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 House of Representatives. In her successful 1970 congressional campaign, Bella Abzug (b) declared, “This woman’s place is in the House… the House of Representatives!” Shirley Chisholm personally took up the mantle of women’s involvement in politics. Born of immigrant parents, she earned degrees from Brooklyn College and Columbia University, and began a career in early childhood education and advocacy. In the 1950’s she joined various political action groups, worked on election campaigns, and pushed for housing and economic reforms. After leaving one organization over its refusal to involve women in the decision-making process, she sought to increase gender and racial diversity within political and activist organizations throughout New York City. In 1968, she became the first Black woman elected to Congress. Refusing to take the quiet role expected of new Representatives, she immediately began sponsoring bills and initiatives. She spoke out against the Vietnam War, and fought for programs such as Head Start and the national school lunch program, which was eventually signed into law after Chisholm led an effort to override a presidential veto. Chisholm would eventually undertake a groundbreaking presidential run in 1972. As a Presidential candidate, Chisholm faced pressure from an unexpected source: her closest colleagues. Men within the Congressional Black Caucus, which she co-founded, disagreed with her pluralistic political coalition. The Democratic party did not allow her to participate in the televised primary debates, and she was only allowed one speech. She noted, “Black male politicians are no different from white male politicians. This ‘woman thing’ is so deep. I’ve found it out in this campaign if I never knew it before.” Despite all this, Shirley Chisholm earned ten percent of the total Democratic delegates, and became a nationally influential figure. The ultimate political goal of the National Organization for Women (NOW) was the passage of an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). The amendment passed Congress in March 1972, and was sent to the states for ratification with a deadline of seven years for passage; if the amendment was not ratified by thirty-eight states by 1979, it would die. Twenty-two states ratified the ERA in 1972, and eight more in 1973. In the next two years, only four states voted for the amendment. In 1979, still four votes short, the amendment received a brief reprieve when Congress agreed to a three-year extension, but it never passed, as the result of the well-organized opposition of Christian and other socially conservative, grassroots organizations. 30.2 Coming Apart, Coming Together LEARNING OBJECTIVES By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Explain the factors responsible for Richard Nixon’s election in 1968 • Describe the splintering of the Democratic Party in 1968 • Discuss Richard Nixon’s economic policies • Discuss the major successes of Richard Nixon’s foreign policy The presidential election of 1968 revealed a rupture of the New Deal coalition that had come together under Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s. The Democrats were divided by internal dissension over the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, and the challenges of the New Left. Meanwhile, the Republican candidate, Richard Nixon, won voters in the South, Southwest, and northern suburbs by appealing to their anxieties about civil rights, women’s rights, antiwar protests, and the counterculture taking place around them. Nixon spent his first term in office pushing measures that slowed the progress of civil rights and sought to restore economic stability. His greatest triumphs were in foreign policy. But his largest priority throughout his first term was his reelection in 1972. THE “NEW NIXON” The Republicans held their 1968 national convention from August 5–8 in Miami, Florida. Richard Nixon quickly emerged as the frontrunner for the nomination, ahead of Nelson Rockefeller and Ronald Reagan. This success was not accidental: From 1962, when he lost his bid for the governorship of California, to 1968, Nixon had been collecting political credits by branding himself as a candidate who could appeal to mainstream 822 30 • Political Storms at Home and Abroad, 1968-1980 Access for free at openstax.org. voters and by tirelessly working for other Republican candidates. In 1964, for example, he vigorously supported Barry Goldwater’s presidential bid and thus built good relationships with the new conservative movement in the Republican Party. Although Goldwater lost the 1964 election, his vigorous rejection of New Deal state and social legislation, along with his support of states’ rights, proved popular in the Deep South, which had resisted federal efforts at racial integration. Taking a lesson from Goldwater’s experience, Nixon also employed a southern strategy in 1968. Denouncing segregation and the denial of the vote to African Americans, he nevertheless maintained that southern states be allowed to pursue racial equality at their own pace and criticized forced integration. Nixon thus garnered the support of South Carolina’s senior senator and avid segregationist Strom Thurmond, which helped him win the Republican nomination on the first ballot. Nixon also courted northern, blue-collar workers, whom he later called the silent majority, to acknowledge their belief that their voices were seldom heard. These voters feared the social changes taking place in the country: Antiwar protests challenged their own sense of patriotism and civic duty, whereas the recreational use of new drugs threatened their cherished principles of self-discipline, and urban riots invoked the specter of a racial reckoning. Government action on behalf of the marginalized raised the question of whether its traditional constituency—the White middle class—would lose its privileged place in American politics. Some felt