Eastlake High School Political System and National Leaders Discussion

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Your discussion of the topic should be a minimum of 350 words, include accurate content, critical analysis, specific examples, two meaningful (5 word max) cited quotes from your textbook in APA in-text parenthetical citation format, proper grammar, punctuation, and capitalization, and at the end of your discussion include the reference for your textbook in APA format and sign off with your preferred name.
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Discussion Topic:
Analyze and explain one of the events that caused Americans to lose faith in its political system and national leaders during the late 1960’s through the 1970’s.

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Chapter 30 | Political Storms at Home and Abroad, 1968-1980
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CHAPTER 30
Political Storms at Home and
Abroad, 1968-1980
Figure 30.1 Pop artist Peter Max designed this postage stamp to commemorate Expo ‘74, a world’s fair held in
Spokane, Washington. The fair’s theme was the natural environment. Unfortunately, and ironically, gasoline
shortages prevented many from attending the exposition.
Chapter Outline
30.1 Identity Politics in a Fractured Society
30.2 Coming Apart, Coming Together
30.3 Vietnam: The Downward Spiral
30.4 Watergate: Nixon’s Domestic Nightmare
30.5 Jimmy Carter in the Aftermath of the Storm
Introduction
From May 4 to November 4, 1974, a universal exposition was held in the city of Spokane, Washington.
This world’s fair, Expo ‘74, and the postage stamp issued to commemorate it, reflected many of the issues
and interests of the 1970s (Figure 30.1). The stamp features psychedelic colors, and the character of the
Cosmic Runner in the center wears bellbottoms, a popular fashion at the time. The theme of the fair was
the environment, a subject beginning to be of great concern to people in the United States, especially the
younger generation and those in the hippie counterculture. In the 1970s, the environment, social justice,
distrust of the government, and a desire to end the war in Vietnam—the concerns and attitudes of younger
people, women, gays and lesbians, and people of color—began to draw the attention of the mainstream as
well.
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30.1 Identity Politics in a Fractured Society
By the end of this section, you will be able to:
• Describe the counterculture of the 1960s
• Explain the origins of the American Indian Movement and its major activities
• Assess the significance of the gay rights and women’s liberation movements
The political divisions that plagued the United States in the 1960s were reflected in the rise of identity
politics in the 1970s. As people lost hope of reuniting as a society with common interests and goals, many
focused on issues of significance to the subgroups to which they belonged, based on culture, ethnicity,
sexual orientation, gender, and religion.
HIPPIES AND THE COUNTERCULTURE
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, many young people came to embrace a new wave of cultural dissent. The
counterculture offered an alternative to the bland homogeneity of American middle-class life, patriarchal
family structures, self-discipline, unquestioning patriotism, and the acquisition of property. In fact, there
were many alternative cultures.
“Hippies” rejected the conventions of traditional society. Men sported beards and grew their hair long;
both men and women wore clothing from non-Western cultures, defied their parents, rejected social
etiquettes and manners, and turned to music as an expression of their sense of self. Casual sex between
unmarried men and women was acceptable. Drug use, especially of marijuana and psychedelic drugs like
LSD and peyote, was common. Most hippies were also deeply attracted to the ideas of peace and freedom.
They protested the war in Vietnam and preached a doctrine of personal freedom to be and act as one
wished.
Some hippies dropped out of mainstream society altogether and expressed their disillusionment with the
Figure 30.2
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cultural and spiritual limitations of American freedom. They joined communes, usually in rural areas, to
share a desire to live closer to nature, respect for the earth, a dislike of modern life, and a disdain for
wealth and material goods. Many communes grew their own organic food. Others abolished the concept
of private property, and all members shared willingly with one another. Some sought to abolish traditional
ideas regarding love and marriage, and free love was practiced openly. One of the most famous communes
was The Farm, established in Tennessee in 1971. Residents adopted a blend of Christian and Asian beliefs.
