Ribicoff protesterer mot Gestapo Tactics ved Chicago Convention 1968

Ribicoff protesterer mot Gestapo Tactics ved Chicago Convention 1968



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Da det oppsto blodige opptøyer mellom demonstranter mot Vietnam-krigen og Chicago-politiet utenfor den demokratiske nasjonale konvensjonen i 1968, dro senator Abraham Ribicoff den forberedte støttetalen for George McGovern og kritiserte i stedet ordfører Richard Dalys håndtering av situasjonen.


'Chicago 1968' den mest kontroversielle konvensjonen av dem alle

Da Chicago -ordfører Richard Daley innså at betydelige dissidentgrupper planla å montere svært synlige demonstrasjoner mot Vietnamkrigen utenfor og rundt Chicagos nominerende stevne for demokratiske president i 1968, forestiller man seg at en høflig omskrivning av svaret hans ville være: "Vi trenger ikke dette . " Det er akkurat slik demonstrantene følte om krigen, sammen med annen politikk fra Daleys demokratiske parti som de anså som utilstrekkelig progressiv.

Resultatet har blitt kjent i nesten universell stenografi som "Chicago 1968", en politisk konvensjon som gikk ut av skinnene for å bli like tumultartet og urovekkende som året den fant sted.

På en måte var utvekslingen av anklager og fornærmelser fra 1968 ikke mye forskjellig fra den som alltid har og fortsatt finner sted daglig i et land som i det minste teoretisk favner ytringsfriheten.

Slå på hvilken som helst kabelnyhetskanal eller snakk-radioprogram i dag, og du vil høre noen fortelle deg hvorfor noen andre er en farlig idiot.

Forskjellen i 1968 var at hver side tok det til gatene, noe som utløste den slags blodige fysiske oppgjøret at en generasjon senere ville være mer knyttet til Serbia eller Somalia.

Vi har ikke æren av at bilder av voldelig hjemmekonfrontasjon var vanlige på amerikanske TV-skjermer gjennom 1960-årene, et tiår som begynte med onde slag av fredelige borgerrettighets demonstranter og senere vokste til uroligheter og opprør i byene. Selv i den sammenhengen var det som skjedde på den demokratiske konvensjonen for 40 år siden intenst nok til å stoppe alt.

Da demokrater samlet seg i det internasjonale amfiteateret for å nominere Minnesota -senator Hubert H. Humphrey til president og støtter det meste av arven etter avtroppende president Lyndon B. Johnson, prøvde demonstranter utenfor å trekke oppmerksomhet på alle mulige måter til deres kritikk av Johnsons Vietnamkrig.

Demonstrantene samlet aldri tallene de hadde håpet å få med seg inn i byen. Til tross for tidlig snakk om 100 000, var rekkene mindre enn en fjerdedel av det på visningstid.

De som møtte opp til marsjer, samlinger og taler innså dermed enda mer akutt at oppmerksomheten de ville få avhenger delvis av myndighetene i Chicago, spesielt Daley og hans politi, og behandlet dem som om de virkelig var en stor og farlig hær.

Det var Strategi 101: Jo mer oppmerksomhet de mottok, jo flere mennesker ville på en eller annen måte høre budskapet deres, som var det hastende som de følte at Amerika måtte ikke bare avslutte krigen, men tenke hele retningen på nytt.

Det meste av landet var ikke enig om den andre delen. Det meste av landet har kanskje ennå ikke blitt enige om krigen, selv om det var i hvilken retning den offentlige tanken gikk, i et hurtigere tempo.

Poenget med å utfordre demokratene i Chicago var å få fart på det tempoet. Det var den gamle bonde-og-muldyr-vitsen, der bonden som vil at muldyret skal begynne å pløye, bryter et brett over muldyrets hode. På spørsmål om hvorfor svarer han: "Først må du få oppmerksomheten hans."

Rent som teater var Chicago 1968 en del streetcorner -dans og en del Shakespeare. Det brydde seg mellom komedie og tragedie, og vevet selvforklarende skuespill inn i dype uenigheter om nasjonens grunnleggende prinsipper.

En absurdistisk gren av demonstrantene, Yippie -partiet under avdøde Abbie Hoffman og Jerry Rubin, holdt et arrangement der den nominerte en gris (Pigasus, et navn lånt fra John Steinbeck og Oz -bøkene) til president.

Et mørkere notat var en tale av Connecticut senator Abraham Ribicoff den femte natten av stevnet, etter det klimatiske sammenstøtet mellom politi og demonstranter.

Ribicoff nominerte senator George McGovern i South Dakota som et progressivt "fred" -alternativ for president - et rent symbolsk trekk, siden Humphreys nominasjon da var sikker.

Men Ribicoff tok anledningen til å gå et skritt videre:

"Med George McGovern som president i USA, trenger vi ikke å ha Gestapo -taktikk i Chicago -gatene," sa han og satte i gang et tordenvær med jubel og bukk på gulvet.

TV-kameraer kuttet etter Daleys reaksjon, og selv om det ikke var lyd, virket leppebevegelsen hans i samsvar med uttrykket "F-du, Abe."

Daley sa senere at han ganske enkelt hadde kalt Ribicoff for en "falsk".

Det er mulig. Det som ikke kan diskuteres er at den femte natten hadde spenningen for lengst sugd alt oksygen ut av Chicago, og begge sider kjørte på rent adrenalin.

På den måten føltes den demokratiske stevnet fra 1968 som en perfekt metafor for Amerika i 1968.

Du vil ikke kalle 1968 det verste året i amerikansk historie. Det stemmer ikke overens med borgerkrigsårene, den store depresjonen eller 1941, da vi ble bombet inn i en verdenskrig.

Men 1968 hadde sine problemer, til og med utover fremveksten av Fruitgum Company fra 1910 på topp 40-radio. Martin Luther Jr. King ble myrdet. Robert Kennedy ble myrdet. Byer brant. En uke i mars døde mer enn 500 amerikanere i Vietnam.

På mange måter føltes Amerika i 1968 som et skip som ble skåret løs fra fortøyningene og red ut en storm. Reglene føltes litt mer omsettelige, improvisasjon litt mer nødvendige.

Til slutt, ironisk nok, trakk den demokratiske konvensjonen av varmen og raseri for å gjøre akkurat det den ville ha gjort hvis delegatene bare hadde møtt hverandre alene til lunsj i en rolig privat spiseklubb.

De nominerte Humphrey, den ultimate partisoldaten, med en margin på 1 759,25 stemmer mot 601 for senator Eugene McCarthy i Minnesota. De bekreftet på nytt sitt engasjement for å hjelpe andre suverene stater med å motstå opprør utenfor, dvs. de støttet krigen.

De beundret også partiets hjemlige arv fra de fire foregående årene, slik de burde ha gjort. Civil Rights Act og stemmerettighetsloven var de riktige tingene for Amerika, selv om de rev det demokratiske partiet fra hverandre som fikk dem til å skje.

I løpet av en generasjon fortalte sørlendinger som arvet et blodhat for det republikanske partiet helt tilbake til de radikale gjenoppbyggingsrepublikanerne, at under Mason-Dixon-linjen var republikaneren den nye demokraten.

At Lyndon Johnson sterkbevæpnet disse lovforslagene gjennom kongressen, fullt ut kjent med deres politiske konsekvens, var en av de ekstraordinære politiske handlingene på 1900-tallet.

Men han vant ingen "profil i mot" -poeng i 1968, et år da nesten alle øyne var rettet mot krigen og for det andre svingen i borgerrettighetskampen fra fredelige demonstrasjoner til en voksende utålmodig militans.

Så sent som høsten 1967, da en halv million demonstranter marsjerte mot Washington for å protestere mot krigen, ble det antatt at Johnson, som i 1964 ble valgt med en av de bredeste marginene i historien, ville bli renominert med akklamasjon.

Antikrigsbevegelsen hadde forsøkt å rekruttere en høyprofilert kandidat til å motsette seg ham, med fokus på senator Robert Kennedy i New York etter at han uttrykte økende forbehold om krigen som hans avdøde bror var avgjørende for å definere som et amerikansk oppdrag.

Kennedy nektet imidlertid å gjøre den utfordringen, noe som etterlot slanke valg. De eneste to senatorene som hadde flat-out motsatt krigen i lengre tid var Wayne Morse fra Oregon og Ernest Gruening fra Alaska, troverdige eldre statsmenn, men ikke levedyktige presidentkandidater.

