In 1968, there were two candidates for president: Democrat Hubert H. Humphrey, Jr. and Republican Richard M. Nixon. The anti-war protestors targeted Humphrey first at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in August of that year, which led to the famous riot outside the convention hall and pandemonium inside. In addition, throughout the campaign, anti-war protestors went after Humphrey. This contrasted with Nixon, where there were few protestors outside the Republican National Convention and on the campaign trail.
Humphrey and Nixon had a similar view as it related to the Vietnam War, yet only Humphrey was targeted. For example, the Democratic Party platform stated: “Our most urgent task in Southeast Asia is to end the war in Vietnam by an honorable and lasting settlement which respects the rights of all the people of Vietnam.” The Republican Party platform stated: “We pledge a program for peace in Vietnam – neither peace at any price nor a camouflaged surrender of legitimate United States or allied interests – but a positive program that will offer a fair and equitable settlement to all, based on the principle of self-determination, our national interests, and the cause of long-range world peace.” Furthermore, Nixon used the unrest to his benefit in promising to return law and order to the country. Nixon won by the slimmest of margins.
The conventional wisdom was that since Humphrey was the vice president, it was proper to go after him and not Nixon. I think that their conclusion was wrong. My theory is that the anti-war movement and others on the left wanted Humphrey to lose. Then they were able to argue that Humphrey lost because of the war and that the anti-war crowd and other progressives should be the face of the party. After Humphrey’s defeat, they were successful in moving the party to the left, and in 1972 the party nominated Senator George McGovern for president, the Bernie Sanders of that time. His candidacy went up in flames, with him winning only the state of Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.
In 2020, there is a fight for control of the Republican Party between two groups of Republicans: the traditional BT (Before Trump) and the current POT (Party of Trump). It is a war between those with ideas and those who follow the cult of personality. The BTs have decided that the only way that they can take back the party is to make sure that the president loses. However, Trump’s losing is insufficient. The Republican enablers in Congress also must go. This would be the end of Trumpism. In other words, the Republican Party must suffer a crushing defeat in November, losing the presidency and their majority in the Senate and remain a minority in the House. Then the BTs can argue that it is time for the Republican Party to get off the POT and return to their roots.
The two most active Republican groups trying to defeat Trump are Republicans Against Trump, and my favorite, The Lincoln Project. The groups take different approaches. The Republicans Against Trump run ads with individual Republican Trump voters in 2016 who are unhappy with Trump. The Lincoln Project goes for the jugular with attack ads. The Lincoln Project also goes after some Republican senators. Whether you agree with them or not, you must admit that the Lincoln Project’s ads are original and effective. Republicans are years ahead of Democrats when it comes to creating attack ads. The Lincoln Project’s ads have repeatedly gotten under Trump’s skin.
Likewise, there is a fight for control of the Democratic Party between the moderates and the progressives. There are those on the far left who want Biden to lose so they can argue that America wants progressive and not moderate voices. None of the “Squad” supported Biden in the primary: Tlaib, Ocasio-Cortez, and Omar supported Sanders, and Pressley supported Warren. Last week, when Tlaib was asked whether she would support Biden for president, she was non-committal since she had a primary to deal with. Even when it was clear that Biden would win the nomination, Pressley and Omar went after Biden when Tara Reade’s accusations surfaced.
Since the polls give Biden a big lead even in the battleground states, not only are the Trumpians getting nervous but so are the progressives. Right now, it appears that Biden does not need the progressives to win. There is only one progressive listed on the VP list – Senator Elizabeth Warren – and she will probably not be selected as Biden’s running mate.
It is not mere coincidence that the far-left agitators are going to cities run by Democratic mayors. They want to embarrass the Democratic establishment, which the progressives feel is moderate, and at the same time help Trump by giving him a chance to argue that he is the law-and-order candidate, just as Nixon did in 1968. The 2020 radicals learned from their radical predecessors in 1968 as to what works. Hopefully, this time they will not be successful.