A Funny thing happened to me on the way to the Wiconsin Primary Election. 2008 was compared to 1968. And suddenly I was recalling where I was 40 years ago. 40 years ago on March 31st to be exact.
A couple of my old friends, who I am very fond of, post a lot of messages on the bayviewmatters Yahoo group, indicating their very strong support for Barack Obama. In their seemingly Obamania they wanted to link Senator Barack Obama’s present campaign to Eugene McCarthy’s 1968 run, in which he won the Wisconsin primary election. I have very specific memories because I was there. But the local Obamaniacs did not at all like the facts. So when I posted it I was dismissed, ridiculed and lectured. Of course neither of them were there in 1968. Had they been there they may have found it instructive and would not be so charmed and fooled by Senator Obama and his party
Here is what I experienced in 1968:
I had already joined the ranks of those opposed to the war in Viet Nam. By 1968 I was supporting Gene McCarthy, and actively worked for him as he campaigned for the Wisconsin primary.
On March 31, 1968, President Johnson announced that he would not run for re-election. His words: "I shall not seek," "will not accept" — are very well known.
Eugene McCarthy was giving a speech at Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin. I know, because I was there.
Early in the speech the student stage manager, my best friend, the late Butch Lohmiller, came on-stage and handed a note to McCarthy who read it silently and then just stood there for a moment. He then told the news to the audience. He cut his speech short, and left the stage and went to the airport.
It was an extraordinary night for those of us in the audience. Two days later, Gene McCarthy won the Wisconsin primary and then went on to be abandoned by the Democratic Party machine, much the same as they abandoned Congressman Dennis Kucinich this year.
McCarthy did play an important role in our history and he did escape the fate of assassination that awaited Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.
And America got Richard Nixon.
And we all know how that turned out.
So in some ways it was a wondrous time for our country because there initially was hope. Amid the hated and vile military-industrial complex, the endless war, and the hideous party politics which blocked the nomination of the One People's Candidate, we then idealistic young Americans, in large numbers, had genuine strongly held beliefs for which we were willing to march, protest, fight and sacrifice.
Now, all these years later, our country finds itself entrenched in 2 new illegal, undeclared wars, just as vile, hopeless and disgusting to many of my generation as Vietnam was in 1968. Now I do not have any sort of the hope and optimism I had in 1968. Now, I am an impoverished, disabled senior citizen and seem to see next to nothing from most of the youth of today in actual protest to these horribly misguided and immoral wars. All I see is the lowest form of party politics and the most self serving, mindless form of political celebrity worship.
In a way history has come full circle from where Eugene McCarthy led us. I am disgusted and despairing. Maybe Gene was a bit despairing, even back then. He said that "being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game, and dumb enough to think it's important." Yet, in spite of knowing the game, he was not dumb and accomplished removing a bad president, and focusing the values of a generation that went on to lead the entire nation in ending the awful undeclared war.
And so, here we are today.
The one leader with the character and courage of Eugene McCarthy,
Congressman Dennis Kucinich has been abandoned and discarded by his own party.
We have, it seems, learned nothing from our history.
The political process of narcissism, ego, lies, materialism, greed and fascism thrives in the United States of America. And those who would celebrate the current campaigners are well described in William Shakespeare's Macbeth:
“A poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more:
It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Worse than nothing. It signifies a delusion so deep, a denial so unrecognized, and an ignorance so complete, that it makes thoughtfulness, critical thinking and intelligent discourse seem impossible.