Saturday, May 20, 2006

1968 redux?

A minor, supposed-to-be-easy-to-clean-up skirmish sucks the US into a full-fledged, polarizing war. The nation's dominant party begins to fracture as the promises made to shore up bases are not coming to fruition. Minority members of the population struggle to attain the same rights and declare themselves equal to other citizens of the country. And finally, the victim of the tightest presidential campaign in ages (and the most bitter defeat) disappears for a while, then returns with renewed energy, momentum, and, well, a large potential fundraising base.

Folks around the blogosphere have been dropping hints about this for a while, but looking at a bunch of different components at work, this period in time is obviously starting to resemble another chaotic point in the United States' history...the mid-1960s. This country could potentially go in quite a few different directions over the next 30 months, and the 2008 presidential election and political environment could end up mirroring 1968.

In coming posts, I will be discussing this in more detail.

  • Even though he didn't get the '04 nomination, has Howard Dean done enough to change the party's structure and voice to qualify as the Democrats' Goldwater (on first thought, I don't think so, but I reserve the right to change my mind)?
  • Are events like Stephen Colbert's telling the emporer he's naked and the up-close-and-personal protest of John McCain at the New School commencement signs that a new level of popular protest are at hand?
  • Will increasing signs of displeasure and more virulent protests lead to a change in the political power structure, or will it lead to a new Kent State (and how will we know if this is happening)?
  • Are the current fault lines in the Republican base signs that a 1968 level of inner-party displeasure could come to a head like at the 1968 Democratic Convention?
  • If the Republicans were to lose power in 2006 or 2008 (I know, the cart is miles before the horse on this one, but go with me), will they splinter into even more pieces like the Democrats did in the late-'60s and early-'70s?
  • If Gore is Nixon, what Republican would be Humphrey...Frist? Allen? Better yet, who would be McGovern...Brownback? Pat Roberts?

I'm sure as I begin down this path, I will find a million and one examples of differences between the mid-2000's and the mid-1960s. Hell, I've already found plenty (for one, there are no modern-day substitutes for MLK or RFK). But when history repeats itself, it doesn't present a mirror image. It just does enough to prove that not everybody learned the lesson the first time around. I'm looking forward to seeing where this series of posts will take me, and I'll be getting started soon.