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  Unfortunate Son
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« Reply #275 on: January 02, 2017, 05:35:48 pm »

Mattingly and the 2000 General Election

Years later, only after he had exited the public spotlight, did Mattingly allow for the whole of his past to be unveiled. In various campaign biographies, his description of his time overseas in Vietnam was vague, with the purposeful impression of painting Mattingly's as a bland, wholesome, all-American tale. Likewise, his description of his childhood after his father's passing remained similarly draped in shadow. A 2015 biography would posit that "Christian Mattingly was a man forever fleeing from himself. Exceptionally intelligent, his instinct was almost to reject it out of hand, or to embrace it only as a dirty habit. He portrayed himself as a friendly, down-to-earth, American folk hero. A kind businessman who fought for the interests of those he identified with, and nothing but. Political allies and opponents alike, however, remarked at his extensive vocabulary, his analytic ability, and, perhaps most, how sarcastically he took his own role in the public sphere; almost as if he were playing a character. He remains a man deeply divided by intense passion and intense despondence, masked by a person constructed to hide both.

"Few public references to Mattingly's background would refer to the lanky high schooler who carted around history and philosophy books, or regularly sparred, knuckles bare, with schoolmates in Warren. The quaint, romantic tale of the boy who worked nights to make ends meet and substitute for his late father overshadows the struggles of a youth who almost dropped out of school multiple times. The decision to serve his country in Vietnam serves as a convenience to explain away the fact that he had been routinely recommended to attend college and that he despised that fact. The same would also serve to alleviate the intense survivor's guilt he possessed and the ever-growing sense of nihilism he had adopted. It would only take his own brushes with death to confer on him a sense of order and duty, and it would only be well after Vietnam that he came to embrace this, not only spiritually through a return to the Church, but publicly and politically. The Christian Mattingly that left for Vietnam likely would have never decided to found his own business or to seek public office. He would have been perfectly happy slaving away in the place of his father at the Ford plant, shirking any sense of destiny for the alleviation of an intense sense of alienation.

"If there was ever a time in his life where he was, in some sense, at peace, it would have been the nineteen eighties. Despite distaste for the changing social attitudes and "unnecessary" fashions, that was when Mattingly had a chance to live out both of his ideals. In one world, he was a raging crusader, convincing what seemed the very laws of physics, economics, and organizational psychology in his favor, forging a path in an industry once marked by monopolistic competition. It was a decade of dedication and expansion. In another world, he was the patriarch of a young and growing family that, despite financial struggles, continued to push ahead. He entertained both his ambitions and his desire for insularity and belonging. Nevertheless, as private service turned public, he felt his family separate. His eldest son, Bryan, persisted in turning against him. In many ways, the introverted, reclusive Bryan was a representation of Mattingly's own id, a creature he would never dare confront. Bryan despised his father's respectability politics and opted for a life of the mind. In the midst of the 2000 campaign, Mattingly would be forced to answer to inquiring minds in the national media why his son had received a drinking citation within his first two months of college.

"In any case,  for him politics had been 'the next challenge'. What he was instead confronted with was a life of unbearable security, and the comfort associated with such a lifestyle he would later credit with allowing the dissolution of his precious family unit. It would be a wonder as to why he opted to continue to pursue political ambitions at all, but for an unquenchable need to 'win'. He had finally let himself entertain his ambitions and he would be damned if he'd let himself be stopped. As well, the nineteen nineties had seen the dissolution of his 'way of life' on the macro scale. The types of communities he hailed from, and those he romanticized, had become endangered by what he would sarcastically call 'a cabal of policy eggheads in both parties'. All across the rust belt, communities that had either been revived, or had barely hung on, during the 1980's at last breathed their last gasp. Jobs shifted away from the country, owing both to globalization and to mechanization. Suddenly, an engineering degree was almost necessary to work at many levels of manufacturing. Agriculture had not gotten easier either, as the family farm--itself the reflection of the Republican ideal since the 1850's--continued to whither. And, while Democrats were bragging about innovations in technology and record-breaking economic numbers, danger loomed abroad, at last personified in deadly terrorist attacks on August 7th, 1998. Mattingly's eventual bid for the presidency was a bid to restore the America he called home.

...

"Mattingly, perhaps more than any other campaign, loved 2000. It represented his bid for the support of the men and women he identified with, the people in the professions and the neighborhoods he'd seen as brothers and sisters in class and nationality, that had given him a sense of nationhood well before his first march in Army boots. That this had been threatened by elites in either party who took pictures with computer terminals and discussed the future's limitless ability to alleviate social problems was unconscionable. Liddy Dole, a woman who Mattingly believed felt entitled to the presidency owing to her husband, and David MacKenzie, a man who felt entitled to the presidency owing to his class and background, represented to Mattingly ideal primary opponents. This was nothing compared to the general election, however." Mitt Romney was an effete, teetotalling elite from New England whose personal fortune had been made through 'business consulting'. His campaign had been run on progressive triumphs in Massachusetts, including gun control, environmental regulations, gay marriage, and universal healthcare. His campaign did not cater to class antagonisms or grievances, but instead to those Democrats that wanted an inoffensive champion who would manage the country well. He had triumphed owing to significant support among high turnout groups in the suburbs, a geographic calendar that had favored him early on, and the Democratic establishment's decision to coalesce around him in order to stop the left-wing vanguard represented by Scott Westman. In a year that seemed marked by change and discontent, the Democrats were nevertheless still in the throes of Hartism and opted for the technocrat who would safeguard the gains of the last eight years over the incendiary who might gamble it all. In that same vein, he represented exactly the type of Democrat that Mattingly had set out to defeat.
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« Reply #276 on: January 02, 2017, 06:09:08 pm »

wow so now 2000 is an alternate universe 2016 - with two better candidates.
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« Reply #277 on: January 05, 2017, 06:34:08 pm »

2000: On The Issues

The free-wheeling nineties, which had, four years ago, permitted a national campaign centered on, among other issues farm subsidies, were over. Instead, the seemingly minute disappeared in the rear view mirror. Instead, the 2000 Presidential election centered primarily on issues of basic material security: employment, defense, and the like. Outside of that, some otherwise minor recurrent social issues did come up. It was remarked that, all around, both candidates positioned themselves as "moderates", but of very different stripes and radically different demeanor. While Romney was a "pragmatic progressive", the Mattingly campaign was self-consciously retrograde.

