Does history ever repeat itself? Perhaps not, but those of us who lived through the 60s and 70s are hearing echoes of those dreadful days. Headlines like this one are a blast from the past: “Police use tear gas on Berkeley protesters.”
Our younger readers might not realize what a major role the riots and violent protests of the late 1960s and early 1970s played in the temporary eclipse of the Democratic Party. Richard Nixon’s landslide victories in 1968 and 1972 were due in large part to public disgust with radical left-wing demonstrations. Riots at Berkeley played an important role in Ronald Reagan’s rise to political prominence as Governor of California, too.
Demonstrations over the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases have often turned into orgies of looting and destruction. But even without violence, the leftists’ cause is not a popular one. Some professional athletes, for example, are peacefully expressing solidarity with the protesters, which will turn off a substantial majority of viewers.
Have the Democrats forgotten what a disaster the riots of the 1960s were for them? It seems so: now, as then, Democrats can’t bring themselves to unequivocally condemn violations of public order. They term the riots “understandable” and hobnob with the demagogues who foment them. Just a day or two ago, President Obama said on Black Entertainment Television that racism is “deeply rooted” in American society. Today, even more than forty or fifty years ago, white Americans do not appreciate being called racists, because it is a lie as to nearly all of them. The effect will be to alienate most Americans even further from the Democratic Party.
If history does repeat itself, the Democrats could be in for a couple of very tough election cycles.