Så det var med liten fanfare at den lavprofilerte McCarthy erklærte sitt kandidatur 30. november 1967.

McCarthy var ingen langhåret, flammende antikrigsradikal. Han var en rolig foredragsholder, gitt til litterær hentydning, intellektuell argumentasjon, poesi og troll ironi. Han ble grundig preparert, noe som gjenspeiler det faktum at han utenom å motsette seg krigen også ofte var konservativ i sin politikk. Han hadde nesten gått inn i presteskapet i sin ungdom, og mange av hans stillinger var i strid med de som ble holdt i antikrigsbevegelsen.

Så han ble ansett som det mest tegn på anti-Johnson-kandidater.

Men siden han var den eneste hesten som syklet, falt mye av antikrigsbevegelsen - unntatt den radikale utkant - i. Studentene tok vårsemesteret fra klassen for å "bli rene for Gene", klippe håret og høflig fremme valg av registrering. og få-out-the-stemme kampanjer.

12. mars 1968 fikk McCarthy 42% av stemmene i New Hampshire -primærvalget. Johnson, som ikke aktivt aksjonerte, fikk 48%.

Dette var ikke nødvendigvis en antikrigserklæring. Faktisk var mange konservative New Hampshire -velgere sannsynligvis like skuffet over Johnsons Great Society -programmer som etter krigen.

Likevel sa en ukjent kandidat med en sittende president til mindre enn halvparten av stemmene at en annen bølge hadde rammet skipet.

31. mars kunngjorde Johnson at han ikke ville søke en ny periode, og stiltiende forlot ballen for å bli hentet av hans visepresident, Humphrey.

En gang kjent som en brennende, populistisk liberalist, ble Humphrey nå mye sett på som festgutten, han som ikke ville rocke båter.

Dette var bra når det gjelder å berolige et land som allerede følte seg rystet nok. Det var ikke nyttig i det hele tatt å få ut det kritiske budskapet, at han var ute etter å avslutte krigen i stedet for å forlenge den.

Så det var en mye større åpning for en antikrigskandidat nå, og snart hadde Robert Kennedy revurdert ting og kunngjort sitt eget kandidatur.

Eller, som McCarthy drolly observerte, "Før New Hampshire var det en senator som støttet meg. Jeg tror ikke det er tilfelle lenger."

Likevel hadde Kennedy en oppoverbakke kamp mot Humphrey, som hadde støtte fra Daley og praktisk talt hele det demokratiske etablissementet.

Men Kennedy hadde utstråling og navn for å bære ballen lenger enn McCarthy, og etter at han vant den demokratiske primærvalget i California 5. juni, virket det som mulig at antikrigssiden kunne gjøre inntog på Chicago-stevnet, om bare i partiet plattform.

Minutter senere ble mye av det håpet gitt et dødelig slag i kjøkkenet på Ambassador Hotel i Los Angeles, hvor han ble myrdet da han forlot bygningen etter seierstalen.

Imidlertid kom det i slutten av august, som ikke avskrekket tusenvis av demonstranter som hadde bestemt at demokratene - partiet ved makten, partiet som hadde drevet krigen - måtte konfronteres med konsekvensene.

Følgelig satte Daley 12 000 politifolk i Chicago på 12-timers skift i hele varigheten. Han kalte også inn 7.500 hærstyrker og 6000 nasjonalgarden, og ga ham bare litt færre tropper enn Alexander den store befalte da han marsjerte ut for å styre verden rundt 335 f.Kr.

Demonstranter som ønsket tillatelse til å samles ble blandet til Lincoln Park og Grant Park, miles fra konferansesenteret. De fleste forespørsler om å marsjere mot amfiteateret ble avslått. En 23.00 portforbud ble erklært.

Daley hadde ikke tenkt å la byen se uordentlig ut.

I gatene og parkene var de første nettene på stevnet preget av sporadiske utfordringer for politiet og sporadiske politiresponser, mange involverte den problematiske klokken 23.00. portforbud.

De to sidene sirklet rundt hverandre, figurative og bokstavelig talt. Inne i konvensjonen snakket antikrigsstyrkene tappert mens tradisjonalistene, han som trodde det ville være galskap og politisk selvmord for demokratene å fornekte alt deres ledere hadde sagt og gjort de siste seks årene, gradvis bekreftet sitt flertall.

I det hullet falt alt realistisk håp om en fredsplattform.

Utenfor fikk demonstrantene litt press og irriterte myndighetene, noe som var en annen, mindre håndgripelig og mindre umiddelbar makt enn Daley hadde.

Men det var sin egen kraft.

På femte dagen avviste demokratene formelt fredsplattformen, og et sted samlet rundt 6000 demonstranter seg i Grant Park.

Avvisningen av fredsplattformen ble nesten umiddelbart fulgt av nominasjonen av Humphrey, et slag på to som, mens det var forventet, fortsatt sendte demonstrantenes frustrasjon i kok.

Selv om de ikke hadde tillatelse til å marsjere noe sted, og det var svært lite sannsynlig at de ville ha marsjert 10 miles gjennom noen av Chicagos tøffeste nabolag til amfiteateret, bestemte de seg for å flytte ut av parken og dra et sted, selv om det bare var mot Hilton Hotell rett over gaten, der mange konferansepersonell og hjelpere bodde.

Så de begynte å presse seg ut, selv om politiet forberedte seg på å håndheve 11.00 til. portforbud. Det var da den mest berømte styggen begynte.

Noen observatører sa at det startet da politiet klubbet en mann som prøvde å senke et amerikansk flagg. Men den slags "hendelsen" eksploderte snart overalt.

Chicago -myndighetene ba politiet om å rydde området foran Hilton, og visste tydeligvis ikke at de fleste der var ikke demonstranter, men folk som deltok på stevnet, samt turister og andre sivile.

Politiet, sine egne frustrasjoner like sterke som demonstrantene, vadet inn. Leger som prøvde å hjelpe de skadde ble slått i klem. Hjelpere til høytstående demokratiske embetsmenn ble klubbet. Alle var tåregasset.

Det var rapporter om at politiet jublet en soldat som angrep en kameramann som filmet hendelsene.

Men mye film overlevde, og i løpet av en time var det på nasjonal TV. Det var da Ribicoff påkalte Gestapo. På ABC-tv diskuterte konservative William F. Buckley og liberale Gore Vidal de samme problemene, med Gore Vidal som sa: "den eneste krypto-nazisten jeg kan tenke på er deg selv", og Buckley svarte: "Hør nå, du queer, slutt å ringe meg en krypto-nazist, eller så sokker jeg deg i ditt forbannede ansikt, så forblir du gipset. "

Som det ofte skjer i kamp, ​​var oppmerksomheten rettet mot de stridende sidene uforholdsmessig i forhold til deres faktiske antall, noe som ikke betydde noe i det hele tatt. På fjernsyn så det ut som Daleys Chicago hadde oppdaget det han mislikte og fryktet mest: uorden.

Konsekvensene av Chicago 1968 var flere. Åtte demonstranter ble arrestert anklaget for sammensvergelse og oppfordring til opprør: David Dellinger, Abbie Hoffman, John Froines, Jerry Rubin, Bobby Seale, Rennie Davis, Lee Weiner og Tom Hayden.

De ble Chicago Seven da Seales misbruk av dommer Julius Hoffman, etter at Hoffman hadde beordret ham lenket og kneblet, fikk ham kastet ut. Etter en av Amerikas store øvelser i rettslig absurditet, ble flere dømt på forskjellige anklager, inkludert forakt for retten. Domene ble til slutt kastet ut.

Dellinger, Rubin, Hoffman og advokat William Kunstler ble prøvd og dømt av en annen dommer, som dømte dem til ingenting.

Alt gikk videre til offentlig karriere. Hayden ble forsamlingsmann i California, Seale skriver kokebøker. Hoffman begikk selvmord.