Trade & Employment
Both candidates ran on relatively moderate economic platforms that would nevertheless draw very sharp battle lines.
Romney: “All around, free trade has helped more than it has hurt. Consumer goods once restricted to only the wealthy have been made available at the mass level. That said, we would be remiss if we presumed that every trade agreement is, by default, good.” Romney, essentially, ran as the candidate of The Economist, to the opinion of many. In order to offset unemployment, the Massachusetts Governor campaigned on extending unemployment benefits, reduced interest rates, and a tax reimbursement for every American family. By contrast, Romney tried to paint Mattingly as “out of touch”--”he hasn’t been involved in job creation since the 1980’s!”--and a “big government Republican,”; “Mattingly’s plan will constitute a tax giveaway to contractors and billionaires while endangering the safety net this country has cherished since FDR. He still hasn’t explained how to pay for the Mattingly deficits!”
Mattingly: The Republican asserted that Romney’s plans for growth were insincere and “half-hearted at best.” The agenda of Mitt Romney is, and this isn’t an insult, not one for you and me. I have no doubt he could accomplish his picture of America doing well- an improved stock market, record profits, and so on. That does not mean he will accomplish anything for you or your families.” In an ironic twist for a Republican nominee, Mattingly asserted that he was the man for labor to trust. “The Democrats are not at all interested in getting you ‘off your feet’. Their programs have shown a remarkable amount of complacency towards growing welfare rolls and a decreased quality of life. Meanwhile, it has gotten harder and harder to earn a living wage in this country!” Mattingly’s essential take was that, with him at the helm, you wouldn’t be able to count on an expansion in welfare- instead, finding, keeping, and living off a job would be made easier. This would be done through the repatriation of capital and labor, attacking multi-national corporations and “economic traitors”. Any inflation resulting from wage increased--”a sure deal,” he asserted--would be offset through monetary policy. Beyond that, he also promised a stimulus package "to rebuild our nation's crumbling infrastructure."

Foreign Policy, Counter-Terrorism, & Defense
With both candidates being “domestic policy candidates”, it would be up to the campaign apparatuses to craft coherent platforms for them to recite lines from.
Romney: “The President, since the 8/7 attacks, has pursued a smart and aggressive strategy in the Middle East that will pay off in the end.” Romney proposed keeping the Middle East effort a multi-national process and to ensure that “the whole civilized world has a stake in terrorism’s pacification.”
Mattingly: “The disarming that America went through starting in 1991 was utterly unconscionable.” Mattingly believed that the invasion of Iraq had been a mistake; an attempt by a President weak at home to secure himself abroad through red meat that would reinforce an image of “strength”. In Mattingly’s view, he could accomplish as much by sporting beard stubble and pointing to his own political record. “Of course,” he said in private conversation, “Iraq was going to be a clusterf#ck. And of course that would give us two f#cked up options: surrender or keep getting shot at. Option three, gun down the bastards at every opportunity, was tried in ‘Nam. It resulted in option one anyway.” Despite styling himself a hawk, Mattingly had a cynical view of war, owing to his own experience in Vietnam. In choosing not to confront the “war question” head on, Mattingly offered that “the fight against terrorism has to begin at home,” proposing the granting of new powers to the U.S. intelligence apparatus while “cultivating our friends in the region.” Among friends, Mattingly also remarked “If we’re being entirely honest, broadcasting the image of the West as this progressive place that would offend any good Muslim’s sensibilities probably has not paid off in the region. Our figurehead the last six years was best known for standing next to pride flags and swimsuit models. Well, ya can’t please everybody.” Mattingly, promising in public “better and more thorough defense policies,” intended fully on leaving this up to the Central Intelligence Agency to make a “secret, and unauthorized foreign policy.” “We did this in the 80’s, and by God we can do it again!”

Education
Romney: Promising “a twenty-first century educational system for a twenty-first century economy,” Romney vowed to double-down on math and science education. In order to add populist appeal to his “Wall Street Journal-endorsed” (Westman’s words) economic platform, the Governor was proposing a college education program that promised to severely mitigate costs of a college education, especially in STEM fields.
Mattingly: “I believe American students can do anything if given the proper conditions; the first among these is going to be ensuring that there is a stable home life, the foundations of which are employment and a whole family.” That said, “what this nation has to do is to educate good citizens, and this extends beyond the family. This civic duty can be realized through our educational system.” The Republican wanted greater focus on civics and ethics classes in primary and secondary education. Beyond that, he attacked Romney’s college plan: “In the last thirty years, the government has committed more and more money to seeing citizens enter college. In response, we’ve seen absurd increases in costs! Not only are colleges simply responding to government-created demand, they are forced to bloat their administrative departments to handle the increased paperwork and red tape. This has resulted, more than anything, in increased college debt and the increased meaninglessness of a college education. I hear routinely that it has become simply a more expensive high school.” As an alternative, Mattingly endorsed a plan, then pending in the U.S. Senate, to provide quality assurance in education through standardized testing. “Our children deserve the best teachers.”

Abortion
Romney: Stated simply, he thought “abortion should be safe, legal, and rare,” and had few qualms with Roe v. Wade. “I am personally against it, but this is a country founded on freedom of conscience and freedom of faith.”
Mattingly: “Mr. Romney likes to tote out his Mormon faith whenever it serves to demonstrate some civic merit of his; he has little problem, however, when sidelining it in favor of the Democratic platform.” Mattingly stated firmly that he sought to return abortion to the states, and that he would seek to do so through the appointment of judges. “That said, we in the right-to-life movement have seen significant setbacks since the early 1970’s. In order to further mitigate abortion, we need to be willing to reduce its likelihood of seeming like the best option to many frightened mothers-to-be.”

Gay Rights
Romney: The Democratic nominee vowed to uphold the Tsongas administration’s policies on gay service in the military and endorsed the idea of civil unions.
Mattingly: The Republican nominee admitted he had not considered gay rights as a whole as a political issue. “I know what history says, and believe me, it’s something that concerns me.” Personally, Mattingly was torn between his faith and sense of straightlaced sexual morality and his own life experiences; he had served alongside a host of demographics, including men that, by 2000 were openly homosexual. As far as the candidate was concerned, status quo would be maintained. “We have enough divorces in this country, I wouldn’t want to expose the gay community to that,” he joked.

The Environment
Romney: One of his most prominent liberal bona fides, Romney had received good marks from environmental groups for his tenure as Governor. In taking this to the nation as a whole, he proposed a series of reforms, including compliance with the Kyoto protocols and other international environmental agreements. “We can never afford to forget the inalienable rights to clean water, clean soil, and clean air.” He also proposed an increase in “superfund” cleanup capital.
Mattingly: “Our national parks are perhaps our greatest treasure.” Beyond that, Mattingly was wholly opposed to “the policies that have destroyed the ability to do business in this country.”

