how do the democrats and republicans just come up again at the endExactly. In the latter case I even had to completely throw out a whole section of continuity because I accidentally wrote two different multi-post lead-ups to that joke and duplicated a character bio.
Nah, never your fault if you don't know an obscure running gag!
I kept it deliberately vague, but it's playing on ideas others have previously posted about the Republican/Progressive split coupled to the OTL Republican dominance of the 1920s reducing the Democrats to virtually a southern-interests party only, and then a Huey Long Depression dictatorship discredits even that while empowering the Socialists as a third force. (I was thinking of how the Communists in France benefited from being seen to be a major force of opposition to Vichy/the Occupation). Then the scandal in the 1970s happens because, after one Socialist victory, it turns out the Republicans and Progressives had been conspiring to force every election to the House and vote for each others' candidate in turn (hence the Turno Pacifico comparison to 19th century Spain) in order to deny the Socialists another victory. This predictably ruins both of the right-wing parties and leads to a period of Socialist dominance. (I went for a bit of irony where Nixon is the idealistic outsider who almost manages to keep his party viable in the wake of a 1970s scandal that robs the public of confidence in politicians...) The other bit of irony, inspired by real events in places like Maine and Australia, is that as soon as they implement a French two-round system, the country turns into a two-party setup so it never actually needs the second round anyway. As of the end of the century, the US has an economic consensus that lies to the left of OTL's, in part because the former Progressive strand of thought has tended to dominate over the Republican one in the New Conservative party, and the Socialists are a credible party of government. However, the states are also more powerful relative to the federal government due to lingering suspicion after the Long dictatorship's centralisation of power.
or is that the joke