Han ble født i New Britain, Connecticut, av Ashkenazi -jødiske immigranter fra Polen, Samuel Ribicoff, fabrikkarbeider, og Rose Sable Ribicoff, og gikk på lokale offentlige skoler. Ribicoffs relativt fattige foreldre satte pris på utdanning og insisterte på at all inntekt fra deltidsjobber i barndommen skulle gå til hans fremtidige skolegang. Etter videregående jobbet han et år på en fabrikk i nærheten av GE Prentice Company for å tjene ekstra midler til college. Ribicoff meldte seg inn ved New York University i 1928, og overførte deretter til University of Chicago etter at Prentice Company gjorde ham til Chicago -kontorleder. Mens han var i Chicago, taklet Ribicoff skole- og arbeidsplaner og fikk lov til å gå inn på universitetets lovskole før han avsluttet bachelorgraden. Fremdeles student, giftet han seg med Ruth Siegel 28. juni 1931 de ville få to barn. Ribicoff fungerte som redaktør for University of Chicago Law Review i sitt tredje år og fikk en LLB cum laude i 1933, og ble innlagt i Connecticut -baren samme år. Etter å ha praktisert jus på kontoret til en advokat i Hartford, opprettet Ribicoff sin praksis, først i Kensington og senere i Hartford.

Etter å ha blitt interessert i politikk, begynte Ribicoff som medlem av Representantenes hus i Connecticut, og tjenestegjorde i dette organet fra 1938 til 1942. Fra 1941 til 1943 og igjen fra 1945 til 1947 var han dommer ved Hartford Police Court. I løpet av sin politiske karriere var Ribicoff en protégé av John Moran Bailey, den mektige formannen for Det demokratiske partiet i Connecticut.

USAs representant Rediger

Han ble valgt som demokrat til de 81. og 82. kongressene, og tjenestegjorde fra 1949 til 1953. I løpet av den tiden tjenestegjorde han i utenrikskomiteen, en stilling som vanligvis var forbeholdt medlemmer med mer ansiennitet, og var en stort sett lojal tilhenger av utenlandske og innenrikspolitikk for president Harry S. Trumans administrasjon. Generelt liberal i sitt syn, overrasket han mange ved å motsette seg en bevilgning på 32 millioner dollar for bygging av en demning i Enfield, Connecticut, og argumenterte for at pengene ble bedre brukt på militære behov og utenrikspolitiske initiativer som Marshall -planen.

I 1952 la han et mislykket bud på valg for å fylle en ledig stilling i USAs senat, og tapte mot Prescott Bush.

Guvernør i Connecticut Rediger

Etter å ha kommet tilbake til sin advokatpraksis i to år, stilte han som guvernør mot sittende republikaner John Davis Lodge, og vant valget med drøyt tre tusen stemmer. Som guvernør (1955–1961) møtte Ribicoff snart utfordringen med å gjenoppbygge staten i kjølvannet av ødeleggende flom som skjedde på sensommeren og høsten 1955, og han ledet med suksess todelt innsats for å hjelpe skadede områder. Ribicoff argumenterte deretter med hell for økte statlige utgifter til skoler og velferdsprogrammer. Han støttet også en endring av statskonstitusjonen som styrket lokale kommuners styringsmakt. Ribicoff ble lett gjenvalgt i 1958 og hadde nå blitt aktiv på den nasjonale politiske scenen. Som mangeårig venn av Massachusetts senator John F. Kennedy, hadde Ribicoff nominert sin medmennesker i New England til visepresident på Demokratisk nasjonalkonvensjon i 1956 og var en av de første offentlige tjenestemennene som støttet Kennedys presidentkampanje.

Sekretær for helse, utdanning og velferd Rediger

Da Kennedy ble president i 1961, tilbød han Ribicoff sitt valg av regjeringsposter i den nye administrasjonen. Han avslo angivelig riksadvokaten, i frykt for at han kan skape unødvendig kontrovers i den nye borgerrettighetsbevegelsen fordi han var jødisk, og valgte i stedet å være sekretær for helse, utdanning og velferd (HEW). Selv om han klarte å sikre en revisjon av loven om sosial sikkerhet fra 1935 som liberaliserte kravene til midler til bistand til avhengige barn fra kongressen, klarte Ribicoff ikke å få godkjenning for administrasjonens regninger for Medicare og skolehjelp. Etter hvert var han lei av å prøve å administrere HEW, hvis størrelse gjorde det etter hans mening uhåndterlig.

Ribicoff reflekterte at han hovedsakelig oppsøkte stillingen som HEW -sekretær av bekymring for utdanning og "innså at helse- og velferdsproblemene var så overordnet at utdannelse ble henvist til den bakre brenner" i løpet av hans periode. [1]

Han ble til slutt valgt til USAs senat i 1962, og erstattet sittende sittende Prescott Bush ved å beseire den republikanske nominerte Horace Seely-Brown med 51% av stemmene. Han tjenestegjorde i senatet fra 3. januar 1963 til 3. januar 1981.

Lyndon B. Johnson etterfulgte Kennedy som president da sistnevnte ble myrdet i 1963. Ribicoff støttet Johnson først, men til slutt snudde han seg mot Vietnamkrigen og presidentens ledelse av den, og trodde at den tappet sårt nødvendige ressurser vekk fra innenlandske programmer.

Ribicoff allierte seg med forbrukeradvokat Ralph Nader for å lage Motor Vehicle Highway Safety Act fra 1966, som opprettet National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Byrået var ansvarlig for mange nye sikkerhetsstandarder på biler. Disse standardene var tvilsomme fordi frem til da hadde det alltid vært lagt vekt på sjåføren. Som svar uttalte Ribicoff at:

Sjåføren har mange feil. Han er uaktsom, han er uforsiktig, han er hensynsløs. Vi forstår det. Jeg tror det vil være årtusen hvis du noen gang vil få en situasjon der millioner og millioner sjåfører alle vil være perfekte. De vil alltid gjøre feil og gjøre feil.

På den demokratiske nasjonale konferansen i 1968, under en tale som nominerte George McGovern, hans senatoriske kollega fra South Dakota, gikk han ut av manuset og sa: "Og med George McGovern som president i USA, ville vi ikke trenge å ha Gestapo-taktikk i gatene i Chicago. " Mange stevner, etter å ha blitt forferdet over svaret fra Chicago-politiet til de samtidig pågående antikrigsdemonstrasjonene, brøt straks ut i ekstatisk applaus. TV -kameraer fokuserte raskt på den indignerte reaksjonen fra Chicago -ordfører Richard J. Daley. Ribicoff tilbrakte de resterende årene av sin senatkarriere med å kjempe for slike spørsmål som skoleintegrasjon, velferd og skattereformer og forbrukervern.

Under den demokratiske nasjonale konvensjonen i 1972 tilbød presidentkandidaten George McGovern Ribicoff den demokratiske visepresidentvalget, men han takket nei til det, og det gikk til slutt til senator Thomas Eagleton. [2] Etter at Eagleton trakk seg, ba McGovern Ribicoff (blant andre) om å ta Eagletons plass. Han nektet og uttalte offentlig at han ikke hadde flere ambisjoner om høyere verv. McGovern valgte til slutt Sargent Shriver som løpskamerat. Senere i 1972, etter konas død, giftet Ribicoff seg med Lois Mell Mathes, som ble kjent som "Casey". [3]

Fremtidens amerikanske senator Joe Lieberman jobbet på Ribicoffs senatkontor som sommerpraktikant og møtte sin første kone, Betty Haas, der.

3. mai 1979 kunngjorde Ribicoff at han hadde tenkt å trekke seg ved slutten av sin tredje periode. President Jimmy Carter ga ut en uttalelse som krediterer Ribicoff med å ha "samlet en utmerket karriere innen offentlig tjeneste som kan tjene som en modell for anstendighet, medfølelse og evne." [4]

I 1981 oppfylte Ribicoff sitt løfte om å trekke seg fra senatet og tok stilling som spesialrådgiver i advokatfirmaet Kaye Scholer LLP i New York og delte tiden sin mellom hjem i Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut og Manhattan. Han var medformann i 1988 Base Realignment and Closure Commission.

Etter å ha lidd i de senere årene av virkningene av Alzheimers sykdom, døde han i 1998 på Hebrew Home for the Aged i Riverdale i The Bronx, New York City, og blir gravlagt på Cornwall Cemetery i Cornwall, Connecticut.


Den demokratiske nasjonale konvensjonen fra 1968

Over hele landet og i Chicago var spenningen allerede høy da delegatene til den demokratiske nasjonale konferansen ankom åpningsøkten på denne datoen. Ødeleggelsen av kongens opptøyer på vest- og sørsiden i april var fortsatt et levende minne. I juni hadde senator Robert F. Kennedys siste ord inkludert uttrykket, "Til Chicago", da presidentkandidaturet hans ble avkortet av en leiemorderkule i California.

