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The long 1972 Presidential election campaign is shuddering to a clove. The imminent prospect of "tour more years" has cast a pull over the progressive elements of American society. Frustrution seems to be growing as people anywhere to the left of Wilbur Mills contemplate the harsh realities of Richard Nizon's stickly-executed re-election.
The frustration came out this week outside a Republican fund-raising dinner held in Boston to honor Pat Nixon. In the largest local antiwar action since the May 1971 attempt to shut down the JFK Federal Building, 8000 demonstrators confronted 300 riot-equipped Boston police outside the Commonwealth Armory. Where the dinner was held. The choreography was depressingly familiar on both sides of the skirmish line.
As a march arrived in front of the Armory, demonstrators urged against police lines; the police, bolstered by six mounted officers, shoved back, and a wary stalemate marked by speeches and songs ensued.
Ten people were arrested, the ebb and flow of the crowd demolished two sections of a sturdy chain-link fence running down the MTA median strip, some firecrackers and missles were tossed, and to cap the evening, an automobile was set on fire.
The demonstrators were restrained in their actions by the knowledge that Pat Nixon was the target of the action, instead of her husband or the irascible Spiro Agnew. They were also determined to be peaceful so that the message of the demonstration--sign the peace agreement--was not lost in the fray of mans arrests.
With peace in the offing and a Nixon landslide likely, why had so many demonstrators turned out? The suspicion that the Administration intended to renege on a reasonable agreement fed much of their frustration. After seven years of marches and rallies, people just could not believe that this would be the last antiwar demonstration.
This disbelief reflects the pervasive cynicism that has come to dominate the American electorate in this election year. The hypocrisy generated by seven years of undeclared war has come home to America this fall. Scandals, the immensity of which would have crippled any Presidential candidate in the early sixties, have barely ruffled Nixon and his henchmen. A contempt for the public unwitnessed since Warren G. Harding's "front porch" campaign in 1920 as the central feature in a campaign where the incumbent is afraid even to mention his name on stickers and billboards. A year that started off so promising with a string of McGovern primary victories has soured, and weary resignation seems destined to reign once again.
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