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
Chapter IV: Jacksonian Democracy
The Jackson administration is remembered as a mix bag amongst the American people. If you walk around a Catholic neighborhood, you hear a fiery hatred of the man and immediate accusations of mass murder for the sake of US interests in the region. A definite example of a man betraying Christian values for the sake of anti-communist paranoia to Catholics who's been dubbed him the real killer of Saint Oscar Romero by Dorothy Day and the second coming of Judas by Alex Jones. You also hear from those in the pro-life movement of a man whose support for Roe v. Wade, neoconservative foreign policy, and arming of far-right death squads in El Salvador and Nicaragua directly led to millions of deaths, including millions of babies. On the other hand, if you talk to liberals, he's a hero to the working class for being the man who revitalized the New Deal in America and crippled the conservatism of Goldwater and Reagan once and for all. Furthermore, amongst war hawks he's an undisputed legend who principally opposed communism wherever he saw it, whether in the Middle East, the Mediterranean, or Latin America, whether standing with anti-communist parties or sending a vast array of weapons to anti-communist organizations. What is undebatable is that Jackson's legacy won't be truthfully examined anytime soon. So, it's up to Americans to make their own decision on his presidency which for a one termer is certainly complicated.

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President Henry M. Jackson. Hero or thug?

Jackson’s inauguration speech was a full-throated attack on the economic crisis that America faced at that present time. With him proclaiming “there’ll be a fair society for all of God’s children.” When he got into the White House, he and Harris got to work on fixing the US economy. First, they passed the Hawking-Humphrey Act in February, a bill aimed at providing full employment to Americans. It was passed in the House overwhelmingly 270-165 and the senate 73-20. The bill itself called for a balanced budget, a balanced trade, and the government to restrict employment to 3%. This boosted the Jackson administration’s popularity amongst the poor and middle class despite conservative attacks on it being a pipe dream, a fact that was unfortunately true. The Hawking-Humphrey Act did little to curb the economic crisis faced by the US at the time as it didn’t have any binding policies in it.

Off the success of passing, it though Jackson worked to complete the greatest dream of the New Deal Democrats. One that every Democrat from Roosevelt to Johnson wished they could achieve. Universal Healthcare. To Democrats this was the magma opus of the New Deal. A program that was tested in Europe and considered a resounding success by every country who implemented it. Yet despite its clear benefits America hadn’t. Healthcare reform hadn’t even succeeded since Medicare and Medicaid were passed despite the best efforts of ironically the most hated president since Hoover, Richard M. Nixon. But Watergate got in his way, and he would be consumed by that scandal. Now it was Jackson’s turn to try. Him, Harris, and Ted Kennedy met in the White House to hash out the plan. They came up with three plans. The first one was the complete nationalization of healthcare, or as it was known as the “Radical Plan.” It was the least popular as conservatives and moderates would surely call it communism and attack it for expanding the government drastically. The second was the “Jackson Plan” which called for a system that simply set up a state ran healthcare system that would negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies like in Germany. This system didn’t nationalize healthcare but would certainly run private healthcare providers out of business and make the government ran healthcare system more advance and cheaper with no copays or deductibles via massive government spending. The third was the “Compromise Plan” which set up a public option rather than a universal healthcare system. This moderate plan gave millions of uninsured American's healthcare but allowed big pharma wiggle room to price gouge and cut out a decent chunk of the pie in the healthcare market and would make uninsured folks have more affordable healthcare.

Needless to say, Kennedy and Jackson quickly decided on the Jackson Plan as they believed it would have a better chance of passing. Conservative backlash was obvious from the start as they decried the plan as “socialistic” despite it being proposed by the notoriously anti-communist Jackson. Folks like Paul Laxalt and Jesse Helms compared it to the Soviet healthcare system for a quick and easy political point with conservatives and moderates. Supporters of the Jackson Plan quickly pointed out how countries like Sweden and the UK, who were notably far from communist or socialist had a similar system. Despite universal healthcare being less socialist than just a corner stone of healthy social democracies the attack stuck as conservative southern senators such as James Eastland, John C. Stennis, Fritz Hollings, and Walter D. Huddleston came out against the proposal.

Jackson wasn’t too happy but was reminded about the conservative opposition to the New Deal and refused to panic like Hubert Humphrey. Instead, he sat down with the senators who either publicly or secretly opposed the Jackson Plan to try and convince them of how it would actually benefit them politically. Of course, senators Eastland and Stennis were unworkable as their concerns over “lazy welfare abusers” (a dog whistle for blacks) was a nonstarter as Jackson supported the rights of African Americans. Hollings and Huddleston were easier to understand as they mainly were concerned with their political careers and had ideological objections to universal healthcare. Jackson promised that they’d be rewarded handsomely amongst the working class who would support the plan as they saved money on healthcare and had no fear of medical bankruptcy. Still Hollings was hesitant as Thurmond and the South Carolina Republicans came out strongly against the bill, calling it socialized medicine.

