|Source: Salon Magazine- Hunter Thompson at the 1968 Democratic National Convention|
If 1967 was the summer of love, then 1968 was the summer of discontentment, revolution, upheaval, whatever other big words that you prefer to voice a national unhappiness with the country and how things were going. It was the summer where once again millions of Baby Boomers were coming of age and pissed off at society, but especially the Vietnam War and feeling the need not just to speak out against the war, but to make their feelings known and to demand real change or face real consequences. The people would face those consequences being the government at three levels, local state and federal.
If you were a Baby Boomer in 1968, ( an American born in the 1940s and 50s ) life for you was pretty swell ( to use a word from the 1950s ) before you deiced to become a rebel and take on the man and the establishment that was created to give you a life where you could live freely and not have to worry about crime, poverty, being able to get a good education including college. Especially if you were of Anglo-Saxon background, ( people of English ethnicity ) just as long as toed the party line ( so to speak ) and weren't a disrupter. You weren't a woman who had some wild idea that you were going to become a lawyer. Or an African-American who had the nerve to enter a quality high school or go to college.
I have mixed feelings about the 1960s especially the late 1960s as someone who wasn't born until about ten years after the summer of 1968 where the only protests and the closest things I got to see to rioting in highs school, were students complaining about the low quality of food at lunch or students getting into fights at the nearby McDonald's because someone believed someone took one of their fries. I love the individualism and the personal freedom of that decade as a Liberal. This feeling that being an American was about being yourself and not having to follow in your parents footsteps, especially your father's just because that's what they decided to do with their lives.
But on the other side I hate the violence of that decade especially 1968. The rioting, the high crime rates, law enforcement going to far in how they responded to the young protesters. Young Boomers, who were given all the opportunities in the world to make great lives for themselves and instead of feeling grateful that instead of growing up in some authoritarian state where the government decides what kind of lives everyone in the country is going to have, they grew up in America where they had that freedom to make those decisions for themselves and instead of feeling grateful, they become political terrorists in many cases. Deciding to rob banks as a political statement because they claimed to hate our capitalist economic system. Far-Left socialist groups like The Weather Underground and others.
I get the opposition to the Vietnam War and if was a young man back then I would've hated that war and just what I've read, seen, and heard about it I hate that war myself. And I get this feeling that it's time for the Democratic Party to change and not just oppose the Vietnam War outright but create a new politics by abandoning the right-wing Dixiecrats and moving the Democratic Party in a more leftist direction. Socialist to be more accurate, with groups like Students For a Democratic Society supporting people like Senator George McGovern and others.
But that's what liberal democracy is for. You don't like the direction that the country is going in, you're more than free to speak out and campaign against it, and even offer an alternative vision for where you believe the country should go. But when you don't win and get your way, the answer is to not turn to violence to try to force your views and policies which is what The Weather Underground and other Socialist groups did back then. But instead take your losses and regroup and get ready for the next elections.
|Source: E.P. James MacAdams: Hunter S. Thompson on Richard Nixon - Hunter Thompson's eyes on 1968|