Crime
Nationwide crime numbers had been trending downward since the early 1990’s. Nevertheless, the media narrative prompted both candidates to respond.
Romney: Unwilling to fully come out against the death penalty, the Democratic nominee stated it should be used “sparingly,” and “in cases of overwhelming evidence and utter necessity.”
Mattingly: “Obviously, we’ve got to be tough on crime, and I have. Mitty, uh, well he hasn’t been tasked with handling much crime; I have.” The Governor supported the death penalty, and enjoyed touting his record of tackling drug networks across his state. Regarding any further action, Mattingly was blunt, “The massive increase in crime over the last half of the century, was, in my mind, no doubt, due to two reasons: deindustrialization, and the lack of faith in government. Things flow from the top, and when our civic leaders stopped being trustworthy, so did others. Secondly, we’re going to see employment and factories return to these cities. No citizen is going to be asked to choose between the duties of citizenship and the duties of survival. They will be one and the same. We’re going to restore moral government and we’re going to restore a moral economy. Any crime that’s left after that is going to be struck down by police agencies equipped with what they need to do our jobs. Our policies should not be based on court cases decided by activist judges, but instead on what works.”
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« Reply #278 on: January 07, 2017, 12:31:46 pm »

”Republicans for Romney”

The existence of a “rivalry”, to some limited (and often exaggerated) extent, had existed between Mattingly and the Romney family for a period of time lasting over ten years by the time both Christian and Mitt had secured their parties’ nominations for President. In the 1990 Michigan Republican Gubernatorial primary, Scott Romney, the son of the late Michigan Governor George Romney and the brother of future Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, had been Mattingly’s chief opponent for the nomination. Heading a coalition of suburbanites and business interests, Romney had hoped to establish a moderate-to-liberal coalition very similar to the one that had granted both his father and William Miliken power in the 1960’s and 1970’s. For decades, the party had nominated liberals to govern at the state level, though Senator Griffin, whose time had passed in 1990, had been nominally conservative.

Nevertheless, Mattingly’s majority victory over Scott Romney, who had secured only 39%, symbolized a “new era” in the state party. Mattingly’s coalition was an ostensibly populist-conservative one, encroaching on Romney in the suburbs and among moderates with his tough-on-crime stance. Meanwhile, Michigan’s open primary had allowed the former Commerce Secretary to import blue collar Democrats in communities like Macomb and Monroe counties. “Fusion conservatism” had been co-opted, and liberal “yankee” republicanism had been defeated. To some extent, Mattingly would repeat that feat a decade later with victory of Elizabeth Dole and David MacKenzie. In any case, the elements needed to craft a “Mattingly v. Romney” narrative ten years later had been put in place.

Above: George Scott Romney, who had lost the 1990 Michigan Republican Primary, would take the lead in trying to recruit other Republicans to support his younger brother's presidential campaign against Christian Mattingly in 2000.

It had been owing not only to the changing nature of the parties--Republicans in Massachusetts had elected Ed King and John Silber, for God’s sake--but to the defeat of his brother that had prompted ‘Mitt’ to cross the aisle in the early 1990’s, despite his work for the Holton White House. The political power that would support choice, gun control, environmental regulation, healthcare reform, and a slew of other liberal projects, was in the hands of the Democrats. And they had shown they weren’t entirely hostile to business interests anymore.

In the year 2000, Scott Romney would do the dirty work of his brother in hoping to undermine his old rival Mattingly. Out of power since 1990, he had felt more and more ill at ease in a Republican Party that seemed to be rejecting its pro-business establishment. “Ladies and gentlemen, I’m here speaking with you today not because Mitt is my brother, but perhaps moreso because I am not only a lifelong Republican, but because I know both candidates. The type of republicanism that Christian Mattingly has championed, and that he rode to the Republican nomination on, is not conservative. It is anti-business, it is anti-capitalist. Not only that, it is populist demagoguery of the lowest sort.”

Failing to secure even the minimal verbal support of David MacKenzie, who lined up behind his party’s nominee, Romney had nevertheless scraped together some opposition to Mattingly. Nevertheless, they largely amounted to past officeholders. Former Congressman John Anderson was an easy and early recruit. From Mattingly’s own home state, former Governor William G. Milliken was unwilling to comment on the race. However, his very outspoken wife, the activist Helen Wallbank Milliken, was very vocal in her opposition to her husband’s successor. Former Defense Secretary Larry Pressler, who had counted himself a Republican a decade ago, likewise denounced the Governor’s campaign. Lincoln Chafee, who had been primaried from the right on September 12th, had few remaining loyalties and was the only current officeholder to break ranks and outright endorse Mitt Romney.
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« Reply #279 on: February 25, 2017, 11:16:31 pm »

Bump. May be an update at some point since I'm about to finish a huge assignment in a few days.
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« Reply #280 on: May 19, 2017, 04:41:30 pm »

The Power Behind the Throne?
The Tactics and Transformation of Richard Hudson
Time, September 2000

Prior to January of this year, few had heard of Dick Hudson. A physically diminished person, standing at the average 5'8", his apparently featureless face adorned only by  round spectacles, the political science doctorate appears far more at home in the lecture hall than he does the political arena. Yet these are both worlds he has inhabited, and dominated in.

The man who has gained fame as the primary campaign "brain" of Christian Mattingly's presidential campaign hails from a non-descript, Protestant background in rural St. Claire County, Michigan. As Hudson's name suggests, his background is an ethnic mixture of Dutch, English, and German. He spent his summers on Lake St. Claire--which borders Canada--boating, fishing, and appears to have led a rather representative childhood. Nevertheless, he excelled in high school, favoring history, economics, and civics. It was there, through his otherwise non-memorable track & field career, that he met Sarah (nee Madigan), his future wife.

Hudson's involvement in politics began with his work as a volunteer on Michigan Senator Robert Griffin's hard-fought re-election campaign in 1978. It was through a chance encounter at Griffin's re-election party that he first spoke to Christian Mattingly, himself then a volunteer, though not quite a Republican. He graduated from high school the following spring with honors, going on to attend Webster College in New Hampshrie, where he was heavily involved on-campus, where he served not only as president of Phi Gamma Fraternity, but VP of Student Government. Fulfilling a lifelong ambition to seek elected office, the budding young Republican (following his matriculation as a volunteer on John Sununu's 1982 gubernatorial campaign), won a seat int eh New Hampshire House of Representatives. Graduating cum laude with two bachelors degrees (the first a BA in political science and economics, the second a BS in statistics) from Webster College in 1984, Hudson moved back to Michigan, beginning his time as a doctoral student at Detroit's Wayne State University.

His undergraduate days had not been entirely kind to him, however, as Hudson's "workaholic" status led to a patched-together dependence on caffeine, alcohol, and cigarettes. This was the source of one of his and Sarah's breakups that occurred on the road toward his proposal and their eventual marriage  in 1985. Hudson's return to Detroit, however, did not only make way for his academic career and family. Sarah Hudson, taking work as a secretary for Huron Automotive, was instrumental in reintroducing Hudson to fellow workaholic Christian Mattingly, then leading the company from its infant years into the national spotlight.