left behind as the government turned to the problems of African Americans. Nixon’s promises of stability and his emphasis on law and order appealed to them. He portrayed himself as a fervent patriot who would take a strong stand against racial unrest and antiwar protests. Nixon harshly critiqued Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, and he promised a secret plan to end the war in Vietnam honorably and bring home the troops. He also promised to reform the Supreme Court, which he contended had gone too far in “coddling criminals.” Under Chief Justice Earl Warren, the court had used the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to grant those accused under state law the ability to defend themselves and secure protections against unlawful search and seizure, cruel and unusual punishment, and self-incrimination. Nixon had found the political capital that would ensure his victory in the suburbs, which produced more votes than either urban or rural areas. He championed “middle America,” which was fed up with social convulsions, and called upon the country to come together. His running mate, Spiro T. Agnew, a former governor of Maryland, blasted the Democratic ticket as fiscally irresponsible and “soft on communism.” Nixon and Agnew’s message thus appealed to northern middle-class and blue-collar White people as well as southern White people who had fled to the suburbs in the wake of the Supreme Court’s pro-integration decision in Brown v. Board of Education (Figure 30.7). FIGURE 30.7 On the 1968 campaign trail, Richard Nixon flashes his famous “V for Victory” gesture (a). Nixon’s strategy was to appeal to working- and middle-class suburbanites. This image of him in the White House bowling alley seems calculated to appeal to his core constituency (b). 30.2 • Coming Apart, Coming Together 823 DEMOCRATS IN DISARRAY By contrast, in early 1968, the political constituency that Lyndon Johnson had cobbled together to win the presidency in 1964 seemed to be falling apart. When Eugene McCarthy, the Democratic senator from Minnesota, announced that he would challenge Johnson in the primaries in an explicitly antiwar campaign, Johnson was overwhelmingly favored by Democratic voters. But then the Tet Offensive in Vietnam exploded on American television screens on January 31, playing out on the nightly news for weeks. On February 27, Walter Cronkite, a highly respected television journalist, offered his opinion that the war in Vietnam was unwinnable. When the votes were counted in New Hampshire on March 12, McCarthy had won twenty of the state’s twentyfour delegates. McCarthy’s popularity encouraged Robert (Bobby) Kennedy to also enter the race. Realizing that his war policies could unleash a divisive fight within his own party for the nomination, Johnson announced his withdrawal on March 31, fracturing the Democratic Party. One faction consisted of the traditional party leaders who appealed to unionized, blue-collar constituents and White ethnics (Americans with recent European immigrant backgrounds). This group fell in behind Johnson’s vice president, Hubert H. Humphrey, who took up the mainstream party’s torch almost immediately after Johnson’s announcement. The second group consisted of idealistic young activists who had slogged through the snows of New Hampshire to give McCarthy a boost and saw themselves as the future of the Democratic Party. The third group, composed of Catholics, African Americans and other minorities, and some of the young, antiwar element, galvanized around Robert Kennedy (Figure 30.8). Finally, there were the southern Democrats, the Dixiecrats, who opposed the advances made by the civil rights movement. Some found themselves attracted to the Republican candidate Richard Nixon. Many others, however, supported the third-party candidacy of segregationist George C. Wallace, the former governor of Alabama. Wallace won close to ten million votes, which was 13.5 percent of all votes cast. He was particularly popular in the South, where he carried five states and received forty-six Electoral College votes. FIGURE 30.8 In his brother’s (John F. Kennedy’s) administration, Robert (Bobby) Kennedy had served as attorney general and had spoken out about racial equality. Kennedy and McCarthy fiercely contested the remaining primaries of the 1968 season. There were only fifteen at that time. McCarthy beat Kennedy handily in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. Kennedy took Indiana and Nebraska before losing Oregon to McCarthy. Kennedy’s only hope was that a strong enough showing in the California primary on June 4 might swing uncommitted delegates his way.  

 

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From Chapter 27 of the YAWP reader, read the following:

                                          i.    Barry Goldwater Barry Goldwater, Republican Nomination Acceptance Speech

                                         ii.    George M. Garcia, Vietnam Veteran, Oral Interview

b.    Read Chapter 30 of the US History online textbook, especially work 822 – 824.

c.     Listen to the “Born in the USA” song and Read the lyrics. 

Prepare your work and include answers to the following questions:

From the YAWP reading, what is Barry Goldwater’s overall message? 

From the YAWP reading, why did George M. Garcia refuse the Purple Heart? 

Why did the U.S. get involved in the Vietnam War? 

What impact did the My Lai Massacre have on relations with the South Vietnamese, on U.S. soldiers, on the American people, and on the presidency? 

Describe the events that fueled antiwar sentiment in the Vietnam era.

According to John Kerry, how did many U.S. soldiers treat Vietnamese civilians?

Did we compensate Vietnam for the ecological disaster caused by Agent Orange and other herbicides?

Do some research online. 

What is the legacy of the Vietnam War?

What is the real meaning of the song “Born in the USA”? Shocked?

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