2006/08/24

Alternate History - Nixon Defeated!

Nixon Defeated
Mutters "Screw you America!" as he leaves the stage.

In yesterday's post on Minnesota versus Texas, the question arose: How would history have changed if Nixon hadn't defeated Hubert Humphrey in 1968--implying, it seems, that things would have turned out for the better. But I say, not a chance, and knowing good blog fodder when I see it, I'll throw the question open to my readers.

The following is my alternate history:
Nixon loses and fades from the scene. No Watergate, no outrage, and thus no congressional curbs on executive power (i.e., no FISA). COINTELPRO happens but never gets thoroughly investigated. The FBI remains an unfettered organization of thugs. Ultimately, no Jimmy Carter to delay the Republican revolution or to give voice and teeth to the electorate's pique. Reagan is still elected but 4 years earlier and without those congressional curbs that I mentioned.
Take it from there, or let me know your alternate history.

21 Comments:

RFK wins the California Primary...and the Nomination..and the Election...and we leave Vietnam by 1970....and he wins a second term...and then.....
RFK wins the California Primary...and the Nomination..and the Election...and we leave Vietnam by 1970....and he wins a second term...and then.....

E4E, that's an interesting twist, but I think that the result would be the same. HHH or RFK, no difference. And the key is COINTELPRO. Most of the curbs on executive power were the result of that investigation in the wake of Watergate. No COINTELPRO...no curbs on executive power, and imagine what Reagan would have done with that.
love it...and mcgovern WINS!!! and serves two terms and we are the most peacful nation on earth with health care for all, corporation power in check and lobbyists outlawed. we are all driving alternate vehicles and using low-cost energy. our kids are happy in co-op schools, with their creativity supported...

aw, i could go on..but this is making me sad..the potential...sigh
I’m inclined to see a different scenario: the Richard Nixon that wasn’t drowned at birth, whose identity wasn’t usurped by an interloper.
I see the story of a president who inspires high art, operas are written about him!
I see a man building on the foundation laid by the well meaning but bumbling Kennedy’s and ushering in a new era of prosperity and international understanding.
I see a man who when he shaved managed to clear his face of all traces of hair.
I see... I think I need another drink of this stuff…
I see... I think I need another drink of this stuff…

Quite the contrary, if that's what you see...you really, REALLY need to stop drinking that stuff.

As for your description of Nixon, I'll only make one comment. John Adams did write an opera about him. (Sort of) :-)

AZG, McGovern? Isn't he the guy who lost the biggest landslide in history? (Electoral College wise, that is.)
Dubya, after a night of debauchery, drugs and alcoholsmashed his car into a pole and was left a blithering idiot (similar to today's Dub) and became a hay thrasher for Karl Rove's grandaddy. Thus, Gore followed Clinton and (tap in AZGoddess). That would definitely make today's situation so much better.
If Nixon had served out his two terms, Ford probably would have been elected president in '76, not Reagan (because by then Agnew was gone). Bumbling, stumbling Oatmeal Man, whose biggest contribution to American history was the WIN! (Whip Inflation Now!) button. Maybe a Democrat would have been put in office in 1980, then, after 12 years of Republican rule.

Or not. Maybe the dirty tricksters who now control the elections would have had a head start without Watergate and all the subsequent fallout from it.
Well if Ray-gun was elected that much earlier I think we'd be sitting in the smoldering ashes of civilization right now...that is If he were to handle Afghanistan the way Iran-Contra turned out.
Mary... OK I'm embarrassed, but...what's a 'hay thrasher'? And isn't that sort of like brush clearing? But generally no Dubya would definitely change things. Who was "other" Republican in the 2000 primary? McCain right?

Hey...doesn't anyone look at my pictures? (Kvatch cries plaintively...)
Generik...don't agree. I think Reagan would won the primary. Without incumbancy, Ford just didn't have it in him. But I do agree with your 12 years of Republican rule, Nixon/Nixon/Reagan and an unfettered FBI to boot. Scary!

Fred...maybe, maybe.
My goodness this is good blog fodder. I can't come up with a plausible scenareo -- perhaps Nadar steps up earlier and is elected? You never know how it would go should one element in history be changed...sort of like Back to the Future...

Zowie, by brain is not firing on all spark plugs otherwise I might come up with some thing more witty.

Blog on all.
If not for RMN in '68, I think Nelson Rockefeller might have gotten the repub nomination. I won't entertain HHH as prez, he was toast, drug down by LBJ's vietnam failures. Rockefeller was known as a liberal republican (ah, remember those?) & could've made a fair president. He was even anti-war & very interested in ending vietnam quickly. I think saving some of those 50K+ soldier's lives (not to mention untold vietnamese) is a good start on alternate history. I can't take it further than that.

In the end, though, I think you may be right about our country needing to expose all the things Nixon personified. The watergate investigation in his 2nd term was productive in facilitating the surfacing of SOP's that had been hidden far too long. Nixon was so odious, so self-righteously dishonest, so obsessed with destruction of his perceived enemies, so consumed with one-upsmanship over rich cohorts who never had to work as hard as he did to overcome a lowly birth ... well, you could hardly watch the man on TV and not know how truly sunk America's ship was with him at the helm. But like any true water rat, he did know when to jump ship & for that, I'm glad. And in case nobody noticed, he died without apologizing for a single thing.

