For Democratic Convention To Be Success Hillary, Bernie Must Make Up
While so much media attention has been focused on the possibility of chaos at the Republican convention in Cleveland, it’s worth wondering if the real trouble might erupt when the Democrats gather in Philadelphia.
There are eerie similarities to what is happening now with supporters of Democrat Bernie Sanders and those who backed U.S. Sen. Eugene McCarthy during his presidential bid in 1968. The anger of McCarthy supporters and delegates, primarily over the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam war, spilled over into the streets of Chicago during the convention, and what followed was a nationally televised carnage that forever changed American politics.
Thousands of McCarthy supporters were beaten, gassed and arrested by Chicago police in the ensuing riot. The fallout damaged Democratic presidential nominee Hubert Humphrey, causing him to lose a close election to Richard Nixon.
What does something that happened 48 years ago have to do with today?
Well, you know what happens when people don’t learn the lessons of history.
Sanders has built a core of young, liberal and highly idealistic supporters, and has proven to be an increasing problem for Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. Recent violence at Sanders’ riots shows the increasing frustration of his supporters at what they feel is a nominating process rigged against their candidate.
Actually, that’s kind of true.
Clinton has clearly been the choice of the Democratic leadership, and the system of super delegates has given Sanders little mathematical chance of winning the nomination. As Clinton’s seemingly inevitable nomination comes closer, the great question of whether Sanders’ supporters will turn out for her continues to hang over her campaign. Sanders has spoken directly to the concerns of younger voters throughout the campaign, and they have rallied around the self-styled Democratic socialist’s call for things like free college tuition, LGBT rights, tax reform and environmental issues.
Sanders insists he is trying to turn Democrats away from the influence of big money and back into the party of the working class.While it’s unlikely those young Sanders’ backers will turn to Donald Trump, assuming Clinton is the nominee, they might just sit out the election entirely. In a close race, that could be the difference — especially in a state like Florida, which has a history of closely contested elections.
The bigger question is what Sanders’ supporters might do outside the convention hall while Clinton is giving her acceptance speech. Will they protest? Will they riot? Will it be a disastrous re-run of 1968 for Democrats?
No one can say for sure right now, although speaking on the Today show on NBC, Sanders said of the convention, “Of course it will be (messy). … That’s what democracy is about.”
Security will be incredibly tight. Downtown Tampa looked like an armed camp during the relatively tranquil 2012 Republican National convention. It’s unlikely Philadelphia authorities will caught unprepared.
Still, determined protestors have a way of finding television cameras, and in today’s 24/7 media environment even a minor skirmish could be blown up to look like a full-fledged riot. That’s why Hillary Clinton desperately needs to make peace with Bernie Sanders, even as she focuses her attacks on Trump.
The bigger question is whether Sanders is interested. The fate of Clinton’s presidential hopes could ride on his answer.