I know this because I have (insert your own cliche here: read this book, seen this movie, trodden this path) before. The only variable is at which party's convention will the most protesters gather. And what happens in the streets could revive that whole "law and order" business the Republicans have run on so successfully before in times of civil disobedience. Already, they mock the "Occupy" movement as being populated by hippies and the homeless. It's unpredictable what will happen when the movement "occupies" Tampa because of Florida's irrational governor Rick Scott and the allegiance of the police. In 1968, when the Democrats nominated the moderate Hubert Humphrey, who was a defender of LBJ and the Vietnam War, street protests turned into bloody, skull-cracking melees after Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley unleashed his baton-swinging police on the protesters, in what an independent commission later determined a "police riot." The ugliness and brutality caused the populace to turn to Richard Nixon, our second worst president, to restore order in the land. The moderate Democrat lost because of discord within the party and the anger of the liberal left. Mitt Romney will lose because of the same anger on the rabid right. My hope is that voters are enlightened enough to see that the Tea Party Congress they put in power in 2010 has done nothing but harm, and they will just as assuredly vote them out. The right-wing's blitzkrieg on public employees and their unions should seal the deal.
Everyone seems to have gotten the message but the police. As public employees, their rights are under siege as surely as teachers, city service laborers, and nurses. The right's open war on collective bargaining includes police unions too, yet police forces in Oakland, New York, Chicago, Denver, Boston, Atlanta, and Nashville have attacked the "Occupy" camps with violence and arrests. If the police were not ensnared in an "us vs. them" scenario, they would join the protesters instead of beating them. But riot squads train for similar situations requiring crowd control, and when assembled to face a large group of disgruntled citizens, they will exercise that training. When the police are ordered by a municipal lackey to dismantle an assembly with nightsticks, helmets, Plexiglas shields, pepper spray, and all the toys, don't you think they're going to use them? If Memphis Mayor A C Wharton were wise, and I know he is, he would instruct the police to protect the protesters in the Civic Center Plaza against predators in their midst, and put up a dozen port-a-potties as a gesture of goodwill. If nothing else, the movement has Bank of America quaking in their jackboots. New York police arrested 24 people over the weekend who were attempting to remove their funds from Citibank.
The Democratic Convention, which usually attracts the most protesters, will be in Charlotte, N.C. in September. Depending on the state of the economy and the intransigence of the Republicans in office, President Obama will either be regaled as the guardian against the barbarians at the gate, or excoriated for granting the Tea Party Congress a foothold by trying to reason with them in the first place. Nonetheless, Democrats don't force their members to sign tax pledges or defend traditional marriage, like Kim Kardashian's, from the encroachment of the gay hoards wishing to live happy lives, so the convention should be less tumultuous. Despite the expected Obama anger outside, within the convention hall, Democratic unity has been strengthened by the irrationality of the opposing party. Regardless of the President's shortcomings as a political negotiator, none of the carnival barkers that pass for Republican candidates can match him for intelligence, judgement, or respect on the international stage. So, with zero precincts reporting, I can now predict the next president will be Barack Obama. The question is, what will happen with Congress?
The country desperately needs a jobs program for infrastructure repairs, educational improvements, and technological advances, but we'll never get there with the conservative logjam that blocks any and all progress. The House Republicans have wasted their opportunity to lead with a series of meaningless bills concerning social issues rather than addressing the real economic concerns that have made the U.S. a borrower nation. And the Senate has been paralyzed for years by the tyranny of the minority and their misuse of the filibuster. Early on, Senate Republican leader Mitch "Frogman" McConnell freely acknowledged the party's supreme goal was to unseat Obama, and their "just say no" tactics should be repugnant to anyone who values democracy. Yet, in spite of the GOP's obstruction, Obama brought the nation back from the brink of a second great depression, passed healthcare insurance reform, saved the American auto industry and accelerated the development of the electric car, killed Osama bin Laden, stopped a genocide in Libya (for which he was criticized as "leading from behind"), which enabled the Libyan people to kill a murderous dictator, and he ended the war in Iraq. Imagine what he might accomplish with legislators who actually had the best interests of the country at heart.