Ribicoff protesterar mot Gestapo Tactics vid Chicago Convention 1968

Ribicoff protesterar mot Gestapo Tactics vid Chicago Convention 1968



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När blodiga upplopp utbröt mellan demonstranterna mot Vietnamkriget och Chicago-polisen utanför Demokratiska nationella konventionen 1968, drog senator Abraham Ribicoff bort sitt förberedda stödtal för George McGovern och kritiserade istället borgmästaren Richard Dalys hantering av situationen.


"Chicago 1968" den mest kontroversiella konventionen av dem alla

När Chicagos borgmästare Richard Daley insåg att betydande dissidentgrupper planerade att montera mycket synliga demonstrationer mot Vietnamkriget utanför och runt Chicagos nominerande kongress för demokratiska president 1968, föreställer man sig att en artig omskrivning av hans svar skulle vara: "Vi behöver inte detta . " Det är precis så som demonstranterna upplevde om kriget, tillsammans med andra politiker från Daleys demokratiska parti som de ansåg vara otillräckligt progressiva.

Resultatet har i nästan universell stenografi blivit känt som "Chicago 1968", en politisk konvention som tappade av rälsen för att bli lika omtumlande och oroande som året då den ägde rum.

På ett sätt var 1968 års utbyte av anklagelser och förolämpningar inte mycket annorlunda än det som alltid har och fortfarande sker dagligen i ett land som åtminstone teoretiskt omfattar yttrandefriheten.

Slå på någon kabelnyhetskanal eller talk-radioprogram idag, och du kommer att höra någon berätta varför någon annan är en farlig idiot.

Skillnaden 1968 var att varje sida tog det på gatorna, vilket väckte den typ av blodiga fysiska uppgörelser som en generation senare skulle vara mer förknippad med Serbien eller Somalia.

Det är inte vår heder att bilder av våldsamma inhemska konfrontationer var vanliga på amerikanska tv-skärmar under 1960-talet, ett decennium som började med onda misshandel av fredliga medborgerliga demonstranter och senare växte till urbana uppror och uppror. Även i det sammanhanget var det som hände vid den demokratiska konventet för 40 år sedan tillräckligt intensivt för att stoppa allt.

När demokraterna samlades inuti den internationella amfiteatern för att utse Minnesota senator Hubert H. Humphrey till president och stödja det mesta av arvet från avgående president Lyndon B. Johnson, försökte demonstranter utanför att på alla sätt uppmärksamma deras kritik av Johnsons Vietnamkrig.

Demonstranterna samlade aldrig de siffror de hade hoppats få in till stan. Trots tidigt prat om 100 000 var leden mindre än en fjärdedel av det vid showtime.

De som visade sig för marscher, sammankomster och tal insåg således ännu mer akut att uppmärksamheten de skulle få berodde delvis på Chicagos myndigheter, särskilt Daley och hans polis, och behandlade dem som om de verkligen var en stor och farlig armé.

Det var Strategi 101: Ju mer uppmärksamhet de fick, desto fler skulle på något sätt höra deras budskap, vilket var det brådskande med vilket de kände att Amerika var tvungen att inte bara avsluta kriget utan ompröva hela dess riktning.

De flesta i landet var inte överens om den andra delen. De flesta av landet kanske ännu inte har kommit överens om kriget, även om det var i vilken riktning allmänhetens tankar gick, i snabbare takt.

Poängen med att utmana demokraterna i Chicago var att påskynda den takten. Det var det gamla bonde-och-mule-skämtet, där bonden som vill att mullan ska börja plöja bryter en bräda över mullens huvud. På frågan varför svarar han: "Först måste du få hans uppmärksamhet."

Rent som teater var Chicago 1968 en del streetcorner -dans och en del Shakespeare. Det brydde sig mellan komedi och tragedi, och vävde självförtroende spelande in i djupa meningsskiljaktigheter om nationens grundläggande principer.

En absurdistisk gren av demonstranterna, Yippie -partiet under avlidna Abbie Hoffman och Jerry Rubin, höll ett evenemang där det nominerade en gris (Pigasus, ett namn lånat från John Steinbeck och Oz -böckerna) till president.