At the end of the day Jackson was far from the 60 necessary votes needed for universal healthcare despite his attempts. Vice President Harris took a different approach. He visited the office of any Democrat who opposed the Jackson Plan and had a little chat about it. A little chat about how they had government provided healthcare while their constituents were left out to dry during a recession and struggled to put food on the table while paying for healthcare. To Harris this wasn’t merely completing the ultimate goal of turning America into a full-fledged social democracy but a matter of life and death. People to him should have their basic human rights such as healthcare taken care of and not have to ration medicine or worry about the bill they paid for at the doctor's office.

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Vice President Fred Harris, the father of American social democracy.

The chats where often tough as he debated for sometimes hours at a time with his fellow Democrats who failed to see the hypocrisy of taking government provided healthcare while the poor struggled financially whenever they got sick or broke a leg. Often times Harris went to bed angrier than when he woke up. In the House the Jackson Plan was introduced by Congressman Rick Nolan of Minnesota and in the senate by Ted Kennedy. The Nolan-Kennedy bill started to make its way through committee.

Meanwhile in Washington Paul Laxalt distinguished himself as the most popular and vocal critic besides Jesse Helms of the Nolan-Kennedy Bill. His attacks resonated more with moderates and conservatives for the sheer fact they weren’t focused on race baiting like Helms was. Laxalt gave a calm response to the healthcare debate by attacking universal healthcare as “putting an essential industry in the hands of corrupt, untrustworthy, government officials.” This easily resonated with voters as hatred of the government had grown in the aftermath of Watergate and Vietnam. If the people didn’t trust the government to be transparent or wage war, then why would they trust them to run healthcare? Conservatives rallied against the proposal of universal healthcare with the belief if the government put its hands on healthcare, it would be riddled with corruption, inefficiency, and unaccountable to the people. As winter turned into spring and spring into summer Jackson’s healthcare plan failed to get the 60 votes necessary to pass it in the senate. They had the votes in the House where Tip O'Neill managed to bully more than enough representatives into supporting the Nolan-Kennedy Bill. If it was voted on it would’ve passed 240-195 but Jackson wanted to save himself an embarrassing political defeat.

Negotiations were restarted by Jackson and moderate senators. The negotiations took place as the Supreme Court re-instituted the death penalty and Jackson announced the federal government would resume executions of federal prisoners. This gave him a small boost in the polls which gave him more leverage.

He’d get distracted however with his first major foreign policy crisis. In Iraq Ruhollah Khomeini lived in exile and was walking to his house when a car’s windows opened. Fifteen shots were fired, and Khomeini was pronounced dead at the scene and Persia was set alight. The murder of Khomeini had obviously been a hit job by the Shah, which was supported by Iraq and the US. Khomeini had long been viewed as a man who destabilized Persia and a threat to peace but things drastically backfired. Immediately Muslims gathered in mosques to pray for Khomeini’s soul and preachers gave fiery sermons calling for the end to the Shahdom. The first protests were started by the People Mujahideen and Islamist students in Tehran. The military was quickly sent in to crush the massive protests and this nearly ended the Persia. The violent repression caused Persians everywhere to riot against the Shah in a grassroots attempt to cast the Shahdom into the dustbin of history. For two weeks Persia was consumed by rioting and terrorism as the military failed to control the situation. At one point Jackson believed the Shah would’ve been overthrown and was seemingly proven right on September 11th, 1977.

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Shah Mohommed Reza of Persia.

On September 11th, fifteen rogue members of the Persian army abandoned their posts and attacked the home of the Shah. For three hours the fifteen Islamists battled with the military in an attempt to kill the Shah. Fortunately for the Shah and his family this failed as his bodyguards managed to hold off the attack before two hundred soldiers arrived and pinned down the attackers. In the end all fifteen of the attackers were killed along with twenty soldiers, three maids, and seven bodyguards.

Soon after the Persian military, aided by advisors from the US Marines and CIA crushed the rioting in Tehran. The beating heart of the riots was ripped out and the rioting decreased. The 1977 Persian riots weren’t the last of Persia’s violence as Massoud Rajav and Ali Khameni went into hiding as they attempted to rebuild their respective movements. Rajav would be the most successful as the People Mujahedin had an increase in recruitment due to its anti-imperialist positions fitting well with the opposition, who saw the Shah as a US puppet.
Furthermore, the 70s would provide the conditions needed for discontent with liberal capitalism. Social democratic and liberal countries all over the world faced horrible economic conditions that allowed the rise of groups such as the People Mujahedin and various Islamic socialist movements in the Middle East, defined by their opposition to monarchy, the United States, imperialism, capitalism, and Israel. But more on that in the future.

The rioting in Persia, which killed around four hundred people according to international estimates caused the economy to take a small dip as worries of a violent revolution spooked the market. But the market recovered thankfully to the Jackson administration. Jackson’s greatest mistake though was nearing as he planned a visit to Panama in February 1978. Right now, though he put that on the back burner despite Omar Torrijos’s protests. Jackson wasn’t worried though as he believed that Torrijos wouldn’t be able to cause any problems. He was the dictator of a small country after all, and the US had the greatest military on earth.

