Chicago & Oregon’s Wayne Morse

By Carl Fisher, CD-6 Washington County Delegation Chair

Title reading Chicago & Wayne Morse, by Carl Fisher, with photo of Wayne Morse

It is the Spring of 2024 and that means the time is nearing for another Democratic Party of Oregon Wayne Morse Gala. We are also in the midst of a presidential election and Democrats will be seeking spots to attend the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. If you could imagine any city being a “Convention City” it is Chicago.

While 2024 will be the first time Democrats have returned to Chicago for a convention in the last thirty years, 2024 is building on a rich legacy that makes Chicago a place where history is made. The 2024 DNC will mark the 26th major party political convention to be held in the city since 1860. Democrats have held 10 of those conventions.

One of the most remembered conventions held in Chicago was in the summer of 1968 when the Democrats met to select a nominee. For a certain generation of Americans that convention represented what seemed like a year of protest, anger, and confusion. It seemed like it all climaxed on the convention floor and the streets of Chicago in the summer of 1968. Oregon’s Wayne Morse was there for it all.

The most divisive issue between party members was that of Vietnam. On Wednesday, August 28, 1968, a floor fight broke out on the Vietnam plank of the party platform. The Hawk and Dove camps each brought out their best speakers to address the national audience. Many of Dove speakers that night were former JFK administration or RFK workers. Each tried to explain that continuing the Johnson policy for Vietnam would be a policy that Nixon or Goldwater could run comfortably on in the November election.

Wayne Morse was the last Dove speaker that evening. One of the nation’s leading critics of the ongoing war in Vietnam, he was famously known as one of the two U.S. Senators to vote against President Johnson’s Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. Sending American kids off to die for an illegal war was not something he could stomach. He had been traveling the country speaking to anti-war and community groups about his position on the war. Now the entire country was to get the opportunity to hear his thoughts.

Many people attending the DPO Morse Gala have only ever listened to soundbites of Wayne Morse. Click the image below and you can hear the Wayne Morse speech from the 1968 Democratic Convention.

Screenshot from NBC News of Oregon Senator Wayne Morse giving his DNC speech on August 28, 1968

The vote on the plank followed soon and the Hawks narrowly prevailed which led to a long demonstration by the McCarthy-Kennedy-McGovern forces on the convention floor.

You can join hundreds of other Oregon Democrats celebrating the legacy of Wayne Morse and help fund the infrastructure for the state party it will need to win this November by purchasing a ticket to the 2024 Wayne Morse Gala. Come meet elected officials and party leaders from across the state.

Poster announcing: The Democratic Party of Oregon presents the Wayne Morse Gala on April 13, 2024 at the Downtown Portland Hilton

Speaking of the Democratic National Convention–you can sign up now to participate in the delegate selection process here in Oregon by visiting  Democratic activists from across the state will be running for a chance to be a delegate to the Democratic Convention this August in Chicago. Not interested in going to Chicago? What about Madras? Washington County Democrats would love to send a strong delegation of local Dems to the State Convention in June.  That convention will be held in Madras.

Regardless of how you might participate in the Wayne Morse Gala or the Delegate Selection Process, I hope you will consider stepping up and getting more involved this year as we look to once again defeat Donald Trump.

The easiest way to help is to sign up to be a Neighborhood Leader in your community.

Carl Fisher is a longtime PCP & Candidate for CD-6 Biden Delegate



Carl Fisher is a longtime PCP & recently elected Commissioner of the Tualatin Valley Water District