Her grandfather avoids politics “because we got burned by Eugene McCarthy.”
His 20-something granddaughter has traveled here for the past several weeks to campaign for Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vermont.
The Asian-American California girl (anyone the age of my granddaughters is a girl) attended last Friday’s Democratic Party Virginia Demmler Dinner at the Downtown Reno Ballroom.
Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., spoke for Sen. Sanders and repeated what he told union leaders at the Sparks Labor Temple earlier in the day. The only more liberal presidential candidate of recent times has been Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio.
I met the cranky McCarthyite’s granddaughter in front of my house about two weeks ago. I stopped my car in the middle of the street to hand my card to the diminutive wisp wearing a Bernie t-shirt, a floppy hat and carrying a clipboard.
I tagged along with a group of Sandernistas to a downtown bar after Friday’s soirée. About midnight, I mentioned Sen. Eugene McCarthy, D-Minn. My precinct walker recognized the name from her grandfather’s grousing.
McCarthy’s anger over President Lyndon Johnson’s escalation of the Vietnam War caused him to do the unthinkable: challenge the re-nomination of a sitting president of his own party.
LBJ “won” the 1968 New Hampshire primary 49-42 percent, but McCarthy secured 20 of 24 delegates to the national nominating convention. The president announced his retirement less than three weeks later as Sen. Robert Kennedy, D-NY, belatedly jumped on the bandwagon.
After losing Oregon to McCarthy, Kennedy was assassinated the night he won the decisive California primary. Chicago Mayor Richard Daley brokered power inside the national convention while breaking heads outside, dealing a losing hand to Vice President Hubert Humphrey.
McCarthy’s insurgent campaign had one great strength: his inspiration of the youth of America. Back then, young men of average means and especially of darker skin were being drafted into the meat grinder of America’s first losing war.
Today’s young people increasingly see themselves, as well as their parents, playing against a stacked deck as the American Dream dwindles.
Exploitation still breeds revolution.
Which explains why my precinct walker knew about Eugene McCarthy and was impelled to take action.
Should America’s young feel burned like her grandpa (I know how it felt), that fervor could cool a year from now. The disaffection of the Baby Boomers led to the election of Richard the Rotten, who escalated both warmongering and cynicism, both of which have only worsened since.
Grandpa Sanders has motivated the idealistic young like none since Sen. Eugene so long ago.
Hillary Clinton remains the favorite to secure the Democratic presidential nomination. A true test of her leadership will come with winning while not smothering young America’s aspirations.
Otherwise, she merely paves the way for neo-Nixonian redux courtesy of President Trump and Vice President Carson — and a continued plunge toward corporate dictatorship, where she is not without sin.
Be well. Raise hell. Esté bien. Haga infierno.
Andrew Barbano is a 47-year Nevadan and editor of NevadaLabor.com. E-mail <email@example.com>. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.