En mörkare anteckning var ett tal av Connecticut senator Abraham Ribicoff den femte kvällen vid kongressen, efter den klimatiska sammandrabbningen mellan polis och demonstranter.

Ribicoff nominerade senator George McGovern i South Dakota som ett progressivt "fred" -alternativ för presidenten - ett rent symboliskt drag, då Humphreys nominering var säker.

Men Ribicoff tog tillfället i akt att gå ett steg längre:

"Med George McGovern som USA: s president, skulle vi inte behöva ha Gestapo -taktik på Chicagos gator", sa han och drog igång ett åskväder av jubel och boos på golvet.

Tv-kameror skar till Daleys reaktion, och medan det inte fanns något ljud verkade hans läpprörelse överensstämmande med frasen "F-du, Abe."

Daley sa senare att han helt enkelt hade kallat Ribicoff för en "falsk".

Det är möjligt. Vad som inte kan diskuteras är att den femte natten hade spänningen för länge sedan sugit ut allt syre från Chicago och båda sidor körde på rent adrenalin.

I den bemärkelsen kändes 1968 års demokratiska konvention som en perfekt metafor för 1968 års Amerika.

Du skulle inte kalla 1968 det sämsta året i amerikansk historia. Det matchar inte inbördeskrigsåren, den stora depressionen eller 1941, då vi bombades in i ett världskrig.

Men 1968 hade sina problem, även efter uppkomsten av Fruitgum Company 1910 på topp 40-radio. Martin Luther Jr. King mördades. Robert Kennedy mördades. Städer brann. En vecka i mars dog mer än 500 amerikaner i Vietnam.

På många sätt kändes Amerika 1968 som ett skepp som lossnade från sina förtöjningar och red ut en storm. Reglerna kändes lite mer förhandlingsbara, improvisation lite mer nödvändiga.

Till slut, ironiskt nog, drog Demokratiska konventionen bort värmen och ilskan för att göra precis vad den skulle ha gjort om delegaterna helt enkelt hade träffats helt själva till lunch i en lugn privat matklubb.

De nominerade Humphrey, den ultimata partisoldaten, med en marginal på 1 759,25 röster mot 601 för Minnesota Sen. Eugene McCarthy. De bekräftade sitt åtagande att hjälpa andra suveräna stater att motstå uppror utanför, dvs. de stödde kriget.

De beundrade också partiets inhemska arv från de föregående fyra åren, som de borde ha gjort. Civil Rights Act och Voting Rights Act var de rätta sakerna för Amerika, även om de slet sönder det demokratiska partiet som fick dem att hända.

Inom en generation berättade sydlänningar som ärvde ett blodhat mot det republikanska partiet som går tillbaka till Radical Republicans of Reconstruction för sig själva att under Mason-Dixon-linjen var republikanen den nya demokraten.

Att Lyndon Johnson starkbeväpnade dessa räkningar genom kongressen, till fullo medveten om deras politiska konsekvenser, var en av de extraordinära politiska handlingarna under 1900-talet.

Men han vann ingen "profil i mod" -poäng 1968, ett år då nästan alla blickar riktades mot kriget och, för det andra, vändningen i medborgerliga rättigheter från fredliga demonstrationer till en växande otålig militans.

Så sent som hösten 1967, när en halv miljon demonstranter marscherade mot Washington för att protestera mot kriget, antogs det att Johnson, som 1964 valdes med en av historiens bredaste marginaler, skulle renomineras med acklamation.

Antikrigsrörelsen hade försökt rekrytera en högprofilerad kandidat för att motsätta sig honom, med fokus på New York senator Robert Kennedy efter att han uttryckt växande reservationer mot kriget som hans avlidna bror var avgörande för att definiera som ett amerikanskt uppdrag.

Kennedy avböjde dock att göra den utmaningen, vilket lämnade smala val. De enda två senatorerna som hade utrett motståndet till kriget hur länge som helst var Wayne Morse från Oregon och Ernest Gruening i Alaska, trovärdiga äldre statsmän men inte livskraftiga presidentkandidater.

