’s one man who could’ve brought stability and trust back into our society and that man was Gerald Ford. But instead that bastard Lynette Fromme wanted him dead so she could send a message. Well, I hope she’s happy in hell! Now he had our first impeached president and malice we haven’t seen since the Great Depression.”
 
Here’s the first chapter and the POD. As hinted in the chapter Ford’s assassination is far from the end of America’s woes.

As you know I've toyed with my own ideas about this :) Excited to see where you're going
Thank you. I found out who Cianci was through your write ups. The man’s a very interesting and underrated figure and I think you’ll like the route I’ve planned for this TL.
 
Thoughts or predictions?
Let's put it this way - we're still several months away from the Blizzard of '78, so there's more still to go. If it's enough to break the Patriarca stronghold as Rhode Island's de facto fourth branch of state government, that would be great. Unfortunately, Rhode Island during this period was going through its own malaise (we seemed to get it much worse than the rest of New England, let alone the US, because of our over-reliance on a few industries that were well and truly in decline for decades), as the last several textile mills closed up and left and economic doldrums took on a much stronger hold. Combined with corruption, our "I know a guy" approach to things, and all that, Rhode Island really needed a shake-up. Into that stepped Cianci, and even today he's still uniquely very divisive today. (I'm not a fan because his city basically stole a lot of what made us, in the city northeast of him, unique, including our children's museum, and tried to relocate them into his city. He even tried to take over our baseball team - now located in Worcester, MA, because of our own incompetence and stupidity - but we stopped that from happening, so we still had our dignity for a bit.) It would be interesting to see how Cianci on a national stage would go, but compared with his OTL record, I doubt it would be a great one. (Not that I'm one to talk - we had Brian Sarault.)
 
Chapter II: Morning in America
Nelson Rockefeller hadn’t expected to become president and like most Americans figured he would never be. Ford was healthy and had no known skeletons in the closet. Most of the politicians in Washington despite their ideological disagreements felt he was a moral and honest man who upheld the legacy of the presidency. Unfortunately, that didn’t prevent his murder and his honesty and morality died with him. Compared to his predecessor and especially Buddy Cianci he was a man who tried to do the right thing and tried to bring honesty and trust back into the government. Now Rockefeller had to try and uphold his legacy. When he heard the news of Ford’s murder he just wept. What else was his reaction supposed to be? Just like tens of millions of Americans that’s all he could do. But he didn’t have the luxury of doing just that. His main and by far most important task during his short tenure was to honor Ford and his legacy. He would start with his speech to the American public at noon about the assassination. With tears visible and a lump in his throat he delivered his most memorable moment of his presidency.

“Hello my fellow Americans. This is not the speech I ever thought about giving nor wanted to give. As many of you have seen and heard our dear president, Gerald Ford was murdered in Sacramento California four hours ago in cold blood. In accordance with the law, I have been sworn in as president of the United States one hour ago. In this time, I want to say that Ford’s murderer has been arrested and will face justice soon for her crimes. Unlike Oswald or Booth, I promise that Ford’s murderer won’t get the luxury of not facing justice. In the meantime, between her trial all I ask of my fellow Americans is unity in the face of this great tragedy. Today we’re not conservatives or liberals but Americans, just as we were when another great president, John F. Kennedy was murdered. Now is the time for unity and understanding with our fellow American and that’s all we can do right now.”

