I have to break down and admit that I have watched some—just SOME—of the Republican national convention this week. As a budding young journalist back in 1968 the political conventions that year still take top prize for being the most exciting, especially the Democratic convention in Chicago.
On the very first day, delegates were whining about the cantankerous new-fangled security pass cards they had to stick in a gate to get onto the convention floor. It was an omen for the chaos to follow. Meanwhile, outside, Mayor Daley had the police, with the National Guard as backup, surrounding Lincoln Park where all the hippies (this particular brand were called Yippies) gathered to cheer on their anti-war (Vietnam) candidate, Eugene McCarthy. Back in those days you usually had to wait until the next-to-last night before the actual candidate was declared. It was Hubert Humphrey in this case.
There were all kinds of conflicts going on not the least of which were the police confrontations that even led to some big-name TV journalists getting busted up in the mêlée. Now that’s what you call journalism.
The Republican convention had its own moment too, although that didn’t play out for years to come. It produced the ticket of Richard Nixon/Spiro Agnew, both of whom went on to win the election and both of whom made history by eventually resigning because of scandals.
It had been a hell of a year leading up to the conventions. President Johnson surprised everyone by announcing he would not run for another term; both Robert Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were assassinated and, as per Sonny and Cher, the beat went on. I don’t recall, up until today, a period in time more volatile than the late 1960’s.
So with all this as a premise, I sort of hold the national political conventions near and dear and manage to actually turn on the television every four years to take some of it in. It doesn’t matter which party, I just find the conventions must-see-some TV. Needless to say, the Trump convention has been a contender for one of the more unusual, unorthodox, chaotic, ill-planned and just plain helter-skeltered convention I’ve watched since ‘68.
Our system for selecting our country’s leader is uniquely American. It’s usually loud and raucous, prolonged beyond tolerance and almost always contains some element of surprise. As the campaign proceeds through the 12-plus months it takes to play itself out, we tag along, encouraged by a press that will exploit anything it can grab hold of and milk to death. It has become our natural vetting process before we finally choose a winner. For some reason, no matter how immune I pretend to be, I find myself paying attention to it every time. It’s like watching one long train wreck where the cars, one-by-one can’t stop from falling into the huge crevice where the trestle bridge once stood.
The problem for me, as it is for many others, is that the entire political process never seems to produce a candidate I can get excited about. My vote always becomes a sacrifice of sorts—it’s against one of candidates and not really for the other.
While I am reluctant to reveal any of my personal politics on this platform, this is the first year when I have a genuine dilemma about voting at all. I am just not sure I can bring my finger to pull the lever for either candidate. I have to hope some dramatic, game-changing element unfolds over the next few months that will motivate me to do the deed. Oddly enough, there seems to be a lot more at stake this time…even more than back in 1968.
I am a retired radio exec. I've worked at major stations in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Miami. That was then. This is now: I've published seven books and this blog thingy. Need to know more? Really? Okay, I bare/bear all at http://marckuhn.com
The other links are for the websites of each of the books I've written. I've been busy! Hope you'll stop by and check them out. Thanks for your interest!