If You Thought the Campus Protests Were Bad For Biden Now, Wait Until the Summer

News & Politics

The Democrats are freaking out over the prospect of a summer that will feature huge protests in Washington, D.C. at the July NATO summit and the party conventions in July and August.

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William Daley, son of the legendary Mayor Richard J. Daley and a key Democratic insider, says the potential is there for protests at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in August to get out of hand.

“This last week has taken the demonstrations to a different level,” Daley said. “It portends that you have the potential for big demonstrations. Whether they get violent — that’s more imaginable today than it was a year ago.”

In Milwaukee where Republicans will gather in July, the prospects for violence are even greater. The hysterical rhetoric used by the Biden administration and Democratic activists to describe Donald Trump and MAGA could easily lead to violence against attendees.

Add to that, the placement of protesters closer to the Fiserv Forum than they will be near the United Center in Chicago and the prospect of protests becoming violent rises precipitously.

But the real protest action might not take place outside the United Center in Chicago. In fact, the floor of the convention and the galleries are where the most disruptive protests are going to happen. 

Vetting the thousands of delegates, alternates, and guests who will fill the United Center and weed out the troublemakers is darn near impossible. The Biden team is going to have to plan for several disruptions during the convention proceedings in prime time — a prospect they dread more than anything. 

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Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson is trying his best. He has given permits to protesters to gather in a park 3.5 miles from the United Center. The protesters are suing but it will be hard for the courts to change the site given the amount of planning that’s gone on already.

“While the convention is planned for next summer, teams have been on the ground in Chicago for months preparing an intricate security plan with the full weight of the federal, state, and city government,” Anthony Guglielmi, a spokesman for the Secret Service, said in a statement.

Perhaps it’s wrong to try and compare the 1968 Chicago convention with this one. After all, the country’s young were in revolt at that time. Civil rights, Vietnam, and women’s rights energized the youth of America and their passion (and a lack of police restraint) led to blood in the streets.

But the one similarity between 1968 and 2024 stands out: Joe Biden, like Lyndon Johnson, is losing the youth vote and a large group of ordinary Democrats.

“I worry very much that President Biden is putting himself in a position where he has alienated not just young people but a lot of the Democratic base in terms of his views on Israel and this war,” Senator Bernie Sanders said. 

CNN:

To the senator’s point, 81% of voters under 35 said in a recent CNN poll that they disapproved of the president’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war. Biden’s position could worsen even more if his administration can’t convince Netanyahu to shelve a plan for a surge in to the Gazan city of Rafah that could cause heavy civilian casualties.

But Sanders’ analogy is not an exact one. More than 3 million Americans served in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. Nearly 60,000 were killed and a generation of young men was subject to the draft in a conflict that ripped deep societal tears that didn’t mend for decades afterwards.

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There’s also the fact that today’s youth are far less engaged in politics than the young people of 1968. Most of them walk around in a daze with their faces glued to their smartphones. It’s going to take a lot of previously unengaged youth to have the protests reach critical mass in Chicago.

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