Déjà vu All Over Again

By Richard Gomez

Has 1968 returned again, hopefully without the killings? Let’s see, President Lyndon Johnson began the year with great anticipation of being reelected. The leadership of both parties found the war agreeable and profitable for Corporate America despite the demonstrations, protests and violence from young people, many eligible for the draft but without the right to vote.

An old Vietnam Air Force mechanic vet friend told me that every time a helicopter went down they’d shout out obscenities to Lady Bird Johnson who profited from the loss. She had large investments in Bell-Howell, a big company that manufactured helicopters for the Pentagon. Every year, Congress would pay for more expensive helicopters to replace the ones shot down and the price of the stock would rise for investors.

From out of nowhere, it seems, Sen. Eugene McCarthy, the antiwar challenger for President, created a huge upset in the primary election in New Hampshire by garnering nearly 42% of the vote to President Johnson’s 49%. The result worried the Democratic leadership, particularly when similar results were seen in early polling elsewhere. President Johnson chose or was asked to leave the race. Soon Vice President Hubert Humphrey and Sen. Bobby Kennedy would jump into the fray. Kennedy became the leading antiwar candidate challenging McCarthy.

Kennedy spoke to a growing audience of those opposed to the war and violence going on in Vietnam and the United States. Although he argued for people denied fairness to the then economic system, he never wanted to change or overthrow it. As someone born into wealth, he knew the system was corrupt. Would Kennedy have kept his promises to the voters? We’ll never know now as that argument was ended with a bullet from behind his head that left him bloodied on the floor of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

A few weeks earlier Kennedy had told radio broadcast celebrity Larry King before leaving for California that as soon as he won California he was going to get the guys responsible for his brother’s death. Was Kennedy after revenge? Kennedy had many powerful enemies; fortunately, with the advancement of political intrigue there are now many other ways to end a political career. I expect that we shall see many of those nonlethal remedies in 2016.

Thanks to his support from the traditional power blocs of the party, Humphrey did not compete in any primaries, compiling his delegates in caucus states that were controlled by party leaders. Even though 80% of the primary voters had been for antiwar candidates, the delegates defeated the peace plank by 1,567. to 1,041.. The Democratic Party nominated Humphrey, who went on to lose the election to Richard Nixon.

The year 1968 was an important year in politics. Some changes were made such as the increased use of modern technology, but both parties continued to strengthen their control over elections. To prevent challenges or keep them quiet while presenting a strong united front, their control has squeezed the lifeblood of human politics. Let’s see what we can do to bring back humanity in 2016.

*****

Richard Gomez is a council member of the Fresno County Green Party. Contact him at 559-408- 3320, richardgomez136@yahoo. com, richard.gomez.9843@facebook.com or via the Green Party Web site (http://FresnoGreens. localgreenparty.org).

  • The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

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