Democrats Preparing for Possible Virtual Convention to Avoid Repeat of '68 Anti-War Protests


Democrats are planning to make at least part of their national convention virtual to avoid a repeat of the disastrous 1968 convention in Chicago, according to Politico Magazine.

There are at least a half-dozen parallels between the 1968 presidential race, including the host city for the Democratic convention and the impact of anti-war protests.

As CBS News reported this month, “The U.S. Palestinian Community Network is one of more than 70 organizations involved in planning various protests during the four-day convention at the United Center,” slated to take place Aug. 19-22.

“The protesters have said they want to send a message to President Joe Biden and other Democratic leaders to do more to force a ceasefire in Gaza” between Israel and Hamas, it said.

Many feel the scenes of chaos brought by anti-Vietnam War protesters outside the convention in 1968 cost the Democrats the race.

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“President Joe Biden’s top advisers are all too aware the ghosts of 1968 may haunt their convention here,” Politico’s Jonathan Martin wrote Friday, “but they’re grappling with a pair of more urgent and thoroughly modern-day challenges as summer nears: How far can they go in reprising their virtual 2020 convention to mitigate the threat of disruption inside the arena, and how will they navigate a rookie mayor who unabashedly sympathizes with protesters?”

That was a reference to Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson, who recently said, “If there’s any mayor that understands the value of protest and demonstration, it’s me.”

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Martin continued, “Trumpeting the success of their Covid-era convention four years ago, some in Biden’s orbit are aggressively pushing to make the 2024 conclave a hybrid production. That would mean in-person speeches from the president, party luminaries and rising stars to draw television attention alongside a mix of pre-recorded testimonials and videos from other parts of the country.”

The goal would be to minimize the live programming risks.

For example, Democrats might revive the pre-recorded delegation roll call from each state used in 2020 in part because it “means one less opportunity for hot mic spontaneity, and therefore disruption.”

“If there is one peep in that hall, the networks will be all over it,” a convention planner told Politico.

Another concern for Democratic strategists is the protesters’ ability to infiltrate campaign events.

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For example, pro-Palestinian demonstrators made their way into Biden’s glitzy Manhattan fundraiser in March, featuring former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.

One yelled at the Radio City Music Hall event, “Shame on you, Joe Biden! You are funding genocide in Palestine!”

“There’s blood on your hands!” she screamed before security removed her.

Another demonstrator blew a whistle and held up a sign reading “War pig,” the New York Post reported.

Obama snapped at the protesters, saying, “You can’t just talk, you have to listen.”

In addition, “hundreds” of other anti-Israel demonstrators appeared outside taking part in what they called a “Flood Manhattan for Gaza” event, shouting “Free, free Palestine!”

“Others yelled ‘F*** Joe Biden’ and ‘Genocide Joe has got to go!’ and many waved Palestinian flags and held signs denouncing the president and the Democratic Party as ‘war criminals,’” the Post said.

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough sees the parallels to 1968.

“I can tell you the riots on college campuses, the riots at the Chicago convention in ’68, all of those things moved my family from being Democrats their entire life to being Republicans,” he said this month after police broke up an anti-Israel encampment on the campus of the University of California, Los Angeles.

“I remember my parents asking, ‘What in the world is going on in this country?’” Scarborough recounted.

“If you’re offended by this, please, I’m trying to help you. I don’t want Donald Trump to get elected. Alright? I’m trying to help you. If you’re too stupid to figure that out, you can change to another channel because we’re sorting through this as a country, and this is not helping,” he said.

The Wall Street Journal recently ran a story headlined, “Biden Needs to Learn From the Democrats’ Disaster in ’68.” In that election, Republican Richard Nixon defeated Democrat Hubert Humphrey.

Former President Donald Trump is positioning himself, much as Nixon did in 1968, as the law-and-order candidate.

In other words, the presumptive GOP nominee is staking the “return to normalcy” ground that Biden was able to successfully occupy in 2020 while running a mostly virtual campaign, Marc Theissen noted in The Washington Post.

The problem for Biden is that the past three-and-a-half years have taken away his “grass is greener” argument.

A CNN poll published late last month found 55 percent of Americans saw Trump’s presidency as a success compared with 44 percent who saw it as a failure.

Meanwhile, 61 percent viewed Biden’s presidency as a failure, while just 39 percent said it has been a success.

It’s no wonder that Democrats are trying to bring back what worked for them in 2020, with at least a partial virtual convention.

But American voters are savvier than that and won’t be fooled twice.

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Randy DeSoto has written more than 3,000 articles for The Western Journal since he joined the company in 2015. He is a graduate of West Point and Regent University School of Law. He is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths" and screenwriter of the political documentary "I Want Your Money."
Randy DeSoto is the senior staff writer for The Western Journal. He wrote and was the assistant producer of the documentary film "I Want Your Money" about the perils of Big Government, comparing the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Randy is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths," which addresses how leaders have appealed to beliefs found in the Declaration of Independence at defining moments in our nation's history. He has been published in several political sites and newspapers.

Randy graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a BS in political science and Regent University School of Law with a juris doctorate.
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Graduated dean's list from West Point
United States Military Academy at West Point, Regent University School of Law
Books Written
We Hold These Truths
Professional Memberships
Virginia and Pennsylvania state bars
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Entertainment, Faith