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President Jackson campaigning for universal healthcare in Louisiana

Before the trip to Panama Jackson desperately wanted to pass healthcare reform. He needed this big win for his administration before the midterms. The problem was he couldn’t get the moderates on board with the Nolan-Kennedy Bill due to the conservative campaign against government healthcare. Soon Jackson recognized only a compromise was going to pass anything much to his dislike. So, he approached Kennedy on compromising on healthcare with a public option. It took a lot of convincing, but Kennedy did come around, seeing how America was unfortunately not ready for universal healthcare. The bill would be called the American Health and Security Act (AHSA) and expanded Medicaid and Medicare while providing a public option. The House passed it overwhelmingly 253-182 even as conservatives such as Larry McDonald and Phil Crane blasted it as a step towards socialism. In the senate after a month of debate and an attempted filibuster by Bill Brock the bill came up for a vote. The sixty votes needed to pass the bill were guaranteed it was believed and the attempt to pass it succeeded. The AHSA was passed on January 20th, 1978 and signed into law that day. A resounding victory for Jackson who went on a victory lap. He proclaimed at the signing that “the New Deal has been completed” though in reality people weren’t too happy. The liberals wanted a full-fledged universal healthcare system while the conservatives were frothing at the mouths for such a brazen and large expansion of the government.

But to Jackson his happiness couldn’t be understated. Despite him having to compromise he still expanded healthcare to cover most Americans and passed something that would surely help the average worker. He had expanded the dream of the New Deal and for a little bit it looked like he was unstoppable. Jackson was two years away from re-election, but he felt like he already had it in the bag.

Now it was time to meet with Omar Torrijos whose calls had been ignored by Jackson for better part of a year. Jackson arrived in Panama City on February 8th to discuss the issue of the Panama Canal. Torrijos wanted the canal for Panama but was willing to wait a couple of years to get it. He came in with a compromise proposal of gradually giving Panama the canal over to Panama over a ten-year period. Jackson and Secretary of State flat out refused to give up the Panama Canal, believing it was too important to American interests. The meeting quickly and abruptly ended as Jackson and Torrijos believed there was no further room for discussion.

Jackson left happily, viewing Torrijos as a minor nuance that had been delt with. Now he could get to protecting the environment and expanding education access with Secretary of the Treasury Edmund Muskie. Until he was rushed from a meeting with Pennsylvania governor Milton Shapp. The TV was turned on and Jackson couldn’t believe what he was seeing. The Panama Canal had been attacked with explosives and smoke was now billowing out of the canal. Reports from Panama indicated numerous US soldiers were dead and had engaged in several skirmishes with Panamanian scouts. Panamanian soldiers blitzed US soldiers who managed to repel the attack but suffered heavy casualties and were only saved by well-timed airstrikes from the USAAF. Jackson angrily told the American people on national television about the situation and that the embassy had been evacuated. His speech ended with an angry denouncement of Torrijos and announcement of war between Panama and the United States. America only five years after Vietnam was back to war.

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US soldiers during the invasion of Panama (1978)
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Soldier near the Panama Canal shortly before being ambushed and killed (1979)
 
Thoughts on the chapter?
I want to see the cesspool of corruption that comes out of a Buddy Cianci presidency. It's not a matter of if he's impeached, but when. If he gets impeached and survives, how many more times does he gets impeached
 
I want to see the cesspool of corruption that comes out of a Buddy Cianci presidency. It's not a matter of if he's impeached, but when. If he gets impeached and survives, how many more times does he gets impeached
I'm not going to spoil his downfall, but I hope it'll be a good climax and well worth the wait. I haven't written about his presidency yet, but I am writing chapter seven right now and that's already 2,400+ words. I can say that Cianci will be going down hard ITTL where his corruption is thoroughly exposed and laid out on television for public viewing. IMO he's going to make Nixon look like a saint.
 
Thoughts on the chapter?
As a big fan of the "Mayor of Crimetown" podcast, lover of the "ethnic tough corrupt populist" trope I am so down for President Cianci. This timeline looks exciting. Also like seeing Scoop taken down a peg as he'll try to solve EVERYTHING foreign and economic at once.
 
As a big fan of the "Mayor of Crimetown" podcast, lover of the "ethnic tough corrupt populist" trope I am so down for President Cianci. This timeline looks exciting. Also like seeing Scoop taken down a peg as he'll try to solve EVERYTHING foreign and economic at once.
Glad your excited for the timeline. Yeah Jackson will certainly screw up as implied in the chapter. His foreign policy will be the main source of his woes.
 
I'm enjoying the buildup and looking forward to the rise and fall of Buddy Cianci. I'm also getting the feeling that Iran-Contra will be worse in this TL.
Glad your enjoying it. Iran-Contra is going to be butterflied but the death squads and murder of priests are going to be more well known due to the news being focused on Central America due to the Panama War and the insurgent socialist and communist movements. Especially since there’s going to be two different figures in Christianity, one who’s short lived but influential and one who radically changes Catholicism. But the murder of priests and atrocities of the death squads will have more prevalence.
 
Cianci's OTL fall was so bizarre; convicted of conspiracy, but not convicted of any of the things he was supposedly involved in conspiring to do (not suggesting he was innocent; the jury definitely got it wrong on some, perhaps all of the charges where they acquitted him).
 
