So why didn’t President Obama show his hometown some love and hold the Democratic National Convention in Chicago?
Almost every other Illinoisan who ran for the presidency was nominated at a convention in Chicago – Abraham Lincoln in 1860, Ulysses S. Grant in 1868, Adlai Stevenson in 1952 and 1956. The only exception was Stephen Douglas, who was nominated at the 1860 Democratic National Convention, which re-convened in Baltimore after a 65-ballot deadlock in Charleston.
Chicago has hosted 25 political conventions, more than any other city. But we’ve fallen out of favor as a convention city. The 1968 riot in Grant Park had something to do with it. After that, the parties stayed away for 28 years, not returning until Bill Clinton was peacefully re-nominated in 1996. That proved we could hold a convention without beating up protestors. But the parties haven’t returned. Why not?
This month, Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland’s Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President will be available on Kindle for $9.99. Tracing Obama’s career in Chicago from his arrival as a community organizer to his election to the U.S. Senate, Young Mr. Obama tells the story of how a callow, presumptuous young man became a master politician, and of why only Chicago could have produced our first black president.