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Nelson Rockefeller in the White House, 1976

Rockefeller’s speech was well received and would be remembered fondly amongst Americans. It became a symbol of what it meant to have a stable and caring president in the White House and a great time of unity in a time of great tragedy. The day was a somber one and the atmosphere was a dark one. In D.C it was pouring outside, and the clouds were nearly black it seemed from the White House windows. It was as if the weather knew the mood and adjusted accordingly to the perception of Rockefeller and the White House. Either way life had to go on. Rockefeller first needed to find a vice president. He needed someone who could take over in case he died and could give confidence to the American people. His staff gave him a short list that included Donald Rumsfeld, Bob Dole, Howard Baker, George H.W Bush, and John Connally. Rockefeller wanted someone who had enough experience in government so if they took over, they’d be able to quickly and effectively take over from Rockefeller. He also wanted someone respected by conservatives to bring unity to the Republican Party. Bush was chosen as vice president due to his experience as a representative, UN Ambassador, and diplomat which would allow him to know the ins and outs of the foreign situation in case of Rockefeller’s demise. In addition to his experience in government he was also a southerner, an area where Rockefeller needed to appeal to ASAP if he wanted any chance of winning re-election. With little to criticize or attack Bush for the senate easily confirmed him 98-0. After the confirmation of Bush, it was time to go to Ford’s funeral. His body was laid in the United States Capitol, and he was to be buried in Arlington Cemetery, one of the highest possible honors given by the federal government. At the funeral several world leaders, including UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson, French president Valerie Giscard d'Estaing, Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro, and Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau attended the funeral. The funeral lasted five hours and when the funeral processions were done it was time to get to work.

The first major challenge Rockefeller faced was the New York City Fiscal Crisis. New York City was billions in debt and the city government was on the brink of collapse as banks refused to give more loans to the city. Rockefeller, wanting to avoid a major crisis and save such a crucial part of his home state from ruin, immediately poured billions into New York City to save it from economic collapse, on the condition that they’d institute austerity measures to save money and decrease the deficit they built. While popular to those who lived in New York the conservatives in the Republican Party balked at the measure. Why should Americans pay for the troubles of New York City? Hadn’t they shown they weren’t responsible with spending money? Why did they have to give them more? This was the first major act that burnt the short-term goodwill between the conservatives and the liberals in the Republican Party. Rockefeller’s administration was quickly despised by the conservative Republicans who wanted a strong conservative president. They didn’t like Ford when he was alive and kicking but they hated Rockefeller. Ford was a moderate but at least had conservative views. Rockefeller was the embodiment of the liberal faction of the Republican Party that had slowly dwindled since the Eisenhower years.

Soon enough conservatives and even moderates in the Republican party started to pressure Rockefeller to not run for president in 1976. A big blow to President Rockefeller was when Rumsfeld, a conservative ideologue left a month after the assassination of Ford. Next was Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger who was planning to leave but was accelerated by the untimely death of Ford. Schlesinger left on good terms, but conservatives used this to question the functionality of the Rockefeller administration. Schlesinger’s replacement was Bill Clement, the assistant secretary of defense as he was considered a capable replacement.

Come November the conservatives in the Republican Party, just after Thanksgiving prepared to challenge President Rockefeller. Ronald Reagan had planned to challenge Ford in the primaries, but his plan was thwarted when Ford was assassinated. Still, despite Rockefeller’s high approval rating of 64% Jesse Helms, the far-right senator from North Carolina pressured Reagan to instigate a primary challenge. Reagan was hesitant but Helms and was adamant and threatened to run third party or find a different primary challenger, whether that’d be Senator James Buckley, Jack Kemp, or himself was unknown but Reagan figured it was worth a shot. The bailout of New York City particularly made him worried about four years of Rockefeller. Still Reagan wanted to wait until December to let Rockefeller’s approval ratings drop a little, but Rockefeller found out about Reagan’s plans and went on the offensive. He attacked Reagan and Helms for planning a primary challenge right after the death of Ford and for trying to push the Republican Party farther to the right than what Ford intended.

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Architect of the Reagan campaign, senator, and white supremacist Jesse Helms.

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Ronald Reagan announcing his run for president in Concord.