Chapter V: Things Fall Apart
The American people were exhausted. In five years, they saw the Vietnam War end in an American defeat, a president resigns, one murdered, and the worst recession since the Great Depression. Things weren’t going to well and Americans wanted stability. So, you can imagine how pissed people were when Jackson declared war on Panama. A majority went into patriotic mode and supported the war but that was quickly going to change. Tens of thousands of Americans protested the war as another quagmire like Vietnam. Originally Jackson and Kirkpatrick just laughed in the faces of the anti-war protesters. Panama was smaller than most US states and they firmly believed it be a short war.

They were wrong. When the first American troops attacked Panama City, the battle was relatively easy. American marines quickly made a push to capture the port and quickly did. The Panamanian positions were poorly enforced and made prime targets for the USAAF who’s bombings were followed up with a ground attack by the marines. After two days the marines established control of 25% of Panama City and the first American tanks rolled into Panama. The American tanks cut through the Panamanian Army like a hot knife through butter, securing the city completely in a week. In total one hundred Americans were killed compared to 2,500 Panamanians. A relatively bloodless affair compared to Vietnam, but things weren’t going to stay that way. Torrijos and the military dug into the thick rainforests. As American soldiers made their way down the Panama Canal they were attacked from the forest and soon enough the fighting became bloody. The soldiers weren’t trained to fight in thick rainforest but to fight in Poland or Germany in case of a war with the Warsaw Pact. This made them unable to effectively counter the attacks and cost them hundreds of lives. When Americans troops attempted to crush the Panamanian soldiers, they would be ambushed more often than not and lose scores of men each time.

Even worse was that the Panamanians had learned a thing or two about the Vietnam War and promptly started to set up booby traps for unsuspecting Americans. The only saving grace of the Panama War was that the country was small and allowed the USAAF to bomb the country into the stone age, crippling the Panamanian Army’s ability to wage war but understandably angering the people of Panama. In addition to that there was no Ho Chi Minh Trail that America couldn’t destroy. Soon enough the Panamanian Army suffered a serious blow when Marcos Justine, an opportunistic general who craved power and wealth uncovered Torrijos position in exchange for becoming dictator of Panama. His position was promptly bombed and Torrijos was killed in a massive airstrike in the village of Xiomara, killing along with Torrijos thirty civilians and three soldiers. Jackson proclaimed victory prematurely as Torrijos became a martyr for Panamanians. Despite Torrijos’s death the resistance movement had just only begun. Left wing militias under the banner of the Pan Resistance Front (FRS) which called for the overthrow of the Justine's government. Justine could’ve pacified the FRS if he had any care for the people of Panama. Instead, he used the position as president to launder money to himself and live in luxury in his country and get rich as Panamanians suffered from fighting between US soldiers and FRS rebels.

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Dictator of Panama Marcos Justine (2004)

This was only the beginning of South America’s woes as Nicaragua descended further into civil war. The Somoza regime had become increasingly unpopular with their draconian rule destroying most of its support. The Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) attempted an offensive into the capital of Managua and was met with initial success. That was until the US poured hundreds of millions in aid towards the Somoza regime. With the help of numerous militia groups backed by the CIA began a campaign of resistance against the FSLN in the territory they controlled. This allowed the Somoza regime to stabilize the situation and set up a defensive line outside of Managua. Of course, the militias soon enough committed numerous human rights violations with them committing such war crimes as massacring and burning down villages and torturing those who opposed them. At that point the situation worsened to a bloody stalemate with atrocities being committed by right wing militias and being retaliated against with more war crimes by the FSLN. The situation spiraled out of control in South America and things were only getting worse as more US backed militias sprung up to oppose socialism.

The Somoza regime in an attempt to regain some popularity announced elections in 1982. Though, it was recognized by most as an attempt to gain more foreign aid which succeeded. Things weren’t getting better though as nations started to choose sides in the conflict. Honduras supported the Somoza Regime and the Justine Regime followed suit while Costa Rica and Mexico supported the FSLN. Now many thought that things couldn’t get worse, but things did. In order to prevent a civil war Carlos Romero, dictator of El Salvador attempted to negotiate some reforms with pro-democracy and socialist groups. The socialists and pro-democracy groups saw this as a chance to strike a blow against dictatorship and began a series of massive protests and strikes. Romero soon enough began to lose control of the capital when soldiers opened fire with live ammunition, killing upwards of one hundred people. Romero’s actions caused the socialist and communists founded the National Democratic Front (FDN) which began a campaign of violent resistance against the Romero regime. With the outbreak of violence, a coup was attempted by moderate generals in the El Salvadorian Army. Led by Adolfo Arnoldo Majano the coup went off on May 2nd, 1978. The coup took a turn for the worst however when Romero was accidentally killed in a shootout between his bodyguards and pro-coup soldiers. After the murder of Romero, the coup collapsed but so did the current government. This led to leader of the opposition Guillermo Ungo seizing power on a platform of stability and reform.

