No End in Sight

During August 1968 the Republican Party would nominate Richard Nixon as its Presidential candidate, the Democrats, still reeling from the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, would nominate Hubert H. Humphrey, and the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia.

In early August, the Republican Party nominated Richard Nixon as the President and Spiro Agnew as his running mate. By 1973 Agnew resigned the Vice-Presidency amidst a tax evasion scandal, and once the Watergate scandal broke, followed by the cover-up, Nixon followed his partner less than a year later. Agnew, seeing impeachment written on the wall, resigned to avoid further embarrassment, and pled no contest to tax evasion changes. However, he was left off with a warning. After Nixon resigned to avoid certain impeachment he was pardoned by President Ford to avoid criminal proceedings.

It seems hard to believe that anything could be worse, but the Democratic Convention in Chicago, broadcasted on national television, showed how turbulent the state of the U.S. was. In the Democratic primaries, even though roughly 80% of voters voted for an anti-war candidate, Humphrey, the Vice-President under Johnson, and his disciple, won the nomination. Needless to say this provoked outrage on the streets in Chicago. People felt that corrupt Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, together with Lyndon Johnson, rigged the convention.

When 10 000 protestors converged on Grant Park to protest the unjust outcome, they were met by police who unleashed wave after wave of tear gas, mace, and billy clubs. And with television crews live at the scene, capturing the sounds and images, they relayed them across the nations. The protestors, headed chanting, “The whole world is watching!”, shamed the party and the country.

When the dust cleared, it was Humphrey vs. Nixon in the general election, with Nixon prevailing with 301 electoral college votes to Humphrey’s 191.

That is how the U.S. was stuck with Richard Milhous Nixon from 1968-1974.

In the midst of this chaos, across the ocean in Czechoslovakia, a more violent act was  happening.  Soviet troops had squashed the political freedom movement known as Prague Spring. Armed with 750 000 troops, 800 planes, and 6 5000 tanks, Soviet military forces Prague Spring Crushedinvaded Czechoslovakia in what was then the largest military mobilization since World War Two. When the Romanian, Italian, French, and Finnish Communist parties denounced the invasion, infuriating Russia, a chink in the armour of Communists in Europe began to appear.

Then on August 28, just two days before the end of the Democratic fracas in Chicago, the U.S. ambassador to Guatemala was gunned down. He became the first sitting U.S. ambassador to be killed.

In simple terms, August 1968 saw war in Chicago, war in Europe, and hostilities and hatred boiling over in Central America. It seemed that in 1968 not a month would go by without a riot, an assassination, or an invasion.

There was no end in sight.

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