They shared housing, owned no private property except tools and clothing, advocated nonviolence, and
tried to live as one with nature, becoming vegetarians and avoiding the use of animal products. They
smoked marijuana in an effort to reach a higher state of consciousness and to achieve a feeling of oneness
and harmony.
Music, especially rock and folk music, occupied an important place in the counterculture. Concerts
provided the opportunity to form seemingly impromptu communities to celebrate youth, rebellion, and
individuality. In mid-August 1969, nearly 400,000 people attended a music festival in rural Bethel, New
York, many for free (Figure 30.3). They jammed roads throughout the state, and thousands had to be
turned around and sent home. Thirty-two acts performed for a crowd that partook freely of marijuana,
LSD, and alcohol during the rainy three-day event that became known as Woodstock (after the nearby
town) and became the cultural touchstone of a generation. No other event better symbolized the cultural
independence and freedom of Americans coming of age in the 1960s.
Figure 30.3 The crowd at Woodstock greatly exceeded the fifty thousand expected. Mark Goff covered Woodstock
as a young freelance reporter for Kaleidoscope, a Milwaukee-based alternative newspaper, and captured this image
of Swami Satchidananda, who declared music “’the celestial sound that controls the whole universe” at the opening
ceremony.
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MY STORY
Glenn Weiser on Attending Woodstock
On the way to Woodstock, Glenn Weiser remembers that the crowds were so large they essentially
turned it into a free concert:
As we got closer to the site [on Thursday, August 14, 1969] we heard that so many people
had already arrived that the crowd had torn down the fences enclosing the festival grounds
(in fact they were never put up to begin with). Everyone was being allowed in for free. . . .
Early on Friday afternoon about a dozen of us got together and spread out some blankets on
the grass at a spot about a third of the way up the hill on stage right and then dropped LSD.
I took Orange Sunshine, a strong, clean dose in an orange tab that was perhaps the best
street acid ever. Underground chemists in southern California had made millions of doses,
and the nation was flooded with it that summer. We smoked some tasty black hashish to
amuse ourselves while waiting for the acid to hit, and sat back to groove along with Richie
Havens.
In two hours we were all soaring, and everything was just fine. In fact, it couldn’t have been
better—there I was with my beautiful hometown friends, higher than a church steeple and
listening to wonderful music in the cool summer weather of the Catskills. After all, the dirty
little secret of the late ‘60s was that psychedelic drugs taken in a pleasant setting could be
completely exhilarating.
—Glenn Weiser, “Woodstock 1969 Remembered”
In this account, Glenn Weiser describes both the music and his drug use. What social trends did
Woodstock reflect? How might the festival have influenced American culture and society, both
aesthetically and behaviorally?
AMERICAN INDIAN PROTEST
As the young, primarily white men and women who became hippies strove to create new identities for
themselves, they borrowed liberally from other cultures, including that of Native Americans. At the same
time, many Indians were themselves seeking to maintain their culture or retrieve elements that had been
lost. In 1968, a group of Indian activists, including Dennis Banks, George Mitchell, and Clyde Bellecourt,
convened a gathering of two hundred people in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and formed the American Indian
Movement (AIM) (Figure 30.4). The organizers were urban dwellers frustrated by decades of poverty and
discrimination. In 1970, the average life expectancy of Indians was forty-six years compared to the national
average of sixty-nine. The suicide rate was twice that of the general population, and the infant mortality
rate was the highest in the country. Half of all Indians lived on reservations, where unemployment reached
50 percent. Among those in cities, 20 percent lived below the poverty line.
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Figure 30.4 This teepee was erected on the National Mall near the Washington Monument as part of an AIM
demonstration (a). Note that the AIM flag (b) combines an Indian silhouette with the peace sign, the ubiquitous
symbol of the 1960s and ‘70s.
