Grantville, September 1634

“I say that we bring back nominating conventions.” Henry Dreeson folded his hands over the little paunch that sat so oddly on his otherwise scrawny frame. “Real ones, that amount to a hill of beans. Conventions that nominate the candidates. Smoke-filled rooms. Horse trading. What's the point of sticking ourselves with the damned primaries that run the whole time in between the elections?”

Tom Riddle shook his head. “Can we sell it to the League of Women Voters?”

Henry started to pick up his coffee and then put it down again. “Play the nostalgia card. How many of the old ladies will remember sitting at their radios back in 1952, listening to the roll calls in the contest between Estes Kefauver and Adlai Stevenson for the Democratic nomination. That's where the country went wrong. If they'd nominated Kefauver . . . ”

Riddle nodded reluctantly but opened his mouth fast, before Henry could digress into his views on Adlai Stevenson. “Yes, I can remember. Not that Veleda would appreciate it if anyone called her an old lady. It was hot that summer. Chuck had just turned six and Mary Myra was almost four, so there was a lot of washing. I was just getting ready to open my own law office in Morgantown, so we had to save every cent. She would stand there in that little apartment with all the windows open, hoping for a bit of a breeze, ironing. First the “starched and sprinkled” ironing, then the “sprinkled” ironing, and finally the “dry” ironing. She'd put my shirts on hangers, and then hang them on one of those pull-up wooden drying stands . . . ” He shook his head. “All that week, from morning to night, she had that little brown bakelite radio on, listening to the convention.”

Chad Jenkins pulled a little notebook out of his shirt pocket. Those stands—fastened together with wooden pegs, too, if he remembered them right. Perfect down-time technology that any village carpenter could manage. He could make some money selling the stands, but even more selling the plans. Just think what Mary Simpson's maid Hilde and her boyfriend had done selling plans for those folding wood-with-a-strip-of-canvas camp chairs. Not to mention what he'd made himself on diagrams for folding wooden TV trays. With most down-time houses so small for the number of people who lived in them, fold-away furniture—the easier to make, the better—was a gold mine. He scribbled, his mind half-way on the continuing conversation and halfway on prospects for making more money.

“Theater,” Ed Piazza said. “Pure theater.”

“Better than a lot of professionals. During the war . . . ” Riddle turned to Constantin Ableidinger. “That was the Second World War. I was a journalist. I accompanied Bob Hope on one of his tours to entertain the troops.”

“They were professionals,” Piazza said. “The guys who staged those conventions were professionals. Entertainment. Songs. Demonstrations. Placards.” He looked at Ableidinger. “Annabelle showed you a couple of those Bob Hope tapes, didn't she?”

Ableidinger had expressed his appreciation of the amenity of Dorothy Lamour in a sarong at the time. Now his smile started at his mouth. It finally ended somewhere about the tips of his ears. “The Ram Party agrees,” he said, his voice booming out as usual. “Nominating conventions.”

“That's the easy part,” Henry answered. “Now let's get down to business. We don't have to rig our convention to make sure that it nominates Ed here for president. We can rely on the Fourth of July Party delegates. There'll be some other nominations, of course, but he'll win. Franconia, though—Ableidinger, I expect that your Ram people down in Franconia will do their own convention and nominate not just you—they will, but you can decline gracefully on the grounds that you'd rather make a run for delegate in the USE House of Commons—but some other favorite sons, too. How are you going to make sure that they finally nominate a guy to fly the Ram banner who will make a respectable showing in the statewide presidential vote but still be sure to lose to Ed?”

“Favorite sons?” Ableidinger asked.

Tom Riddle started to explain.

Chad tucked the notebook into his shirt pocket and leaned his chair back. “That's manageable. Let's get to the hard part. Who do we want for Ed's running mate and how do we make sure that the convention picks him? The State of Thuringia-Franconia is going to need a vice-president and I'm not going to put up with some Balkanized idea that the head of the losing party gets to be the second fiddle in the executive branch in some kind of coalition arrangement. That's a recipe for disaster. Think of Italy.”

Only Tom Riddle immediately thought of the correct aspect of Italy.

