A convention to remember

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The democratic convention is over and mightily glad it is. In a world of pandemics, social distancing and riots in the city, there is nothing better than enduring a convention full of dark comments, hollow on substance and bent not on winning for the people, but beating an incumbent president. With both the Democratic and the Republican conventions over it is now time to enjoy the fireworks of the election season. Sit back, enjoy the drama and maybe say a little prayer that our country will once again become one. Even though this is going to be one crazy election year, this is not the first convention to have its share of turmoil. The 1924 convention was even more tumultuous.

The convention was a rowdy event. Roman Catholic delegates would stand in the corridors of the New York hotels demanding that the Ku-Klux-Klan be denounced by the Democratic convention. William Jennings Bryan fought to keep the Klan issue out of the convention. When he went to speak on the floor of the convention he was horribly jeered by the Tammany Hall forces from New York and it took 30 minutes before he could utter the first word of his speech. Tammany Hall was the New York political leadership headquartered in New York City. Ultimately the proposition to denounce the Klan failed by seven votes; however, this did note changes that were going on within the party.

This convention displayed the deep divisions within the Democratic Party. With the exceptions of the 2016 convention, today’s political conventions are a tame event when compared to the 1924 gathering. Modern conventions usually select the presidential candidate on the first ballot. When the first ballot of 1924 was cast the leader was William McAdoo. Al Smith of New York was second. Seventeen other candidates also received votes. By the time the 15th ballot was cast the convention was being referred to as the “klanbake” due to the chaos from the issue of the KuKluz-Klan. It was noted that possibly 25 percent of the delegates were members of the Klan. After 15 days and 100 ballots later the convention was no longer the glamorous affair that it began. Delegates had run out of money and were telegraphing for funds to pay for their hotel rooms. Everyone was exhausted and New York was hot in July. Smith had taken the lead in delegate votes at the 100-ballot count, but his Catholic religion made it a sure thing that he could not be elected. McAdoo’s support of the Klan doomed his chances. Finally, on the 103rd vote, compromise candidate John Davis won the nomination. After 16 grueling days the Democrats had a candidate.

Religion played a more robust part in politics than today even though religion is a factor of today’s candidates. Back room politics prevailed as Al Smith was identified as non-electable due to being Catholic. Ironically this was noted by Democratic power player, Joseph Kennedy, father of the future President and the first Catholic elected to the office, John F. Kennedy.

The party was so divided that it lost the general election to Herbert Hoover and it would not be until Franklin Roosevelt took office in the middle of the Great Depression that the Democratic Party coalesced.

This year is going to be a political firestorm for the record. Trump is going to mellow and become more likeable. Biden is going to come out of his basement and the gauntlet will be thrown down. Biden and Trump will trade barbs and then the debates will take place. No more dancing around the issues, no more twitter attacks, no more accusations, no more fake news; just face to face combat in the same style as the noble gladiators of ancient Rome.

Sit back and enjoy the journey and regardless of your political affiliation; go out and vote. A lot of brave American men and women, heroes one and all, gave the ultimate sacrifice to allow us to cast that vote.

Tuffy Fields may be reached by emailing thelouisianaexplorer@yahoo.com.