On November 20, 1969, a small group of Indian activists landed on Alcatraz Island (the former site of a
notorious federal prison) in San Francisco Bay. They announced plans to build an American Indian cultural
center, including a history museum, an ecology center, and a spiritual sanctuary. People on the mainland
provided supplies by boat, and celebrities visited Alcatraz to publicize the cause. More people joined
the occupiers until, at one point, they numbered about four hundred. From the beginning, the federal
government negotiated with them to persuade them to leave. They were reluctant to accede, but over time,
the occupiers began to drift away of their own accord. Government forces removed the final holdouts on
June 11, 1971, nineteen months after the occupation began.
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DEFINING “AMERICAN”
Proclamation to the Great White Father and All His People
In occupying Alcatraz Island, Indian activists sought to call attention to their grievances and expectations
about what America should mean. At the beginning of the nineteen-month occupation, Mohawk Richard
Oakes delivered the following proclamation:
We, the native Americans, re-claim the land known as Alcatraz Island in the name of all
American Indians by right of discovery.
We wish to be fair and honorable in our dealings with the Caucasian inhabitants of this land,
and hereby offer the following treaty:
We will purchase said Alcatraz Island for twenty-four dollars ($24) in glass beads and red
cloth, a precedent set by the white man’s purchase of a similar island about 300 years ago. .
..
We feel that this so-called Alcatraz Island is more than suitable for an Indian Reservation, as
determined by the white man’s own standards. By this we mean that this place resembles
most Indian reservations in that:
1. It is isolated from modern facilities, and without adequate means of transportation.
2. It has no fresh running water.
3. It has inadequate sanitation facilities.
4. There are no oil or mineral rights.
5. There is no industry and so unemployment is very great.
6. There are no health care facilities.
7. The soil is rocky and non-productive; and the land does not support game.
8. There are no educational facilities.
9. The population has always exceeded the land base.
10. The population has always been held as prisoners and kept dependent upon others.
Further, it would be fitting and symbolic that ships from all over the world, entering the Golden
Gate, would first see Indian land, and thus be reminded of the true history of this nation. This
tiny island would be a symbol of the great lands once ruled by free and noble Indians.
What does the Alcatraz Proclamation reveal about the Indian view of U.S. history?
Click and Explore
Listen to Richard Oakes, one of the leaders of the Alcatraz Island occupation, as he
reads the Alcatraz Proclamation (http://openstaxcollege.org/l/15PHStatement1)
aloud.
The next major demonstration came in 1972 when AIM members and others marched on Washington,
DC—a journey they called the “Trail of Broken Treaties”—and occupied the offices of the Bureau of Indian
Affairs (BIA). The group presented a list of demands, which included improved housing, education, and
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economic opportunities in Indian communities; the drafting of new treaties; the return of Indian lands; and
protections for native religions and culture.
The most dramatic event staged by AIM was the occupation of the Indian community of Wounded Knee,
South Dakota, in February 1973. Wounded Knee, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, had historical
significance: It was the site of an 1890 massacre of members of the Lakota tribe by the U.S. Army. AIM
went to the reservation following the failure of a group of Oglala to impeach the tribal president Dick
Wilson, whom they accused of corruption and the use of strong-arm tactics to silence critics. AIM used the
occasion to criticize the U.S. government for failing to live up to its treaties with native peoples.
The federal government surrounded the area with U.S. marshals, FBI agents, and other law enforcement
forces. A siege ensued that lasted seventy-one days, with frequent gunfire from both sides, wounding a
U.S. marshal as well as an FBI agent, and killing two Indians. The government did very little to meet
the protesters’ demands. Two AIM leaders, Dennis Banks and Russell Means, were arrested, but charges
were later dismissed. The Nixon administration had already halted the federal policy of termination and
restored millions of acres to tribes. Increased funding for Indian education, healthcare, legal services,
housing, and economic development followed, along with the hiring of more Indian employees in the BIA.
