1968 compaired with today.

The events of the past couple weeks have been unbelievable but how does it compare
with 1968? I was just a little kid at the time but I remember there was a large
violent riot at the Democratic convention in Chicago and presidential candidate Robert
Kennedy being assassinated in L.A. Looking at Wikipeda I see that in that year there
were also riots in a few other cites and Martin Luther King was killed.

For those of you who are old enough to remember, what were your thoughts at
the time? Did you feel that the country was about to go completely off the rails?

Looking forward to reading your comments.

  • X. L. Lent

Wow - no replies yet.
Well, I’m 65 now (one of the oldest SDMB’ers).
You forgot to mention 2 other things:
the Vietnam War was at its height and
all 18 year old males had to register with the Draft Board.
In the Summer of '68 I was between my junior and senior year in high school. (and one year away from registering with the Draft Board).
Besides the thought of possibly fighting in a highly unpopular war, it did seem to me that the country was coming apart.
The news was filled with Vietnam War stories, civil rights clashes, campus riots, etc.
As for the pop culture, it seemed every song referred to the current events.

Still, even being in the midst of all that, I had a feeling that things were changing.

I was 22, right in the heart of things. No, I never felt like the country was out of control, although I’m sure older people were apprehensive. It was much more a young/old division at that time. People my age were getting killed in a war that few young people supported. Some one wrote that the country was divided in half and all you had to do to show which side you were on was to grow a beard.

So the youth was trying to bring about a complete change. The protesters at the '68 DNC were regarded as martyrs or heroes by many. In the next year or so you had Woodstock and then the Kent State shootings. That did seem to sober up the country. When Nixon resigned I kept my promise and cut my hair. Hasn’t been long since then.

Crosby Stills, Nash and Young wrote “Ohio” which became a counterculture anthem.

“Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We’re finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio”

If I hear it today I get chills and I’m right back in my bell bottoms and shoulder length hair.

Today I am not really a conservative, but I support Trump.


I’m not going to argue politics but I am surprised that you support Trump.

I don’t - and my hair is still somewhat long.

I was 14 and didn’t care in the least about politics. I recall there were riots in Baltimore after Dr. King was assassinated, but we were in the suburbs, so to me, it was just something on the evening news. I really don’t remember anything about the DNC, but I do remember Bobby Kennedy being shot, and that was upsetting.

I do remember news stories about the war protests, and I have a vague memory that the protesters were the “bad guys” - I was still naive enough to believe that the government would never do bad things. So I don’t recall a sense of the country going to hell, but I didn’t understand the protests and the anti-war mentality. Definitely uninformed and not interested in learning more - I just wanted it all to be nice again…

My social conscience didn’t form for a few more years.

I was 22/23 that year, and I remember being totally devastated by unfolding events … especially compared to the “summer of love” in '67. With the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, it seemed that our strongest leaders were being mowed down. And the riots didn’t help. I participated in several anti-war protests, and like many others, wrestled with issue of possibly getting drafted. I was not going to fight in that war! So … that was the year I officially came out to the draft board.

I don’t know how to compare it to 2016. I’m feeling the same sense of devastation now, the feeling that people on “my side” are losing or leaving positions of power, and the “bad guys” are taking over. But beyond that, the perspective of a 71-year-old is very different than that of a 22-year-old.

I was a bit younger than some of the others, but still pretty politically aware for my age.

My perception then was more of anarchy making a run at the citadel. Today feels to me more like reactionary-ism or fascism making a run at civilization. Both the target under attack and the objective of the attackers is different.

The anarchists were always a bit like dogs chasing the mail truck; what could they *really *do if they caught it? Not much really. In the course of governing they’d become the Establishment they claimed to hate.

Fascists entering government (if that turns out to be the case) has a lot more room to become a lasting malign force in everyone’s life. Secret police, crooked courts, and widespread official corruption are fairly easy to install and very hard to remove.

Then and now most calmer folks have faith that some combo of our good institutions and sheer pig-headed organizational inertia will prevent the scariest excesses. At least in the near term. If enough of the country truly wants a fascist government, well, … democracies eventually get what they clamor for. Or worse yet, what they’ve been told to clamor for. Always look for the man behind the curtain.

That sentiment itself being a legacy of the “question authority” movement of the, you guessed it, late 1960s.

Well, at least the times were a-.