He was backed by moderates in the military and considered a reformist and a social democrat. His attempts to reform the nation faced internal opposition from the military and the left and right for his moderate stances. During his short three-month term, he attempted to set up fair elections and come to peace with the FDN. To prevent more violence agrarian reforms were implemented much to the hatred of American interests and right-wing members of the government. Due to these attempts to cater to the left Ungo’s right wing cabinet members resigned. The fraught political situation took a deadly turn when members of the far-right murdered Ungo while he was on a morning walk. The left saw this as an attempted coup and a renewed offensive by the FDN was initiated after the “National Peace Junta” (JNP) was set up by Jose G. Garcia, the minister of national defense. In reality the assassination of Gullermo Ungo was not a coup but an assassination by supporters a man who would notoriety for his crimes against humanity. The man dubbed the “Hitler of the Americas” Roberto D’Aubuisson was a leader of the fascist National Patriotic Organization (OPN). He denounced the Garcia government as a communist dictatorship and set up death squads to fight against socialism and communism. As the FDN began attacking government forces and tried to overthrow the government the OPN joined the fight against the FDN. This led to the OPN committing numerous crimes against humanity, with them murdering scores of suspected socialists, indigenous people, and priests who opposed the violence.

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Roberto D'Aubuisson. One of the most hated men in Latin America before his execution.

By August El Salvador was in a full-fledged civil war between the center right JNP, a coalition of socialists and communists in the FDN, and the fascist OPN. Seeing this the US naturally began to support the OPN and JNP with guns and advisors. To Americans it was amazing how anyone thought this was a good idea. The OPN began a campaign of terror against priests and nuns who dared to oppose the OPN’s reign of terror against the poor and anyone remotely sane enough to oppose them. Archbishop Oscar Romero was the most vocal critic of the OPN and the violence that consumed the country, in which he denounced torture and mass murder. His fiery radio sermons against US violence in Panama and Nicaragua, poverty, violence, and death squads were incredibly brave. He stood as an example of a man who faced death and fought against injustice wherever he saw it. Unfortunately, this earned him a spot on the OPN’s kill list. Shortly after Sergio Pignedoli became pope in August, taking the name of Pope Clement XV he visited Romero in San Salvador to discuss the violence. Shortly after he left, fifteen members of the OPN entered Romero’s church during one of his sermons and went up to him with AK-47s. He was shot dead, and the murderers fled the city. Clement XV was shocked by this brazen murder and denounced the far-right violence in Latin America. At his funeral Clement XV was planning to attend when the JNP declared it under threat of communist infiltration. Clement XV was warned by the JNP of a possible assassination attempt by the FDN, but he knew who was really out to get him. He decided against it and sure enough JNP soldiers opened fire on the funeral after a riot was declared. Thirty people were killed, and hundreds injured.

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Oscar Romero, the Martyr of San Salvador

The Catholic Church denounced both the JNP and OPN as authoritarians and mass murders. Clement XV gave a tearful denunciation of Jose Garcia and Roberto D’Aubuisson in a sermon in Brazil saying “any good Catholic would oppose the pro-death nature of the JNP and OPN. These thugs who attack priests for peace and funerals are no better than Benito Mussolini and his black shirts, who I saw with my own eyes and their destructive actions being replicated in El Salvador.” By the end of the year Jose Garcia was officially excommunicated for ordering the massacre at Romero’s funeral, his ties to death squads who murdered priests, and various human rights abuses on December 29th, 1978.

The FDN experienced a surge in support amid the murder of Oscar Romero, who was upheld as the Martyr of San Salvador. FDN forces tried to move into the outskirts of San Salvador, spooking the JNP and OPN into a temporary truce. The following month saw the FDN fight from village to village in an attempt to overthrow the JNP. Despite their numbers the FDN’s offensive stalled out when the USAAF was ordered to bomb FDN forces to provide cover for the JNP. The FDN was caught off guard by this and was unprepared for the airstrikes, causing heavy losses and the ability of the OPN and JNP to regain ground. The OPN during this time began its campaign of antisemitism. D’Aubuisson had long viewed Jews as purveyors of communism and blamed them for the rise of the FDN. He used antisemitism to provide a scapegoat for the OPN and blame El Salvador’s woes on. Come November members of a OPN allied militia started a campaign of terror against the few synagogues in San Salvador. During service a synagogue in San Salvador was bombed, killing fifteen people. The next day the militia attacked three more, killing a combined fifty people and burned all three of them down. The Green Terror had begun. The men who attacked the synagogues were wearing green shirts when they attacked, and it became a symbol of antisemitism. The small Jewish community in El Salvador, which had around 300 members quickly fled with Israel funding the evacuation. The Green Shirts rejoiced but Israel wasn’t so much done. Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin fiercely denounced the OPN and despite being opposed the USSR joined in economically supporting the FDN due to their opposition to the OPN and Green Shirts. The Green Shirts weren’t done though with them attacking churches and suspected criminals. Anyone suspected of advocating peace or suspected of any crime (provided it wasn’t one of the OPN or Green Shirts crimes against humanity), no matter how small was shot on the spot. By the end of the year over 500 people were murdered by the Green Shirts despite JNP soldiers retaliating with attacks on the Green Shirts. Despite numbering only five hundred people they struck terror into Salvadorians for nearly three years. By the time their reign of terror was ended 5,000-8,000 people were butchered and scores of churches were burned to the ground.