Så det var med liten fanfare som den lågprofilerade McCarthy förklarade sin kandidatur den 30 november 1967.

McCarthy var ingen långhårig, brinnande antikrigsradikal. Han var en lugn talare, given till litterär anspelning, intellektuell argumentation, poesi och troll ironi. Han var noggrant preparerad, vilket återspeglade det faktum att han utanför sitt krig motsatte sig ofta också var konservativ i sin politik. Han hade nästan kommit in i prästerskapet i sin ungdom, och många av hans positioner stod i strid med dem som allmänt innehöll i antikrigsrörelsen.

Så han ansågs vara den mest symboliska anti-Johnson-kandidaten.

Men eftersom han var den enda hästen att rida, föll mycket av antikrigsrörelsen - exklusive den radikala utkanten - in. Studenterna tog vårterminen från klassen för att "bli ren för genen", klippa håret och främja artigt väljarregistrering och få-out-the-omröstningskampanjer.

Den 12 mars 1968 fick McCarthy 42% av rösterna i New Hampshire -primären. Johnson, som inte aktivt kampanjerade, fick 48%.

Allt var inte nödvändigtvis ett antikrigsuttalande. Faktum är att många konservativa New Hampshire -väljare förmodligen var lika besvikna över Johnsons Great Society -program som efter kriget.

Ändå sa en okänd kandidat som hade en sittande president till mindre än hälften av rösterna att ytterligare en våg hade slagit fartyget.

Den 31 mars meddelade Johnson att han inte skulle söka ytterligare en mandatperiod, tyst lämnade han bollen för att hämtas av hans vice president, Humphrey.

En gång känd som en eldig, populistisk liberal, betraktades Humphrey nu allmänt som festkillen, den som inte skulle rocka några båtar.

Detta var bra när det gäller att lugna ett land som redan kände sig gungat. Det hjälpte inte alls att få fram det kritiska budskapet, att han ville sluta kriget snarare än att förlänga det.

Så det fanns en mycket bredare öppning för en antikrigskandidat nu, och snart hade Robert Kennedy funderat över saker och meddelat sin egen kandidatur.

Eller, som McCarthy drolly observerade, "Före New Hampshire var det en senator som stödde mig. Jag tror inte att så är fallet längre."

Ändå hade Kennedy en uppförsbacke mot Humphrey, som hade stöd av Daley och praktiskt taget hela det demokratiska etablissemanget.

Men Kennedy hade utstrålningen och namnet för att bära bollen längre än McCarthy, och efter att han vann den demokratiska primärvalet i Kalifornien den 5 juni verkade det möjligt att antikrigssidan kunde slå igenom på Chicago-konventionen, om bara i partiet plattform.

Minuter senare fick mycket av det hoppet ett dödligt slag i Ambassador Hotel -köket i Los Angeles, där han mördades när han lämnade byggnaden efter sitt segertal.

Kom i slutet av augusti, men det avskräckte inte tusentals demonstranter som hade bestämt demokraterna - makten, makten och partiet som drivit kriget - behövde konfronteras med dess konsekvenser.

Följaktligen satte Daley 12 000 Chicago-poliser på 12-timmarsskift under hela tiden. Han kallade också in 7500 arméstyrkor och 6000 nationella gardister, vilket gav honom bara lite färre trupper än Alexander den store befallde när han marscherade ut för att styra världen runt 335 f.Kr.

Demonstranter som ville ha tillstånd att montera blandades till Lincoln Park och Grant Park, miles från kongresscentret. De flesta förfrågningar om att marschera mot amfiteatern nekades. En 23.00 utegångsförbud förklarades.

Daley hade inte för avsikt att låta sin stad se oordning ut.

På gatorna och parkerna präglades de första nätterna av kongressen av sporadiska utmaningar för polisen och sporadiska polissvar, många involverade den problematiska klockan 23.00. utegångsförbud.

De två sidorna cirklade varandra, figurativt och bokstavligen. Inne i konventet talade antikrigsstyrkorna tappert medan traditionalisterna, den som trodde att det skulle vara galenskap och politiskt självmord för demokraterna att förneka allt deras ledare sagt och gjort under de senaste sex åren, gradvis bekräftade sin majoritet.