I don’t feel the situation today is comparable with the 1960s. At least, not yet. I can certainly see how it could slide downhill very quickly into the same or worse. The times, they may be a-changin’ indeed.

I was 17 in 1968. With recent political assassinations, the Vietnam War, the ghettos going up in flames, and mass protests it definitely felt apocalyptic. I participated in several marches on Washington and got tear-gassed on one of them.

There is absolutely no comparison to today. Whatever level of violence and unrest is going on today is minuscule compared to what was happening in the 1960s.

What’s puzzling to me is why people took the extreme course of turning to Trump when, by any objective measure, we’re not really in crisis.

I’m more devastated by Trump’s election than by Nixon’s re-election in 1972, in part because it seems so inexplicable. Nixon’s re-election was at least understandable as a reaction to the turmoil that was going on then.

The idea of blacks, women and gays (especially gays) seeking equal rights was very radical (and, with gays, unthinkable) back then. We’ve all come a long way.

Remember Anita Bryant and her campaign against gay rights in 1977?

I missed most of that year. I was in Louisiana when MLK was killed, but was already in Copenhagen by the time RFK was, an I spent the infamous summer shut off from the news media in peaceful Romania. Heard about Nixon’s election when I was in Morocco.

I was 16 at the time. Here’s what I remember.

1968 was one damn thing after another!

January – The Tet Offensive. That’s when the Viet Cong attacked the U.S. Embassy right in the middle of Saigon.

March-- Gene McCarthy surprises LBJ in the New Hampshire primary. Less than three weeks later, LBJ announces he won’t run for reelection.

April – Five days after LBJ’s announcement, Martin Luther King is assassinated.

June – Robert Kennedy is assassinated.

August – Riots at the Democratic convention.

October – Tommie Smith and John Carlos give the Black Power salute at the Olympics.

November – Nixon wins an election that wasn’t called until the middle of the next day.

Somewhere in there, we had riots in Miami, riots in Northern Ireland, and other assorted shit. Five graduates from my high school were killed in Viet Nam.

Maybe that’s why I’m a little more sanguine (or at least less panicked) about Trump’s election than my kids have been.

1968 was the most interesting year of my life, though I was too young to fully appreciate it.

2016 doesn’t begin to compare.

2017-2020 just might. :confused::eek::smack::slight_smile:

@kunilou: Yeah. This.

Ref jackmannii: It’s premature to panic, but it’s not premature to keep a gimlet eye peeled on the situation. As you say.

I was 20. This was five years after JFK’s assassination and the country was still pretty raw over it. It was the height of Vietnam. LBJ was busy fucking things up with both Vietnam and The “Great Society”.

It wasn’t until I was older that I realized I had lived through “interesting times”, as in the old Chinese curse.

I was 16 in 68.
I remember the events of the year.
But what I remember most was the confidence in the future. Yes, there were a lot of bad things happening. But it was the 60s! We had Star Trek and the Space Program. We were going to the moon. Medicine was producing new discoveries every week. The economy seemed strong-and most people I knew were planning on going to college which we had been told was a ticket to a solid middle-class life. So yes, there was a lot of bad news in 68, but I mostly remember the belief that since we where headed in the right direction-everyone knew the youth would take over eventually-these were just necessary trials we had to go through.
Then the 70’s happened. That was the low that countered the optimism of the 60’s.
One funny thing about remembering that far back-I literally remember the 60’s as sunny and bright and the 70’s as cloudy and cold.

I was getting my driver’s license at the time. I was too young to be directly affected by national and world events (i.e., couldn’t be drafted, not yet in college, not working), but very aware of them. My mood was hopeful, not depressed or disillusioned. Later, I would be active in social-political events, join the SDS (really), and work towards a “better world.”

We failed. My generation (in large part) screwed the pooch and helped bring us to where we are today. I have apologized to my step-children on many occasions for dropping the ball.

I was 31 and had just moved to Canada when the election was held. But 1968 was just one damned thing after another.

This feels different to me. There is much more foreboding for the future. In '68 stuff had happened but we mostly felt it would get better. Now it seems to me that we are looking into the abyss. Certainly the personnel announcements point that way. For one thing, in '68 we felt the voters were at least calling the shots. Now it is the big money and one party that is bound and determined to prevent the wrong people from voting. Both with the approval of a very partisan SCOTUS. Incidentally, IMHO, the Dems have done their share in politicizing SCOTUS, even if I agree with their positions. Sauce for the goose, etc.