Ed Piazza actually thought first of Mario Lanza, Ezio Pinza, and Luciano Pavarotti. Some of the special effects in Il Trovatore didn't need any up-time technology . . . Bizet . . . Carmen . . . working-class factory girls . . . Toreador would make a catchy tune for a campaign song if somebody didn't take offense that the setting was Spanish . . . or the composer French . . .

October 1634

Philip Massinger's theater troupe was in Grantville for the winter. Massinger, along with the new drama teacher at the high school, had agreed to take responsibility for staging the public events—music, “spontaneous” demonstrations in favor of the various candidates, ghost-written orations, and such, which was why he was sitting in Chad Jenkins's living room this evening.

He had even sent a selection of his personnel down to Franconia to do the same for the Ram party. Personally, he thought that they were fortunate to have him. He couldn't think of any competitor likely to do as well for the Crown Loyalists—who didn't show any sign of holding a nominating convention in any case. From a professional standpoint, he thought the CLs were making a mistake. Just the convention coverage in the newspapers would bring a lot of free publicity for the FoJP and he suspected that a significant portion of the voters would simply mark in favor of someone whose name they had heard before, even if they weren't sure where, how, or why. Any dramatist who wanted to make money served up a certain number of simple-minded farces for those paying customers who couldn't or wouldn't grasp anything more complex.

While Massinger kept one ear on the discussion, just in case anything that might affect his proposed designs came up, his thoughts wandered. Democracy might not be so bad. He had developed some concerns last summer that the foreseeable decline in coronations, royal progresses, ceremonial entrances, princely weddings, and other such occasions would have a bad effect on business. Royalty was good for business, usually—when they weren't closing down the theaters because of politics. He remembered one of the appearances of Tom and Dick Quiney's grandfather, livery-clad, marching through the streets of London with the remainder of the King's Men, swelling the parades.

But apparently not. Democracy seemed to need pageantry too, and where there was pageantry, there would be actors and musicians. Thus far, moreover, the representatives of democracy appeared to be more inclined to pay their bills in a timely manner.

****

“We ought to run a down-timer with Ed,” Chad Jenkins said. “Chip thinks that having a down-timer for VP will pull in a lot of votes and make people think that the up-timers are serious about not turning into an aristocracy of their own.”

“Well, we're not running any of Chip's new cronies from Jena,” Henry Dreeson answered. “And Ableidinger's doing his own thing with the Ram, so we can't pick anyone from Franconia without stepping on toes. Most of the people at Weimar are Crown Loyalists because of the Wettin connection. Maybe we could find someone in Erfurt, but I don't know the guys up there very well, yet.”

“Precisely what does a vice president do?” Johann Georg Hardegg asked. He was attending his first Grantville FoJP meeting because Mary Kat Riddle's grandfather Tom wasn't feeling very well and Georgie had come with her. “How significant is the office?”

The up-timers looked at each other.

“Well, there's John Nance Garner's opinion,” Jenny Maddox ventured.

“Which was? Or, first, who was he?” Hardegg, as a lawyer, liked to lay things out in order.

“A conservative Democrat,” Ed said. “Senator. Ally of Sam Rayburn when Rayburn was in the House of Representatives. Both of them Texans.” He checked Hardegg's expression. “Guess that doesn't help very much.”

“It goes back to 1932. Garner ran for the Democratic nomination against Roosevelt—Franklin, not Teddy. Roosevelt had the most delegates going into the convention, but not a majority. Garner was one of Roosevelt's strongest rivals and cut a deal with him. The ticket was re-elected in 1936. Garner's famous for saying that the vice presidency was ”˜not worth a bucket of warm piss.' Which got bowdlerized to ”˜warm spit' by the media. Garner then called the reporters ”˜a bunch of pantywaists.'” Henry Dreeson grinned.

“What he meant,” Mary Kat said, “is that the position doesn't have any power of its own and deprives the holder of any real power base he had before he accepted it.”

“Two more questions. First, what's a ”˜pantywaist'?” Once that was settled, “So there's no power?”

“None, really. Lyndon Johnson was far more powerful as a senator than as vice-president.”

Hardegg frowned. “I thought that Lyndon Johnson is a young policeman here in Grantville.”

Mary Kat giggled. “Different guy. Hank and Karleen just couldn't resist the temptation.”