Hudson eventually received his doctorate in 1988, coinciding with the birth of his and Sarah's first child. Taking up teaching work in nearby colleges, including adjunctships at Marygrove and the University of Detroit Mercy, Hudson only reentered electoral politics when Christian Mattingly sought the Governorship. It is important here to note that Hudson had undergone a bit of a transformation since what might have otherwise been his "formative years". Hudson had begun the 1980s identified as a rather middle-of-the-road, "standard" Republican. His first presidential vote, both in the primaries and the general election, had gone to Bob Dole. "In college, I became obsessed with numbers. I believed math, economics, those were the keys to everything--not political science and certainly not culture or religion. The Republican aim, or rather the aim of the state as a whole, was to become rationalized. Efficient. Correct. When working on my doctorate, I found something much different."

What Hudson had found, when refocusing on Michigan, and particularly Detroit, was that rationalization seemed to be rotting the country from the inside out. "You heard the arguments, from both the right and the left, in the 1970s and 1980s that we had become a service economy, that manufacturing was best located overseas, in the developing parts of the world. That this was the way things worked." Rather, Detroit and other urban areas were being hollowed out by globalization. "The Dole administration did what it could--it really did. Revitalization packages produced in 1981 and 1982 were crafted by Rust Belt legislators determined to keep manufacturing strong. But by then, Lyndon Johnson and Bobby Kennedy had done their work. History was already rolling. Linwood Holton--and, I admit, this was after my conversion, of sorts--helped put the nail in the coffin. He had some of the smartest men in the world design ways to make America inferior. Chained to environmental standards designed by Californians, American industry was being prepared to be sold off, piece by piece. Meanwhile, we could take heart in the fact that people with master's degrees from Stanford and UC Berkeley had good computing jobs. When you did the math for this, it made sense. But when you looked at what the loss of steady and stable income did for many Americans, it did not."

During the 1980s, it was then that Hudson's ideology became steeped, not in balance sheets and the cliches of "good government," but rather in the belief that politics was existential. What he found in Mattingly, before 1990, was someone who agreed, and, more importantly, who he could shape.

In 1989, Richard Hudson converted to Catholicism, adopting the confirmation name "Peter", the gatekeeper of Heaven. "What is perhaps so fascinating about Peter as a literary and historical figure, is that he has innumerable faults. He is on record as having doubted and denied the Lord, but is still recognized for what he can do after Christ has left. The Papacy is descended from him!" Political theory essays written for required graduate school classes indicate a spiritual shift, of sorts that predated his official religious conversion. In one in particular, per a former classmate, Hudson portrayed "a sort of fascist/conservative-'lite'" as the only means by which to "preserve the gains of the Enlightenment".

The legislative battles of Mattingly's years in the governorship represented, if nothing else, a communitarian turn for both Mattingly and Hudson as they (Hudson by then serving as Chief of Staff) maneuvered around certain "business Republican" factions to implement an agenda that some members of the legislature decried as "big government conservatism". This involved rather odd stances by the Governor and his acolytes on a number of issues ranging from criminal justice to the funding of an array of "liberal" programs.

All of this is to say that Hudson, who is Mattingly's primary ideological guide, did not turn to the left so much as he, in his head, redefined the right. Transitioning from a boiler-plate conservative Republican to a reactionary ideological enigma, expect, should it happen, that a Mattingly presidency would jettison many of the laissez-faire assumptions of past Republican administrations. "To be conservative is to desire stability," Hudson wrote most recently in an op-ed for the Federalist Society. "The enactment of destabilizing, and in fact radical and liberalizing policies, including mass privatization, has shown a tremendous tendency to disrupt society. These effects may be viewed in as wide an array of examples as to include the streets of Detroit, Michigan and Moscow, Russia. This leads to alcoholism, single parenthood, and, yes, a reduction in spiritual strength. For an ideology that once cried 'America First!' it is a shameful thing to see that its key legislative and political leaders cheer on the hastening of America's demise." This is not a conservatism that begs to lower taxes or discusses the merits of free enterprise, but rather one that worships militarism, the state, and above all, backwardness. On the one hand, this means a Republican Party that may consider the solving of social problems to actually be a priority; on the other, this means a Republican Party that disregards such bourgeois attachments as basic rights.
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« Reply #281 on: May 20, 2017, 05:07:05 pm »

The 2000 Presidential Election

The race between governors Romney and Mattingly for the White House took place amidst turmoil in both major parties, as old school stalwarts bemoaned the "corporatist" and "populist" directions of the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively. Scott Westman's fiery campaign trail tirades for third party candidate Lenora Fulani were aimed primarily at the Democratic nominee. With help from other non-doctrinaire leftists--including consumer advocate Ralph Nader and former Tsongas administration official Jerry Brown--Westman worked hard to raise concerns about "the country's decline into soulless neoliberalism." Similar discontent was met on the Republican bench as a number of former officeholders from the GOP's liberal ranks denounced their nominee. While there were a select few who overtly endorsed the Democratic nominee to protest Mattingly's "big government 'conservatism'", only one current officeholder--the primaried Lincoln Chafee--outright endorsed Romney, though others flirted with supporting Libertarian nominee and former Republican Areus Ho'kee. Nevertheless, for many on the right, the Mattingly nomination represented a homecoming, as he received the enthusiastic endorsement of former third party candidate and Republican primary contender Pat Buchanan.

While many pundits had expected the technocratic, educated, and well-bred Romney to dominate in the two presidential debates, the Massachusetts Governor managed to defy his lowest expectations. Mattingly's debate style, honed from years of verbally humiliating his peers in displays of masculinist dominance, was particularly harsh. Meanwhile, the Michiganian's more down-to-earth speaking style was able to win over viewers. In the second debate, both candidates were offered the opportunity to outline what they thought their potential cabinets might be. For Romney, "while he may be young, this is a man I have had the pleasure of working with before. Jon Huntsman, our current Ambassador to China, I think could perhaps work wonders as Secretary of State. For Secretary of Defense, I would be more than happy to see Secretary Powell stay on." Mattingly seemed to focus on domestic priorities; "Senator John Heinz has been a voice in the Senate on the protection of American industry that I have admired since the 1980's. Terry Branstad, a good friend of mine from our days as Governors, worked wonders in Iowa and I would love to see him head up agricultural policy." Mattingly mentioned John McCain and Tom Ridge as possible picks for Secretary of Defense, but preferred to stay mum on articulating an international vision.

Perhaps the greatest contrast between the two candidates was their background, as both had grown up in Michigan along Woodward Avenue, but in distinctly different neighborhoods miles away from each other. Mattingly used his blue collar upbringing to his advantage, casting the Grand Old Party as the party of labor. It was Romney's own allegedly clean business background that helped to hurt him in the battle for hearts and minds, as Mattingly's team had managed to obtain under-appreciated opposition research from Romney's primary rivals. Heart-breaking campaign advertisements detailing Romney's dealings with Bain--in particular, the shutting down of Rust Belt and Mid-Western factory towns for the sake of "efficiency" and "corporate turnaround"--helped to stunt the Bay Stater's attempts to shore up crucial "heartland" voters.