The second attack backfired and damaged Rockefeller’s standing in the Republican Party. Reagan retaliated to these attacks by saying “Rockefeller, a man not elected by Republican voters let alone the American people shouldn’t be telling Republicans what they want. The Republican Party is the party of the rational right, not big city liberals like himself who the Republican Party rejected in 1964 and 1968.” With that the campaign was on. Rockefeller expected to do well in the first caucus in Iowa, so he didn’t spend as much money as he should’ve and decided to focus more on New Hampshire and delegate rich primaries like Illinois. This was a grave mistake. Reagan and his campaign seeing an opportunity hit Iowa hard. New Hampshire was important but if they could win Iowa, they would build momentum and deliver a knockout blow to Rockefeller. Come January 19th, Iowa narrowly went to Rockefeller by one delegate. But the popular vote was a different story. Rockefeller’s overconfident campaign allowed Reagan to close the gap to 1.5% and thoroughly embarrass Rockefeller. The shocking blow caused Reagan to spike in popularity as Rockefeller went into damage control as Republicans and the Rockefeller campaign realized Reagan could actually win this despite Rockefeller’s high approval rating. The Rockefeller campaign decided to try and deal a death blow to Reagan by challenging him to a debate. This was built as the debate of the primary season and Rockefeller sealed his fate there. Reagan came off as an optimistic and grandpa like figure while Rockefeller came off as more intellectual, but one issue reigned supreme in the debate. Abortion. Reagan ruthlessly attacked Rockefeller’s pro-choice views in the debate and Rockefeller refused to yield. If there’s one group that decided the New Hampshire primary it was pro-life Republicans. They were politically active and always showed to vote and they voted en mass for Reagan. Reagan the next day watched the results closely and by a narrow 700 vote margin. The Rockefeller campaign was crushed by the shocking lost and the campaign started to spiral.

Rockefeller easily swept the states of Massachusetts and Vermont while Reagan dominated the Florida primary, with southern conservatives despising Rockefeller. Next the Wisconsin primary was up and was considered the one primary that could turn the campaign around for Rockefeller. Rockefeller flooded the airwaves with ads calling Reagan a radical and invoked Ford’s legacy as a moderate to boost his campaign. Reagan fired back by calling Rockefeller a liberal in a conservative party and the candidate of abortion. The race was turning ugly, and it benefited Reagan as Rockefeller lost moderate conservatives. Reagan promised tax cuts, a decrease in the deficit, and to appoint pro-life judges while Rockefeller defended his pro-choice stances and highlighted his tough on crime record. Reagan shot back by pointing out how he had kept guns out of the hands of the Black Panthers while Rockefeller pointed to his crackdown on drugs in New York. Come election day news reporters swarmed polling stations and interviewed Rockefeller and Reagan supporters duke it out in tense arguments and in some cases with their fists. No matter who won the Republican primary the party was going to look like a bunch of squabbling children by the end of it. When the polls closed Reagan won Wisconsin by 1.2% of the vote. With this the comeback Rockefeller had hoped for collapsed. The rest of the primary went as expected. Rockefeller dominated the North while Reagan dominated the South and secured the more libertarian western states such as Montana, Oregon, and the Dakotas, allowing him to rack up a massive delegate lead by the time the RNC rolled around. Reagan had done what he set out to do. Unseat the liberal president and cement conservative dominance over the Republican Party. Finally, the public would have a viable conservative choice for president. This time, someone with enough PR skills to not be branded as a psychopath who would start nuclear war.

Unfortunately, for Reagan he would still be viewed as a radical. The man was easily the most conservative man to run for president since Goldwater. Furthermore, his brazen economic conservatism became prime cannon fodder for the Democrats who ran a less economically moderate campaign. Moderate economic policies where already failing the country as the economic crisis deepened, why would the American people want to go further right?

Come the Republican National Convention the moderates sat and waited patiently. Things where calm. To calm for comfort.

Reagan’s negotiations with Rockefeller were stalling. In an attempt to bring party unity Reagan and Rockefeller negotiated. Much to the anger of the conservatives Rockefeller flat out refused to endorse Reagan if a anti-abortion amendment was added to the official platform. Reagan, despite Helms’s wishes obeyed. One issue they particularly agreed on was tough on crime measures, with Reagan promising to support the death penalty and tougher punishments for drug use and trafficking.