“If you are putting on theater,” Philip Massinger said into the pause that followed, “you need a leading lady. Preferably a fairly good-looking one. You can't have a successful play without a leading lady. Or, at least, it is much more difficult.”

Liz Carstairs tapped her finger on the TV tray that held her herbal tea. “Geraldine Ferraro?”

“I haven't met her,” Hardegg sipped his coffee. “Is she an up-timer or down-timer?”

“Neither. Walter Mondale picked her as his running mate in 1984.”

“So there is precedent. Up-time, at least.” Hardegg looked thoughtful. “What about Frau Gundelfingerin? Walter Goodluck's wife? She's good-looking as well as a Goodluck and perhaps good luck for you.” He leaned back, very pleased with his English-language joke.

****

“I dunno.” Ted Moritz looked in the mirror as Walt Jenkins sheared off his hair. “About running a woman, I mean. Watch it—don't take so much off the sides. I'm doing a lot of business with down-timers now and they take me more seriously if I look dignified. Which, in their ass-backward way, means more hair, so I have to go around looking like a semi-hippie.”

Walt moved his scissors away from Ted's scalp and gave the reflected image a critical look. “Maybe just a little more. You're not coming in as often as you did before the Ring of Fire. What does Karen think?”

“Most of your old customers aren't, but you more than make up for it with the new ones, so stop fussing. Oh, Karen's all for it, now that she's a career woman with the school system.” Ted frowned at his image. “Naw, no more off the top, either. I've got a meeting at the bank tomorrow and I don't want to look skinned for it.”

“Okay.” Walt picked up his brush. “Thelma says this Gundelfinger woman is all right.”

“Tino Nobili doesn't think so.”

“Tino's a Crown Loyalist.” Walt son's Evan, who was snipping away on his uncle Ripley Cunningham in the second chair, looked over at his dad.

“Pay attention to where you have those scissors,” Ripley complained. “I bleed like a stuck pig if you catch my ear. If you ask me, we'll lose most of the independent vote if we run a woman along with Ed, so by rights Tino ought to be all in favor of this ridiculous idea.”

Evan cocked his head to one side. “What does my new-ish Aunt Lydia say?”

“Oh, she's all for it.”

“So's Laurel. She'd like to go out campaigning.”

“Not on her own, she's not.” Walt proclaimed. “Your sister is . . . ”

“Over eighteen.” Evan finished the sentence. “But she's also in the army, so she can't. Non-partisan and all that. Count your blessings.”

Ripley snorted. “Non-partisan like the League of Women Voters, maybe? Sure, Lydia says they aren't supporting any candidate for the VP nomination. Sure, they're not. They're just chatting about the joys of political participation by the female portion of the electorate until their tongues are practically falling out.”

“Seriously, though, Uncle Ripley. We don't want to go along with the 250 Club line, do we? They're being . . . ”

“Themselves.” Walt pulled the cape off Ted's shoulders and shook it. “Gerry and Tami Simmons like the idea of running her.”

Ripley shook his head and then yelled for a towel when the point of Evan's shears got his earlobe. “Gerry and Tami never came across a left-wing liberal idea they didn't like. Now Honcho, he's threatening to quit the party if the convention picks her.”

Ted stood up and headed for the cash register. “Honcho's a grump. Always has been. Always will be. The main reason he's self-employed is that he couldn't get along with any boss he ever had. And he doesn't get along with Gerry, either, even if they are brothers-in-law.”

The barber shop emptied out.

Evan picked up the broom and looked at his dad. “What are you going to do?”

“Oh, hell. I'd not vote for the Crown Loyalists if the FoJP ran a monkey. Mike's Becky did a good job for us as senator, and it's not as if the VP really has much in the way of influence.”

Magdeburg, November 1634

“It makes sense, Mike,” Ed Piazza said. “It started as a joke, but it makes a lot of sense. Helene Gundelfinger has ties into the business community and ties with Duke Johann Philipp down at Saxe-Altenburg. Without his encouragement of investors, USE Steel wouldn't have progressed anywhere near as fast as it has, and through the girls' school the duke sponsored here in Magdeburg, she's got ties to the leadership community here. As her husband does, through Kelly Construction. She's made friends with Count Ludwig Guenther's new wife. Plus . . . Well, she's smart. Very smart.”