Seeing the violence in El Salvador the FSLN in Nicaragua began plans to intervene. The three reasons for this were:

  1. They were disgusted by the particularly brazen and brutal human rights violations by the JNP and OPN.
  2. They viewed the FDN as a sister revolution that needed to be supported.
  3. They saw the potential in having another partner in the military conflict. If they could secure the military support of El Salvador this could break the stalemate. A risky gamble but with neither side being able to launch an effective offensive it was the best option in the mind of the FSLN.

With several justifications Joaquin Cuadra commanded an FSLN force of 1,000 experienced soldiers flew into FND territory under the disguise of being cargo planes filled with medical supplies over two months. The FSLN was welcomed into El Salvador and were sent to the outskirts of San Salvador where they would be able to effectively break the JNP-OPN forces.

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FSLN soldiers near Managua (1979)

In Panama the FRS continued its resistance against the Justine regime and the US with guerrilla warfare that killed thousands. The defining moment of the war was when on Christmas eve five FRS soldiers attempted an assault on the presidential palace. Security was relaxed for Christmas at the palace and armed with AK-47s and an RPG the FRS soldiers would be able to make a pretty good attempt at Justine's life. The Christmas Eve raid began at seven in the morning with a soldier opening fire on the soldiers protecting the palace. Another one pulled out the RPG and fired it at the palace. The explosion threw Justine to the ground and started a fire. Next the soldiers blitzed the presidential palace and tried to dislodge the bodyguards who fired back. Within three minutes two of the soldiers were killed after getting shot in the head but the three trudged on with shocking speed. They made it into the palace before being pinned down by guards in the entrance. Either way Justine had already been evacuated but his wife was less lucky. She was shot in the chest by a stray bullet and subsequently died from her wounds.

The Christmas Eve Raid was a failure for the FRS as they failed to kill Justine, but it showed how little control the US and Justine had. Americans saw it as another quagmire and come January despite the freezing cold fifty thousand Americans protested the war in Panama in DC. Despite this the FRS still faced a steep hill to overthrow Justine as more bombs were dropped on Panama each day.

With the first year of the Latin American Crisis covered now onto how it affected America.

For starters with the Panama War, it was initially popular until the brutality showed itself. It took around three months for the initial popularity of the war to ward off and soon enough protests on campuses were started. As more Americans came home in body bags the more unpopular the war became and the economy was still in shambles with the Panama Canal being severely damaged, with constant attacks by FRS forces. Jackson’s popularity soon decreased as Americans realized the war was going to be prolonged and the Jackson administration revised its estimate from the war lasting six months to two years. Even worse for Jackson Congress attempted to ban the government from funding the Somoza's and right-wing death squads in Central America which Jackson still continued to do after it passed. But luckily for him Americans didn’t pay attention to Nicaragua or El Salvador at first. Americans only started to pay attention when the JNP murdered a group of nuns in San Salvador for alleged communist activity. This caused the American news to pick up the story and investigate Jackson’s support for the JNP, including sending advisors to support the JNP and even the OPN. The bloody El Salvador Civil War was soon a major focal point in America as the FDN made gains and started to try to capture San Salvador. Catholics paid attention due to the mass murder of priests and nun and others as they feared a socialist El Salvador. Jackson’s popularity went down as the FSLN and FDN made gains and as priests were found full of bullets and tortured.

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Anti-war protestors in Lansing Michigan (1978)

Even worse for Jackson was the refugee crisis created by the Latin American Emergency as people fled to America to escape the violence. Jackson came down against illegal immigration hard, but Americans blamed Jackson for the quagmire in Latin America. Voters on the border states voted primarily Republican in the 1978 midterms and their political beliefs were cemented by thousands of refugees arriving on the border.

Governor Bob Clement of Texas attacked Jackson’s inability to destroy the socialist movements in Latin America and handle the refugee crisis. His tough on illegal immigration rhetoric captivated the Republican Party and became a major talking point for the party. The worst part for Jackson was come 1979 there was no sign of the Latin American Emergency getting any better. In fact, it wouldn’t until the end of the Mexican Revolution of 1991 when President Arturo Durazo Moreno was deposed by the socialist Cuauthemoc Cardenas in a bloodless revolution that seemed to end the violence in Latin America as the socialists were allowed to win finally.
 
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Do we see Cianci taken out of the white house in handcuffs?
No. You can’t indict a sitting President so Cianci will just be kicked out of office due to impeachment. The only way he’d be brought out in handcuffs is if he violently attacked the Secret Service. Later in 1989 charges will be brought forward that will get him in handcuffs.
 
The next chapter will be about the 1978 midterms, specifically everyone's favorite corrupt mayor and future president Buddy Cianci and how he capitalizes on his successful term as mayor and his rising star power within the GOP. After that we have two chapters about the remainder of Jackson's term, including the 1980 presidential election.
 