Come the vice-presidential selection Reagan ran into some problems. His original choice of Rich Schweiker flat out refused to be on the ticket, having no interest in the vice presidency. Then Reagan got a seemingly genius idea. Why not re-nominate George H.W Bush? He was a moderate and from the south, a seemingly perfect choice. If the moderates wanted someone from the Rockefeller wing then picking someone appointed by Rockefeller that’s one heart beat from the presidency seemed like the best way to please them. So, history was made in 1976 with the Reagan/Bush ticket being nominated by the RNC.

But Reagan’s nomination in hindsight wasn’t the biggest story out of the 1976 RNC, however. That would be the Mayor of Province, Buddy Cianci’s role. He was considered a rising star in the Republican Party due to his time as mayor of Province Rhode Island. Running on an anti-corruption campaign he was able to end 150 years of Democratic rule. His fiery campaign style was perfect for higher office and both Reagan and Rockefeller were impressed with his oratory skills. By the end of the first day, he was discussing a potential seat in the Reagan administration if he won. On the second day he was given a offer. He was offered by Rockefeller to give the keynote address to the RNC. Cianci was shocked. When he came down to Kansas City, he was expecting to be promised a minor position in Reagan’s justice department, maybe attorney general if he was lucky. But now he was headlining the RNC. His speech would be the catalyst for the rest of his political career.

On the third day it was his time. His staff finished the final edit of his speech after thirteen straight hours of work. Reagan shook his hand as Vice President George H.W Bush finished his speech. The crowd roared in approval and Cianci’s turn was up. He walked up to the podium and grabbed onto it. His sweaty hands struggled to grab the podium, so he let go and began his speech

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“The Democratic Party likes to pretend its policies are not only wanted by the American people but a group that’s close to me, immigrants. They have a monopoly on immigrants despite the fact when they come over the government bureaucracy grinds the process of citizenship to halt from those brave men and women fleeing communism. Furthermore, they want to claim that they’re programs will provide an opportunity for all Americans but when they get here are they met with the conditions to make an honest living? No! They’re taxed like all regular citizens into oblivion and have their hard-earned wage stolen, so corrupt government bureaucrats can give themselves an unearned wage. Make no mistake, the Republicans are the party of the people. I would know as I was elected as a man of the people, as a crusader against corruption who wouldn’t serve government bureaucrats nor be bound by members of my own party and that’s the path the Republican Party is going down. One which we‘ll focus on pragmatic solutions that benefit hard working Americans. For example, Ronald Reagan over here recognizes social security as a right to all Americans and understands we need to work with both ends of the Republican Party to bring economic prosperity and peace to the world.”

The crowd erupted in cheers from both conservative and liberal Republicans. Cianci’s speech was all Reagan had wished for. Passionate, appealing to middle class voters, and uniting. Cianci’s speech quickly united the factions of the Republican Party behind him and put a rocket on the back of his increasingly successful political career. It was truly the perfect speech and it would be remembered as such. In recent years it has taken a sinister tone. As Cianci was released from prison people looked back at his speech and realized it was what started the Decade of Malice and allowed him to become the most corrupt president in American history. It was the speech that nearly brought down the government.

The same couldn’t be said for Reagan. Reagan by the end of the RNC was losing 36-57 against the Jackson/Harris ticket, with moderates fleeing the Republican Party and the economic crisis in full swing. Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise though. At least he didn’t have half the legacy of Cianci’s. Though that isn’t an accomplishment as it requires a basic moral compass politicians that to the average working class American, seemingly ditched after their election.
 