Despite a public narrative of major unrest, for the most part, both campaigns succeeded in keeping their bases together. Very few peace activists were in the streets to demonstrate in favor of Mattingly, and Romney's attempts to appeal to the evangelical community--pointing to his own clean lifestyle--fell flat owing to his liberal record. In the single Vice Presidential debate, Kasich's low voice and disjointed speaking style failed to hamper his efforts to verbally bludgeon the freshman Senator John Edwards. Some pointed to the 1960 Nixon-Kennedy debates, as Edwards came off very well on television, while transcripts revealed a less-than-substantive argument by the North Carolinian.

While both campaigns waged a spirited battle for the United States Presidency, pre-election polling consistently pointed in one direction. Owing to Hart's apparent aptitude for scandal, recent terrorist attacks, and the appearance that eight years of Democratic policies had undermined the working class  and that their current nominee was no panacea in this regard, Romney lagged behind in the polls consistently. In October, when audio recordings of Romney, during the primaries, insulting the destitute position of Westman voters leaked, it appeared the Democrat's fate was sealed.


Former Governor Christian Rocco Mattingly (Republican-Michigan)/Representative John Richard Kasich (Republican-Ohio) 337 electoral votes, 52.1% of the popular vote
Governor Willard Milton "Mitt" Romney (Democrat-Massachusetts)/Senator Johnny Reid "John" Edwards (Democrat-North Carolina) 201 electoral votes, 45.9% of the popular vote
Ms. Lenora Fulani (Peace & Freedom-New York)/various 0 electoral votes, 1.1% of the popular vote
Former State Senator Areus Ho'kee (Libertarian-Nevada)/Former Mayor Arthur C. "Art"
 Olivier (Libertarian-California) 0 electoral votes, .6% of the popular vote

Others: 0 electoral votes, .3% of the popular vote

The election results, which had fully crystallized the morning after the election, were a reckoning for the Democrats. The formerly solid South and much of the Upper Midwest had fallen to the Republicans. West Virginia was perhaps the most surprising loss of the night, a state the Democrats had lost only once since the 1930's. The Mattingly victory had, with two exceptions, banished the Democrats to the Pacific Coast and the Northeast. Even in Romney's own home region, only Connecticut and Massachusetts voted majority Democratic. Nevertheless, there were some strange positive takeaways. Perhaps the greatest region of (relative) Democratic resilience had not been the Northeast, but rather in the West. 2000 marked the first time the Democrats had won a majority in California since 1976, and Mattingly had been denied majorities in the traditionally Republican states of Colorado, Arizona, and Nevada. The deep blue Utah voted for the Michigan Governor with only 57% of the vote, with Idaho acting in a similar fashion. This could be attributed to not only Romney's Mormon heritage and deep ties to the region, but as well his generally "friendlier" campaign. Meanwhile, along the Mexican border, the growing power of (largely Democratic) Hispanic voters was being felt.
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« Reply #282 on: December 23, 2017, 11:01:15 am »

Party Like it's 1959 Pt. I

Entering office with a Republican-controlled Senate and House of Representatives, Mattingly was in the strongest position of any Republican President since Eisenhower, and in the politically friendliest climate of any Republican President since Hoover before the Crash. With a firm grasp of history, Mattingly was determined not to waste this opportunity, nor to let circumstances get the better of him. Before the electors had even convened to certify his election, Mattingly’s team was working to secure the President-elect’s power in the halls of Congress.


The first shot fired came in a vote for Speaker in January, 2001, before the inauguration. Newt Gingrich, who had served as Speaker since Republicans took the House in 1998, had made his name and his popularity on bombastic and public battles with President Hart, using as his base a self-proclaimed conservative coalition that would accept only particularly humiliating compromise. This had harmed both Hart and Gingrich politically at various points, but had been overshadowed by the presidential election. Mattingly had no taste for Gingrich, and revelations as to personal misconduct and adultery provided a key opportunity. On January 3rd, 2001, House Majority Leader John Boehner led an uprising that unseated Gingrich from the speakership and put the Ohioan in charge. Boehner, who had walked the line between conservative reformer and dealmaker, was a   quick riser and personal friend of Mattingly’s who valued accomplishment and results over the histrionic style of leadership his predecessor had adopted.

Secretary of State: James Lane Buckley (Republican-New York)
Secretary of the Treasury: Henry John Heinz, III (Republican-Pennsylvania)
Secretary of Defense: Thomas Joseph Ridge (Republican-Pennsylvania)
Attorney General: William Floyd Weld (Republican-Massachusetts)
Secretary of the Interior: Walter Joseph Hickel (Republican-Alaska)
Secretary of Agriculture: Sheila Frahm (Republican-Kansas)
Secretary of Commerce: Henry Ross Perot, Jr. (Republican-Texas)
Secretary of Labor: Timothy Penny (Republican-Minnesota)
Secretary of Health, Education, & Welfare: Nancy Putnam Hollister (Republican-Ohio)
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: Isaiah McKinnon (Democrat-Michigan)
Secretary of Transportation: Richard Ravitch (Democrat-New York)
Secretary of Environment & Energy: Theodore Roosevelt IV (Republican-New York)
Secretary of Homeland Security: Peter Barton Wilson (Republican-California)

White House Chief of Staff: Richard Hudson (Republican-Michigan)
United States Trade Representative: Peter Hoekstra (Republican-Michigan)
Special Adviser to the President: John Robert Silber (Republican-Massachusetts)


While there was some speculation that Mattingly might appoint either Liddy Dole or David MacKenzie to an important spot in the cabinet, the President-Elect had no intention of doing so. In fact, observers in general were surprised at the heterodox cabinet Mattingly assembled. Having generally survived in Michigan on a personal coalition rather than on a strict set of political alliances, few Michigan Republicans found their way into the administration, and the most prominent appointment from his homestate was a Democrat.

James Buckley, the Cold War relic and former Conservative Senator from New York, was chosen for Secretary of State. In many ways, it was meant as a purposeful nod to old-hand conservatives from the 1970’s and 1980’s, providing a sense of continuity with previous Republican administrations. Alternatively, in a nod to liberal Republicans, former Senator John Heinz was called upon to run the Treasury Department. While some cried that the heir to a ketchup fortune would of course be a high-ranking Republican cabinet secretary, it was Heinz’ credentials as a legislator, and in particular his attention to industrial issues, that earned him the position. The Pentagon went to Mattingly’s fellow Rust Belt Governor, Vietnam veteran Tom Ridge. William Weld, another moderate, was selected as Attorney General. Weld had made his name prosecuting white collar crime in the 1980’s, and it was owing to this, and not Weld’s failed career as a Massachusetts politico, that he was chosen. All in all, three out of four of the top cabinet spots were given to recognized “moderates”, but, as Mattingly wryly noted, they weren’t being chosen for their legislative records on abortion.

