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Thousands gathered over the weekend in Chicago for The People’s Summit, a major conference that brought together activists, community leaders, organizations....
We’re going to try to get into where does this movement go from here, and hopefully we’ll be able to do it in a way recognizing our unities and our differences. But I want to share with you a brief experience of my own and the problems that I had in being able to deal with a presidential race.
It was 1968, right here in this city of Chicago. It was the Democratic National Convention of 1968. I was a young student right out of Colombia, the Columbia student strike of 1968, and we came to Chicago to confront the Democratic power brokers over the issue of the war in Vietnam and racism in America. Eugene—we had toppled the president. The movement had toppled the president, when Lyndon Johnson announced that he wasn’t going to run for re-election. And Eugene McCarthy had swept the country with young—his legion of McCarthy young people. Robert Kennedy had been killed in June of 1968, and it looked like the country was about to implode. We’re talking about 1968, when there was a riot not in one city, Ferguson or Baltimore; in April of 1968, there were a hundred riots in one week in the United States after the assassination of Martin Luther King. And so it looked like the country was on the verge of civil war.
And all of us from SDS and the anarchist group, which was at that time the Yippies, and a group called Up Against the Wall Mother[bleep] and the McCarthy kids, we all met in Lincoln Park to confront the power brokers. And, of course, there was tear-gassing, beatings. Richard Daley even had his police ordered to shoot people on sight who were—who he thought were looting. Our chant then was "The whole world is watching." And the whole world was watching.
But the world got a different message than the one that we were putting forth. The result was, as many of you probably recall, Richard Nixon was elected president against Hubert Humphrey in a very narrow race, only because George Wallace was also running for president and got about 13 percent of the vote and siphoned off all of these supporters of the Democratic Party, white working-class folks, which began the huge Republican Southern strategy that prevailed for years to come.
We in SDS refused to vote. We wouldn’t support McCarthy. We wouldn’t support Humphrey. Our slogan was "Vote with your feet, vote in the street." I’m—I’m here to tell you that the slogan was right, the tactic was wrong. And I think that the country, in retrospect, there would not have been a substantive change, there would have been a positive change, if Nixon had not been elected.
But you learn from your mistakes. Hopefully, other generations learn from the mistakes of those who came before them. So we’re going to open up this discussion now to discuss where does this movement go from here, this incredible movement. Do we seek to reform the system, transform the system, overthrow and replace the system? What are we trying to do?
By Chris Hedges
On July 25, opening day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Cheri Honkala, leader of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, who was denied a permit to march by city authorities, will rally with thousands of protesters outside City Hall. Defying the police, they will march up Broad Street to the convention.
We will recapture our democracy in the streets of cities such as Philadelphia, not in convention halls such as the aptly named Wells Fargo Center, where the Democratic Party elites intend to celebrate the results of the rigged primary elections and the continuity of corporate power.
Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, other activists and I will march with Honkala. It is not as if we have a choice. No one invited us into the center or to the lavish corporate-sponsored receptions. No one anointed us to be Clinton superdelegates—a privilege that went to corporate lobbyists, rich people and party hacks. No one in the Democratic establishment gives a damn what we think.
.."In our system of inverted totalitarianism, the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin pointed out, the object is to demobilize the citizenry, to render it apathetic, to convince the citizen that all political activity that does not take place within the narrow boundaries defined by the corporate state is futile. This is a message hammered into public consciousness by the corporate media, which serve as highly paid courtiers to the corporate elites. It is championed by the two parties that offer up fear of the other as their primary political platform."
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