Good blog fodder, indeed, kvatch. --D.K.
okay KVATCH....I am hooked I came back...COINTELPRO would not have happened under RFK...after Jack was bugged -Bobby would not have tolerated....and seriously if he had won in 68= Nixon would not ever have gotten his chance to be tricky....

okay...now that being said...Round II Nixon died on a diplomatic mission to China..and Agnew became president...and then was hauled off for tax evasion...and WHO would have been prez???
WS, thank Kathy (Stone Soup Musings). It was her suggestion about HHH that got me to thinking along these lines.

D.K., I can't even begin to speculate how things would have changed if we'd ended Vietnam 5 years ahead of schedule. I think that another Republican would probably have followed a Rockefeller presidency but not Reagan. In fact, with moderate Republicans holding power for...say...12 years, I'd put money on the religious conservatives making common cause with the Dixiecrats and realizing a viable third party...for real!

E4E...wasn't COINTELPRO already happening by the time RFK was assassinated? Perhaps he would have exposed it and the curbs we saw in the 70's would come into place anyway, just in the 60's. To answer your second question...Ford again. Agnew would have chosen him for the same reasons Nixon did.
hey, enigma, you know i'm for any alt universe where RFK ends up prez! If I had a time machine & could prevent that violent night ... aahh, the times were so violent. OK, now that I've dried my eyes ... if Nixon died & simultaneously Agnew was imprisoned in 1971 before the watergate break-in & before he had chosen a VP, our prez would've been John McCormack (D-Mass), Speaker of the House. I assume you know something about him? I don't. Oh, I also think the country would've been reeling from all the political upset & may have needed marshal law to restore order. Geez, I can't believe how bleak this all sounds.

kvatch, weren't dixiecrats kinda white supremecists? D.K.
Nixon loses, Humphrey wins, is unable to extracate soldiers fron VietNam, Reagan wins in '72, starts more wars throughout SE Asia, requiring more troops, sends National Guard units to Cambodia, Dubya's plane is shot down over Laos and we never here from him again. Sound plausible?
Good one Lew.

I think the same question will be asked fifteen or so years from now about whether we'd have been better off if Kerry beat Bush. I think not. Bush is going to set a monumental example of how not to run America and it may save us from something far worse than this current madness.
D.K., probably some of them were, but it usually referred to any conservative white southerners who remained Democrats from the 50's through the 70's.

Lew... Now there's a thought. :-) :-) :-) Do you think an earlier 'Reagan Revolution' would have caused it end earleir as well?

SA, that's a good point. We've yet to see the backlash, our own version of COINTELPRO, but it's coming.
Okay, if our point of divergence is Humphrey winning (which he damn near did), then why would COINTELPRO not end in 1971 (as it did in the real world)? Hoover would presumably still die in 1972, and with him most of the secret police culture of the FBI. Humphrey (who loathed Hoover) would have replaced him with someone who actually understood the rule of law (maybe Maxwell Taylor, though he was more likely to be at CIA). In fact, it's entirely likely that Humphrey would've forced an end to COINTELPRO sooner and probably cleaned up the CIA like Jimmy Carter did IRW, though the CIA wouldn't have been nearly as bad without Nixon and Kissinger. HHH would've immediately started negotiations to end the Vietnam War, enough to get him re-elected in 1972, probably producing a shaky partition, with the South likely falling soon after most US troops left. This would set up Reagan to run and likely win in 1976 on the "Who Lost Vietnam?" platform. Without Nixon, there is no secret bombing of Cambodia, so no Khmer Rouge and no 3 million massacred, and no secret invasion of Laos. On the negative side, it's true that only Nixon could've gone to China. Even a liberal with impeccable anti-communist credentials like HHH would've never dared try the same stunt. Without detente with the US, it's entirely possible you would have a war between the PRC and the USSR. It would be nasty, but if it went nuclear, it would be the worse for China, since their nuclear deterrant was practically non-existent compared to the USSR's and they had no ICBMS then. The Republican party in that world would've been badly fractured by 1976, having lost with a hard right-winger in '64, a moderate in '68 (and maybe even a liberal like Rockefeller in '72), but you would still have a Southern Strategy, with the GOP courting Wallace voters. Reagan might even court an up and coming Congressman from Texas, George H.W. Bush as his running mate (Nixon considered him as a replacement for Agnew). The Democrats in '76 would likely have a bitter fight between Ed Muskie and Ted Kennedy.
Another point: there would STILL have been a pushback against executive power. IRW congressional anger over the War, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolutions and so forth were what led to the War Powers Act. In this alternative, the pushback (possibly led by Congressional Republicans, reprising their role opposing FDR's "dictatorship") and liberal Democrats in a strange bedfellows alliance. True, the pushback wouldn't have been as strong, but executive power and the national security state wouldn't have been as expanded as they were under Nixon, either.
yes mcgovern - i jsut watched a documentary on him...now if he had won - seriously, our troubles would be over...or never would have started

http://www.mcgovernlibrary.com/george.htm

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