Pete Wilson, the 1996 Republican nominee, was offered an olive branch in the form of running the Department of Homeland Security. While it had seemed likely that Secretary Ravitch would maintain the position, he was granted the position of Transportation Secretary. While Mattingly had not much cared for Wilson’s campaign four years earlier, the former California Governor was tough on immigration—an area the Hart administration had been lax on.

On environmental issues, Mattingly revealed his general indecision, appointing Walter Hickel—a proponent of opening up federal lands for oil—as Interior Secretary, while appointing liberal Republican and environmentalist Theodore Roosevelt IV as Secretary for Environment and Energy. Contemporaries would attempt to explain this as the President-elect’s desire to balance short-term and long-term needs, but it betrayed a fundamental conflict of values; Mattingly deeply desired to establish an indigenous source for fuel rather than rely on Middle-Eastern dictators, while at the same time deploring environmental destruction and hoping to use concerns over the global climate as a way to restrain America’s competitors. It was also possible that the scion of the Roosevelt family had been selected owing to Mattingly’s admiration of his namesake.

Beyond merely securing a Speaker of the House that was far easier to work with and less personally ambitious, Mattingly took little personal issue with manufacturing unlikely majorities as he had as Governor of Michigan. A major impediment to this was dealing with a far more disciplined Democratic leadership than had existed in Lansing. Nevertheless, the Congressional losses the Democrats had endured consistently since 1994 left many members of the caucus willing to make deals where they hadn’t ten years before. The partisanship that had hampered Holton would not prove as great a problem for Mattingly, nor would distrust by movement conservatives.
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« Reply #283 on: December 23, 2017, 11:11:53 am »

Party Like it's 1959, Pt. II

In an early attempt to appease the base and fulfill campaign promises, the American Reinvestment Act was passed on a nearly party-line vote. Cuts to income taxes for nearly all brackets and corporate taxes were to be balanced by increases in tariffs and a “progressivizing” of the inheritance tax, with particular penalties for entities that held high amounts of liquidity. Increased spending was, in turn, focused primarily on infrastructure and industrial subsidies. In a primarily executive decision, the Justice Department was ordered to mobilize against the offshoring of capital. These were the first shots fired in the administration’s project to repatriate the economy. “The world’s sole superpower will not be held hostage by multinational corporations or foreign governments.”

Economic nationalism, which many governments in Western Europe were aghast at, would not serve to alienate all of the United States’ international partners. In reassessing the situation in the Middle East, Mattingly made an unexpected move and opened the door to multilateralism. In September of 2001, after months spent in preparation, he visited Moscow to meet with Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin. Publicly asserting that “The Cold War is over,” Mattingly wanted to look at the opportunity for “Great Power cooperation” in the Middle East. “If you look at every country in Europe and North America right now,” he had stated in a 1999 interview, “the only country that has had to deal with Islamic terrorism to the extent that we have, and in fact had faced it far worse than us, is the Russian Federation. They are well situated from an offensive standpoint to assist in any operations in the Middle East, but are simultaneously vulnerable; Islamic separatists have struck at their underbelly multiple times in recent years. As such, they represent both a very valuable partner and someone who realizes what we are up against.” The intelligence dossiers Mattingly had been given on Putin indicated he was a man of at least a professional’s level of foresight; as head of the Federal Security Service, Putin had anticipated the growing fields of non-state terrorism and computer crime in a way few of his colleagues in Russia had.

Nevertheless, Mattingly was not entirely sold on the former KGB agent in Moscow. He deeply suspected that Russia would always be Russia, in some form or another. Moreover, his first time holding a position truly relevant to international relations, and the flood of information he now received, nearly overwhelmed him with the widespread cooperation with dictators and despots, the world over. While he had always enjoyed the film Lawrence of Arabia, he was more than a bit confused as to why the House of Saud constituted an ally, while some random clerics in Tehran were, by default, the enemy. In order to try to curb recent involvement with dictatorships, the administration’s refrain of “patriation” would have to do—whether it was rerouting oil purchases to Alaska, or rerouting production from China to the Rust Belt. In the meantime, the central goal was to win in Iraq, and to get out. A major concession to Russia was the granting of ten percent of oil revenues as compensation for property that had been lost after the invasion of 1991, including many Russian stakes in Iraqi oil fields. In return, Russia was called upon to donate not only whatever available translators there were that understood both Arabic and English, but as well to provide whatever available assistance there was for language instruction. Meanwhile, a major area of non-military focus in Iraq was the expensive maintenance of national infrastructure, primarily utilities, hospitals, and schools.

Mattingly, in all, despised the dilemma of Iraq; he had been opposed to the invasion in 1991 and saw it as an unsolvable quandary: the options were primarily surrender and withdrawal, which projected weakness and cleared the way for any new would-be strongmen in the region; or facing the possibility of staying there until every last adversary had been shot. “I’ve been in Vietnam. Fighting a war of insurgency is futile in nine out of ten circumstances.” Drawing from the history of Western engagements with insurgencies, some moderates in the Mattingly administration produced a plan to increase foreign aid to Iraq for social welfare programs while slowly clearing city blocks in major urban areas. “It is a long-term, and expensive, plan, but we came into this situation having already been tasked with nation-building. We can either do it right, or we can leave.” Over time, it was proposed, access to social services combined with relatively safe cities could stabilize the major population centers and draw the disaffected away from the battlefield and towards membership in society. The idea was based on the historical importance of social and material ties to mainstream society in prior anti-insurgency campaigns. Examples included the British fight for Malaya in the 1940's and more recent guerrilla wars in Latin America. Uneasy over the plan, but feeling little other choice, Mattingly came out in support of it, and it was backed in the Senate by John McCain, who would become one of the President’s cheerleaders on foreign policy.

On environmental policy, Mattingly began to use the term “international concomitance”. A phrase coined by his aloof, academic chief of staff, it referred to the need for an transnational solution to environmental issues. “We cannot in good conscience surrender our economic independence for the sake of lofty environmental goals while at the same time incentivizing China and other developing economies to produce even more pollution.” More simply stated, “If we in Europe and North America are the only ones to act on environmental issues, this will encourage more dirty manufacturing elsewhere.” It soon became clear to those watching the administration that economic nationalism would not be betrayed to the altar of environmentalism. What was surprising was that the administration admitted the dilemma at all—it was to be a major wedge in the administration’s plan to bring back manufacturing to the States. In the interests of this, the Mattingly administration repealed a number of “smaller” environmental regulations put in place by the Hart administration while at the same time sending delegates to China, Japan, Europe, India, and Russia to consult on an international environmental treaty. The first real fruits of this would be borne in 2003. The first major impact of this, domestically, was the opening of federal lands to “limited” use by fuel extraction companies. While the administration did concede to some Democrats the funding of research for alternative energy, Mattingly drew a hard line on subsidies for biofuel, believing that it would inflate the cost of food.