Fargerike unge aktivister som Abbie Hoffman og Jerry Rubin hadde lovet å føre demonstranter fra Vietnamkrigen til Chicago for å forstyrre stevnet. Chicago -politiet drev paranoia ved å offentliggjøre rapporter om at demonstranter planla å øke byens vannforsyning med LSD. Ordfører Richard J. Daley gjorde det klart at han ikke ville bevege noen forsøk på å forstyrre stevnet eller ødelegge byens navn. Illinois National Guard ble kalt opp og veier til International Amphitheatre var omgitt av så stor sikkerhet at Tribune kalte stevneområdet og kvoten for virkelig lager. & Quot

Da delegatene kjørte seg inn i Chicagos hoteller i sentrum, flyttet tusenvis av unge demonstranter inn i Lincoln Park. Forsøk på å få bytillatelser til å overnatte i parken hadde mislyktes. Så hver natt flyttet politiet inn, noen ganger brukte de tåregass og fysisk makt for å rydde dem ut. Til å begynne med fokuserte nyhetsmediene på hendelser på amfiteateret, hvor humøret blusset opp under debatten om Vietnamkrigen. CBS -nyhetsmennene Mike Wallace og Dan Rather ble grovt opp på kamera av sikkerhetsvakter, noe som fikk ankeret Walter Cronkite til å intone til et nasjonalt publikum, og jeg tror vi har en haug med kjeltringer her, hvis jeg får lov til å si det. & Quot

Sammenstøtene nådde en høyde onsdag 28. august. TV -kamerater på Conrad Hilton Hotel (det tidligere Stevens Hotel) skrudde kameraene sine ned på mengden, som ropte "hele verden ser på." Noen kastet en ølboks. Politiet anklaget og dro ut demonstranter og slo dem med køller og knyttnever. & quot Mange stevne besøkende. . . ble forferdet over det de anså som unaturlig entusiasme fra politiet for jobben med å arrestere demonstranter, sa Tribune dagen etter. Det ville senere bli kalt en "politiopprørsel." Den natten i talen som nominerte George McGovern, kritiserte senator Abraham Ribicoff i Connecticut "Gestapo -taktikken på gatene i Chicago." TV -kameraer zoomet inn på en rasende Daley og ropte tilbake på talerstolen.

Først i august 1996, med en annen ordfører Daley som drev Chicago, kom demokratene tilbake. Denne konvensjonen, der president Bill Clinton ble nominert for en annen periode, var en nøye administrert affære. Men hele verden så ikke på.


'68 MOMENT STÅR UT I RIBICOFF -TILBUD

Tidligere senator George S. McGovern husket mandag hvor forbløffet han var da hans gamle venn og kollega Abe Ribicoff konfronterte Chicago -ordfører Richard J. Daley på den demokratiske nasjonale konferansen i 1968.

Tross alt var dette ikke bare byen der Daley regjerte, men også konvensjonen der Daley var herre og håndhevelse, de facto -sjefen for politiet utenfor stevnesalen som førte det nyhetsmediene ville kalle en & quotpitched battle & quot med demonstranter.

McGovern var en presidentpost i siste øyeblikk, og prøvde å holde sammen delegater som hadde vært lojale mot den drepte Robert F. Kennedy. Han så på hvordan Ribicoff, som talte fra talerstolen, tok av seg brillene, berømmet McGovern og anklaget Daley og hans løytnanter for & quotGestapo -taktikk. & Quot

"Det var sikkert ute av karakter," husket McGovern i et intervju mandag. "Men det galvaniserte sikkert konvensjonen."

Ribicoff døde søndag 87, og i hver hyllest, i hver nekrolog, blir han husket som mannen som sto opp ikke bare for Daley, men også for det demokratiske etablissementet. Det var noe Washington -innsidere, spesielt amerikanske senatorer, rett og slett ikke gjorde noe sted, enn si på nasjonal fjernsyn foran partiets bosatte kongemaker.

Ribicoff har tydeligvis en viktig plass i Connecticut politiske historie som tidligere guvernør og senator. Men utenfor staten huskes han mest for det øyeblikket i Chicago.

Ribicoff var i stor grad en del av Washington-etableringen som anti-krigsdemonstranter hadde merket som fienden på slutten av 1960-tallet.

"Han var en liberal-til-moderat politiker, nær Kennedys," sa Stephen J. Wayne, professor i regjering ved Georgetown University.

Ribicoff var president Kennedys første sekretær for helse, utdanning og velferd, i 1961. Han forlot kabinettet neste år og valgte å søke et amerikansk senatsete fra Connecticut i 1962.

"De var sannsynligvis hans minst tilfredsstillende år," sa senator Joseph I. Lieberman, D-Conn., i sin hyllest til senatet i gulvet mandag, med henvisning til Ribicoffs tid i kabinettet. Han vil si: 'Jeg er vant til å være min egen mann.' & quot

Han vant senatsetet, og ble raskt og komfortabelt kjent som en lojal demokrat, med særlig tette bånd til partiets faste som John M. Bailey, staten og den nasjonale partiformannen. Han var en fighter for progressive spørsmål som miljø, motorveisikkerhet og Medicare.

Ribicoff sto overfor gjenvalg i 1968 og ønsket å være en del av det han kalte "nye politiske krefter." i juni justerte Ribicoff seg med McGovern.

Han hadde sagt ja til å holde senatorens nominasjonstale i South Dakota på stevnet den tredje natten.

Det var en kveld da amerikanerne så en uhyggelig sammenstilling av Chicago og "løp i blod", som forfatter Theodore H. White ville skrive, mens stevnet i fred og ro drev sin nøye manuserte virksomhet.

Ribicoff hadde klare forberedelser til TelePrompTer. Omtrent 15 meter unna satt Daley og hans delegasjon i Illinois, et følge White som merket en samling med "røykende, sigarrøykende politikere."

Ribicoff fjernet brillene og stirret på Daley. Med George McGovern som president i USA ville vi ikke ha Gestapo -taktikken i Chicago -gatene. Med George McGovern ville vi ikke ha en nasjonalvakt. & Quot

Hallen brøt ut. Daley gestikulerte grovt mot Ribicoff og uttalte en uanstendighet, hvis ordlyd fortsatt er en kilde til debatt.

"Hvor vanskelig det er," sa Ribicoff, og stemmen hans ristet. "Hvor vanskelig er det å akseptere sannheten når vi kjenner problemene vår nasjon står overfor."

Ribicoff ville fortsette, men ingen husket egentlig noe mer.

Selv om det er andre handlinger og utover i amerikansk politisk liv, huskes folk vanligvis for hendelsen som først brakte dem offentlig oppmerksomhet.

For eksempel, selv om John Glenn har hatt en lang senatskarriere, inkludert å være den øverste demokraten i komiteen som undersøker kampanjefinansiering, er det mest sannsynlig at historiebøker nevner ham som den første amerikaneren som gikk i bane rundt jorden i 1962, og deretter kom tilbake til verdensrommet som septuagenar.

Ribicoff tjenestegjorde 12 år til i senatet etter Chicago, men den kvelden i august 1968 ville for alltid markere ham som en etableringsfigur utenforstående kunne omfavne.

"Det han gjorde motiverte alle mennesker på stevnet til å gå hjem og begynne å jobbe med kampanjen hans," husket Anne Wexler, en Washington -konsulent og en statsdelegat fra 1968. Alle hovedkvarterene i McCarthy og Kennedy ble umiddelbart omgjort til Ribicoffs hovedkvarter

Fire år senere forbløffet McGovern amerikansk politikk ved å vinne den demokratiske nominasjonen. Han sa mandag at han ville ha Ribicoff på billetten, og tilbød ham visepresidentvalget før han slo seg ned på senator Thomas F. Eagleton fra Missouri. Eagleton trakk seg senere etter rapporter om at han hadde blitt behandlet for depresjon.

Ribicoff sa nei til tilbudet. "Han fortalte meg at han var i ferd med å gifte seg," sa McGovern, og sa "det siste vi trenger er en presidentkampanje." & quot

Ribicoff kom tilbake til senatet, hvor han som seniormedlem hadde sentrale roller i utformingen av regninger.

"All the government reorganization that Jimmy Carter wanted went through Sen. Ribicoff's committee," recalled Claudia Weicker, a professional committee staff member in the late 1970s. "He was particularly proud that he helped create the Department of Education."

Monday, though, the road of remembrance wound through Chicago.

"I don't think he ever expected to explode like that, and I don't think it was aimed at Mayor Daley," said McGovern. "Remember, when you're speaking from that podium, you don't really see individuals in the audience. I'm sure Abe was speaking to 50 million Americans."