Let's put it this way - we're still several months away from the Blizzard of '78, so there's more still to go. If it's enough to break the Patriarca stronghold as Rhode Island's de facto fourth branch of state government, that would be great. Unfortunately, Rhode Island during this period was going through its own malaise (we seemed to get it much worse than the rest of New England, let alone the US, because of our over-reliance on a few industries that were well and truly in decline for decades), as the last several textile mills closed up and left and economic doldrums took on a much stronger hold. Combined with corruption, our "I know a guy" approach to things, and all that, Rhode Island really needed a shake-up. Into that stepped Cianci, and even today he's still uniquely very divisive today. (I'm not a fan because his city basically stole a lot of what made us, in the city northeast of him, unique, including our children's museum, and tried to relocate them into his city. He even tried to take over our baseball team - now located in Worcester, MA, because of our own incompetence and stupidity - but we stopped that from happening, so we still had our dignity for a bit.) It would be interesting to see how Cianci on a national stage would go, but compared with his OTL record, I doubt it would be a great one. (Not that I'm one to talk - we had Brian Sarault.)
Thanks for the information. Cianci is definitely going to capitalize off the malice Rhode Island is experiencing and this’ll play a part in why he’s such an appealing candidate to voters in 1980.

Really though tanks for the information. It’s really helpful.
 
Thanks for the information. Cianci is definitely going to capitalize off the malice Rhode Island is experiencing and this’ll play a part in why he’s such an appealing candidate to voters in 1980.

Really though tanks for the information. It’s really helpful.
You're welcome. :) Big pointer, if you want the Secret Service and FBI to go paranoid on protecting Cianci if he's prominent at a national level - if the FBI still breaks up the Mafia, have "Baby Shacks" go on and vow revenge. Considering how you've structured the continuation of having Presidents either dead or resigned in disgrace, safe to say the Feds will take any threat seriously.
 
As for the chapter - there's a typo where Providence is spelt incorrectly, twice, but that's minor for a pretty good buildup.
 
As for the chapter - there's a typo where Providence is spelt incorrectly, twice, but that's minor for a pretty good buildup.
First of all I really appreciate the feedback. Second thank you. If Providence being spelt incorrectly is the worst thing about the chapter then I feel really good about it. Glad you liked it.
 
Chapter III: The New Deal Forever
The 1976 Democratic presidential primaries weren’t nearly as eventful as the Republican primaries. The first major announcement after the assassination of Gerald Ford was that Humphrey was explicitly not running for president. Seeing the death of Ford made him believe that he had no chance at the presidency and made him grapple with his nearing death as his stomach cancer worsened.

With his clear decision to not run the unions did their magic and got behind Jackson, lock step. Jackson’s campaign got off to an abysmal start when the relatively unknown Georgia governor, Jimmy Carter came second in Iowa. He came in third with 6%. Luckily for Jackson he quickly took note of the Reagan campaign and hit New Hampshire hard. With support from the unions his campaign managed to knock on thousands of doors each day. This critical decision saved him. Come election night as Reagan defeated Rockefeller Jackson defeated Carter by 1%, winning with 19% of the vote in New Hampshire. After New Hampshire Carter’s insurgent campaign lost ground in polling as Jackson became the front runner. His law-and-order campaign skyrocketed in popularity after the murder of Gerald Ford and Jackson’s attacks on Carter’s opposition to the death penalty helped him considerably. His next major win was in Florida where once again he beat out Carter, but just barely.

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Jackson after winning the Florida primary

This gave him just enough momentum to ride to victory in Illinois. Again, another close victory but a victory, nonetheless. Jackson by May had enough delegates to secure the nomination. Carter and more liberal members of the Democratic Party weren’t happy at the fact Jackson was nominated. The man was a neoconservative who staunchly supported the Vietnam War and opposed busing. This put him in a weird position as he needed to appeal to both the South who wanted the anti-establishment Carter and the liberals who wanted an anti-war liberal as the nominee.

