I have an uneasy feeling about the Democratic Party convention. I realize that my fears are probably baseless, but this troubling picture looms at the edges of my mind…
August is almost over, and the Democratic Party Convention is under way in Denver, Colorado. The mood is ugly, the delegates are on edge. Clinton supporters have clogged the streets for days with protest marches, handing out fliers proclaiming Barack Obama’s presumptive nomination a fraud. Newspaper ads have blasted the party’s nominating process, claiming various “irregularities.”
The climactic moment arrives. A sign-waving delegate nominates Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as the party’s candidate for president. A large, unruly section of the crowd cheers wildly. Chants of “O-ba-ma!” are drowned out by screams of “Hill-a-ry!” The convention hall is in an uproar. Delegates push and shove each other. Scuffling breaks out…
Obama’s smile is painted on, his placatory gestures are fruitless. Clinton’s head bobs vigorously. She bares her teeth and pumps her fists. Her eyes glow like red-hot coals in the strobe lights.
Police are called to quell the crowd inside and outside the building. The scene is reminiscent of the debacle in Chicago in 1968 (pictured below). Once again, the world watches on television as violent discord flares at a Democratic national convention, presaging sure defeat for the party in the forthcoming general elections.
When some semblance of order is restored, the votes are counted. And the winner is … Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Impossible? Don’t be too sure. The Clintons have said all along that the race isn’t over until all the delegates’ votes are counted, and they have said that under the rules of the convention, delegates can change their minds. With the delegate count so close, a few defections could spell defeat for Obama.
Yes, after all that has passed, the person addressing the crowd in the Denver football stadium could be Hillary Clinton, not Barack Obama.
The reverberations of such a cataclysmic upset are impossible to predict. I see cars overturned in the streets, buildings ablaze, riots sweeping the nation at such a scale that the memory of Watts pales by comparison. But maybe not. This is not 1965. America has grown older and more docile in the past 43 years – hasn’t it?