How Much Can 1968 Tell Us About 2020?


“… I repeated a basic observation: When chaos is everywhere, voters tend to reward politicians who promise calm — which is what Nixon seemed credibly to do in 1968. But campaigning for congressional candidates in 1970, Nixon responded to metastasizing disorder under his watch with frenzied rhetoric about ‘thugs and hooligans.’ His even more frenzied vice president, Spiro Agnew, said the thugs and hooligans received ‘fawning approval’ from Democratic elected officials. Meanwhile, Senator Edmund Muskie, Democrat of Maine, gave a soothing election-eve address pointing out how this rhetoric was exacerbating America’s divisions — much in the way Joe Biden points this out now. Then, in the congressional races of that year, voters rewarded Democrats with overwhelming victories. I concluded, ‘When disorder is all around them, voters tend to blame the person in charge — and, sometimes, punish those who exploit the disorder for political gain.’ I described the ways the then and the now radically diverge. In the 1960s, the racial backlash followed an unprecedented flurry of civil rights and antipoverty legislation, championed by a liberal president. Because that legislation only seemed to be followed by more anarchy, it was all too easy for millions of white voters to conclude that liberalism was to blame. No such dynamic obtains now. Indeed, on June 10, The New York Times’s Nate Cohn and Kevin Quealy reported that in the previous two weeks, ‘support for Black Lives Matter increased by nearly as much as it had over the previous two years.’ I heard a refrain in return, especially after ‘Defund the Police’ became a key movement slogan: Just you wait. Former ’60s radicals especially, their caution born of the dashed hopes of those years, almost hectored me. Militants were handing Trump just the battering ram he required for victory. Imagine the ads! Which indeed soon came forth. In one, a terrified old lady, armed intruder at her door, picks up the phone in a panic: ‘You have reached 911. I’m sorry that there is no one here to answer your emergency call.’ I responded that none of this was working. In early July, a Monmouth poll found that 77 percent of voters thought ‘defund the police’ just meant reforming how the police did their job; Biden, meanwhile, opened up a commanding lead. …”
NY Times
The Atlantic: Is This the Worst Year in Modern American History?
No, This Isn’t as Bad as 1968 (So Far)
How Much Can 1968 Tell Us About 2020?

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
This entry was posted in Black Power, Civil Rights Mov., Lyn. Johnson, My Lai, Nixon, Poverty, Vietnam War and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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