PoD: George Wallace moderates his political views on race and rides the conservative tide into the White House in 1968 and starts a movement that will change American politics forever.
In 1946, 26-year-old George Corley Wallace, Jr wins the Democrat primary for state representative in Alabama. Since the Republicans have no opponent for him in the fall Wallace is elected by default. Wallace is re-elected unopposed in 1950. In 1953 Wallace is elected Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives and serves until 1955.
During his time in the House, Wallace pushed for reforms in government (including a measure which allowed the governor to seek a second term, which took effect in 1957) and fighting crime around the state (especially in Phenix City). He also was an close friend and supporter of Governor "Big Jim" Folsom.
In 1954, Wallace decided to confront the crime bosses directly and ran for Alabama Attorney General. With the support of many reform minded citizens (including Albert Patterson who served as his campaign manager). Wallace easily won the primary with 56% of the vote but on the night of June 18, Wallace and some friends were attacked by two gunman (paid killers from Phenix City) near Wallace's home. Wallace is shot in both legs but the wounds are not serious and after a few months in a wheelchair he is as good as new. Patterson, however, is killed and two others wounded. Wallace and Governor George Persons sent the National Guard into Phenix City and launched a crusade against crime around the state. Wallace became a national figure overnight and many called him the "Southern Tom Dewey", Wallace also works to modernize the Alabama judicial system and also grant justice to many blacks who have been accused unjustly of crimes.
In 1958, Wallace runs for Governor as a moderate in the Democratic primary against twelve other candidates and wins 45% in the first round and 62% in the run-off, Wallace goes on to easily defeat Republican William Longshore with 93% of the vote (the highest vote percentage in a governors race since 1884).
In 1960, Wallace leads the Alabama delegation to the Democrat convention in Los Angeles in support of Lyndon Johnson. After Johnson's defeat, Kennedy considered Wallace as a potential running mate but settled on Johnson instead.
In 1962, Wallace is easily re-elected governor winning 73% and 98% of the vote in the primary and general elections respectively.
During his second inaugural address, Wallace spoke to how Alabamans would deal with changing world around them "The road will be long, the journey great, but we finish the promise of our founding fathers. And to those extremists out there I say Segregation today, Segregation tomorrow, but not! Segregation forever". Although Wallace had done much for both blacks and whites in Alabama he resented the high-handed trampling of state's rights of the Warren Supreme Court and the Kennedy administration. By November 1963, Wallace had decided to challenge Kennedy for the Democrat presidential nomination in 1964.
After Kennedy's death Wallace decided to wait to see if Lyndon Johnson would be as liberal as Kennedy (He was). After Johnson came out in support of federal civil rights legislation Wallace announced his candidacy for president. Wallace entered all the primaries and won five. At the Democrat convention, Wallace won 875 delegate votes to Johnson's 1438. After addressing the convention and congratulating Johnson, Wallace returned to Alabama and worked to unite the state and end the racial violence.
Although Wallace lost in his bid for the presidency he done well in the primaries and had a large nation-wide following. In 1966, Wallace campaigned for the election of his wife Laurleen Wallace as Governor (Laurleen won but died in 1968).
Out of office for the first time in twenty years, Wallace set his sights on the presidency but this time as a third party candidate. Assuming that Johnson would be re-nominated and that the Republicans would nominate New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, Wallace saw his chance to appeal to populists and conservatives and formed the American Independent Party. By November, the party had achieved ballot status in all fifty states and D.C.
In June, The AIP holds its first national convention in St Louis, more that 4000 delegates and alternates are present as well as 25,000 spectators. Wallace is nominated unopposed and chooses former Kentucky Governor Happy Chandler as his running mate.
To Wallace's surprise, the Republicans nominate former Vice President Richard Nixon for president after a brutal four-ballot fight against Rockefeller and California Governor Ronald Reagan. Nixon, alarmed at the popularity of Wallace decides to choose Michigan Governor George Romney as his running mate.
After Johnson announces that he will not seek re-election and the assassination of presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, a brutal fight begins for the Democratic nomination, specially between Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy and Vice President Hubert Humphrey. The followers of the late RFK led by Senator George McGovern of South Dakota starts to rally behind McCarthy who became the Democratic nominee and chooses McGovern as running mate.
Wallace appealed to working class voters in the midwest and west as well as the south and by September was leading Nixon and McCarthy in the polls.
Down in the polls, Nixon accepts Wallace and McCarthy's offer to debate. They debate three times in New York, Miami and Denver. In the final debate, Wallace scores a winning punch by asking a simple question of the American people "Is America better off now than it was four years ago?". This captures the national media and gives Wallace the crucial boast he needs to win the election.
On election night, Wallace sweeps the West, the South and the Midwest winning a wide victory in both the popular and electoral vote.
1968 Presidential Election Results
- Wallace/Chandler (AIP)---42%---307
- Nixon/Romney (R)----------30%---192
- McCarthy/McGovern (D)-----28%-----40
In the congressional elections, the AIP won many seats in both houses of Congress thanks to the liberal vote being split between the Republicans and the Democrats.
President Wallace's first priority is to win the war in Vietnam, to that end the United States launched Operation Overturn and invaded North Vietnam, although unpopular, the invasion was largely successful and Hanoi was captured within two weeks. By September, 80% of the country was under allied control and by Christmas, President Wallace was able to announce that American had won the war and that American boys would be coming home.
Also in 1969, Wallace appoint Robert Bork as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court with William Rehnquist and Clement Haynsworth as Associate Justices.
With the war won and his approval ratings at 65% President Wallace proposes a bold set of domestic plans which include paying-off the national debt by 1985, cutting taxes, increased spending on the space program and new types of weapons, and passing a balanced budget amendment through congress. All of these are passed by year's end.
In the mid-term elections the AIP win many new seats in both houses of Congress thanks to defections from both Republicans and Democrats to the AIP.
The AIP, conservative Republicans and Democrats formed a coalition that allowed them to control both house of Congress with Howard Baker as Senate Leader and Gerald Ford as Speaker of the House.
President Wallace continued to work to rebuild a now united Vietnam and prepare for his re-election by building a coalition of conservatives that would get him re-elected in '72. The U.S. lands a second mission on the Moon and begins plans for a permanent base. With the economy booming, Wallace looks forward to a second term.
In 1971 the Republican National Committee led by former Texas Representative George Herbert Walker Bush votes to join with the AIP to form the Conservative Party. Disgruntled liberal Republicans like Nelson Rockefeller join the Democrats to form the new Liberal Party.
In 1972, Wallace also appoints former Vice President Richard Nixon, Attorney General Antonin Scalia and G. Harrold Carswell to the Supreme Court.
In the primaries of the newly made Liberal Party, Nelson Rockefeller defeats George McGovern for the nomination but chooses him as his VP.
In the June of 1972, Wallace is easily renominated at the Conservative National Convention and chooses California Governor Ronald Reagen as his running mate to replace retiring Vice President Happy Chandler.
After the conventions Wallace enjoys a wide lead over Rockefeller. Wallace championed classic American virtues and painted his opponents as out-of-touch (Rockefeller) and being un-American (McGovern). Rocky called on the great "silent majority" of Americans to reject the extremism of Wallace, while McGovern called Wallace a war-monger and a threat to world peace. By the time of the first presidential debate Wallace had lost some ground to Rocky and a win in the debates could decide who the next president would be. Wallace and Rockefeller did well in the (3) debates, but as Wallace was the only conservative and the populist he was able to keep enough support that the election was never really in doubt.
On election night Wallace won everywhere except Massachusetts and D.C as well as wide margin in the popular vote. Wallace's victory can be explained by the fact that he won the war in Vietnam and made every promises he had before he was elected.
1972 Presidential Election Results
- Wallace/Reagan (C)-------60.7%---521
- Rockefeller/McGovern (L)------37.5%----17
In the House and Senate, the Conservatives won 54 Senate seats and 246 House seats, the Conservative Party to control Congress outright.
In the case of Roe vs. Wade the Supreme Court votes 7-2 (Haynsworth, Bork, Rehnquist, Nixon, Scalia, White, Carswell to Douglas, Brennan) in favor of Wade stating that the unborn had a constitutional right to be born.
