Thursday, January 18, 2007

What If...

One of my favorite memes in science fiction is "Alternate History" where the author changes one event and speculates on what that means for the (current) future.

What if Nixon had taken the advice of his political advisors in 1960 and challenged the results of the election? There was strong evidence of widespread fraud, especially in Chicago (apparently the dead rose to vote for Kennedy) that could have changed the results. In our timeline, Nixon decided that a challenge would be too divisive and damaging for the country, so he simply conceded the election to Kennedy.

What if the fraud was proven and Nixon declared the winner?

*JFK would not have been assassinated. LBJ would not become President. There would have been no "Great Society" program, at least not in the form it took under LBJ.

*RFK would not have been Attorney General. Would he have still gone on to become the Senator from New York? Would he have run for President himself? Would he have been assassinated?

*Would Ted Kennedy be the Senator from Massachusetts? Would his behavior have received the pass it has if his brothers had not been assassinated? Would Mary Jo Kopechne still be alive?

*Would Nixon have gotten the U.S. involved in Vietnam?

*Would the U.S. have supplied the military support to the Cubans fighting against Castro at the Bay of Pigs? Would Cuba have been overthrown? Or would Krushchev have rushed military aid to Castro to prevent regime change, including the use of nuclear weapons?

*Would there have been a Space Program? Several items that we use every day and take for granted (velcro, for example) were developed for the Space Program and later put to commercial use.

*What about the Civil Rights Movement?

*There would not have been a Watergate. There may have been a different scandal, because Nixon was paranoid, but the Watergate Hotel had not been built yet. So instead of every scandal ending in "-gate," it would end in something else.

Comments and speculations are welcome. Have some fun with this!