Campaign finance issues had become a prominent issue by the 2000’s, as attempts to introduce public financing of campaigns entirely withered and more public figures voiced concern over the influence of money in campaigning and legislating. Mattingly, a self-financer of his early campaigns, despised lobbyists and “bribery”. In early 2002, Senator John McCain introduced campaign finance reform, with the prompting of the White House. The bill, however, was in many ways designed to fail. For one, it curtailed the power of unions, especially public-sector unions, in either funding candidates or running independent ad campaigns. Similar restrictions pertained to not only “special interest groups”, but to advocacy organizations, limiting contribution sizes. After months of debate and attempted amendments, the bill failed right before Congress’ summer recess, giving Republicans ample time to claim that the Democrats had torpedoed “comprehensive campaign finance reform.”
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« Reply #284 on: December 23, 2017, 11:13:59 am »

Immigration was another area the administration was keen to tackle. Collaborating again with McCain, other border state Republicans, and a small caucus of security-conscious Democrats, the Immigration and National Security Act was introduced in 2002. A clear nod to the administration’s belief in integration, it provided grants to Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, California, and any state meeting a certain quota of recent immigrants or non-English speakers to fund English education. “If there is anything that the turmoil in former Yugoslavia, and other areas where ethnic tensions are coming to a head, has taught us, it is that we must be one people, with one tongue, and with a general set of values.” At the same time, security was to be increased along the United States’ southern border and funding was to be withdrawn form sanctuary cities.

The body of the legislation, however, was to be devoted to the conditional pardoning of millions of illegal immigrants providing that they met certain conditions: a clean legal record, ability to pass a citizenship test and an English test, and the enrollment of their children—should they have any—in English education. As opposed to simply sending criminal non-citizens back across the border, sans any intervention from the Mexican government, criminal non-citizens were to be prosecuted.

The bill was controversial, to say the least, but the President wasn’t averse to controversy, so long as it got the job done. Immediately, legislators of all colors were up in arms, whether it was to complain about pardoning illegal immigrants, the defunding of sanctuary cities, or greater border security. Reacting to criticism, the President defended the bill, which, though not of his authoring, had received a lot of input from Pennsylvania Avenue. “We have no desire to break up families, disrupt businesses, and stand in the way of integration into the American way of life. But we are faced by a crisis of little precedence in this country, as we face a growing population of non-citizens. We are attempting to stop the problem now, so that it will not require further, more drastic action in the future.” Two foiled terrorist incidents in spring of 2002 gave the bill the momentum it needed. Following revisions—including the slashing of the sanctuary cities section—and many long nights spent in meetings between Republicans, Democrats, and “Mattingly’s team”, the bill passed on narrow majorities in both houses and the President signed it.

With the mid-term elections approaching, Mattingly believed that his administration had set things on the right track. A new plan had been laid out for Iraq. The Taliban government in Afghanistan was surrounded and weakening. Relations with Russia were improving as the two hoped to collaborate on the future of the Middle East. At home, major legislation had passed. This included an attempt at comprehensive immigration reform and the administration’s major push on the economic front. Price increases caused by the return of some manufacturing to America seemed to be offset by decreases in fuel and food prices. Nevertheless, the deficit was growing and campaign finance reform had failed. The latter, albeit, was partially planned by the administration as a move to weaken and blame the Democrats. Hopefully, the public took this well as they once again went to the polls.
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« Reply #285 on: March 31, 2018, 10:40:47 am »

Party Like it's 1989

As 2002 drew to a close, things were not entirely rosy for the administration. Attempts to build an "American Autarky" were complicated by the newly globalizing economy. Nevertheless, the President would reflect that it was better such trends be nipped in the bud now than had such attempts to "rescue" American manufacturing waited another ten or twenty years. The American Reinvestment Act had spurred concern the world over as Europe and China looked at their options for retaliatory tariffs. Nevertheless, American economic reliance on trade with China was not at that point so acute that it arrested economic growth. Nevertheless, the restrictions placed on steel important were of grave concern for domestic manufacturers. Concurrent iron extraction and steel production subsidies--targeting such states as Pennsylvania and Minnesota--while not perfect, and definitely worrisome for deficit hawks, nevertheless helped the market maintain general stability as buyers of all sorts turned inward. Meanwhile, Europe found they had little to fear thanks to particular "allies exemptions" that were passed following international hysteria over the ARA. The subsiding of trade war fears occurred as the mid-terms approached. Nevertheless, America's relationship with Latin America, which collectively formed a large agricultural producer and growing industrial power, was perhaps at its post-Cold War low.

2002 United States Senate Elections

The results of the mid-terms were generally an affirmation of the status quo. Despite vicious attack ads used by both major parties, the winners of 1996 remained strong incumbents. Some of the most notable races were those where incumbent survived challengers, or where replacements were elected for outgoing Senators of the same party. With only three party-changes, it was noted that "all in all, despite a meager Republican gain, the caucus has moved on the average slightly to the left, given the addition of two new moderates. Meanwhile, the Democrats appear in a state of schizophrenia as they add a moderate to their South while a seat in the plains has lurched violently to the radical fringe."




Notable Races
Arkansas: Attorney General Mark Pryor beat one-term Republican Tim Hutchinson.
Georgia: Incumbent Democrat Saxby Chambliss won re-election with 55% of the vote.
Illinois: One-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives Barack Obama was elected to replace the retiring Senator Paul Simon following a vicious primary battle.
Louisiana: Moderate Senator Mary Landrieu won comfortable re-election.
Maine: Susan Collins, the nominee from six years ago, staged a comeback as she was elected against her 1996 opponent Joseph Brennan.
Michigan: A heartbreaker for the President, incumbent Democrat Jim Blanchard won re-election with nearly sixty percent of the vote against insurgent candidate Andrew "Rocky" Raczkowski.
Minnesota: In an upset, ex-Democrat Norm Coleman beat Paul Wellstone in a race that involved millions of dollars flooding in from out-of-state donors.
Missouri: In a special election, Jean Carnahan was elected to replace her late husband against Republican Roy Blunt.
Montana: Former Senator Scott Westman successfully primaried incumbent Senator Max Bauccus and went on to win a very close general election. It was the most watched race in the country.
New Hampshire: Senator Bob Smith, an ally of the President, survived a primary challenge from the state party's moderates and went on to win narrow re-election.
North Carolina: Senator and former First Lady Elizabeth "Liddy" Dole cruised to re-election. Despite losing the presidential primaries four years earlier, she remained popular in her home state.
Oregon: Senator Ron Wyden, first elected in 1996 to succeed Mark Hatfield (after losing a special election to succeed the disgraced Bob Packwood earlier that year), won an easy re-election.