I det hålet tappade allt realistiskt hopp om en fredsplattform.

Utanför fick demonstranterna lite press och irriterade myndighetspersonerna, vilket var en annan, mindre påtaglig och mindre omedelbar makt än Daley höll.

Men det var sin egen kraft.

På femte dagen avvisade demokraterna formellt fredsplattformen och någonstans samlades omkring 6 000 demonstranter i Grant Park.

Avvisandet av fredsplattformen följdes nästan omedelbart av nomineringen av Humphrey, en en-två-slag som, medan den förväntades, fortfarande skickade demonstranternas frustration kokande över.

Även om de inte hade tillåtelse att marschera någonstans, och det var mycket osannolikt att de skulle ha marscherat 10 mil genom några av Chicagos hårdaste stadsdelar till amfiteatern, bestämde de sig för att flytta ut ur parken och gå någonstans, även om det bara var mot Hilton Hotell tvärs över gatan, där många kongresspersonal och assistenter bodde.

Så de började trycka sig ut, även när polisen var redo att genomdriva en till 23.00. utegångsförbud. Det var då den mest kända delen av ful började.

Vissa observatörer sa att det började när polisen klubbade en man som försökte sänka en amerikansk flagga. Men den typen av "incident" exploderade snart överallt.

Chicago -myndigheterna uppmanade polisen att rensa området framför Hilton, tydligen inte insett att de flesta där inte var demonstranter, utan människor som deltog i kongressen, liksom turister och andra civila.

Polisen, deras egna frustrationer lika akuta som demonstranterna, vadade in. Läkare som försökte hjälpa de skadade klubbades. Medhjälpare till högt uppsatta demokratiska tjänstemän klubbades. Alla var tårgasade.

Det fanns rapporter om att polisen hejade på en soldat som attackerade en kameraman som filmade händelserna.

Men massor av film överlevde, och inom en timme var det på nationell tv. Det var då Ribicoff åberopade Gestapo. På ABC-tv diskuterade den konservativa William F. Buckley och den liberala Gore Vidal samma frågor, med Gore Vidal som sa: "den enda krypto-nazisten jag kan tänka mig är dig själv" och Buckley svarade: "Lyssna nu, du queer, sluta ringa mig en krypto-nazist, annars sockar jag dig i ditt jävla ansikte så stannar du kvar. "

Som ofta händer i striden var uppmärksamheten på de krigande sidorna oproportionerlig i förhållande till deras faktiska antal, vilket inte alls spelade någon roll. På tv såg det ut som att Daleys Chicago hade upptäckts i det han ogillade och fruktade mest: oordning.

Konsekvenserna av Chicago 1968 var flera. Åtta demonstranter greps anklagade för konspiration och uppvigling till upplopp: David Dellinger, Abbie Hoffman, John Froines, Jerry Rubin, Bobby Seale, Rennie Davis, Lee Weiner och Tom Hayden.

De blev Chicago Seven när Seales övergrepp mot domaren Julius Hoffman, efter att Hoffman hade beordrat honom bojtade och gagged, fick honom att kastas ut. Efter en av Amerikas stora övningar i rättslig absurditet dömdes flera på olika anklagelser, inklusive förakt för domstol. Domarna kastades alla till slut.

Dellinger, Rubin, Hoffman och advokat William Kunstler prövades och dömdes av en annan domare, som dömde dem till ingenting.

Allt gick vidare till offentliga karriärer. Hayden blev montör i Kalifornien, Seale skriver kokböcker. Hoffman begick självmord.


