The August Ferguson riots, the November 24 looting, the November 30 murder of a 32-year-old St. Louis man, and the continued race-baiting that prolongs racial tensions in America have come together to put the need for a 1968-like “law and order” campaign at the top of any serious GOP 2016 agenda.
And it is important to note that the “law and order” campaign not only ushered in a GOP victory in 1968, but subsequent victories in ’72, ’80, ’84, and ’88. It led to a rebirth of conservatism that lasted until moderation brought it down during the George H.W. Bush presidency.
In April 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated. And The Living Room Candidate reports that this was responsible for “sparking riots in more than 100 cities.” Two months later, Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated, and the unrest continued.
On top of this, Democrat President Lyndon Baines Johnson had increased troop deployment to Vietnam from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands. Half a million troops were in Vietnam as the 1968 election approached, and the outcry over it–along with the high-profile assassinations–created “one of the most turbulent years in American history.”
Richard Nixon ran on a platform to confront this turbulence. That platform was “law and order,” and it carried the day.
The turbulence of our times is fast approaching 1968 levels. Images of young blacks looting in Ferguson are etched upon our minds. Videos of lawlessness in the streets as police cars get their windows knocked out and are then set ablaze now fill the Internet. CNN’s footage of Michael Brown’s stepfather standing on a car amid the violence of November 24 and calling for protesters to “burn this b-tch down!” is certainly memorable. The myriad of race-baiters who have sought to capitalize on the unrest, rather than quell it, are both indicative of the growing lawlessness and causal to it. And now comes news of teens using hammers to beat a South St. Louis man to death in the early morning hours of November 30. The list goes on.
It’s time for someone in the GOP to step up and point out the obvious: “law and order” needs to be re-injected into public discourse and into the GOP platform. Our culture depends on it, and our country rests on it.
This can start with a discussion of how the first step of our judicial system involves a grand jury decision to bring or reject charges in a given case. The evidence in Ferguson did not support charges against Officer Wilson, nor did it support the media-manufactured image of Michael Brown approaching Wilson in a mild manner.
Disagreement with the grand jury’s decision does not justify burning down and destroying the private property of other citizens–nor does it justify threatening innocent lives. Would-be GOP candidates need to make this clear, and they need to promise that they will enforce the laws of the land–laws that protect life and property–and will uphold the order embodied in our system of justice, if elected in 2016.
Such a pledge portends not only a 2016 victory, but also the possible rebirth of the GOP as the party that was trusted to defend American culture and norms for nearly 25 years following the 1968 victory.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.