For the past hour, I have been looking off and on the live footage of what is occurring outside the University of Illinois in Chicago. I’ve seen on Twitter more allusions to the 1968 and it seems just now Ted Cruz tried to deliver a Nixonian speech. However, just as I admit that Cruz did deliver the right speech for the moment (Trump should be held accountable), I don’t see what occurred tonight like what happened in August 1968. Yes, you have a lot of angry people in this country but it’s not about a war in another part of the world.
This campaign has really latched on to the dark side of the American psyche and some have capitalized on it for short-term advantages. When you look at the general picture for the average American, life since 1968 has gotten worse and people feel it. There has been this ‘race to the bottom’ them where companies phase out pensions, health insurance premiums go up, quality education becomes increasingly elusive, our public utilities go underfunded or, in the case of Flint, potentially harm people. I can go on but that’s enough.
If anything (and despite what I saw in Chicago looking like 1932 Berlin) what I have noticed in the past couple years is that the political climate is more like France in the 1930’s. There too was extreme polarization between left an right with a government that seemed more interested in sabotaging their opponents’ programs than truly helping a nation with major social and economic problems. The way Senator Mitch McConnell treats President Obama and his administration has always struck me like what the right felt about Leon Blum’s Popular Front Government (which had the audacity to do such radical things as implementing a 40 hour work week). The racial undertones have always been there and this year they’ve moved out in the open and onto campaign trail.
What happened to a civil society? Things are a lot better now than they were in 2008 yet so much more needs to be done; and get’s stymied. We may not even have a Supreme Court Justice appointed this year. It may be possible that people’s pent up frustrations over what has happened over the past 48 years to this country, and their own lives, is about to burst.
I wonder what will happen at Trump’s next rally tomorrow. Let’s hope it’s not a replay of tonight’s events.
Photograph taken by James Valentino.