That's probably the most personality-driven post in here. Could be a short story in its own right.
1989-1993: Andrew Harris/Richard DuPont (Democratic) †
def. 1988: William Taft/Graham Bilk (Republican)
def. 1992: Rufus H. Law/Patricia Clark (Republican)
1993-1993: Richard DuPont/vacant (Democratic)
1993-1993: Richard DuPont/Curtis Johnson (Democratic) †
Richard DuPont always wanted to be a somebody. Born in America’s first state on the banks of the namesake, he found little dignity growing up in the crushing poverty of the Great Depression. Despite his name, his family had no money to speak of; his father was a day labourer paving highways and building parks. His mother worked mixing chemicals at the company that bore his family name. By the time he was fifteen, both were dead. By the time he was twenty, he was an engineer fighting Chinese troops while the back foot in Korea. Returning home in 1953, DuPont entered mechanics, taking a job for Chrysler in Newark. He affiliated quickly with the United Auto Workers, and by 1958 he had become a Union Rep. His ambition was not limited to these mere flirtations with the trade unions, however. At the age of 30, he was mayor of Newark; at the end of his term, he entered the Delaware General Assembly.
This was not the House he had his ambitions limited to. A fiery orator and an effective campaigner, DuPont quickly took sight of Delaware’s At-Large seat. Harris McDowell’s defeat in the 1966 HoR election put an opening into the three-man Congressional delegation, one that DuPont was quick to fill; at the age of 37, he fought and William V Roth and took Delaware for the Democrats. Among the more liberal members of the House, DuPont was narrowly re-elected thrice, before finally being taken out by Republican Pete du Pont (no relation). This was no matter to DuPont; his time in the House left him hungry to rise higher. Entering an executive position at Chrysler, money quickly became no problem for DuPont. Noted for his expensive suits, sharp shoes, and slick hair, his transformation from a scruffy trade unionist fire-spitter to a slick CDM’er was itself a reflection of the transformation in Democratic Party, away from McGovern and towards Jimmy Carter. Winning the Democratic nod in 1976, DuPont took the Senate seat on the coattails of Carter’s landslide; he would remain there for the next 12 years.
DuPont’s time in the senate can broadly be summarised with his transformation from a CDM’er to an Atari Democrat, from a peacenik to a hawk. In 1988, he decided to forego election; instead he would run for President. The field was predictably crowded; Vice President Taft was largely seen as weak and ineffectual, despite running a bastard of a campaign for nomination. DuPont’s campaign was aggressive, well-funded, but incoherent. His liberal fire traded little currency after his 12 years as a moderate. Sharp shoes and well-cut cloth did little to impress Iowa or New Hampshire. Coming third, DuPont regretted surrendering his Senate seat. At 57, his career wasn’t over, but it was certain that it wouldn’t continue in Delaware. He quit the campaign shortly after crushingly disappointing returns in South Carolina. The young and handsome Andrew Harris romped his way across the country, and the middle-aged DuPont was left wondering why he didn’t run in ’84.
And then a call came. Harris offered DuPont position as running mate. With little to lose, DuPont accepted- and with it, he was brought into office with Harris on a landslide. His time in office was unhappy; the reelection was drag. Neither him nor Harris got on well. Chafing under the notion that he was just in the backseat, DuPont wanted to be the driver. Indeed, it is understood that he was prepping his own campaign for ’96 before ’92 ended. Harris’ sudden death of an embolism in 1993, shortly following inauguration took the nation by shock. DuPont wanted to be President, but not like this. Sworn in and given the keys to the kingdom, there was much DuPont did; and once his own Vice President was in place, he set out on a vast legislative plan, one to fight the poverty DuPont knew too well, to break up the monopolies he started his career rallying against, to bring in new labor laws and Medicare for all and a million other nice things that, even with a Democratic Congress, he’d have never accomplished a single thing, and his dreams of being the next FDR would have been foiled. Instead, he is remembered for these nice things.
And for making the decision to select a black man as his Vice President.
Richard DuPont was shot only once. The bullet split his heart in Reno; he was dead before he hit the ground. The crowd screamed; the gunman turned the pistol on himself. He had been angry that the President has picked a black man as Vice President; he was angry because his daddy taught him to be when they desegregated the schools. He had voted for DuPont; he even shook his hand when the former Vice President shook his hand and promised to bring the jobs back. And now they both lay dead on slabs, and Curtis Johnson was President.
1993-1994: Curtis Johnson/vacant (Democratic)
1994-1997: Curtis Johnson/Mitch O’Rourke (Democratic)
Selected to be Vice President shortly after President DuPont’s ascension as a way of, in DuPont’s own words, ‘satisfy the black vote’, the former Maryland Congressman makes history when his predecessor dies and he becomes America’s first black President, and the first to become President despite having never been voted for. Running an administration largely on the promise of not seeking re-election, Johnson pursues a moderate domestic policy, however has an ambitious foreign policy.
