Not too long ago our country was going through a very trying time. The year was 1968. Martin Luther King, Jr had been assassinated in April of that year by James Earl Ray in Memphis. June saw Democratic front runner, Robert Kennedy, shot down in Los Angeles by lone gunman Sirhan Sirhan. In January the Viet Cong had shown the U.S military leadership a thing or two during the Tet Offensive. The nation was dealing with racial tensions, the problems with immigration had taken a backseat due to the 1965 act, but it still loomed large, and President Johnson, who was facing difficulty on multiple fronts, chose not to run for re-election, throwing the Democratic Party into a tizzy.
Today, we’re not so far enough removed from those events that a good portion of our citizens cannot forget those times. Many of us will always remember the violence that spread across this nation that summer, and for several years to follow. Riots were erupting in cities all across our land. Use of force was a common occurrence, and, along with the war in Vietnam, was broadcast on the nightly news by over zealous reporters.
In August of that year the Democrats were holding their national convention in Chicago. There was a planned peaceful demonstration in opposition to our involvement in military action in Southeast Asia. Ten thousand demonstrators gathered. Mayor Richard Daley over-reacted. He gathered a force together that were to corral and contain all those hippies and yippies that were there to show their support for the withdrawal of American troops from an Asian land. The protestors were met by approximately 20,000-25,000 police and National Guardsmen. One thing led to another, and, what started out peacefully, erupted into some of the worse violence this country had seen on its shores since the Civil War.
In a few short weeks the political parties that run this nation will be meeting to nominate presidential candidates to face off in November. The presumptive candidates are Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Clinton has the backing of the majority of her party, but has split this country’s voters, with the help of Donald Trump, down the gender middle. Her background and attachment to a previous President is aiding, and harming, her.
The Republican party is a mess. Donald Trump has fractured the GOP like no other politician in the 150 year history of the Grand Old Party. There is talk of changing the rules at the last minute in order to keep him from representing the party, parading out another candidate during the convention, and delegates not voting the way they should be voting based on the primary results.
At many Trump rallies violence has erupted between supporters and protesters. To a lesser extent, we have seen similar violence at Democrat Bernie Sanders rallies. The public is very much splintered on their support of the Republican candidate, and to a lesser extent the politician the Democrats are pushing. And, believe it or not, the media is right there reporting every little eruption, and feeding the frenzy.
Race relations have deteriorated in the last six years, or so, to the point that it seems like we have stepped back into the sixties. People, black and white, are against law enforcement and everything they do, some of it wrong, some of it right. And, at every turn the media is there reporting what they see, and what they don’t see, over and over, again and again.
Our military presence in the Middle East looms large, but immigration is very much a sore topic with many Americans. They are blaming the people from the south for not being able to find a decent job, and Donald Trump is stirring the pot of discontent. It seems that these people do not realize that the Mexicans who enter this country are filling the jobs that most Americans will not do. Trump wants to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, but he has not once pointed out that the people responsible for 9/11, or the increasing domestic violence, did not come into this country illegally from the south. He, and the media, continue to bring up immigration, both legal and illegal, as a major problem that needs to be fixed. They profess that if we fix immigration, then we can cure the ailments that infect our nation.
We’ve had Knoxville, Ft. Hood, the Boston marathon, Ferguson, Freddie Gray, San Bernardino, Dallas, Alton Sterling, and so many more. The few events I’ve mentioned here are just a drop in the bucket of the mess our country is in. The media picks and chooses that which they feel will get the greatest response from the greatest number of people, regardless of the outcome. They continue to add fuel to any little spark that will increase their ratings, building it into a raging inferno. With the internet and social media, any type of uprising, demonstration, or act of violence, is instantly broadcast around the world. We don’t need the media to start the process of reporting what is going on, but we could sure use their help in diffusing some of the situations that have been erupting around the country. But, that’s not news, is it?
So, here’s my prediction, and I hope I’m wrong. At one of the political conventions this summer we are going to see violence erupt that could equal that of August, 1968. My guess is that it will be at the Republican convention in Cleveland. And, right there, through it all, will be the media broadcasting what they see and don’t see, but can dredge up, and the talking heads pontificating in such a way that will get the public to do what produces the greatest number of news reporting events, good or bad. You see, it’s all about the ratings, and polemic reporting will always get the best results.
Pray that I am wrong. Pray that this country can right itself before we drop deeper into the rabbit hole.