He looked at Rebecca, raising his eyebrows.

“I like her,” Becky said. “Moreover, I respect her.”

Matthias Strigel, who was almost certain to become the FoJP governor of Magdeburg Province come the election, waved his hand. “The ”˜ties to the business community' mean that she's very much on the conservative wing of our party.”

Strigel wasn't. He was CoC all the way.

Ed stood up and walked to the easel, grabbing a piece of colored chalk from the tray. “Take a count. How many of the provincial heads of the USE as of this date are Catholic?” He started through the list. Lutherans, sure, even if they were as nominal in their attachment as Strigel himself. Calvinists, yes, even if they were as nominally attached to Presbyterianism as Mike Stearns. Catholics, no. As of this autumn of 1634, not a single one.

“Face it.” Ed waggled the chalk. “The emperor isn't going to be thrilled by my nomination as Mike's replacement, and neither are a lot of the Thuringian Lutherans. Most of the Catholics in the SoTF are down in Franconia, and will be voting the Ram ticket. One of the few balances we have is that Ableidinger is a Lutheran political leader in a mostly Catholic region, and he's agreed to make sure that anyone they nominate for SoTF president on the Ram ticket is Lutheran too. It's jiggering and gerrymandering in a way, but it should tilt things the way we all want them to come out next February. But—and this really is important, Mike, whether you like it or not—Helene's Lutheran. Having her on the ticket as VP will make the prospect of a Catholic head of state in the USE's largest province a lot more palatable to Gustavus—and a lot more palatable to a lot of the uncommitted voters in the SoTF.” He looked at Strigel. “We're going to need the independent voters and the fact that she is on the conservative wing of the FoJP will appeal to them.”

Albert Bugenhagen, who was slated as the party's candidate for mayor of Hamburg and thereby a member of the USE upper house, nodded. “He's right, Matthias. I'm CoC, but I'm rational enough to know that Hamburg can't survive without the money that comes in from shipping and transshipping, making and selling.”

Mike shook his head. “I don't like this mixing of politics and religion.”

Ed wiggled the chalk this time. “You can work on separating church and state, but you're not going to manage to separate politics and religion. That's a lost cause. We're living in a real world, not some kind of abstract revolutionary perfection. Helene's not only Lutheran, but she's pretty much a Philippist Lutheran, on the more liberal end of their theology. A lot more of the local Lutherans in the SoTF sympathize with Philip Melanchthon's ideas, or tend that way, rather than with Matthias Flacius Illyricus, even if the Flacians do make more noise. The Flacian base is more in Saxony and Pomerania.”

Mike frowned. “I haven't met either of those people.”

Becky patted his hand under the table and whispered, “That's because they've both been dead for more than fifty years. I hate to classify any theological treatises as a case of, ”˜the evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones,' but the disputes between their followers in the decades since then definitely put their differences of opinion into contention for that status.”

Mike took a visual survey of the FoJP leadership on the national level.

“Go for it,” he said.

Grantville, November 1634

Ed circulated the list of former vice presidents of the United States of America around the table.

Chad Jenkins blew the foam off his beer. “Damn, but that's a lot of dead white men, as Melissa Mailey would say.”

“Some of them are probably still alive, back up-time,” Walter Goodluck said placatingly.

“Even so. Who the hell was Hannibal Hamlin?”

December 1634

Everything was over but the shouting, at least as far as the convention was concerned. The acceptance speeches were still to come, and then the big party. It hadn't been the best time of year for people to travel, given the weather. On the other hand, it was about the best time of year for farmers to be able to get away from their villages for a while and the Grange had really pushed the importance of active political participation, so they'd had a good turnout.

Ed and Helene were standing behind the podium, waving.

Henry Dreeson, behind the stage in the middle school auditorium, waiting his turn to come out, folded his hands over his little paunch.

“There was one more thing I thought of when I took another look at that list of American vice-presidents that Ed handed around, Hardegg.”

“Yes?”

“A lot of them, I'd never heard of.”

“Same here.” Hardegg's command of up-timer idioms was improving rapidly.

“The rest of them—the ones that I had heard of . . . ”

“Yes?”

“Something happened to the guy at the head of the ticket. Remember when we were talking about Lyndon Johnson? They're called ”˜presidents' now.”

****