President Wallace launches his second set of domestic programs, Congress passes a massive tax cut, federal regulation reform, and the 26th. (Balanced Budget) Amendment (Note: OTL 26th. (Voting Age) Amendment was never passed).
In 1973, after the retirement of Richard Helms, President Wallace appoints George Herbert Walker Bush as the Director of the Central Intelligence, who makes the "Bush Reform" with full governmental and congressional support and begins a new age for the CIA.
The U.S. places a permanent Lunar station which is named the John F. Kennedy Space Station. President Wallace and Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev meet for the first time since Wallace became president, the meeting reaffirms that both nations are committed to victory in the Cold War and that both are determined to make the other break. Shortly after the summit, President Wallace announces that the U.S. will begin build a new defense system called SDI (Strategic Defense Initiative).
American continues to explore Space and build the SDI, the Soviets are getting desperate. In response to an oil embargo, President Wallace announces that the U.S. will set a goal of building 250 nuclear power plants by 1985, Congress also passes several domestic energy bills which open millions of acres for exploration.
Vice President Reagan is easily nominated by the Conservatives and chooses former Treasury Secretary William F. Buckley for his running mate.
The Liberals have 15 candidates running among them, Ted Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Sargent Shriver, Mo Udall, and Birch Bayh. In the end, Kennedy wins the nomination and chooses Carter for his VP.
In spite of the famous Kennedy charm, Teddy can never get away from his womanizing and Chappaquiddick. Reagan meanwhile enjoys support from conservatives, populists, and many moderates. In the end Wallace's popularity coupled with Reagan's charm win a mighty victory for the Conservatives in Congress as well as the presidency.
1976 Presidential Election Results
- Reagan/Buckley (C)------55%---501
- Kennedy/Carter (L)-----------44%----37
Reagan continues the policies of the Wallace administration as well as taking a strong stance against the Soviet Union. The Soviets decide not to invade Afghanistan and instead put more effort into their space program. In the '78 mid-terms the Conservatives retain control of Congress. Reagan lends aid to the Shah of Iran and helps him put down an Islamic revolution and establish a semi-democratic government by 1981. The economy continues to booms and Reagan is re-elected in a landslide over Liberal Senator Walter Mondale and Independent Congressman John Anderson in 1980 winning all fifty states. Conservatives also gain seats in the congressional elections.
1980 Presidential Election Results
- Reagan/Buckley (C)------58%---535
- Mondale/Finch (L)---------36%------3
- Anderson/Lucy (I)-----------5%-------0
In Reagan's second term the Soviet Union collapses in 1984 under the weight of American might and eastern Europe is freed. With the world moving into a new era of freedom and Reagan's popularity at 75% the Conservatives look forward to big wins in 1984.
Vice President William F. Buckley in nominated for president by the Conservatives with Secretary of Army Bob Dole as his VP.
The Liberals nominate Ohio Senator John Glenn with Joe Biden as his running mate.
Glenn puts up a strong fight but Reagan's popularity and Buckley's oratorical skills prevail and the Conservatives win by a big margin.
1984 Presidential Election Results
- Buckley/Dole (C)-------54%---453
- Glenn/Biden (L)----------45%-----85
President Buckley continues the Wallace-Reagan tradition and the economy continues to grow. Buckley is re-elected in a landslide over Massachusetts Governor Mike Dukakis and his running mate Jesse Jackson winning 49 states.
1988 Presidential Election Results
- Buckley/Dole (C)--------57%
- Dukakis/Jackson (L)-----43%
In 1989, the economy is still growing in Buckley's second term and NASA starts its first Mars program called Ares. In 1990, on the advice from long time Secretary of Defense Alexander Haig, President Buckley sends the army to the Gulf and Saddam's regime fell apart along with its supporter Assad's Syria.
In 1992, Vice President Bob Dole wins the nomination and asks Utah Senator Orrin Hatch as running mate.
The LP nominates Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter with former Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton as VP.
Specter puts up a strong fight but Buckley's popularity and Dole's oratorical skills prevail and the Conservatives win by a big margin.