GAY RIGHTS
Combined with the sexual revolution and the feminist movement of the 1960s, the counterculture helped
establish a climate that fostered the struggle for gay and lesbian rights. Many gay rights groups were
founded in Los Angeles and San Francisco, cities that were administrative centers in the network of U.S.
military installations and the places where many gay men suffered dishonorable discharges. The first
postwar organization for homosexual civil rights, the Mattachine Society, was launched in Los Angeles in
1950. The first national organization for lesbians, the Daughters of Bilitis, was founded in San Francisco
five years later. In 1966, the city became home to the world’s first organization for transsexual people, the
National Transsexual Counseling Unit, and in 1967, the Sexual Freedom League of San Francisco was born.
Through these organizations and others, gay and lesbian activists fought against the criminalization
and discrimination of their sexual identities on a number of occasions throughout the 1960s, employing
strategies of both protests and litigation. However, the most famous event in the gay rights movement
took place not in San Francisco but in New York City. Early in the morning of June 28, 1969, police raided
a Greenwich Village gay bar called the Stonewall Inn. Although such raids were common, the response of
the Stonewall patrons was anything but. As the police prepared to arrest many of the customers, especially
transsexuals and cross-dressers, who were particular targets for police harassment, a crowd began to
gather. Angered by the brutal treatment of the prisoners, the crowd attacked. Beer bottles and bricks were
thrown. The police barricaded themselves inside the bar and waited for reinforcements. The riot continued
for several hours and resumed the following night. Shortly thereafter, the Gay Liberation Front and Gay
Activists’ Alliance were formed, and began to protest discrimination, homophobia, and violence against
gay people, promoting gay liberation and gay pride.
With a call for gay men and women to “come out”—a consciousness-raising campaign that shared many
principles with the counterculture, gay and lesbian communities moved from the urban underground into
the political sphere. Gay rights activists protested strongly against the official position of the American
Psychiatric Association (APA), which categorized homosexuality as a mental illness and often resulted in
job loss, loss of custody, and other serious personal consequences. By 1974, the APA had ceased to classify
homosexuality as a form of mental illness but continued to consider it a “sexual orientation disturbance.”
Nevertheless, in 1974, Kathy Kozachenko became the first openly lesbian woman voted into office in Ann
Arbor, Michigan. In 1977, Harvey Milk became California’s first openly gay man elected to public office,
although his service on San Francisco’s board of supervisors, along with that of San Francisco mayor
George Moscone, was cut short by the bullet of disgruntled former city supervisor Dan White.
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MAYBE NOT NOW
The feminist push for greater rights continued through the 1970s (Figure 30.5). The media often ridiculed
feminists as “women’s libbers” and focused on more radical organizations like W.I.T.C.H. (Women’s
International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell), a loose association of activist groups. Many reporters
stressed the most unusual goals of the most radical women—calls for the abolition of marriage and
demands that manholes be renamed “personholes.”
Figure 30.5 In 1970, supporters of equal rights for women marched in Washington, DC.
The majority of feminists, however, sought meaningful accomplishments. In the 1970s, they opened
battered women’s shelters and successfully fought for protection from employment discrimination for
pregnant women, reform of rape laws (such as the abolition of laws requiring a witness to corroborate
a woman’s report of rape), criminalization of domestic violence, and funding for schools that sought to
counter sexist stereotypes of women. In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade affirmed a number
of state laws under which abortions obtained during the first three months of pregnancy were legal. This
made a nontherapeutic abortion a legal medical procedure nationwide.
Many advances in women’s rights were the result of women’s greater engagement in politics. For example,
Patsy Mink, the first Asian American woman elected to Congress, was the co-author of the Education
Amendments Act of 1972, Title IX of which prohibits sex discrimination in education. Mink had been
interested in fighting discrimination in education since her youth, when she opposed racial segregation
in campus housing while a student at the University of Nebraska. She went to law school after being
denied admission to medical school because of her gender. Like Mink, many other women sought and won
political office, many with the help of the National Women’s Political Caucus (NWPC). In 1971, the NWPC
was formed by Bella Abzug, Gloria Steinem, Shirley Chisholm, and other leading feminists to encourage
women’s participation in political parties, elect women to office, and raise money for their campaigns
(Figure 30.6).