Född i New Britain, Connecticut, till Ashkenazi judiska immigranter från Polen, Samuel Ribicoff, fabriksarbetare och Rose Sable Ribicoff, gick han på lokala offentliga skolor. Ribicoffs relativt fattiga föräldrar uppskattade utbildning och insisterade på att alla hans intäkter från deltidsjobbar skulle gå till hans framtida skolgång. Efter gymnasiet arbetade han ett år på en närliggande fabrik i G. E. Prentice Company för att tjäna ytterligare medel för college. Ribicoff skrev in sig vid New York University 1928 och överförde sedan till University of Chicago efter att Prentice Company gjort honom till Chicago -chefen. Medan han var i Chicago klarade Ribicoff skol- och arbetsscheman och fick gå in på universitetets juristskola innan han avslutade sin grundutbildning. Fortfarande student, gifte han sig med Ruth Siegel den 28 juni 1931 skulle de få två barn. Ribicoff fungerade som redaktör för University of Chicago Law Review under sitt tredje år och fick en LLB cum laude 1933, att bli antagen till Connecticut bar samma år. Efter att ha praktiserat juridik på kontoret för en advokat i Hartford inrättade Ribicoff sin praktik, först i Kensington och senare i Hartford.

Efter att ha blivit intresserad av politik började Ribicoff som medlem i Connecticut -representanthuset och tjänstgjorde i det organet från 1938 till 1942. Från 1941 till 1943 och igen från 1945 till 1947 var han domare vid Hartford Police Court. Under sin politiska karriär var Ribicoff en protégé av John Moran Bailey, den mäktiga ordföranden för Democratic Party of Connecticut.

USA: s representant Redigera

Han valdes som demokrat till de 81: a och 82: a kongresserna och tjänstgjorde från 1949 till 1953. Under den tiden tjänstgjorde han i utrikeskommittén, en tjänst som vanligtvis var reserverad för ledamöter med mer anciennitet och var en mestadels lojal anhängare av utländska och inrikespolitik för president Harry S. Trumans administration. Generellt liberal i sin syn, överraskade han många genom att motsätta sig ett anslag på 32 miljoner dollar för byggandet av en damm i Enfield, Connecticut, med argumentet att pengarna var bättre spenderade på militära behov och utrikespolitiska initiativ som Marshallplanen.

År 1952 gjorde han ett misslyckat valförbud för att fylla en ledig plats i USA: s senat och förlorade mot Prescott Bush.

Guvernör i Connecticut Redigera

Efter att ha återvänt till sin juridiska praxis i två år ställde han upp som guvernör mot sittande republikanska John Davis Lodge och vann valet med drygt tre tusen röster. Som guvernör (1955–1961) stod Ribicoff snart inför utmaningen att återuppbygga sin stat i kölvattnet av förödande översvämningar som inträffade under sensommaren och hösten 1955, och han ledde framgångsrikt tvåpartisansträngningar för att hjälpa skadade områden. Ribicoff argumenterade sedan framgångsrikt för ökade statliga utgifter för skolor och välfärdsprogram. Han stödde också en ändring av den statliga konstitutionen som förstärkte de lokala kommunernas styrande befogenheter. Enkelt omvald 1958, hade Ribicoff nu blivit aktiv på den nationella politiska scenen. En mångårig vän till Massachusetts senator John F. Kennedy, Ribicoff hade nominerat sin kollega New Englander till vice president vid Demokratiska nationella kongressen 1956 och var en av de första offentliga tjänstemännen som godkände Kennedys presidentkampanj.

Sekreterare för hälsa, utbildning och välfärd Redigera

När Kennedy blev president 1961 erbjöd han Ribicoff sitt val av regeringsposter i den nya administrationen. Han avböjde enligt uppgift generaladvokaten, av rädsla för att han kan skapa onödig kontrovers inom den framväxande medborgerliga rörelsen eftersom han var judisk, och valde istället att vara sekreterare för hälsa, utbildning och välfärd (HEW). Även om han lyckades säkerställa en översyn av 1935 års socialförsäkringslag som avreglerade kraven på medel till stödberoende barn från kongressen, kunde Ribicoff inte få godkännande för administrationens räkningar för Medicare och skolstöd. Så småningom tröttnade han på att försöka hantera HEW, vars storlek gjorde det enligt honom oöverskådligt.