In a book-lined living room in Longmeadow, John Fitzgerald — a retired high-school history teacher — leafed through a stack of papers from his trip to Chicago in 1968, as a Massachusetts delegate to the Democratic National Convention.

“This was something I wrote up back then — ‘Journal of a Delegate,’” Fitgerald said, and began reading aloud. “Thursday, left Bradley [Airport] 8 a.m., arrived Chicago 9:30 a.m. Polluted air over Chicago. Very hot and humid. . Stifling monoxide stench.”

That sickly atmosphere fit the nation’s mood. The country was still reeling from the recent assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., while in Vietnam, more than 1,000 Americans were dying every month.

Fitzgerald was a Vietnam vet — a Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient who’d decided the war was wrong.

“If they asked me, what do you really want to see us do, I would’ve said, I want to see you take all the troops out of there tomorrow,” Fitzgerald recalled.

Hence, his desire to nominate Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy, whose anti-war campaign had prompted President Lyndon Johnson’s stunning decision not to seek re-election.

Also traveling to Chicago that August was Michael Kazin, who is now a history professor at Georgetown. Back then, he was a Harvard undergrad and member of the radical group Students for a Democratic Society, or SDS.

“I wanted to disrupt the convention, to be quite honest with you,” Kazin said. “The Democratic Party was the party that had prosecuted the war, that escalated the war. And even though I’d worked as a 16-year-old to elect Lyndon Johnson in 1964, by 1968 I was completely done with the Democratic Party.”

Meanwhile, the party itself was on the verge of cracking up. The delegates in Chicago ran an untenable ideological gamut, from old-school Southern segregationists to people who, today, would be labeled “progressive.” Fitzgerald was in the latter group: In addition to an anti-war nominee and an anti-war platform, he wanted the convention to seat racially integrated delegations from the south.

“Alabama, Georgia, they had all white delegations, and were opposed to the Civil Rights movement, and in some cases openly supportive of [George] Wallace,” Fitzgerald said, referring to the ardent segregationist who was making a third-party presidential run.

“[Vice president] Hubert Humphrey and Johnson were counting on those people voting for them,” he added, alluding to the fact that Humphrey was campaigning as Johnson’s ally and heir. “So one of the challenges we had was to stop the pro-Humphrey delegates and elect the challenge delegates [who] were sympathetic to the McCarthy antiwar movement.”

The challenge for Kazin and his fellow SDS members was different. Instead of turning the Democrats against the Vietnam war, they wanted to turn the antiwar movement against the Democrats.

“We had a campaign to go to Chicago and try to convince young antiwar activists who were supporting Eugene McCarthy at the time, and those who had been supporting Robert Kennedy before he was assassinated, to give up on the Democrats and come over to our side, and be involved in a real radical movement,” Kazin said.

One which, among other things, embraced violence as a tactic.

“Some of us went on a sort of mini-riot through the Loop, through downtown Chicago, I think that Saturday night, before the convention began,” Kazin said. “Some people smashed windows, some people smashed — I wasn’t one of them, but some people smashed windows in police cars. . You really [felt] like you’d struck a blow against the American empire, which of course in retrospect was quite ridiculous.”

Inside the convention hall, things felt equally unhinged. In one infamous episode, a young Dan Rather was pushed to the ground as he tried to interview a delegate being escorted out by security, his cries broadcast live to a national audience: “Don’t push me! Take your hands off me unless you intend to arrest me!”

On August 28, the chaos outside and inside the convention converged. Chicago police cracked down hard on 10,000 protesters, swinging billy clubs and spraying tear gas in what was dubbed the Battle of Michigan Avenue and later described, in an outside report, as a police riot.

Meanwhile, on the convention floor, Connecticut Senator Abraham Ribicoff decried that violence as he nominated South Dakota Senator George McGovern, who also opposed the Vietnam war. “With George McGovern as president of the United States, we wouldn’t have to have Gestapo tactics on the streets of Chicago,” Ribicoff said.

That enraged Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, who shouted back an unprintable response. But ultimately, Ribicoff’s pitch failed. The next day, the Democrats nominated the pro-war Humphrey, even though he hadn’t run in any primaries and the majority of the party’s primary voters had backed anti-war candidates.

“The way the McCarthy campaign ended, in the perception of a lot of young people in America in particular, electoral politics was fixed,” Fitzgerald said. “It was broken. So a lot of people walked away from ’68 with a bad feeling about whether they should ever participate in electoral politics again. That still exists.”

As Fitzgerald sees it, the most recent Democratic contest shows the party still hasn’t learned from history.

“They ignored the lesson of ’68,” he said. “They locked out Bernie Sanders and his supporters. That Democratic National Committee was locked into Hillary Clinton. [But] that wasn’t where the majority of Americans were.”

Michael Kazin’s regrets are different. He was arrested in Chicago, and says after his release, a group of police actually threatened to kill him and his friends.

Still, in hindsight, Kazin thinks he and other radicals pushed their provocation too far.

“To be fair — and at the time, I wasn’t being fair to the police — but they felt under siege, too,” Kazin said. “I mean, after all, people like me, we were talking about revolution. We were calling the police ‘pigs.’”

Kazin notes that a post-convention poll showed most Americans backed the police, not the protesters — and that Richard Nixon’s law-and-order message helped him win the presidency that fall.

“The war in Vietnam made a lot of people a little crazy,” Kazin said. “And I think it pushed the New Left, of which I was a part, to do some things which hurt our cause in the long run, which helped build a conservative movement.”

The divide created by the chaos of 1968 is still with us. While many Democrats see President Trump as a Nixon-esque figure plagued by scandal, many Republicans see a leader who stands with law enforcement, and against crime and illegal immigration. It happened five decades ago, but in the realm of politics, the 1968 Democratic Convention isn’t really history at all.


The Worst Convention in U.S. History?

We asked historians to tell us how the 2016 Republican National Convention stacks up.

Donald Trump is thrilled with how the 2016 Republican National Convention went this week. It was, he said at a campaign event in Cleveland on Friday, “one of the best conventions ever.” The four days were “incredible.” The speakers were “groundsetting.” And the “unity” was “amazing.”

That’s one way to put it. Many other observers have focused on what went wrong, from the delegate walk-outs, floor chants and a plagiarism controversy on Monday, to a conspicuous non-endorsement on Wednesday to a leaked speech on Thursday. And then there were the wild “lock her up” chants throughout, and, of course, the bewildering foreign policy interview in the middle of the whole thing. Before long onlookers were calling it “the worst convention I’ve ever seen” and speculating whether it was the “worst political convention ever.”

Politico Magazine decided to find out. We asked a group of political historians to tell us: What was the worst convention in history—and how does this one stack up?

The agreement was: This one was pretty bad. Whether you measure it by disorganization, by harm to the party or by sheer distastefulness of the message, it ends up on most of our historians' shortlists, if not right at the top. “This Republican convention could certainly be a plausible candidate for, say, the three-to-five worst conventions in American political history,” writes Jack Rakove, though he doesn’t think it will have the lasting negative consequences that, say,1968’s riot-plagued DNC had. And David Greenberg calls it a “hot mess,” though it falls short of Miami’s 1972 DNC in terms of sheer fiasco factor, where “punchy delegates mocked the process, nominating Martha Mitchell (the deranged wife of Nixon’s attorney general), Archie Bunker, the Berrigan Brothers, Mao Tse-tung and other absurdities” and “the circus delayed McGovern’s acceptance speech until almost 3 a.m.—memorably described as ‘prime time in Guam.’”

Others do think that this year’s RNC marks a genuine new low for American politics. It “barely edged out the 1868 Democratic National Convention as the worst in American history” for its “disorganization, infighting, racism and apocalyptic language,” writes Heather Cox Richardson. (In 1868, the delegates appropriated “This is a white man’s country. Let a white man rule” as their slogan.) “The 2016 Republican Convention,” writes Jason Sokols, “was remarkable not for its bumbling shows of discord—culminating in Ted Cruz’s non-endorsement—but for the ways in which it illuminated a consistent message: hatred.” And Federico Finchelstein saw the same hatred, as well as its global reach: “For global historians of fascism such as myself, the convention was something entirely new. … It signaled, at the top of the Republican ticket, the new American preeminence—in line with a strain of xenophobic right-wing populism that is developing around the world.”

‘Cleveland convention was a hot mess, but it wasn’t a fiasco.’
David Greenberg, a contributing editor at Politico Magazine, is a professor of history and of journalism and media studies at Rutgers University.

