The reason we over-60 conservatives hang around is to remind Gen X’ers that this is not our first rodeo, and Millennials that this is not THE first rodeo. So far almost everything that has happened in America in this Spring-Summer of 2020 we’ve seen before, from city riots, campus takeovers, neighborhoods ablaze. Even seemingly never-ending civil war.
Moreover, the first time we saw these things we were the same age as the modern Millennials, in their 20s, or maybe even Gen Z still in their teens. So when I see kids misbehaving today I have the advantage of being reminded of when I was in my early 20s, when a girl with uncombed hair, hairy legs, no bra, and also adorned with a frozen look of disapproval on her face still looked kinda cool, but also being a parent visiting my son on his Ohio campus in my mid-40s, and noting his reaction to those same types girls from the Reagan era in the 80s. Today he’s 50, and cosmetically these could be my grandkids.
But content? How would the Seattle Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) measure up to the Berkeley takeover of the UC administration building in ’64, which began as a Free Speech event…go figure, and yes, they did have Commies in their midsts, or Woodstock ’69, where 400,000 smoked dope, shot up drank, screwed, listened to music, and, oh yes, never bathed or wore bras, for three days that seemed like a month.
New word, “teleology”: Is their teleology what they say they want to accomplish by design, or what the result of what they do will actually be?
My rodeo background is even a little broader, since in the 90s I took on a client in Arizona, a woman my age whose father was one of the most powerful lawyers in Chicago in the 50s and 60s, and she was one of those flower children, finally leaving home to join a hippie collective in central Arizona. I represented her whole tribe in a big marijuana bust in ’77, was paid in arts and crafts, so in ’92 she tracked me down through my brother to help her get control of inheritance, several millions of dollars. (Her name was Kathy and I’d always intended to do a “Famous Common People I Have Known” segment on her but never got around to it.)
It was a trust, and her older sister, Judy, was the named trustee so through her, I also got to meet and know the type of person Nancy Pelosi is…a socialite leftist radical wrapped inside a child of privilege, with a debutante’s world view. So I understood why Kathy ran away from home in ’68.
Kathy was a genius in her own right, especially in markets and money management. But she was also the poster child of why not to do drugs a wracked and emaciated body that made her look twice my age. She’d done them all, and which were probably accountable for what I thought was a form of schizophrenia, for the mere mention of a single word could send her off into wild, uncontrollable rage. “Jesus” was just such a word. (But she could also be just as hysterical in defending the 2nd Amendment, packing a .38 in her crocheted purse everywhere.)
My job was to find, hire and manage her attorneys, and she had three over 5 years. But before she fired me in ’96, the last attorney had finally gotten her control of about $15 million. I was always grateful for what I was allowed to see behind the veil of the rich, powerful and spoiled rotten. She never worked a day in her life.
So, with that background, let’s go back to 1967-1968 with me to see what has changed demographically in America since then.
The “Long Hot Summer of ’67” had 159 race riots, Newark, NJ had several, while Detroit had the bloodiest, with 49 dead, 1,189 injured, over 7,200 arrests, and more than 2,000 buildings destroyed. It began with a police raid of an after-hours bar in a black neighborhood. LBJ sent in both the 82nd and 101st to restore order to Detroit. Gordon Lightfoot, the Canadian, recorded a song, “Black Day in Detroit” in ’68, and while the lyrics were non-accusatory, speaking more to the tragedy than the politics, many radio stations in America banned the playing of the song. (Stop me if any of this sounds familiar.)
Next summer, 1968, after the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, where North Vietnam came south with a vengeance, hoping to drive the Americans out, and which marked one of our military’s greatest victories, it also signified that the Vietnam War would actually get bigger, and not so easily be ended. So, Walter Cronkite and CBS then withdrew its support of LBJ’s war, realizing winning would be a protracted process. (It really was poorly drafted, by both JFK’s Harvard planners and LBJ’s generals…both of whom were Democrats if you’d forgotten.) And, absent the support of the media, LBJ decided not to seek re-election. So the Democrats nominated VP Hubert Humphrey. But the Anti-war left pitched the candidacy of Sen Eugene McCarthy, a senator from Minnesota, and a genuinely mild-mannered, nice person. He had been against the war from the beginning. Former VP, Richard Nixon had been selected as the Republican’s choice 2 weeks earlier.
At the Dem Convention, as I’ve written about in several different contexts, Mayor Richard Daley, the old-school Democratic mayor of Chicago, sent his police to crack heads and drag out by the ankles those rioting student protesters trying to force the nomination of McCarthy over Humphrey. And the nation got treated to seeing their children throwiing a teatfit for McCarthy hadn’t a chance.
