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Why Liberals lost supports between election of 1964 to 1968

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meturtalo's picture
Joined: Feb 2005
Why Liberals lost supports between election of 1964 to 1968

I have an essay of what caused the liberals to win the election in 1964 but to lose in 68. Why did the liberals lose so much support.

darksideofthemoon's picture
Joined: Apr 2005

In 1964 the Republican candidate was Barry Goldwater who was very extreme in his anti-communist views. He was also very much in favor of using nuclear weapons. He said "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue". Even though Johnson was becoming more and more involved in Vietnam, he presented himself as the peace candidate. Johnson won in a landslide in the election (he got 61% of the popular vote). The Democrats too gained huge numbers of seats in Congress. (This would later be the main reason why Johnson could pass so many acts under his "Great Society").

The Tet Offensive of 1968 turned American opinion against the Vietnam War. Even though the North Vietnamese technically lost, it was too late to stop the wave of protests that ensued. A "Credibility Gap" existed between what Johnson said about the war and what people believed was really happening. This was why Johnson decided not to run again, and instead, have vice-president Hubert Humphrey run. Another major factor was the Democratic National Convention in Chicago where television viewers saw fierce fighting between the war protesters and the Chicago police. The tactics of Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, who were Yippies (Youth International Party), were geared toward maximum media exposure. The riots caused the American Public to think that the Democratic Party was one of disorder. George Wallace, the governor of Alabama, headed the third party ticket. His pro-segregation stance caused him win five states in the South. Nixon used his "Southern Strategy" and his appeals to the "Silent Majority" to barely win the election. However, the Democrats still had a majority in Congress. (Later, Nixon's policy of Vietnamization and the detente with China and the Soviet Union helped significantly reduce the number of anti-war protests on college campuses).

I hope this was helpful!

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