Monday, July 11, 2016

Rage, Race and a Remembering 1968

The current political landscape across much of America is beginning to remind me of the summer of 1968.

During that most tumultuous year, sitting President Lyndon Johnson, scarred by the war in Vietnam, withdrew from the race.  In jumped Robert Kennedy, but by July in Los Angeles, his assassination cut short that dream. VP Humphrey had not won a single primary, and was hugely unpopular among the anti-war Democrats. In Chicago, all sorts of protests came together in Mayor Daley's town, and we watched in stunned disbelief as tear gas from the streets wafted onto the floor of the Democrat Party Convention.

Republican Richard Nixon, (who some would call the most experienced candidate in history) who had only 6 years earlier suffered ignominious defeat in the California governor race, was back. He would wage a campaign designed to break the one-party south from the Democrat nominee by appealing to law and order, supporting police, and identifying the "other" as unAmerican  and  dangerous to the rest of us.

That election would turn out to be razor close, but it was, to be sure, a campaign of anger, of despair, of votes cast for the least worst by many.  Neither candidate was very popular, and the country was largely at odds with their elected leaders.  People did not trust their government.

Now, flash forward to today.  The issue of race in the context of equal justice, particularly but not exclusively, criminal justice, is becoming a huge issue. But that knife cuts both ways.  Black Lives Matters might speak for many African Americans, but there is a large group that opposes them.  The divide over the problem is huge, but over the solution seems insurmountable.

We will see more problems, and as votes begin to assess the ability of each of the candidates to handle the issue, to address the mood of the county, we will also see if either major candidate, or any third party candidate, can assuage the fears and anger of Americans.

Events are beginning to unravel the fabric of the electorate, and this remains a very volatile, very uncertain election.


1 comment:

Susan said...

Thanks again for putting things in historical perspective. I'm afraid you are correct, but I think it's important to note this isn't the first time and I'm afraid it won't be that last time we are at this unfortunate point.