Traditionally, "history is written by the victors," wrote Winston Churchill. History is presumed to be written by the winners, the conquerors, the dominant factions. Not, for example, indigenous peoples, women, slaves, refugees from the conquerors. But modern historians who aren't propagandists try to employ studied empathy for all sides, including, for example, the Germans in … Continue reading What If History Is Not Written By the Winners?
Henry Wallace, "the almost president," was Franklin Roosevelt's Vice Presidential pick from 1940 to 1944, serving in office from the inauguration in March 1941 to March 1945. FDR died in April 1945, so he missed becoming president at least briefly by one month. Or if Wallace was renominated for veep at the 1944 Democratic convention … Continue reading President Henry Wallace in 1945? It Almost Happened
Democrat Woodrow Wilson almost never became president. He only won the election of 1912 because the Republicans split between Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. And as an incumbent in 1916, he almost lost. In 1916, Wilson won with 49 percent of the vote against Charles Evans Hughes, who garnered 46%, while progressives and socialists took 4.3%. If Wilson … Continue reading Woodrow Wilson Was Lucky in 1912 and 1916. Might TR Have Prevented Protracted WWI, WWII, and the Holocaust?
We can only begin to identify "slender threads," turning points or fateful decisions of the Obama presidency because we are not yet privy to behind-the-scenes thinking and internal debates. But at least the short-term consequences of some policies are clear, as Paul Krugman pointed out in an early January 2016 column titled "Elections Have Consequences." Obama's victory … Continue reading If Romney Won in 2012…
Alternate Presidents, published in 1992, an anthology, offers some intriguing possibilities. One challenge for students of history would be to read a chapter and explain why the scenario could not happen. That would require detailed knowledge of real history. The anthology is described by most critics as "hit or miss," some intriguing and plausible, some … Continue reading ‘Alternate Presidents’ Provide Interesting Challenge for Students of History Or Political Science
The death at age 82 of three-term New York Governor Mario Cuomo has pundits speculating on whether he could have risen to the presidency if he had not been deterred by indecision -- he got labeled "Hamlet on the Hudson" -- and the harsh and humiliating atmosphere of campaigning. Cuomo was contemptuous of the moderate … Continue reading Could Mario Cuomo Have Beaten George H.W. Bush in 1988 or Bill Clinton in 1992?
The decision of Democratic presidential frontrunner Gary Hart in 1987 to pose for a provocative picture with a beautiful model and to impulsively board a boat called the "Monkey Business" may well have altered American history if not world history. In a 2014 book, "All the Truth is Out There: The Week Politics Went Tabloid," … Continue reading How Political Journalism Went Tabloid and Destroyed Talented Politicians
During the crucial year 1944, in World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt was in declining health. Turning 62 in January of that year, he became noticeably fatigued, and in March went to Bethesda Hospital for tests and was found to have high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, and congestive heart failure. His physicians and … Continue reading Socialist Henry Wallace Almost Became President in 1944 or ’45
Only once during the 20th century did a single political party hold the White House for more than 12 years.* Franklin Roosevelt broke with tradition and ran for an unprecedented third term in 1940, despite political buttons declaring that "two terms is enough for any man," implying that FDR or his supporters considered himself a deity, … Continue reading What If…FDR Was Limited to Two Terms?
White House correspondent Paul Brandus, writing for The Week magazine, speculates how life might be different, and the same, if John McCain had won the 2008 election: "For Republicans who say Obama has been a disaster for America, who swear that things would be a whole lot better if only John McCain and Sarah Palin … Continue reading What If John McCain Won the 2008 Election?