The last statewide race Scott Westman had run in was ten years ago, losing the 1992 Montana Democratic Primary for Governor. Nevertheless, times had assuredly changed. Since then, the Democratic Party appeared to have pivoted westward. In doing so, they had not only brought in some former Republicans, but had also paradoxically enlarged the region's small liberal and progressive population. The 2000 primaries had shown that, at least among those Democrats willing to show up to the polls, the more progressive candidate succeeded. This was a far cry from even the 1980's where the neoliberal campaigns of Gary Hart had swept the West. The Democrats were finding their plebeian roots in the American West, it seemed. This set the stage for the state's historic rivals: the establishmentarian Max Baucus, and the the idiosyncratic, heterodox, and anti-establishment Scott Westman. the two had first locked horns in 1974, when Westman beat Baucus in a House primary. Since then, they had served alongside each other in the Senate for over a decade. Baucus' tenure had been conservative, by Democratic standards, going so far as to favor an amendment to ban the burning of the United States flag. He had supported the foreign policies of most Presidents. Westman, despite having changed ideologies like one changes hats over the years, retained a loyal following among the state's "fringe" elements. Since returning to politics in 2000, he had been building a new coalition, one which he employed to full effect in running against Baucus in what should have been a non-event primary in 2002. During the race, it was well known that Westman would likely run as an independent should he fail to secure support of the party. Nevertheless, he needn't have worried about that. Despite millions of dollars pouring in from the state's major centers of capital, and from out-of-state Democratic and corporate donors, the "Montana Marxist" triumphed, winning with just over 51% of voters. The Republicans, expecting a non-race, had put up no worthy candidate; it was owing to this, many analysts speculated, that Westman proceeded to trounce his opponent in the general--despite disavowals from several major party figures. Scott Westman, who had lost a primary in 1992 running on a "Green Montana", had brought revolution to the state.

Overseas during the coming years, a different kind of revolution was occurring. Despite a one-man, one-state victory for socialism in America, the globe's former bastion of communism was shrugging off its chains. The "Rose Revolution" of 2003 saw the election of Mikhail Saakashvili in the nation of Georgia. An American-educated lawyer in his thirties, he promised modernization and a reorientation of the country toward the West. Mattingly delighted in the event, congratulating Saakashvili and prompting his administration's turn toward Eastern Europe and the post-Soviet periphery. "Let it be known that, if the twentieth century was marked by a regrettable accumulation of Marxist revolutions, the the twenty-first will be seen as an era of democratic revolution." Events in the East inspired a wide range of policy augmentations designed to produce "a million Rose Revolutions". The bulwark of this program was to be found in America's reserves of coal, petroleum, and natural gas. Even as environmentalists pushed to phase out the use of such dirty fuels as coal, the administration found a workaround for its supporters in Appalachia: selling the fuel overseas where it still constituted an acceptable form of heat and power. Already hoping to turn American into an extraction powerhouse for its own purposes, the Mattingly administration now saw the chances of turning its natural resources into a strategic tool. Reflecting later, Mattingly would say "When we declared that the Cold War was over, we meant just that- that parts of Eastern Europe and Asia formerly closed to democracy, commerce, and self-determination now had a chance to embrace the West--in many ways, to re-embrace their destiny as Western countries, a destiny stunted by Soviet communism. When people complained later that we were restarting the Cold War, I thought that was ridiculous. If hostilities were supposed to have ceased between American and Russia, how could could Russia be threatened by democracy?" Nevertheless, this strategic shift from one of careful alliance with Russia to--intentionally or not--undermining pro-Russian dictatorships in former Soviet Republics irked the Federation, and a series of officially benign, but collectively threatening maneuvers were traded between the two countries in the months to come.

Subsequent retellings of international involvement in Georgia would point to a pattern of Western involvement, though primarily routed through NGO's. The record would also show that the first changes in American "fuel policy" had taken place prior to the Revolution as well. Even though Georgia was primarily supplied by Azerbaijan, the Mattingly Administration had become friendly with the Aliyevs by 2003, and many conspiracy theorists painted a tale of Central Intelligence Agency involvement with Georgian opposition going back to at least the beginning of 2003. Washington DC never confirmed this, though the President did on more than one occasion "affirm America's commitment to democracy abroad". Protests over a breakaway region in Georgia in early 2004 led to the dispatch of both NATO and Russian "peacekeeping" soldiers in the country in an encounter that was shaped far more by international press coverage than by troop movements. Nevertheless, the narrative had been shaped in many countries, Western and Russophile alike, of a near-miss military showdown between the old rivals that was seen by many analysts as merely one maneuver in a growing "second Cold War". The situation had domestic political ramifications in the United States and other Western countries. The nominally Russophillic leaders of France and Germany strengthened their own hand even as "pro-Georgia" governments in the UK and elsewhere attempted to strengthen theirs. 

Foreign policy aside, domestically, things turned sour for the administration in 2003. In what was to be a minor agricultural bill, and an attempt to offset worries about a growing deficit, a heterodox group of legislators with administration backing introduced a bill to slash farm subsidies. The primary targets were supposed to be ethanol manufacturing and "agribusiness" firms. As attention to the bill increased, McCain and his backers framed the legislation as (1) an attempt to save federal money; (2) a means of slashing food prices in the face of a continued undercurrent of speculation over rising manufacturing prices; (3) a leg-up for family farms that were disadvantaged by competition with large firms; (4) an assault on a growing epidemic of obesity; and (5) an assault on corporate welfare. Nevertheless, administration opponents took the chance at victory and ran. The bill was instead framed as an assault on farmers, "the backbone of America". A mid-90's plan advanced by the Pete Wilson campaign had received a similar reception. The fact that attempts to battle obesity and attempts to lower food prices appeared to be two contradictory possible effects of the legislation did not go unnoticed either. This was in part a response to the divergent nature of some agriculture subsidies: in one case, a firm might be incentivized to restrict production to buoy prices, in another, a firm might be paid to produce in order to lower consumer costs. A push by the Hart administration to fund ethanol production to battle fossil fuels had further complicated federal disbursement. While Mattingly and Republicans had done very well in the rural Mid-West in 2000 and 2002, and his extraction policies were popular there, GOP approval began to sink as protests mounted in state capitals and DC. The bill eventually failed in yet another setback for the President's agenda, and not at the loss of insignificant political capital.
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« Reply #286 on: April 26, 2018, 09:26:14 pm »

I'm not sure it would have been much of an upset for Coleman to beat Wellstone IRL.
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« Reply #287 on: August 14, 2019, 09:28:16 pm »

May update this soon.
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