Ribicoff reflekterade över att han huvudsakligen sökte tjänsten som HEW -sekreterare av oro för utbildning och "insåg att hälso- och välfärdsproblemen var så överordnade att utbildningen förflyttades till bakljuset" under hans tjänstgöringstid. [1]

Han valdes slutligen till USA: s senat 1962 och ersatte den sittande prescott Bush genom att besegra den republikanska nominerade Horace Seely-Brown med 51% av rösterna. Han tjänstgjorde i senaten från 3 januari 1963 till 3 januari 1981.

Lyndon B. Johnson efterträdde Kennedy som president när den senare mördades 1963. Ribicoff stöttade Johnson till en början men vände sig så småningom mot Vietnamkriget och presidentens ledning av det och trodde att det tappade hårt behövliga resurser från inhemska program.

Ribicoff allierade sig med konsumentförespråkaren Ralph Nader när han skapade Motor Vehicle Highway Safety Act från 1966, som skapade National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Byrån var ansvarig för många nya säkerhetsstandarder på bilar. Dessa standarder var tvivelaktiga eftersom fram till dess hade tonvikten alltid lagts på föraren. Som svar sade Ribicoff att:

Föraren har många fel. Han är vårdslös han är slarvig han är hänsynslös. Vi förstår det. Jag tror att det kommer att vara millenniet om du någonsin kommer att få en situation där miljontals förare alla kommer att vara perfekta. De kommer alltid att göra fel och göra misstag.

Vid Demokratiska nationella kongressen 1968, under ett tal som nominerade George McGovern, hans senatoriska kollega från South Dakota, gick han ut ur manuset och sa: "Och med George McGovern som president i USA skulle vi inte behöva ha Gestapo-taktik på Chicagos gator. " Många kongressdeltagare, som blev förfärade över svaret från Chicago-polisen på de samtidigt pågående antikrigsdemonstrationerna, bröt omedelbart i extatisk applåder. Tv -kameror fokuserade snabbt på den upprörda reaktionen från Chicagos borgmästare Richard J. Daley. Ribicoff tillbringade de återstående åren av sin senatskarriär med att kämpa för frågor som skolintegration, välfärd och skattereform och konsumentskydd.

Under Demokratiska nationella kongressen 1972 erbjöd presidentkandidaten George McGovern Ribicoff den demokratiska vice presidentvalet, men han tackade nej och det gick så småningom till senator Thomas Eagleton. [2] Efter att Eagleton drog sig tillbaka bad McGovern Ribicoff (bland andra) att ta Eagletons plats. Han vägrade och offentliggjorde att han inte hade några ytterligare ambitioner för högre ämbete. McGovern valde så småningom Sargent Shriver som sin löpande kompis. Senare 1972, efter hans hustrus död, gifte Ribicoff sig med Lois Mell Mathes, som blev känd som "Casey". [3]

Framtidens amerikanska senator Joe Lieberman arbetade på Ribicoffs senatskontor som sommarpraktikant och träffade sin första fru, Betty Haas, där.

Den 3 maj 1979 meddelade Ribicoff sin avsikt att gå i pension vid slutet av sin tredje mandatperiod. President Jimmy Carter släppte ett uttalande som krediterade Ribicoff med att ha "sammanställt en framstående karriär inom public service som kan fungera som en modell för anständighet, medkänsla och förmåga." [4]

1981 uppfyllde Ribicoff sitt löfte om att gå i pension från senaten och tog ställning som särskild advokat i New York advokatbyrå Kaye Scholer LLP och delade sin tid mellan hem i Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut och Manhattan. Han var medordförande för 1988 Base Realignment and Closure Commission.

Efter att ha lidit under sina senare år av effekterna av Alzheimers sjukdom, dog han 1998 på hebreiska hemmet för åldrande i Riverdale i Bronx, New York City, och ligger begravd på Cornwall Cemetery i Cornwall, Connecticut.


1968 Demokratiska nationella konventionen

I hela landet och i Chicago var spänningarna redan höga när delegaterna till den demokratiska nationella konventionen anlände till öppningssessionen detta datum. Förstörelsen av kungupploppen på väst- och södra sidan i april var fortfarande ett levande minne. I juni hade senator Robert F. Kennedys sista ord inkluderat frasen "till Chicago" när hans presidentkandidatur kortades av en lönnmördares kula i Kalifornien.