The Republicans’ Cleveland convention was a hot mess, but it wasn’t a fiasco. Our history boasts some far more catastrophic conventions—where whole factions of a party walked out to launch third-party bids, where balloting dragged on for days amid irreconcilable conflicts or where violence broke out in the streets or the convention hall itself.

One of the more comical fiascos was the 1972 convention in Miami at which George McGovern was chosen to lead the Democrats. Thanks to new party rules handed down by a committee that McGovern had himself chaired, the South Dakota Senator parlayed victories in the spring primaries and caucuses—and benefitted from the Nixon White House’s dirty tricks against formidable rivals like Ed Muskie—to sew up the nomination. Like today’s NeverTrumpers, however, a “Stop McGovern” movement (of which Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter was a leader) tried to derail the senator’s bid. Even at the roll call vote, 40 percent of the delegates voted for other candidates, including Henry “Scoop” Jackson, George Wallace and Shirley Chisolm.

Platform fights had sown much acrimony and combativeness, but the convention really went awry during the vice presidential balloting. Party panjandrums wanted someone who spoke for the traditional Democratic rank and file they needed to shore up support from the blue-collar, urban and Irish Catholic Democrats who were suspicious of the far-left, wine-track McGovern. But a series of credible contenders, including Ted Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey, declined offers, leading to the selection of Missouri’s Thomas Eagleton. During the roll call, punchy delegates mocked the process, nominating Martha Mitchell (the deranged wife of Nixon’s attorney general), Archie Bunker, the Berrigan Brothers, Mao Tse-tung and other absurdities. Extending late into the night, the circus delayed McGovern’s acceptance speech until almost 3 a.m.—memorably described as “prime time in Guam.” Ratings, needless to say, suffered.

News soon emerged that Eagleton had undergone electro-shock therapy for depression. McGovern insisted he would stand by his running-mate “1000 percent”—only to drop him unceremoniously from the ticket days later in favor of Sargent Shriver.

‘I would still hold out for the big Democratic shebang in Chicago 1968’
Jack Rakove is professor of history and political science at Stanford University.

This Republican convention could certainly be a plausible candidate for, say, the three-to-five worst conventions in American political history. But as a native Cook County Democrat, and proud of it, I would still hold out for the big Democratic shebang in Chicago 1968 (which, alas, I missed, because I was called up to military service the week before it started). We will only know the significance of the 2016 GOP convention when we can measure its short- and long-term fallout, in terms of its effects on polls, the ensuing campaign, etc. Mostly it seemed to confirm the existing criticisms, both within the Republican Party and from without, of the underlying, potentially fatal defects of the Trump campaign. The convention was a nice illustration of all that—fourth-rate celebrities, discussions of avocados and Trumpian viticulture, a wholesale reliance on Trump’s status as a breeding male—but how much did it add to the existing story? Jane Mayer’s En fra New York article about the drafting of The Art of the Deal, in its own way, was just as interesting!

By contrast, the 1968 convention, per se, did have lasting implications for the Democratic Party that continued to reverberate well into the next decade. While there is no question that the challenge of dealing with “hippies, flippies and dippies,” as Mayor Richard J. Daley once described his antagonists, overwhelmed the administrative talents of the Chicago machine, the specter of wanton police brutality in Grant Park and the occasional chaos on the convention floor, including the famous outburst of Connecticut Senator Abe Ribicoff, did contribute to the fissures that haunted Hubert Humphrey’s campaign thereafter and vexed the party for a longer period.

‘A strong contender would be the Republicans in 1932’
Margaret O’Mara, associate professor of history at the University of Washington.

The 1932 Republican National Convention in Chicago. | AP Photo

Worst convention in history? A strong contender would be the Republicans in 1932. It wasn’t a moment of party implosion like the Democrats’ Chicago inferno in 1968 or the GOP’s Goldwater vs. Rockefeller throwdown in 1964. Nor was there much controversy about who’d be the nominee. Incumbent President Herbert Hoover got the nod on the first ballot (it took the Dems four votes to choose FDR that same year). But it was a failure both in substance and style. Having been in charge of the executive branch during the worst economic crisis in the nation’s history, GOP leaders decided that the best approach to the economy during the convention was to talk about it as little as possible. Instead, all the convention drama focused on the repeal of Prohibition—a hot issue within the Republican Party but one of considerably less importance to Americans standing in bread lines. Even worse, in an era when conventions were turning into major media events—both conventions that year were broadcast on national radio—the RNC was an utter snooze. Reporters pronounced it “singularly colorless.” One dispirited Republican delegate lamented that the convention was so dull that “even the nuts don’t seem to care what goes into the platform.”

With a vague economic program, a stay-the-course message, and not much drama about who’d win the nomination, the convention reinforced the narrative that the party and its president were low-energy and out of touch. People may remember that “Happy Days Are Here Again” became the campaign theme song for Franklin Roosevelt. What they may not know is that the song played first at the GOP convention that year (both events happened in the Chicago Stadium, and the house organist played the song during both). At the RNC, it sounded like a funeral march at the DNC, it fit the upbeat message. Roosevelt used it in every election afterwards.

How does the 2016 RNC stack up? It didn’t change the story, it didn’t heal party fractures, and I’d be surprised if it changed many minds. However, it is too soon to tell whether Trump’s doubling-down on his message is going to be his key to victory or the fatal step toward defeat. We’ll have to wait for the next generation of historians to assess that one.

‘The worst that the country has seen since the Democratic National Convention of 1868’
Josh Zeitz has taught American history and politics at Cambridge University and Princeton University.

If by “worst” we mean the worst-organized or worst-executed convention, the GOP gathering in Cleveland is a strong contender. But who’s to say whether a plagiarized speech, a half-empty hall and the Ted Cruz imbroglio are worse than, say, the 1972 Democratic Convention, which was so poorly run that the nominee delivered his acceptance speech at 3:00 a.m.? Or the 1924 Democratic convention, which required over 100 ballots to select a candidate? Or the 1964 Republican convention, which resembled a barroom fight?

If, however, we mean angry, ugly and venemous, then this week’s convention is probably the worst that the country has seen since the Democratic National Convention of 1868. That year, Frank Blair, an erstwhile conservative antislavery man, issued a public letter on the eve of the convention, denouncing Republicans for enfranchising a “semi-barbarous race of blacks” that “subject the white women to their unbridled lust.” Blair’s letter established the tone for the convention, whose slogan read, “This is a white man’s country. Let a white man rule.” As one Democratic strategist unabashedly acknowledged, the party’s only path to victory was to excite “the aversion with which the masses contemplate the equality of the Negro.”

One can’t quite get away with that level of racial invective today (though in a convention-week panel, Congressman Steve King essentially tried). But the 2016 convention dripped with racially charged rhetoric of a variety that we have not experienced in well over 100 years. In their incitement against Latinos and Muslims, convention speakers, including Donald Trump, made clear that they believe this is a country for Christians of European descent, and that we should let those men rule.

2016 ‘only barely edged out the 1868 Democratic National Convention’
Heather Cox Richardson is a professor of American history at Boston College.

The 2016 Republican National Convention was shocking for its disorganization, infighting,

racism, and apocalyptic language, but it only barely edged out the 1868 Democratic National Convention as the worst in American history. Curiously, the two were very similar.

In 1868, only three years after the end of the Civil War, the Democrats met in New York York City to write a platform and pick a presidential candidate. The Democrats hated the Republicans who had just defeated the Confederacy and freed the slaves, and they loathed the strong federal government that was enforcing racial equality. But their virulent opposition to the federal government did not mean unity. Party leaders had to balance the racism of white Democratic voters against the demands of eastern financiers who wanted to roll back taxes but who also wanted the new $5 billion national debt to be paid in full.

They couldn’t. The convention caved to southern whites. Delegates declared America “a white man’s country” and the platform attacked the Union government that had just won the Civil War. It called for an end to black rights, taxation and government bureaucracy. Crucially, it alienated wealthier voters by calling for the repayment of the national debt in depreciated currency. The factions fought over the nomination for 22 ballots. Then delegates, in desperation, cast votes for the convention’s chairman, a conservative New Yorker. He categorically refused to serve. But when he left the hall briefly, the convention nominated him anyway. Going into the election with a problematic candidate and little principle other than the destruction of the federal government and white supremacy, the Democrats lost.