Chapter VI: A Tale of Three Mayors
Buddy Cianci after delivering the keynote speech at the 1976 RNC realized he was destined for greater things. He knew at that moment he wanted to be bigger than just another mayor of Providence Rhode Island. Come the inauguration of Jackson he knew he wanted to become president. The power a single man had appealed to him, and he firmly believed he could be one of the elite men to become president. After the inauguration he visited the Rockefeller residence at 810th avenue in New York City. There he asked him some questions on getting elected in a traditionally democratic state. Rockefeller, who despite adultery and the Attica Prison Uprising won every election in New York he ran in and was an expert at getting elected. Rockefeller told him to target moderate Democrats, appeal to African Americans, and emphasize law and order. With this Cianci took this advice to heart and when he was leaving to return to Providence Rockefeller promised to campaign for him if he ran for higher office.

Come the 1978 midterms Cianci had decided to run for the governorship of Rhode Island which was held by J. Joseph Garrahy who was originally popular as governor of Rhode Island. Unfortunately, for him and America he didn’t stay that popular. First of all, Rhode Island was struggling economically as mill closures damaged the working class and were ramping up. But the nail in the coffin for his governorship was not his fault but an ill-timed travel to Washington to discuss arms control with Vice President Harris. Garrahy was a staunch advocate for arm controls in order to lessen the risk of a nuclear holocaust and when Harris asked for someone to discuss about a potential treaty with the USSR over the matter (that would later be signed during Cianci's term in 1983) Garrahy was the first suggested by representative Edward Beard. Garrahy, two days before the Blizzard of 1978 headed down to Washington to discuss the matter with Harris when the blizzard hit.

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J. Joseph Garrahy poster for his 1976 bid for the governorship.

When the people of Rhode Island needed their governor most he was not there. This understandably did not bode well for Rhode Island who looked to see acting governor Thomas R. DiLuglio visibly distressed on their TVs instead of the calm Garrahy. The whole situation made the governorship look like a joke as Rhode Islanders panicked and their governor wasn’t even in the state. When he got the news, he tried to go back to Rhode Island by car, but it took a week to get there safely. By the end of the crisis DiLuglio had an approval rating of 30% and Garrahy looked careless and incompetent to a decent chunk of Rhode Islanders. Cianci’s reaction was calm and orderly as he ordered the police to help clear roads and direct traffic all while visiting concerned citizens at soup kitchens and at the police station. The media ate up Cianci’s reaction to the Blizzard of 1978 and portrayed him as a caring mayor, ironic considering his presidency. The man looked like a savior as he prayed in church and greeted people on the doorsteps of the police station. Compared to Garrahy and DiLuglio Cianci was a calm hero and a man who proved how much he really cared about the people.

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A scene of the Great Blizard of 1978 that could be seen in most of New England in 1978

To make matters even worse for Garrahy the Panama War sparked just as the campaign began. While originally producing a rally around the flag effect that had him leading by 20% the unpopularity of the war led to him being negatively affected as a casualty of Jackson’s neoconservatism. The closing of the Panama Canal caused Rhode Island’s economy to suffer heavily from the recession or as Cianci called them the “Jackson Shocks.” The Jackson Shocks made people, especially the progressives and libertarians of Rhode Island view the Democratic Party as the party of sending Americans to die in useless and idiotic foreign wars. This made the campaign an absolutely brutal affair for the Democrats as former mayor of Providence Joseph A. Doorley Jr ran as an independent for the governorship that year. Running as the anti-war candidate in the election he managed to pick up around 10% of the vote as progressives flocked to any vaguely anti-war candidate in the election. Doorley certainly would’ve took more of the vote if he was not known for his incompetent and corrupt tenure as mayor of Providence.

Cianci hit the campaign trail hard, using his notoriety to bring in a massive war chest and high-profile politicians like Nelson Rockefeller to campaign for him. He positioned himself as a moderate who would end Democratic hegemony in Rhode Island just like he did in Providence. Cianci’s campaigned in traditionally democratic areas where his charisma enamored voters. Whatever he talked about on the campaign trail, whether baseball, corruption, or his time as mayor the people listened. He stopped at churches, restaurants, and banks almost daily as he attacked the Democrats for their poor handling of the economy and the incompetent handling of the Panama War. The voters who were sick of war yet sick of Nixonian and Reaganite Republicans found their match in Buddy Cianci. The man viscously attacked corruption and crime in his campaign ads. He campaigned with allies such as James Buckley, Nelson Rockefeller, and Lowell Weicker against Garrahy and the Democrats. Come election day Cianci easily won with 46% of the vote to Garrahy’s 42%. Cianci was now the governor of Rhode Island and was immediately given front runner status for the 1980 Republican nomination. At his inauguration he gave a fiery speech that called for the dismantling of corruption, prosecuting the Patriarca crime family, and cutting taxes.