Färgglada unga aktivister som Abbie Hoffman och Jerry Rubin hade lovat att leda demonstranter från Vietnamkriget till Chicago för att störa kongressen. Chicago -polisen drev paranoia genom att offentliggöra rapporter om att demonstranter planerade att öka stadens vattenförsörjning med LSD. Borgmästare Richard J. Daley gjorde det klart att han inte skulle bäcka några försök att störa kongressen eller skämma över stadens namn. Illinois National Guard kallades upp och vägar till International Amphitheatre omringades av så stor säkerhet att Tribune kallade kongressplatsen och kvoten verklig stockade. & Quot

När delegaterna trängde sig in i Chicagos hotell i centrum flyttade tusentals unga demonstranter in i Lincoln Park. Försök att få stadstillstånd för att övernatta i parken hade misslyckats. Så varje natt flyttade polisen in, ibland med hjälp av tårgas och fysisk kraft för att rensa ut dem. Till en början fokuserade nyhetsmedierna på händelser på amfiteatern, där humöret blossade upp under debatten om Vietnamkriget. CBS -nyhetsmännen Mike Wallace och Dan Rather blev grovt på kameran av säkerhetsvakter, vilket fick ankaret Walter Cronkite att tonas till en nationell publik.

Sammandrabbningarna nådde en höjdpunkt onsdagen den 28 augusti. Tv -kameror på Conrad Hilton Hotel (tidigare Stevens Hotel) vände sina kameror mot publiken, som skanderade & quotThe hele världen tittar. & Quot Någon kastade en ölburk. Polisen anklagade och drog ut demonstranter och slog dem med klubbor och nävar. & quotMånga kongressbesökare. . . var förfärade över vad de ansåg onaturlig entusiasm av polisen för jobbet med att gripa demonstranter, & quot Tribune rapporterade nästa dag. Det skulle senare kallas ett "poliotopplopp." Den kvällen i sitt tal som nominerade George McGovern kritiserade senator Abraham Ribicoff Connecticut -taktiken på Chicago -gatorna.

Först i augusti 1996, med en annan borgmästare Daley som driver Chicago, återvände demokraterna. Den konventionen, vid vilken president Bill Clinton nominerades för en andra mandatperiod, var en noggrant hanterad affär. Men hela världen såg inte.


'68 MOMENT STÅR UT I RIBICOFF -TRIBUTER

Tidigare senaten George S. McGovern påminde om måndagen hur bedövad han var när hans gamla vän och kollega Abe Ribicoff konfronterade Chicagos borgmästare Richard J. Daley vid Demokratiska nationella kongressen 1968.

Detta var trots allt inte bara staden där Daley styrde, utan också konventionen där Daley var herre och verkställare, de facto befälhavare för polisen utanför kongresshallen som förde vad nyhetsmedierna skulle kalla en & quotpitched battle & quot med demonstranter.

McGovern var en presidentpost i sista minuten och försökte hålla ihop delegater som hade varit lojala mot den dödade Robert F. Kennedy. Han såg på när Ribicoff talade från pallen, tog av glasögonen, berömde McGovern och anklagade Daley och hans löjtnanter för & quotGestapo -taktik. & Quot

"Det var säkert karaktäristiskt", återkallade McGovern i en intervju måndag. & quot Men det galvaniserade säkert konventionen. & quot

Ribicoff dog söndag vid 87, och i varje hyllning, i varje dödsannons, minns han honom som mannen som stod upp inte bara för Daley, utan också för det demokratiska etablissemanget. Det var något som Washington insiders, särskilt amerikanska senatorer, helt enkelt inte gjorde någonstans, än mindre på nationell tv framför partiets bosatta kungmakare.

Ribicoff har helt klart en viktig plats i Connecticuts politiska historia som tidigare guvernör och senator. Men utanför staten minns han mest för det ögonblicket i Chicago.

Ribicoff var mycket en del av Washington-etablissemanget som antikrigsdemonstranter hade tagit som fienden i slutet av 1960-talet.