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Figure 30.6 Patsy Mink (a), a Japanese American from Hawaii, was the first Asian American woman elected to the
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!”
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
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
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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 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 whites as well as
southern whites 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).
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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).
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 twenty-four 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.
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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.
He did manage to beat McCarthy, winning 46 percent of the vote to McCarthy’s 42 percent, but it was a
fruitless victory. As he attempted to exit the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after his victory speech,
Kennedy was shot; he died twenty-six hours later. His killer, Sirhan B. Sirhan, a Jordanian immigrant,
had allegedly targeted him for advocating military support for Israel in its conflict with neighboring Arab
states.
Going into the nominating convention in Chicago in 1968, Humphrey, who promised to pursue the
“Politics of Joy,” seemed clearly in command of the regular party apparatus. But the national debates
over civil rights, student protests, and the Vietnam War had made 1968 a particularly anguished year,
and many people felt anything but joyful. Some party factions hoped to make their voices heard; others
wished to disrupt the convention altogether. Among them were antiwar protestors, hippies, and
Yippies—members of the leftist, anarchistic Youth International Party organized by Jerry Rubin and
Abbie Hoffman—who called for the establishment of a new nation consisting of cooperative institutions
to replace those currently in existence. To demonstrate their contempt for “the establishment” and the
proceedings inside the hall, the Yippies nominated a pig named Pigasus for president.
A chaotic scene developed inside the convention hall and outside at Grant Park, where the protesters
camped. Chicago’s mayor, Richard J. Daley, was anxious to demonstrate that he could maintain law and
order, especially because several days of destructive rioting had followed the murder of Martin Luther
King, Jr. earlier that year. He thus let loose a force of twelve thousand police officers, six thousand
members of the Illinois National Guard, and six thousand U.S. Army soldiers. Television cameras caught
what later became known as a “police riot”: Armed officers made their way into crowds of law-abiding
protesters, clubbing anyone they encountered and setting off tear gas canisters. The protesters fought
back. Inside the convention hall, a Democratic senator from Connecticut called for adjournment, whereas
other delegates insisted on proceeding. Ironically, Hubert Humphrey received the nomination and gave an
acceptance speech in which he spoke in support of “law and order.” When the convention ended, Rubin,
Hoffman, and five other protesters (called the “Chicago Seven”) were placed on trial for inciting a riot
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(Figure 30.9).
Figure 30.9 Despite facing charges following events at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Abbie
Hoffman continued to protest the war on campuses across the country, as here (a) at the University of Oklahoma.
Jerry Rubin (b) visited the campus of the University of Buffalo in March 1970, just one month after his conviction in
the Chicago Seven trial. (credit a: modification of work by Richard O. Barry)
Click and Explore
Listen to Yippie activist Jerry Rubin’s 1970 interview (http://openstaxcollege.org/l/
15JerryRubin) with Cleveland news journalist Dorothy Fuldheim.
THE DOMESTIC NIXON
The images of violence and the impression of things spinning out of control seriously damaged
Humphrey’s chances for victory. Many liberals and young antiwar activists, disappointed by his selection
over McCarthy and still shocked by the death of Robert Kennedy, did not vote for Humphrey. Others
turned against him because of his failure to chastise the Chicago police for their violence. Some resented
the fact that Humphrey had received 1,759 delegates on the first ballot at the convention, nearly three times
the number won by McCarthy, even though in the primaries, he had received only 2 percent of the popular
vote. Many loyal Democratic voters at home, shocked by the violence they saw on television, turned away
from their party, which seemed to have attracted dangerous “radicals,” and began to consider Nixon’s
promises of law and order.
As the Democratic Party collapsed, Nixon successfully campaigned for the votes of both working- and
middle-class white Americans, winning the 1968 election. Although Humphrey received nearly the same
percentage of the popular vote, Nixon easily won the Electoral College, gaining 301 votes to Humphrey’s
191 and Wallace’s 46.