(These students would not formally join forces with their generation’s version of Black Lives Matter (SNC, Black Panthers, etc) until after Nixon began bombing North Vietnam and the Kent State shooting in spring of 1970. This was in part because it was still illegal to have a direct affiliation with communist front organizations, mostly from the USSR. You could go to jail.)
The seeds for what we are seeing take place now were planted then, and the process has been generational. So just know that while I see these kids today as being young enough to be my grandchildren, there are thousands who are actually looking at their children and possibly even grandchildren who are also trust will also never have to work a day of their lives, except perhaps as an officer of a 5013c, c4, or off shore NGO. What funded those kids in 1968 were in the mere millions, now they are in the billions of dollars, and millions of kids instead of thousands who “lie abed and do no work today” (“Henry V”).
I only need to add two more characters, Archie Bunker and Meathead (Rob Reiner), which was the most popular TV show from ’71 to ’76. It was produced by a comic genius-leftist named Norman Lear. I went overseas so only got to watch the first two seasons, but those were largely about Archie’s constant battles with his live-in son in law, who was a student Democrat activist pushing the candidacy of the 1972 Democratic candidate, George McGovern, hoping to feast off the four years of mockery the media had tossed at Richard Nixon.
Archie’s party preference was never mentioned, but living in a working class neighborhood in Queens, he was likely a “Love America Democrat” and not a Republican. Working class workers (factory, mill) were mostly Democrat while small business owners were more often Republican in national politics but in local elections their interests were more often inclined to join.
The fallout of the student riots in Chicago in 1968 was that public opinion of people around the country who watched those riots on ABC, CBS and NBC nightly news, and who rarely bothered to read a thing about them in newspapers, largely swung toward Nixon, not so much because of his promise to get us out of Vietnam with American dignity intact (Humphrey promised something very similar) but because “Love America Democrats” and “Love America Republicans” largely joined hands to repudiate the bratty children, and deny them what they demanded, solely on that account.
Call it instinct.
Nixon won the popular vote by only 0.7% (500K votes) but over 100 in electoral votes. More telling, Humphrey won northern liberal states only by small margins. He won Minnesota (favorite son) by a larger total vote margin than he did New York.
So, rushing headlong into 1972, with a total media blitz against President Nixon’s policies, looking for every opportunity to bury him (who knew it would be as a getaway driver in a two-bit break-in?) but with no student riots and only Meathead’s arguments with Archie, Nixon won the largest landslide victory in history, winning 49 of the 50 states and a margin of 27 million votes. 1972 was a total repudiation of the political world view of the left-thinking of the students in America and their media.
The grown-ups had their say.
Of course, the demographics have changed in 50 years. But has the silent “Love America” majority gotten smaller? 2016 seemed to indicate no. There are still working class Democrats, even union members, even government union members. And who probably still love America. And none of their children are spoiled rich kids. In the 60s most of the college radicals were not from working class homes and my guess it is still more difficult to radicalize students from working class homes. They have too many other more important things they came to college to prove.
And in the battle of the generations, there is still a strong contingent of “Love America Democrats” that have a grandparent legacy. All we need is to hold on for one more time around the track, for the Hate America Democrats may well be entering their last bull-riding competition. If we can win this one, even if we have to call out all our dogs to do it, my grandparent-generation can pass into memory knowing that whatever party name the Love America crowd decides to give itself, Republican or anything else, it will take at least 20, maybe 30 years, 5-7 terms, for any kind of stable opposition party to arise from old Democrats and recalcitrant #NeverTrumpers stock, both still trying to recapture that “Love America” part of the American political liturgy they lost along the way. They could re-form a moderate-centrist Love America by another name as it was in the beginning. We will no longer have any truck with parties that don’t love America, leaving the 20% or so deep radicalized Leftists (re Trust babies) to die on the vine.
And in those 30 years we will have time to insure the education system produces no more of them, and college professors have to start buying Fords again.
And by then, we may even become a color blind society ..again, as we were just one pandemic away from achieving only recently.
Loving America is still a function of being part of an integral family, A church in their lives helps, too. But a job in the private sector matters probably more. Archie Bunker proved that a union job in a union town in a union state does not fundamentally effect the way they react to smart-assed kids who break things and throw teat fits. And they instinctively understand when it is getting out of hand.
That was Mayor Richard Daley’s gift to America.
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