Can Chicago’s 2024 DNC shake off the long shadow of ’68?

Dick Simpson were there. It was 1968, and he was serving as campaign manager in Illinois for Eugene McCarthy, whose pro-peace views had endeared him to young pro-Vietnam War protesters. Simpson found himself participating in protests outside the Conrad Hilton hotel, site of the Democratic Party’s convention headquarters at the time, as well as marches to the International Amphitheater, home of the Democratic Party’s convention headquarters. the demolished 1968 convention organizer, which became synonymous with the massive protests it attracted and the chaotic police riots it inspired.

Simpson told me that such violence is “unlikely to repeat,” as Chicago prepares to host another Democratic convention — scheduled for the week of August 19 — amid unrest Civil. However, the former Chicago councilman, political consultant and retired University of Illinois Chicago political science professor sees parallels between the Vietnam protests he participated in and the The situation has roiled universities in recent weeks. “The protests across the country remind me of the protests against the Vietnam War,” Simpson told me recently. “Especially in the 1960s when I was a student.”

Democrats have bristled at the comparison, which has been cornucopia inside political press recently. Instead, the party argues that the 2024 convention should be like the one Chicago hosted in 1996, which was held without incident. And that prediction may be correct: First, the Mayor Brandon Johnson, Who spurred a wave of progressive activism arriving on the fifth floor of City Hall, it was not Old Man Daley but the Chief of the Chicago Police Department Larry Snelling Have swear to allow protesters to have their voices heard. But more broadly, the social turmoil of this current cycle, while intense, is nothing like what was experienced 56 years ago, when the convention took place against the backdrop of the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. Unlike the Vietnam War, the war in Gaza is being waged by Israel with American support, not American troops. And for all the bitter divisions within the elected coalition Joe Biden four years ago, Democrats viewed their party as much more united around their candidate than surrounding Republicans. Donald Trump.

“As the country looks to Chicago this August,” said a spokesman for the Democratic National Convention Matt Hill speak Vanity fair in a statement, “Democratic unity and excitement will stand in stark contrast to the chaos and extremism that pervades the GOP.”

But even if 2024 doesn’t repeat 1968, it could at least be a close rhyme. Anger at Biden’s “unwavering” support for Israel amid its bombardment of Gaza—said to have left at least 35,000 Palestinians killed—have boiled over on college campuses across the country, often sparking controversy harsh reaction from the police and a call for the National Guard to be sent in. The president himself has opposed the latter, but has disparage the disorder about the protests and said they did not change his views on the war, which even the Senator Bernie Sanders—who supported Biden’s campaign—was suggestion maybe his Vietnam Maybe something will change between now and August, when national Democrats head to Chicago to re-nominate Biden. But if things don’t change, Simpson told me, the city could become “something like a tinderbox.”

What exactly that means depends on which side of the Democratic Party line you fall on.

From one side, you can view the convention’s predictions of chaos the same way you view the disaster of the convention Scary poll suggests Biden is trailing Trump: a concern, of course, but greatly exaggerated. “I don’t think it would be great to automatically jump to a historical analogy, just because it’s the same city,” said. Tom Bowen, a Chicago-based Democratic strategist who worked on the former president’s campaigns Barack Obama and former mayor Rahm Emmanuel And Lightfoot Lori. “It was a dramatically different time.” Just because there are high-profile protests, he said, “that doesn’t mean it has captured the ideology of the entire party.”

“It’s not playing out in the electorate the way I think people, especially the protest side, are telling people,” Bowen added.

Of course, those “on the protest side” see things differently: Although every conference is accompanied by protests, this year “will be unprecedented, bigger than anything we have seen before.” I have done it,” said Hate Abudayyeh, executive director of the Arab American Action Network of Chicago and leader of the Marching Coalition at the Democratic National Convention. “They want a smooth convention,” Abudayyeh said of Democrats. opinion poll appeared deeply divided about Biden’s dealings with Israel. But he and other activists, he said, “want to cause trouble.”

Whether they can do that remains to be seen. The protest coalition wants to march within “sight and sound” of the United Center, the main convention site, and McCormick Place, the lakeside convention center where party business will be conducted. But Chicago does discarded object protesters’ permits, prompting legal challenges from the American Civil Liberties Union, which said the city was not ready for the scale of possible protests this summer. “Despite suggestions by some Chicago officials that the city is prepared for the Democratic National Convention, we are here today because they have not,” ACLU of Illinois communications director Ed Yohnka told reporters earlier this month, after the group filed its application lawsuit on behalf of LGBTQ+ and reproductive rights groups that were denied permission to march on a route on the Magnificent Mile, located in the heart of downtown Chicago. It’s unclear what will happen in the legal battle, but Abudayyeh said it doesn’t matter: He and other protesters will “march with or without a permit,” he said. speak.

That doesn’t mean this year’s conference will be chaotic. An official familiar with the plan spoke to Vanity fair that they were confident in their preparations for the August conference.

By contrast, the 1968 convention was a perfect storm — a convergence of social chaos and an out-of-control police force there, as Mayor Richard J. Daley noted. speak in a notorious gaffe at the time, “to maintain chaos.” But the Biden camp has one concern: that Trump will attack any sign of upheaval, as he did with pro-Palestinian camps. “It really belongs to Biden,” Trump speak last month, addressing university protests. “What is going on is a disgrace to our country.” Indeed, like Richard Nixon in ’68, the former president has “encouraged civil unrest as a political strategy,” as one Biden campaign adviser told me, and will likely continue to do so.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *