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There's a Familial Feeling in Chicago

Politics: The Democratic convention is looking more like a liberal family reunion as the offspring of '60s Democrats make their presence known.

August 27, 1996|PAMELA WARRICK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

CHICAGO — It is a navy blue T-shirt with white lettering. On the back it says, "We Kicked Your Father's Ass in 1968 . . . Wait 'til You See What We Do to YOU!"

On the front it says: "Chicago Police" and "Democratic National Convention--1996."

The first time Andrew Hoffman saw the shirt, he took its message personally. After all, his father, the late Abbie Hoffman, was roughed up and arrested by Chicago cops at the last convention here, and Andrew, 35, is running the counterculture's Festival of Life at this year's event.

"I felt really hurt at first and then I realized this was an opportunity--an opportunity to take the past and turn it into something to benefit the future." That is to say, Andrew created a version of the shirts and began selling them to conventioneers for $10 apiece.

His dad, who also had a gift for exploiting the very capitalistic values he raged against, would have been proud. Remember his bestseller, "Steal This Book"? Yes, concedes the soft-spoken Andrew, "I am proud to say, 'Like father, like son.' "

Talk about your family values.

From the host family of Daleys in City Hall to the Alioto clan from California to the Hoffmans, Haydens and Dellingers rallying in the parks, America's Democrats are showing that their family ties can be just as binding as Republicans'.

Michela Alioto, 27, of Napa is the third generation of her famous San Francisco family to carry the Democratic Party banner. The delegate is a candidate for Congress and, not coincidentally, the granddaughter of former San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto. Her credentials as an Alioto and as a loyal Democrat have been well-publicized here and back home by her brother and campaign advisor, Joe.

Even before the convention officially opened Monday, the father-son Jackson team--the Rev. Jesse and Congressman Jesse Jr.--were moving in tandem from TV studio to reception to caucus to delegation gala. "I'm awfully proud of that boy," the senior Jackson boasted to C-SPAN on Monday.

Onstage together at Sunday's "Return to Chicago 1968-1996" concert / convocation, Jesse Jackson entertained an audience of fiftysomethings and thirtysomethings with a monologue on the rising star of his son.

"We had a situation recently where I was heading for an important engagement and I received a call from the congressman here saying he had to stay in the House for a big vote and could I please fill in for him at a labor speech he was scheduled to give. Well, I told him, 'Yes, I suppose I could do that.'

"So the congressman says to me, 'Well, let me call the union and see if they'll accept you.' To see if they'd accept me!" Dad shook his head: "Well, I am adjusting. Let's hear it for the new generation."

Representatives of a new generation of "freethinkers and social agitators," as they were billed, introduced themselves onstage to kick off Sunday's concert. Although their faces were unfamiliar, their surnames were not.

* "Hi. I'm Jonathan, son of [Chicago Seven conspirator] John Froines."

* "Hi. I'm Jeff Dellinger. I am proud to be here at the convention with David Dellinger. I always thought of Dave as my weird grandfather, but I couldn't be happier to be related to him."

* "Hi. I'm Meegan Ochs. Phil Ochs was my father. He sang at Lyndon B. Johnson's unbirthday party in 1968. Today, I work at the ACLU."

* "Hi. My name is Troy, the son of Tom Hayden." (And of Jane Fonda, he might have added.)

The children took a bow and filed offstage. "That's family values--brought to you by the Chicago Conspiracy," said Tom Hayden. "We have our children. The struggle continues and so do we. We celebrate the continuity."

Former Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley's family is also celebrating its continuity. The current occupant of the mayor's office is the late Richard J.'s first son, Richard Michael, 54. Second son Bill is co-chairman of Chicago '96, the city's convention host committee.

"My brother and I have always been proud of the Daley name and feel privileged to serve the city and the party he loved so much," says Richard M., who was first elected mayor in 1989.

During the 1968 convention, the junior Richard recalls working as a gofer for the Illinois delegation. He had little interaction with the events on the street that would make his father's beloved Chicago a "city non grata" for the Democratic Party for the next 28 years.

That Democrats returned to party here this year is a testament to the younger Daleys' success in restoring Chicago's image as a friendly, clean "City on the Move."

Even this convention's keynote speaker, Indiana Gov. Evan Bayh, 40 (born Birch Evans Bayh III), is a famous Democrat's son. The younger Bayh's father was U.S. Sen. Birch Bayh. Like his father, Evan is handsome, articulate and liberal. And like they did of his father, people can't stop talking about Bayh III as a possible presidential contender.

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