Curtis Johnson never wanted to be President. Even as a young boy, the idea repulsed him. As a young man, he derided fellow activists who dreamed of assuming the office. For him, the power of the Presidency was White Power; the White House was built by slaves for their Master; the brick and mortar that made Washington was soaked in black blood. As he grew older, taking part in the Civil Rights movement on the front lines, taking beatings by police while marching arm in arm with his community, Johnson's stance didn't soften, but he increasingly viewed the power of Washington as one that could be used against the white structure, and for the benefit of those who suffered beneath it. Elected to the 7th District of Maryland in 1976, for the next thirteen years Johnson became a strong voice in the black congressional caucus, although never stood out among his peers. He would in his later half of his career, serve on the Foreign Affairs Committee, although never Chaired.
Johnson was considered to be largely unremarkable. Next to others in the BCC, such as the firespeaker Malcom Woodrow of New York's 16th, and the parliamentarians such as Abe L. Smith of Mississippi's 2nd, he was hardly a stand our figure, to the point that the Maryland Congressman was intending to retire to the quiet life of academia in 1994. His unremarkably may have been why he became Vice President; when President Harris died and President DuPont was tasked with choosing the man to occupy second place, Johnson was top of the short list. After some debate with his friends, Johnson reluctently accepted. He felt it his duty to do so; he was no Sherman. The position was basically ceremonial, in Johnson’s mind, and there was no chance he'd end up in that palace of white supremacy. To be the first black Vice President presented a chance to provide a shining example of how far a black man in America could go; to show to the community Johnson had pounded pavement and been beaten with nightsticks during the Civil Rights era for what the fight was for. Resigning his beloved 7th District, Johnson took the oath and keys to Number One Observatory Circle. Preparing for the next four years, Johnson remarked that he had “time to think and time to reflect”. DuPont’s assassination mere months later cut that time short.
Thrust into a safe-room and sworn in while the Secret Service made sure another assassin wasn’t lurking in the shadows, the third President in a single year wasn’t feeling particularly secure. Curtis Johnson was the first Black President in US history. He was also the first to have been placed into office despite having never faced the electorate. Calming a nation shaken by two Presidential caskets in six months, Johnson should have been a unifying figure, but he was one who lacking in a certain presence. It was clear to everyone that he didn’t want to be President. From the way he walked, talked, stood, and sat, every inch of him screamed out in horror at becoming the owner of a House he so despised. His first television broadcast to the grief-stricken nation rang hollow as he struggled with his composure. Behind the scenes, he declared this to his wife, his children, his staff, and anyone who’d listen how much he hated his job, the white house, and everything. But for three years he soldiered on, with his Vice President, the former Governor of Rhode Island Mitch O’Rourke, at his side. A moderate domestic policy, such as expansion of healthcare, of welfare, and support of labor unions, with outreach to the black communities, was formed. A more ambitious foreign policy followed.
Johnson was in a unique position as President: Communism in Eastern Europe had transitioned into capitalism. The Soviet Union has become the People’s Federation, and Germany had reunited. America had won the cold war; but could it win the peace? Foreign Aid and investment in the Easter Bloc skyrocketed. Billions upon billions were poured into the formed communist bloc, propping up fragile economies as they found their feet, funding pro-democracy programmes, and helping fund and restructure militaries that had once been poised to destroy America. Pressure was put onto South Africa to end apartheid; tensions were eased in the Congo as Johnson saw peace as a priority. In Northern Ireland, both Johnson and O’Rourke tried to help with peace talks, although Prime Minister Campbell was frosty at best towards his American peer- a consequence of his Eton-Oxford upbringing, Johnson would remark. Stateside, some called Johnson a traitor; his skin colour made these calls easy for the right to make. Others saw Johnson’s ambition as fearful; his new Pax Americana could settle American homogeny for another century, but leave it open to globalisation. Johnson's foreign policy, however, was largely approved of. The economy had a surplus, taxes were low, Johnson's programmes were largely uncontroversial, even if those from the right would make issue of the increased welfare system. After the 1994 midterms returned the Democrats with majorities in Congress, Johnson felt he could be more ambitious as he weight his reelection chances. However events north of the Border in Canada would prove fatal.
The resounding success of the Quebec sovereignty movement bore its fruits following referenda in October 1995. Although irksome, Johnson was prepared to work with both Quebec and Canada, even if the former was bound economically to the latter. However, in the following year, something strange happened- Canada collapsed. Quebec was merely the first domino. Saskatchewan followed, as did Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Yukon. The latter four would form the ‘Western Union’, a markedly conservative petrostate. Quebec itself was a failed state within a few weeks of the Western Union’s emergence; strongmen took control, and shortly thereafter French speaking militia crossed into Ontario, and declared the north of the Province Pays d'en-haut. America watched as Canada tore itself apart, and the economy took a blow. By the time of the election, a recession had swept through America. The programmes Johnson had spent the surplus on were now centre stage; stories of welfare queens and cheats, and of how the money sent abroad could be spend in America flooded the nightly news. The recession killed Johnson's chances of reelection. The President, despite his attempts, couldn’t step up, and his failure to provide a confident voice left a gaping void in the political system. Quitting the Primaries, he left his Vice President to clean up; but O’Rourke was too tightly tied to the President.
Following his successors inauguration, Johnson retired from public life. Taking a position at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, he taught politics, where he remained until his death in 2010.