I exerpted this from Garrison Kiellors writers almanac this morning. I remember the year very well. The following events, plus the assassination of President Kennedy earlier in the decade changed America forever. I believe that decade changed us from a nation who believed we could do anything to a nation of cynics and non-believers. That we still have not recovered speaks ill of those who have the ability to rekindle a belief that we are a country that great gifts were given and we must pay for those gifts with a leadership that is positive and caring. Maybe we never will, I hope though that we do. I think we must.
It was on this day in 1968 that riots erupted outside the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. It had already been one of the bloodiest years of the decade. That February, the North Vietnamese launched their devastating "Tet Offensive," which indicated that the Vietnam War was nowhere near over. Then, in April, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, sparking widespread riots. Two months later, Robert Kennedy was shot and killed at his victory party after the California primary.
In the wake of Robert Kennedy's murder, the Democratic Party establishment chose Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey as their candidate, but the anti-war faction of the party wanted Senator Eugene McCarthy. Thousands of college students and anti-war activists showed up at the convention to protest the choice of Humphrey and the Democratic Party's support of the war in Vietnam.
For the first two days of the convention, protesters shouted insults at the police and threw rocks and other objects. Then, on this day in 1968, the police responded by charging toward Grant Park where thousands of protestors were gathered, attacking everyone in their path with billy clubs and tear gas.
In his notebook that night, the reporter and historian Theodore White wrote, "The Democrats are finished." Hubert Humphrey lost the election to Richard Nixon that year. Before 1968, the Democrats had won seven of the nine presidential elections since 1932. In the ten presidential elections since 1968, Democrats have won only three.