‘It still pales in comparison to the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago’
Kevin M. Kruse is a professor of history at Princeton.

Ideally, a political convention should bring a party together and broadcast a positive image to the general public. While this year’s RNC fell considerably short on both those goals, it still pales in comparison to the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The Democrats had been thrown into chaos over the previous year—with Eugene McCarthy’s antiwar insurgency, Lyndon Johnson’s stunning announcement that he wouldn’t run again, and the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy on the campaign trail—and the convention only made things worse. Antiwar activists came to Chicago not just to protest “the party of death” but to sow chaos in the streets. In response, Mayor Richard Daley overreacted considerably: All of Chicago’s 12,000 police were put on 12-hour shifts, 7,500 regular Army troops were flown in to suppress potential riots in black neighborhoods, and 6,000 National Guardsmen were armed with flamethrowers and bazookas, trained to fight mock battles with hippies. When the convention passed a plank supporting the war, the two sides clashed in the streets outside, turning into what an official report called “a police riot.” Scenes of the street fighting were broadcast live to the whole nation for 17 minutes, and the chaos spread into the convention itself. Senator Abraham Ribicoff denounced the “Gestapo tactics” of the police from the podium, and in response Mayor Daley screamed a stream of obscenities at him. All told, the convention showed a party badly divided and out of control.

‘Trump-fest took [vitriol and character assassination] to … levels not seen since 1992’
Julian E. Zelizer is a political historian at Princeton University.

This was certainly one of the ugliest and angriest conventions in recent history. While vitriol and character assassination have always been part of party conventions, Trump-fest took this to new levels—or at least levels not seen since 1992, when Patrick Buchanan lit up the Republican convention with his call to arms for a culture war with the Democrats. A central focus of almost every speech was been to vilify and criminalize the Democratic nominee with barroom rhetoric. This is not to say the convention won’t be effective in mobilizing Trump supporters and partisan Republicans, but it has lowered the bar as to what kind of political rhetoric is permissible from the podium.

‘The 1968 Democratic Convention has long stood as the worst … Until now’
Jason Sokol is an associate professor of History at the University of New Hampshire.

The 1968 Democratic Convention has long stood as the worst convention in history. Until now. The 1968 convention showed the Democrats as a party hopelessly divided, torn in two by the Vietnam War. Inside the convention hall, Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago barked anti-Semitic epithets at Connecticut Senator Abraham Ribicoff. Outside, in Grant Park, the Chicago police savagely beat protesters. There seemed to be no worse way to nominate a president. Today’s Republicans have found a worse way. The 2016 Republican Convention was remarkable not for its bumbling shows of discord—culminating in Ted Cruz’s non-endorsement—but for the ways in which it illuminated a consistent message: hatred. Most other conventions have attempted to offer hopeful visions of the candidate and the nation. Richard Nixon did indeed pledge “law-and-order” at the 1968 Republican convention in Miami, but he softened it with doses of sunny optimism.

This convention centered on a terrifying theme of anger. The thousands of attendees reveled in their hatred for Hillary Clinton, for immigrants, for Muslims, for African Americans. Rudy Giuliani raged at black protesters. Chris Christie fueled the crowd’s fury toward Clinton, apparently hoping that millions of Americans would forget how his own political team perpetrated the most vengeful scheme since the days of Watergate. Donald Trump presided ominously over it all. In the end, Trump presented himself just as he has throughout the campaign: he is the ultimate fear-monger, with nothing but enmity to offer.

‘With [a wall] as the one concrete platform plank, literally, the Republican convention might indeed be the worst.’
Meg Jacobs, research scholar in the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University

It’s hard to call this the worst convention. The numbers who tuned in were up, the speakers unified members at the arena and at home around a central theme—anti-Hillary, and the race thus far shows that what the press sees as fumbles and gaffes does not hurt the GOP nominee and often helps him. So by those measures Trump had a good convention. He promised a good show and with the constant cheers like “lock her up” or “build a wall” or “send them home” he delivered.

The remaining question, though, is: Can a candidate sustain a race premised largely on hate and not on real policy? History suggests otherwise. Trump does offer a promise of greatness. But even that vision rests largely on targeting others. It’s hard to think of any other convention where the major party candidate has run so much on force of personality alone, promising to be the tough guy against undesirables. But targeting undesirables is not an economic platform. Trump may have been trying to channel Richard Nixon in 1968 and 1972 with his appeal to forgotten and silent Americans. All he seems to be offering, though, is permission to speak up and say ugly “politically incorrect” things. Nixon too used racially coded messages and conservative messages. And like Trump he was an opportunist. But unlike trying to rally working class and middle class Americans through nativism, Nixon also offered concrete programs. To broaden his base, he supported EPA, OSHA and even price controls to protect struggling Americans. Reagan also promised to rid the country of Jimmy Carter’s malaise through a clear conservative fiscal agenda, as did the two Bushes.

To rally his base Trump, the real estate mogul, came back to where he started his campaign with a promise to build a wall. With this promise as the one concrete platform plank, literally, the Republican convention might indeed be the worst. And if his appeal premised largely on hatred works that will be a new low.

‘This was the worst convention—if by “worst,” we mean the most fascist and populist in recent memory.’
Federico Finchelstein is professor of history at The New School in New York.

I agree that this was the worst convention—if by “worst,” we mean the most fascist and populist in recent memory. To be sure, Donald Trump’s extremism echoed that of Republicans past, like Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon. But for global historians of fascism such as myself, the convention was something entirely new, and clearly the worst from the perspective of undemocratic developments. It signaled, at the top of the Republican ticket, the new American preeminence—in line with a strain of xenophobic right-wing populism that is developing around the world.

Through Trump’s mix of racism, religious discrimination, anti-migration and anti-integration rhetoric, along with the new call for the imprisonment of his opponent, Hillary Clinton, (the “lock her up” chant was a prevailing theme at the convention), Trump presented himself on the global stage as a new dominant world leader for the populist pack. In his leadership style, a striking first at the GOP convention, Trump was less comparable to previous Republican candidates and more akin to the likes of Marine Le Pen in France, Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey and Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela. All these powerful leaders are reminiscent, in turn, of historical figures like General Juan Perón in Argentina and Getulio Vargas in Brazil, who converted fascist ideas into a form of electoral authoritarianism dubbed populism.

These leaders sent opponents to jail. Like we saw at the convention, they made a point of presenting those they did not like—whether political opponents, the media or the judiciary—as enemies rather than interlocutors or sectors of society entitled to different opinions. All populists claim to talk in the name of the masses and against the elites, just as Trump on Thursday declared, “I am your voice.” But in practice, they replace the voices of the citizens with their own singular voice. Decrying a diverse plurality of American voices, the Republican convention showed the world that America and Trumpism are writing a new chapter in the long global history of authoritarian challenges to democracy. That is a scarier outcome than any other presidential convention I can remember.


Retelling Tales of Contentious Conventions

Retelling Tales of Contentious Conventions

Sen. Everett Dirksen reacts to the vote against Robert Taft, whom he supported for president during the 1952 Republican convention in Chicago. © Bettmann/Corbis skjul bildetekst

Sen. Abraham Ribicoff cites "Gistapo tactics" of Chicago police at the 1968 Democratic convention. Corbis skjul bildetekst

Political conventions aren't what they used to be. Floor fights over platforms and nominees have given way to "unified, happy affairs," NPR News Analyst Cokie Roberts says.

As Democrats convene in Boston to nominate Sen. John Kerry, Roberts and NPR's Renee Montagne discuss the history of some of the most contentious conventions and why the gatherings aren't as dramatic as they once were.

Contentious Conventions

"The parties have been trying to go to the electorate with a unified message," Roberts says. "But beyond that, the people who control the conventions won't let the people with different views speak."

Conventions Past

The last time there was even an attempt at that was in the 1992 Democratic convention, when Pennsylvania Gov. Robert Casey wanted to talk about abortion. But Casey was told he could not make a pro-life speech at the convention.

Also long gone are conventions with a real fight over the nomination. The 1952 Republican convention pitted conservative Robert Taft of Ohio against Dwight Eisenhower. Sen. Everett Dirksen of Illinois, who backed Taft, accused Thomas Dewey, the GOP nominee in 1944 and 1948, of leading the party "down the road to defeat." Eisenhower was nominated and went on to become president.

In 1964, Barry Goldwater was considered by some Republicans to be too conservative. New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller tried to bring the GOP back to the middle, warning of "an extremist threat" to the party posed by groups like the John Birch Society. He was drowned out by cries of "we want Barry" from the convention floor. Goldwater won the nomination but lost the election in a landslide to Democrat Lyndon Johnson.

