For democracy to thrive, the conventions must be orderly

By Bill Lewis

We have heard, at least until the results of Tuesday's Indiana primary, about a possible contested Republican convention with Sen. Ted Cruz and some members of the Republican establishment seeking to prevent Donald Trump from getting their party’s nomination for president.

It could be said the most contested convention occurred at the Democratic Party convention in Chicago during the summer of 1968.

There are certain similarities in the Democratic convention of 1968 and what might still happen at the Republican convention. Then Vice President Humphrey was challenged by the demonstrators and Eugene McCarthy had a position similar to Bernie Sanders.

Although Humphrey got the nomination for president, there were debates over the party platform and violence occurred outside the convention hall. Large groups of young people fought with Chicago police, as today young demonstrators have caused disruptions at presidential political rallies.

In 1968, aside from Humphrey running against Richard Nixon, there was a third-party candidate. That was Governor George Wallace of Alabama. The Democratic convention of 1968 was one of the most controversial in American history.

The anti-war Democratic group considered the Chicago police force as the enemy. A significant portion of the demonstrators engaged in physical confrontations with the police. Meanwhile, as indicated, the Republican convention seemed to go off peacefully as they nominated Richard Nixon.

We hope that a similar type of situation to what occurred in Chicago in 1968 does not occur this year. In 1968 the American people were tired of the Vietnam War, as Americans today are tired of the negative economic situation and the breakdown of law and order.

Today the two-year campaign cycle for president has shown to be the most unusual. We have had several people interested in running as a third-party candidate. It can only be hoped that both major party conventions will be peaceful and orderly. However, political history does repeat itself.

If the Republican convention, as is now expected, picks a presidential candidate on the first ballot, the process should be orderly. If the convention werer to go to a second or third ballot, the convention could become disorderly.

As I have mentioned, the 1924 Democratic Party convention went on for 103 ballots. This year as we have seen the political process develop there seems to be a high degree of anger among the potential voters.

For democracy to prosper it has to function in an atmosphere of orderliness. It would be good for all the delegates to keep that in mind as they go through the convention agenda.

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