I wonder if you can imagine what it felt like to be 22 years old, totally idealistic and what they call “a true believer” and to see policemen behave like that. To see Chicago Mayor Richard Daley call the first Jewish Senator, Abraham Ribicoff of Connecticut, a “kike” (you had to read his lips – there was no audio but it was pretty clear) and to see your friends, and colleagues, and some-time beloveds with black eyes and bleeding scalps. To be dragged by a Secret Service agent from your place next to Senator McCarthy by the collar of your dress as he addressed the demonstrators, battered, bruised and angry. To see everything you’d worked for and believed in decimated in the class, generational and political warfare.
That’s how it was. I’ve been thinking about it a lot, of course, on this momentous anniversary – when hopefully another, happier landmark will emerge in the extraordinary nomination of Senator Obama. I’ve been to every Convention from 1968 until this year. It’s kind of sad to break the chain after 40 years but I think I’m ready. I did a workshop on convention coverage at the BlogHer conference to pass the torch; I’m so excited for all the women who are going. Just as Senator Obama is a generation behind me – in his 40s to my 60s – a little kid when we faced billy clubs and tear gas in his home town, so are many of the bloggers credentialed to cover the week. I know it will be great for them and that they’ll make certain we know – in twitteriffic detail, what’s going on.
I know too that, 40 years from now, it will still be a milestone
memory in their lives. I started to write “hopefully, a happier one”
but despite all the agony of those terrible days in 1968, I’m embarrassed to tell you that I wouldn’t trade the memory. It’s so deep in my soul and so much a part of my understanding of myself and who I’ve become that despite the horrors within it, I cherish its presence. So, what I wish my sisters in Denver (and Minnesota) is to have conventions — happy or not — as important to their lives, sense of history and purpose and political values as Chicago was to mine. Along with, of course, the fervent hope that this time, there will be something closer to a happy ending.