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Once elected, Nixon began to pursue a policy of deliberate neglect of the civil rights movement and the
needs of ethnic minorities. For example, in 1969, for the first time in fifteen years, federal lawyers sided
with the state of Mississippi when it sought to slow the pace of school desegregation. Similarly, Nixon
consistently showed his opposition to busing to achieve racial desegregation. He saw that restricting
African American activity was a way of undercutting a source of votes for the Democratic Party and
sought to overhaul the provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In March 1970, he commented that
he did not believe an “open” America had to be homogeneous or fully integrated, maintaining that it
was “natural” for members of ethnic groups to live together in their own enclaves. In other policy areas,
especially economic ones, Nixon was either moderate or supportive of the progress of African Americans;
for example, he expanded affirmative action, a program begun during the Johnson administration to
improve employment and educational opportunities for racial minorities.
Although Nixon always kept his eye on the political environment, the economy required attention. The
nation had enjoyed seven years of expansion since 1961, but inflation (a general rise in prices) was
threatening to constrict the purchasing power of the American consumer and therefore curtail economic
expansion. Nixon tried to appeal to fiscal conservatives in the Republican Party, reach out to disaffected
Democrats, and, at the same time, work with a Democratic Party-controlled Congress. As a result, Nixon’s
approach to the economy seemed erratic. Despite the heavy criticisms he had leveled against the Great
Society, he embraced and expanded many of its features. In 1969, he signed a tax bill that eliminated the
investment tax credit and moved some two million of the poorest people off the tax rolls altogether. He
federalized the food stamp program and established national eligibility requirements, and signed into law
the automatic adjustments for inflation of Social Security payments. On the other hand, he won the praise
of conservatives with his “New Federalism”—drastically expanding the use of federal “block grants” to
states to spend as they wished without strings attached.
By mid-1970, a recession was beginning and unemployment was 6.2 percent, twice the level under
Johnson. After earlier efforts at controlling inflation with controlled federal spending—economists
assumed that reduced federal spending and borrowing would curb the amount of money in circulation
and stabilize prices—Nixon proposed a budget with an $11 billion deficit in 1971. The hope was that more
federal funds in the economy would stimulate investment and job creation. When the unemployment rate
refused to budge the following year, he proposed a budget with a $25 billion deficit. At the same time, he
tried to fight continuing inflation by freezing wages and prices for ninety days, which proved to be only
a temporary fix. The combination of unemployment and rising prices posed an unfamiliar challenge to
economists whose fiscal policies of either expanding or contracting federal spending could only address
one side of the problem at the cost of the other. This phenomenon of “stagflation”—a term that combined
the economic conditions of stagnation and inflation—outlived the Nixon administration, enduring into the
early 1980s.
The origins of the nation’s new economic troubles were not just a matter of policy. Postwar industrial
development in Asia and Western Europe—especially in Germany and Japan—had created serious
competition to American businesses. By 1971, American appetites for imports left foreign central banks
with billions of U.S. currency, which had been fixed to gold in the international monetary and trade
agreement of Bretton Woods back in 1944. When foreign dollar holdings exceeded U.S. gold reserves
in 1971, President Nixon allowed the dollar to flow freely against the price of gold. This caused an
immediate 8 percent devaluation of the dollar, made American goods cheaper abroad, and stimulated
exports. Nixon’s move also marked the beginning of the end of the dollar’s dominance in international
trade.
The situation was made worse in October 1973, when Syria and Egypt jointly attacked Israel to recover
territory that had been lost in 1967, starting the Yom Kippur War. The Soviet Union significantly aided
its allies, Egypt and Syria, and the United States supported Israel, earning the enmity of Arab nations. In
retaliation, the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) imposed an embargo on
oil shipments to the United States from October 1973 to March 1974. The ensuing shortage of oil pushed
its price from three dollars a barrel to twelve dollars a barrel. The average price of gasoline in the United
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States shot from thirty-eight cents a gallon before the embargo to fifty-five cents a gallon in June 1974,
and the prices of other goods whose manufacture and transportation relied on oil or gas also rose and
did not come down. The oil embargo had a lasting impact on the economy and underscored the nation’s
interdependency with international political and economic developments.