Jackson tried his best to fulfill both of the groups wishes but neither seemed to want to negotiate with the “establishment.” Still, he was pragmatic and didn’t want to lose to a right-wing radical who would plunge the country into economic ruin. His choice for vice president came down to two men. Dolph Briscoe of Texas who was a moderate southerner and Fred Harris who was a populist liberal who managed to win in a very conservative state. He weighed his choices and decided on Harris who appealed to the South and liberals. Jackson figured his law-and-order positions and his opposition to busing would appeal to social conservatives and Briscoe wasn’t needed.

Come the DNC Jimmy Carter was given the keynote speaker slot due to him being the runner up. Carter took the defeat with grace and would retire until he was elected once again as Georgia’s governor in 1982. His speech was not very notable compared to Cianci’s, but he still gave a rousing speech that fired up the crowd.

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Carter giving his 1976 DNC speech

Coming out of the convention there were still issues faced by Jackson. The anti-war liberals weren’t exactly impressed with his choice of Harris and demanded the pardon of Vietnam War draft dodgers. Jackson flat out refused which caused an uptick in support for more liberal candidates in Democratic primaries. Particularly in New York where Patrick Moynihan was defeated by Bella Upzug. Still polls had Jackson winning by 10-20% after the convention. Watching the RNC he felt confident but there was one nagging problem: Buddy Cianci.

Cianci gave Jackson a bad feeling. He had everything of a presidential candidate. Youth, charisma, and PR skills. He wasn’t a threat now, but he knew he would be down the road. To Jackson he looked like a Republican JFK.

Luckily, he wasn’t a threat now. Now it was Reagan who needed to be defeated by Jackson, a task that looked increasingly easy. Rockefeller had been show leading him 51-47% but now Reagan presented an opportunity not seen since Goldwater. An opportunity to crush the GOP and complete the New Deal. That would be his main priority when he was elected. Passing universal healthcare and welfare programs to lift his fellow citizens out of poverty was the corner stone of the Democratic platform. While Reagan desperately tried to compromise Jackson’s team of political operatives mercilessly attacked him as a radical who wanted to defund welfare and destroy the New Deal. Reagan’s opposition to the New Deal in a time of an economic crisis further crippled his polling numbers and it looked like Reagan was screwed this election.

Reagan in the opening days of the campaign attacked Jackson’s pro-choice stances and his position on taxes. Reagan promised to cut taxes for all Americans while he sent out Bush to appeal to moderate voters. But people couldn’t get over his attacks on the civil rights act and the voting rights act or his past attacks on the new deal.

That alone would have destroyed the Reagan campaign, but one issue truly prevented him from winning. That was the moderate Republicans. The moderate Republicans who supported Rockefeller where unforgiving of challenging Rockefeller. They viewed him and Helms as traitors to the party who took down a popular incumbent and replaced his platform with the radicalism of Goldwater. Jackson, they felt was more representative of them despite his support for economic liberalism. He was a moderate on social issues and at least unlike Reagan had a brain when it came to economics. The crucial need for these moderate Republicans who Reagan thoroughly pissed off sabotaged his chances at becoming president.

Reagan drew crowds with his charisma, sure but Jackson thwarted just about every attack Reagan could muster. Weak on crime? Jackson’s whole campaign was based on being tough on crime. Corrupt? Did you see who resigned? Radical? The American public disagreed. Weak on communism? Oh, come on.

Jackson sharply criticized Reagan for his economic policy, pointing out the Republicans had run the economy into the ground and Reagan wished for an even more radical economic agenda while Jackson supported the tried and tested New Deal methods. The vague promise of a return to the tried and tested normalcy of moderate social views and New Deal style social democracy caused voters to abandon Reagan. The media didn’t help either as Reagan’s speech at the 1964 RNC was blasted by guests. Former presidential candidate Jimmy Carter responded to the speech by saying “like 1964 it’s a time for choosing whether we embrace radicalism or common-sense policies.”

