One aphorism often attributed to Mark Twain is: “History never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme.” In other words, while details and circumstances may change, events similar in nature may repeat themselves. The current unrest on our nation’s college campuses remind me of similar events in 1968.

The ’68 college protests were in response to our country’s involvement in the Vietnam War. Current protests are about the war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas. Today’s protests have not risen to the same size and level of violence of those in ’68. Time will tell whether this remains true.

Both 1968 and 2024 are presidential election years. The popular vote in the 1968 presidential election was close. The electoral college vote, however, was not. Nixon defeated Humphrey by fewer than a million votes. This year’s election between President Biden and former President Trump also looks to be close, both in the popular and electoral college votes. The 1968 and 2024 elections share third-party candidates. In 1968, George Wallace, and this year, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Will history “rhyme” regarding the 1968 and 2024 Democratic conventions? In 1968, the chaos at the Democratic convention helped shift votes to the “law and order” candidate, Nixon. In 2024, ironically, Trump is running as the “law and order” candidate. Should chaos and violence prevail at the Democratic convention, will this help Trump get elected?

Politicians in both parties will need to consider the events of 1968 in their respective strategies.

Samuel Rosenthal

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