"Han var en liberal till måttlig politiker, nära Kennedys," sa Stephen J. Wayne, professor i regering vid Georgetown University.

Ribicoff var president Kennedys första sekreterare för hälsa, utbildning och välfärd 1961. Han lämnade kabinettet nästa år och valde att söka en amerikansk senatsplats från Connecticut 1962.

"De var förmodligen hans minst tillfredsställande år," sa senator Joseph I. Lieberman, D-Conn., i sin hyllning på senaten i måndagen med hänvisning till Ribicoffs tid i regeringen. & quotHan skulle säga, 'jag är van att vara min egen man.' & quot

Han vann senatsplatsen och blev snabbt bekvämt känd som en lojal demokrat, med särskilt nära band till partiets stamgäster som John M. Bailey, staten och nationella partiordförande. Han var en kämpe för progressiva frågor som miljö, motorvägssäkerhet och Medicare.

Ribicoff stod inför omval 1968 och ville vara en del av det han kallade & quotnew politiska krafter. & Quot i juni anpassade sig Ribicoff till McGovern.

Han hade gått med på att hålla South Dakota -senatorns nominerande tal på kongressens tredje natt.

Det var en kväll när amerikanerna såg en kuslig sammansättning av Chicago och "springer i blod", som författaren Theodore H. White skulle skriva, medan kongressen seriöst bedrev sin noggrant utformade verksamhet.

Ribicoff hade förberett anmärkningar redo på TelePrompTer. Sittande cirka 15 meter därifrån satt Daley och hans Illinois-delegation, ett följe White som märkte en samling av & quotpudgy, cigarrrökande politiker. & Quot

Ribicoff tog bort glasögonen och stirrade på Daley. Med George McGovern som president i USA skulle vi inte ha den Gestapo -taktiken på Chicagos gator. Med George McGovern skulle vi inte ha ett National Guard. & Quot

Hallen bröt ut. Daley gestikulerade grovt på Ribicoff och yttrade en obscenitet, vars formulering fortfarande är en källa till debatt.

"Hur svårt det är," sa Ribicoff, hans röst skakade. & quotHur svårt det är att acceptera sanningen, när vi känner till problemen som vår nation står inför. & quot

Ribicoff skulle fortsätta, men ingen kom riktigt ihåg något mer.

Även om det finns andra akter och längre fram i det amerikanska politiska livet, minns man vanligtvis människor för händelsen som först väcker allmänhetens uppmärksamhet.

Till exempel, även om John Glenn har haft en lång senatskarriär, inklusive att vara den högsta demokraten i utskottet som utreder kampanjfinansiering, är det mest troligt att historieböcker citerar honom som den första amerikanen som kretsade runt jorden, 1962, och sedan återvände till rymden som septuagenarian.

Ribicoff tjänstgjorde ytterligare 12 år i senaten efter Chicago, men den natten i augusti 1968 skulle för alltid markera honom som en etableringsfigur som utomstående kunde omfamna.

"Vad han gjorde motiverade alla människor på kongressen att gå hem och börja arbeta med sin kampanj," minns Anne Wexler, en Washington -konsult och en statsdelegat från 1968. & quot Alla McCarthy och Kennedys huvudkontor omvandlades omedelbart till Ribicoffs högkvarter. & quot

Fyra år senare bedövade McGovern amerikansk politik genom att vinna den demokratiska nomineringen. Han sa på måndagen att han ville ha Ribicoff på sin biljett och erbjöd honom vice presidentplats innan han bosatte sig på senator Thomas F. Eagleton i Missouri. Eagleton drog sig senare efter rapporter om att han hade behandlats för depression.

Ribicoff sa nej till erbjudandet. & quotHan sa till mig att han skulle gifta sig, & quot McGovern erinrade, & quotand [sa] "Det sista vi behöver är en presidentkampanj." & quot

Ribicoff återvände till senaten, där han som seniormedlem hade nyckelroller i utformningen av räkningar.

"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 New York-bo 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. Tills nu. 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 dölj bildtext

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

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 krävande—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 gissa vad? 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, inte 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.


Titta på videon: CBS - 1968 Democratic Convention - Gestapo tactics