Reagan’s campaign soon enough hit an all-time low of losing 32-56%. It wasn’t until the economy started to pick up steam Reagan’s polling numbers increased. If it wasn’t for the economy Reagan would’ve been decimated in a 1964 style landslide. Once the economy experienced an uptick his numbers shot up to 44-53%. Still a lost but one significantly less embarrassing than previously thought. Once the debates came around the public was shocked. Reagan managed to make himself look like America’s grandpa, with his folksy demeanor mesmerizing Americans. But when it came to the actual policies he struggled. He couldn’t attack Jackson on social issues or foreign policy, so he attempted to defend his economic conservatism. It backfired as Jackson brought up his past opposition to the New Deal and promised Americans that he’d expand healthcare, infrastructure, and education. Reagan’s rebuttal of “new spending in a recession” was quickly demolished by Jackson who replied, “explain how doing nothing worked out for Hoover?” With that Jackson won the debate.
Reagan’s policies were just not and would never be popular in America. Come the next debate, the last chance he had to win the presidency as the economy started to look like it was going to recover, he switched from economics to social issues. He came out hard against the Equal Rights Amendment and tried to appeal to southern conservatives with his opposition to abortion. No one knows what the hell Reagan was thinking by coming out against the ERA as moderates fled his campaign. While he did gain conservative southerners moderates on the west coast, Dakotas, and rust belt flat out rejected his opposition to the ERA. Come the final debate Jackson once again clearly won with fast and sharp rebuttals. The debate over the ERA dominated the debate and Jackson used this to appeal to liberals who were riding the fence on whether to vote for him. He came out strongly for it and called for it to be ratified. To the question on whether there’d be a draft he replied “no” and said women would be exempt from the draft. Coming out of the debate Jackson hadn’t man handled Reagan like many expected or wished for but secured his lead over Reagan.

In the final days of the campaign there was no doubt that Jackson was going to win. Him and Harris crossed the country with huge rallies that even Reagan couldn’t match. Reagan begged Rockefeller to campaign with him, but Rockefeller refused. He hadn’t forgotten the sin Reagan committed when he primaried him. Reagan’s campaign went to hell in those final days as people realized that Jackson had the election in the bag. Both despite this hit the South hard with Jackson seeking to keep the New Deal Coalition alive with a dominant win in both the South and North while Reagan saw the South as the key to victory. Reagan would crack a smile when news broke that he won South Carolina, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Missouri but that smile wouldn’t last

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Jackson/Harris 371 EV, 50% PV
Reagan/Bush 167 EV, 44% PV


Reagan by the end of the night was not in good shape. When state after state was called for Jackson Reagan slumped down in his chair as he realized that his brand of conservatism was dead. It lost two elections now and despite making gains in the South him and Goldwater didn’t come close to winning. However, it could’ve been worse. California only went to Reagan by 22,000 votes and North Carolina, Missouri, New Mexico, Virginia, and Nevada were decided by less than 2%. If Jackson had demolished Reagan in the final debate things would’ve been far worse. He would’ve become another Goldwater. Jackson managed to pull together the New Deal coalition for one last ride. This allowed him to hold both the south and north and allowed one last New Deal president to fight for the working class.

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Reagan giving his concession speech.

Rockefeller had a different reaction than most Americans. To him the election was bittersweet. He wished he would’ve won the Republican Primary and served another four years as president but unfortunately for him and America things were different. But at least like Goldwater, Reagan had been defeated by a reasonable candidate. America to him would have a guiding hand until a reasonable centrist became the nominee in 1980. Rockefeller looked forward to seeing the moderates win out. Whether it was Mathias or Cianci he didn’t care. Now he was not happy about Jackson becoming president per say but Reagan and the conservative wing being hopefully discredited. Being a humble man however, he wished silently Reagan and Helms had as much enjoyment as he did from Reagan’s lost. Rockefeller would be the luckiest Republican president for thirty years as he was the only one to not be murdered, be the most hated man in America, or removed.