The country's deep division over the Vietnam War came to a head at the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago. Sen. Abraham Ribicoff, addressing the convention, condemned "Gestapo tactics" of Mayor Richard Daley's police cracking down on the antiwar protesters outside. Vice President Hubert Humphrey was nominated over Sen. George McGovern, who was favored by war opponents.

"There are some Democrats who think that that convention cost them the election in 1968, which was very, very close, and they haven't had a raucous convention since then," Roberts says.


When Aretha Franklin Rocked the National Anthem

In 1968, the Queen of Soul drew a fierce, racially charged reaction when she sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the Democratic National Convention. The reaction to her death shows how much America has changed—and hasn’t.

Zack Stanton is digital editor of Politico Magazine . You can find him on Twitter at @zackstanton.

Five decades ago this month—before “Chicago 1968” became shorthand for mayhem and riots, days ahead of Sen. Abe Ribicoff’s convention-stage denunciation of the police department’s “Gestapo tactics,” and minutes ahead of Mayor Richard J. Daley’s “welcome” speech threatening “law and order in Chicago”—Aretha Franklin opened the Democratic National Convention with a rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” that gave birth to days of outrage among older, white traditionalists upset that the 26-year-old black Detroiter hadn’t stuck to what they thought the script of a national anthem performance should be.

“When the Democratic party selected Aretha Franklin to sing … it apparently was not aware that a ‘soul’ version of the anthem is considered bad taste,” wrote the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Paul Jones. “The appearance of Miss Franklin stirred more controversy than even the seating of the [segregated] Georgia delegations.” “Musically, the generation gap was never so wide,” said New York Times critic Jack Gould.

True, Miss Franklin was singing behind the beat of the full military-style band playing the anthem in accompaniment, but this, her manager explained, was not a stylistic choice so much as an unintentional one—they were at one end of the arena and she was on the other, performing without the benefit of an in-ear monitor to hear them.

“Did she know the words?” harumphed Boston Globe TV critic Percy Shain. “Did she leave out ‘land of the free’? And if so, was it inadvertent or intentional, as a comment on the status of the black people?” (The missing answers: Yes, though she stumbled once No and Not Applicable.)

Watching the recording of Franklin’s performance today—knowing how everything turned out for her, that she’d come to be revered as the national consensus choice as the greatest voice of the 20th century and that her death Thursday at age 76 uncorked a nationwide outpouring of remembrance—it’s difficult to imagine what exactly people were so riled up about.

But there had never been anyone like Aretha Louise Franklin.

There’d been female pop stars, but their voices were thin, or their skin was light, or their waists were safely narrow, or their sensibilities fine-tuned for mainstream audiences. Some, like Diana Ross or Ronnie Spector, were relegated to “girl groups” under the thumb of brand-name record executives and producers. Gospel stars who crossed over were men with matinee-idol looks, like Sam Cooke. Crooners like Nat “King” Cole and Ella Fitzgerald were of an older vintage and had to sand down their rough edges. In the 1960s, black artists who made it big with white audiences—including the entire Motown stable—often had to check their politics at the door so as to avoid controversy (which, per Hitsville impresario Berry Gordy’s business sensibilities, was de facto company policy).

All of which made what Franklin was doing all the more daring. She was black. She was a woman. She had curves. She was strong, but knew deep pain. She was angry about injustice. She came from the church. She married Sunday morning with Saturday night. She didn’t apologize for it or check anything at the door. And in 1968, that made her daring.

By the time of the Democratic convention, Aretha was 19 months into a burn-your-tongue hot streak unlike anything a woman of color had ever had the opportunity to achieve. Within that time span, she became the top-selling solo female artist in music history, with nine top-10 hits.

The emotions she evokes on those songs are, half a century later, still so perfectly heartfelt it’s hard not to envision that Aretha is pouring out her soul directly onto the vinyl record press. “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” with her soft ecstasy on a lyric like “Oh baby, what you’ve done to me.” Her cut-the-bullshit tone on “Chain of Fools.” On “Think,” the way the pushback in her voice gets more and more assertive, as if she’s whipping herself into a lather the more she recalls how she’s been treated. She takes Otis Redding’s “Respect,” an up-tempo number about a man wanting to receive respect when he comes home from work, slows it down and inverts it into the story of a working woman krevende—not asking for—the treatment she’s earned. The matter-of-fact way she falls into a reverie then snaps out of it: “Oooh, your kisses—sweeter than honey. Men gjett hva? So is my money.” She owns the song so completely that we cannot imagine it ever belonging to anyone else. (Not for nothing did Chicago deejay Pervis Spann anoint her the “Queen of Soul” in October 1967.)

With so much professional success over the previous year and a half, it was a risk to sing at the 1968 Democratic National Convention amid the tumult of the Vietnam War and student protests, after the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy, with an unpopular President Lyndon B. Johnson declining to run for reelection. Offering her voice for the “The Star-Spangled Banner” at that moment in time was itself a political act. So was the flavor of the way she sang it, imprinting the stylings of black gospel music upon the national anthem, laying claim to it as belonging to people like her, even as some Southern Democrats in that very hall were threatening to leave the party and support the presidential campaign of segregationist Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace.

Today, we take for granted that pop artists can express their political views and for the most part, nobody really bats an eye. That wasn’t always the case, especially for performers of color.

Aretha Franklin was part of the reason that changed.

She’d always been a social justice activist, the unavoidable outcome of growing up the daughter of Detroit megapastor C.L. Franklin, a man born in Mississippi a half-century after the end of slavery and a half-century before the Voting Rights Act. The Rev. Franklin was an agitator for change, a man whose musical, whooping sermons were carried on black radio stations nationwide. He toured the country in the 1950s and ’60s with a gospel act that featured his daughters. In Detroit, he’d organized the June 23, 1963, Walk to Freedom, the largest civil rights march in American history at the time, where more than 100,000 demonstrators turned out and his friend, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., first delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. “He was the high priest of soul preaching,” the Rev. Jesse Jackson eulogized at C.L. Franklin’s funeral in 1984, combining “soul, silence, substance and sweetness.”

Aretha Franklin’s inheritance was a tradition in which the political was about justice, justice was about morality, morality about the church’s teachings, and the church was alive through song. “American history wells up when Aretha sings,” President Barack Obama said in 2016. How could a voice like that, charged with such raw emotion, ikke be political?

With her convention performance, people listened to Franklin and saw and heard what they wanted to or needed to. Any offense lived in the imagination, and as such, certain prejudices took hold in certain viewers.

In that sense, it is not unlike viewers’ reactions to the protests of black athletes during the national anthem today (at the urging of a military veteran, then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick chose to kneel, not sit, during the song in order to demonstrate his reverence for it). People read unintended motivations into actions, seeing or hearing what they, on some psychic level, want.

Unlike those athletes, though, Aretha Franklin wasn’t protesting during the anthem. When she sang the song’s closing line—“O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave, o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”—she was not protesting, but singing it as written, as a question rather than a claim of fact. That she was the one singing it was statement enough.


On this day in 1968, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley opened the four-day Democratic National Convention at International Amphitheater in what would prove to be the most violent such gathering in U.S. history. From its inception, the delegates were primed to nominate Vice President Hubert Humphrey for president to succeed President Lyndon B. Johnson, who chose not to run for reelection.

Outside the convention hall, tens of thousands of antiwar demonstrators took to Chicago’s streets to protest the Vietnam War.

In the ensuing days and nights, police and National Guardsmen repeatedly clashed with protesters. Hundreds of people, including many innocent bystanders, were beaten. Some were beaten unconscious, sending hundreds of them to hospital emergency rooms. There were multiple arrests.

The violence even spilled over to the convention hall, as guards roughed up some delegates and members of the press. Writer Terry Southern described the convention hall as “exactly like approaching a military installation barbed-wire, checkpoints, the whole bit.” CBS correspondents Mike Wallace and Dan Rather were roughed up by security guards — Wallace was punched in the face. Both incidents were broadcast live on television.

For the rest of the convention week, violence followed the pattern set at its start. An exception: protesters were joined on Aug. 28 by the Poor People's Campaign, led by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Ralph Abernathy. This group had a permit and was split off from other demonstrators before being allowed to proceed to the amphitheater.


Se videoen: Democratic Convention Gestapo Tactics 1968