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Buddy Cianci celebrating his election as governor of Rhode Island

In his first year as governor, he would hound the Patriarca crime family with the help of the Justice Department and cut taxes by 10%. The man portrayed himself as a crusader against corruption and the absurdly powerful federal government. Comparisons have been made to at the time fellow mayor Dennis Kucinich, a man known for revolutionizing American socialism in his later years. But Kucinich would disagree despite him winning his first term as mayor in 1979 due to his populist rhetoric against the pro-war and pro-business Ed Feighan. Kucinich like Cianci benefited from the general dislike of Jackson’s neoconservative agenda and alienation of liberals, blacks, and Catholics. During his tenure from 1979-1986 when he resigned to become governor of Ohio Kucinich quickly made allies in the local Catholic churches and labor movements. His tenure was a golden age for labor unions as whenever they had disputes Kucinich was always one of the firsts to call up and put his full political capital behind them. Kucinich has been viewed by many as like Cianci a menace but one who was effective in higher office and an actual anti-corruption crusader and man of the people. Despised by conservatives for his economic policies like Cianci he remains despised by Republicans but unlike Cianci beloved by the poor and progressive Democrats.

Cianci though in the meantime was the more notable of the two as in 1979 he began to position himself for a possible run for president, one that was cheered on by conservatives and moderates alike in the Republican Party. But he would find out swiftly the campaign trail wouldn’t be as easy as he thought. Not everything could be earned with charisma and pseudo-populism and somethings were too big to cover up.

In San Francisco George Moscone was finishing his term as mayor of San Francisco with decent popularity. During his time the gay rights movement flourished and Moscone supported the rights of the downtrodden, whether disabled or gay he was a key ally who fought for what he believed was right. That was before he was murdered by Dan White in 1978. While meeting with city supervisor Harvey Milk. The meeting ended and Milk went out to his car when he heard five shots from the building. City councilor Dan White murdered Moscone in cold blood. The following day despite Dianne Feinstein, a centrist Democrat within the San Francisco City Council succeeded Moscone as mayor after she ran the main opposition to his tenure as mayor. In between 1978 and 1979 she was considered a lame duck as the progressives led by Milk planned a comeback in the wake of the assassination of George Moscone. Milk like Kucinich and Cianci was an incredibly charismatic figure and one the three mayors in recent American history to make a splash far beyond local politics. Milk’s ability to organize voters and volunteers was unparalleled by any person or organization since. Even Jim Hightower and Charlotte Pritt have admitted they wish they had the skills of Milk. Come the 1979 San Francisco mayoral election it was a no brainer on who was going to win. Feinstein was a boring centrist who was watering down progressive legislation. Milk was beloved on the either hand by both the LGBTQ+ community, blacks, organized labor, and progressives in San Francisco who saw him as an underdog who fought against justice and would always have your back no matter what. In a time of unparalleled crisis Feinstein's centrist approach just wasn't popular. People were hungry for a left-wing populist candidate and one who stood for justice rather than bland centrism.

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Harvey Milk campaigning for mayor of San Francisco (1979)

Milk managed to brush the centrist Feinstein aside due to his grassroots network pulling votes from every neighborhood and spreading the Milk campaign to even conservative and homophobic parts of the city. One of the ways Milk set himself apart was his open opposition to death squads in Latin America, attacking the OPN for its war crimes and welcoming Salvadorians who were victims of the violence. This made him a surprising ally of the Catholic Worker Movement, who while small appreciated his solidarity with the murdered priests of El Salvador and returned the favor by campaigning for him vigorously due to his pro-labor and anti-war positions. Milk was opposed by social conservatives and business interests alike but the coalition of organized labor, anti-war folks organized by the Catholic Worker Movement, blacks, LGBTQ+ folks, and progressives gave him a resounding victory in the second round with 52% to Feinstein’s 48%. The legacy of George Moscone would not be forgotten, and Milk would chart San Francisco on a voyage of progressivism that would collimate in the election of Matt Gonzalez in 2003, who was endorsed by Milk and his coalition against the moderate prosecutor Kamala Harris. Milk’s term as mayor would be a conservative nightmare come true as despite fierce opposition from state politicians such as Bob Dornan and Bobby Fischer and even national politicians such as Jesse Helms. Milk would get the last laugh. As Helms was on his death bed gay marriage was legalized and Milk was on the steps of the supreme court crying tears of joy as he could finally marry his longtime boyfriend. In fact, Milk may have been the most successful of the three. He's well-liked by both Republicans and Democrats today as gay marriage becomes less of a political issue and more of a human right. Now he still has critics like former vice president Jim Duggar, who has gone after him for his relentlessly pro-labor and pro-trans rights activism, but like gay marriage, Milk only seems to be winning, even after he retired from Congress.
 
I'm going to be gone from my computer so in the next week there won't be an update. So, here's a shorter and less detailed chapter that takes a break from the foreign policy situation. Have a good New Years Eve!
 
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Mayor Milk. I like the sound of that.
Same. At my school's GSA he's a hero and one who IMO is well deserving of that legacy. Any chance I'll get to keep him alive I'll take, just so he can keep fighting for LGBTQ+ folks and the downtrodden. A truly great man who ITTL will get to see the consequences of his actions.
Mayor Milk. I like the sound of that.
Happy New Year's Eve to you, too.
Thank you. Hope you have a good one too.
 
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