Unfortunately, Rockefeller’s remaining time on Earth were not what he expected. Jackson’s administration caused more unintended problems than he thought and all he could think about was who could fix the problems? Before his death from a heart attack in 1979 he met with Buddy Cianci and from one New Englander to another he gave him advice on a presidential run. Unbeknown to him this would be the greatest mistake of his life.

Down ballot the Democrats won as big as in the presidential election. They held California and Utah where future secretary of state John V. Tunney defeated Alphonzo E. Bell Jr and Frank Moss defeated future Attorney General Orrin Hatch 49-47, attributed to moderate dissatisfaction within the Republican Party who either voted Libertarian or stayed home. Furthermore, Congressman Jerry Litton defeated John Danforth and Bill Green flipped Pennsylvania. Still, the Republicans had some successes. Harry F. Byrd, a conservative independent defeated Elmo Zumwalt 54-40, Bill Brock retained his senate seat, and Wyoming and New Mexico flipped to the Republicans.
 
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Buddy Cianci used to come into my office in Providence and literally entertain the crowd. People doing their banking? Everything stopped and until Buddy talked to everyone. The guy undeniable charisma. Especially in person. He also pled no contest to tying a man to a chair and shoving a burning fire starter log into his forehead…. So there’s that.

also there is this:

 
Buddy Cianci used to come into my office in Providence and literally entertain the crowd. People doing their banking? Everything stopped and until Buddy talked to everyone. The guy undeniable charisma. Especially in person. He also pled no contest to tying a man to a chair and shoving a burning fire starter log into his forehead…. So there’s that.

also there is this:

The more I learn about him the more I can’t wait for him to become president ITTL. The guy avoided jail for a long time IOTL but that’ll be different when he has all eyes on him. His fall is gonna be fun to write about and hopefully read.

ITTL you and your coworkers would’ve met a future president. The guy’s charisma certainly sounds impressive, sounds like he’d give Reagan a run for his money in the charisma department. Very interesting.
 
A good timeline here with an interesting start to things alright. While 1976 was a poisoned chalice of sorts, I can imagine someone like Jackson responding to some of the crises better than Carter and he might have a better relationship with Congress to get things through. Have to see how his term goes ahead.
 
A good timeline here with an interesting start to things alright. While 1976 was a poisoned chalice of sorts, I can imagine someone like Jackson responding to some of the crises better than Carter and he might have a better relationship with Congress to get things through. Have to see how his term goes ahead.
Thank you. I can’t say much without spoiling his term but it’ll be remembered as a mixed bag. On the one hand, domestically he’s better than Carter, which'll be the main focus of the next chapter and on the other hand, one mistake leads to several people screwing up after another that cost him in the end. The foreign situation from 1978-1980 is probably going to take three chapters as it gets messy but could be four as I have to plan out the Middle East. If Jackson had better foreign policy he would've certainly won re-election which may be a mini-chapter where Cianci never becomes president from the view of a person from TTL.
 
Given that the Rockefellers are one of the bugaboos of conspiracism, there should be speculation that Rockefeller was somehow connected to Fromme (with the oil millionaires, the FBI, the CIA, the Mafia, the CFR, the Bilderbergers, and the men's room at Grand Central Station all involved). I expect an Oliver Stone movie: Ford
 
Given that the Rockefellers are one of the bugaboos of conspiracism, there should be speculation that Rockefeller was somehow connected to Fromme (with the oil millionaires, the FBI, the CIA, the Mafia, the CFR, the Bilderbergers, and the men's room at Grand Central Station all involved). I expect an Oliver Stone movie: Ford
The conspiracy theories ITTL are going to need an entire chapter. Especially with how screwed up everything becomes with JFK, Ford, and [REDACTED] getting killed people are going to be suspicious. Stone and Alex Jones are going to have a field day. Ford and Cianci by Stone are definitely being made. I can see Cianci and his successor (a conservative who’s quite high up in the Republican establishment) being accused of just about everything going wrong on the planet.
 
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