Controversy from the start
1968 marks one of the most civil unstable periods both within the United States and the rest of the world. After President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 and President Johnson took the office in the following election, many long existing problems which may be seeded after second world war began to catch public attention. One of the most controversial moves that President Johnson took was the escalation of Vietnam War. Initially, the American public was still dwelled in the past glorious of second world war, believing that America will be undefeated as usual. But as the Vietnam War went on, there was no sign of conclusion for this war at 1968. Many Americans, especially young students, and teenagers began to doubt the reasoning behind the war and whether the war is justified. According to the stats, by 1968, 16,592 American soldiers were killed and 87,388 wounded.(US Gov) However, behind all the heavy casualties that both Viet Cong and the United States suffered, the general public could not see any benefit that the US could possibly gain through Vietnam War while billions of dollar were invested in the war. Besides, all the money from taxpayer were put into a meaningless war, the Draft lottery completely infuriated the entire young generation. Their pursuit of the dream was halted and they were forced to fight in Southern Asia which people could not even find the location on maps. Besides Vietnam War, civil rights issue was also something that President Johnson could not avoid. Although the progress that he made in his five years administration really made significant changes in American society including integration, the sudden changes also created riots in many cities due to the deep impression and idea of racism cannot be cleared within a few years. Racism ideas still gained a lot of support which pulled the independent candidate George Wallace onto the election stage. In California, the most important source of the vote for the democratic party, the racial situation was really intense. Just a week before 1968 democratic national convention, the Watts riot in Los Angeles became national headline with more than 4000 national guards were deployed to fill the need to quell the riots. Nearly 1000 buildings were damaged or destroyed and the direct loss in property was over 40 million dollars.(Struthers 143-145)
Despite all the existing issue in society, the democratic itself had a struggle and chaotic time deciding its presidential election candidate for 1968. Because President Johnson had previously announced that he will not seek another term. Therefore, powerful politicians were preparing in so many ways to gain the party nomination. There was a description on the website which expresses the stress and intense environment. "As delegates arrived in Chicago the last week of August 1968 for the 35th Democratic National Convention, they found that Mayor Richard J. Daley, second only to President Lyndon B. Johnson in political influence, had lined the avenues leading to the convention center with posters of trilling birds and blooming flowers. Along with these pleasing pictures, he had ordered new redwood fences installed to screen the squalid lots of the aromatic stockyards adjoining the convention site."(Smithsonian) Entering the convention center, the topic on Vietnam War divided up democrat delegates into two different groups. One side led by Eugene McCarthy, a committed anti-war candidate, began to challenge the long time assumption that American army is undefeated. He proposed that the United States should immediately withdraw troops from Vietnam. This idea gained many oppositions immediately as delegates who support Vice President Humphery for president. Simply on this topic, the fight between delegates with different opinions began. This convention suddenly turned into a violent fight between two sides. Delegates, reporters and many other who chose a position were beaten on the floor. Ironically, the democratic party with liberalism ideology had to choose their own nominee by fighting. At the end of the conference, the group which supported Vice President Humphery won the ugly fight and officially started Humphery's journey as a president candidate, or a predetermined loser.
End of Liberalism Era
The 1968 Democratic National Convention is the end of an era even before it started. Outside the convention center, around several thousand protester were parading and supporting the idea from Eugene McCarthy which was to withdraw troops from Vietnam. Chicago mayor Daley was already prepared for this protest to happen. Therefore, he called in near three thousand police and government officers trying to quell the protest, the direct express of people's will. However,the situation then rapidly spiraled out of control, with the policemen severely beating and gassing the demonstrators, as well as newsmen and doctors who had come to help. Like all the events happened in Chicago, this scene was immediately delivered to every single TVs in United States. People began to question the democratic party and doubt their true intend behind the word "liberalism". (Farber 1522-1523) One shocking situation in 1968 election was the fact that republican nominee Nixon won in California which was a long time democrate state. Many critics analyzed the main reason was the riot and unstable society. This situation led American public to select a relatively conservative leader to help reinstall the laws and order in the country. In fact, after President Nixon took the office, his domestic policy was much more realistic and less idealism. He mainly targeted on the high inflation rate and unemployment that inhereted from Vietnam War and other democrate's policy. Also, as one of hippies symbol in the sixties, President Nixon decided to started the war on drugs in order to stop the terrifying growth of drug addicts and prevent the possible bad outcome on people's health. The hippies were undoubtfully opposed to this law. But the general public were actually favor the way Nixon handle this situation by using police and strict laws. Nixon also focused on many other aspect like air polution. With more regulation passed in congress, the American society moved into a new era without liberalism government after nearly two decades.