Tricky Dick was the first “modern era” law and order candidate. He told us so, every day running up to his election in 1968.
With a backdrop of the Chicago convention police response (militaresque) against young convention protesters, major city protests and rioting, and the frustration of the deaths of Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy, yout, white and black, was expressing itself and Nixon wouod have none of that. I was 18 at the time. We were at odds with conventional wisdom and our parents.
“Law and Order” was shorthand for “black people”. It wasn’t about the riots. It was about red-lining neighborhoods, industrialized racism, and pushing back on the demand for true equality.
At Marquette, we took over the student union for protest rallies. Jammed against the wall, we heard speakers we didn’t know and some we did. One professor braved going on stage and suggested we “use reason”. He got laughed off. Who were we supposed to reason with?
Nixon won, and the protests continued, soon morphing into an ant-war, anti-vietnam focus. They were a constant. “Who’s your date for the revolution?” was the joke, because these had become as much a social event as a social movement, because so much else was cancelled.
We were growing up, and growing into who we would be for the rest of our lives. The protests turned more serious, and the draft card burnings and raiding of selective service offices began. National guards called in. Liberal priests leading marches. “4 dead in O-hio.”
Nixon saw the writing and the wall and eventually pulled out of Vietnam. Feeling hubris, he ordered the raid on the DNC office in the Watergate. Saturday Night Massacre. You know the rest.
In 1970, as yearbook editors, I and a friend published as radical a yearbook as there had ever been, and older alumni sent their books back in protest.
This was our education in the late sixties and early seventies. What we had lived through, matured through, and reported in those pages was the product of of observing, participating, reasoning, and responding the only way we knew how.
After graduation I started a business with a talented guy who was a conservative as they come. We never discussed politics, got along great, and are friends to this day.
And that’s the difference in Trump’s America. The dog whistles are bugle calls. The racism is front and center. And he is the “Law and Order” President. Families aren’t talking to each other, we’ve dropped friends we don’t agree with, and Trump wants it that way. This is Nixon without shame, Nixon with his own John Mitchell, Nixon with his own nationalized police force. He uses the White House like Buckingham Palace, as if his family is Royalty. This is Nixon squared.
We were learning our way through the protests of the sixties. But they had an impact. The selective service disappeared. There began an acceptance of African-Americans in the media, even if not exactly reality. We got along.
But today’s protests need to amp up and scare the status quo. Peaceful, but plentiful. Trump, his supporters and the media must know we’re here. After all, we buy stuff. Use on-line forums and in person participation to get out the vote, show our strength, and make a difference.
Because it will. Protest, march, write, make videos.
There are so many more communication opportunities today than just a yearbook or newspaper. You have the power. Use it.