Faced with high fuel prices, American consumers panicked. Gas stations limited the amount customers
could purchase and closed on Sundays as supplies ran low (Figure 30.10). To conserve oil, Congress
reduced the speed limit on interstate highways to fifty-five miles per hour. People were asked to turn
down their thermostats, and automobile manufacturers in Detroit explored the possibility of building
more fuel-efficient cars. Even after the embargo ended, prices continued to rise, and by the end of the
Nixon years in 1974, inflation had soared to 12.2 percent.
Figure 30.10 The oil shortage triggered a rush to purchase gasoline, and gas stations around the country were
choked with cars waiting to fill up. Eventually, fuel shortages caused gas stations to develop various ways to ration
gasoline to their customers (a), such as the “flag policy” used by gas dealers in Oregon (b).
Although Nixon’s economic and civil rights policies differed from those of his predecessors, in other areas,
he followed their lead. President Kennedy had committed the nation to putting a man on the moon before
the end of the decade. Nixon, like Johnson before him, supported significant budget allocations to the
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to achieve this goal. On July 20, 1969, hundreds
of millions of people around the world watched as astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin
walked on the surface of the moon and planted the U.S. flag. Watching from the White House, President
Nixon spoke to the astronauts via satellite phone. The entire project cost the American taxpayer some $25
billion, approximately 4 percent of the nation’s gross national product, and was such a source of pride
for the nation that the Soviet Union and China refused to televise it. Coming amid all the struggles and
crises that the country was enduring, the moon landing gave citizens a sense of accomplishment that stood
in stark contrast to the foreign policy failures, growing economic challenges, and escalating divisions at
home.
NIXON THE DIPLOMAT
Despite the many domestic issues on Nixon’s agenda, he prioritized foreign policy and clearly preferred
bold and dramatic actions in that arena. Realizing that five major economic powers—the United States,
Western Europe, the Soviet Union, China, and Japan—dominated world affairs, he sought opportunities
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for the United States to pit the others against each other. In 1969, he announced a new Cold War principle
known as the Nixon Doctrine, a policy whereby the United States would continue to assist its allies but
would not assume the responsibility of defending the entire non-Communist world. Other nations, like
Japan, needed to assume more of the burden of defending themselves.
Playing what was later referred to as “the China card,” Nixon abruptly reversed two decades of U.S.
diplomatic sanctions and hostility to the Communist regime in the People’s Republic of China, when he
announced, in August 1971, that he would personally travel to Beijing and meet with China’s leader,
Chairman Mao Zedong, in February 1972 (Figure 30.11). Nixon hoped that opening up to the Chinese
government would prompt its bitter rival, the Soviet Union, to compete for global influence and seek
a more productive relationship with the United States. He also hoped that establishing a friendly
relationship with China would isolate North Vietnam and ease a peace settlement, allowing the United
States to extract its troops from the war honorably. Concurring that the Soviet Union should be restrained
from making advances in Asia, Nixon and Chinese premier Zhou Enlai agreed to disagree on several
issues and ended up signing a friendship treaty. They promised to work towards establishing trade
between the two nations and to eventually establishing full diplomatic relations with each other.
Figure 30.11 President Nixon and First Lady Patricia Nixon visited the Great Wall on their 1972 trip to China. The
Chinese showed them the sights and hosted a banquet for them in the Great Hall of the People. Nixon was the first
U.S. president to visit China following the Communist victory in the civil war in 1949.
Continuing his strategy of pitting one Communist nation against another, in May 1972, Nixon made
another newsworthy trip, traveling to Moscow to meet with the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. The two
discussed a policy of détente, a relaxation of tensions between their nations, and signed the Strategic Arms
Limitation Treaty (SALT), which limited each side to deploying only two antiballistic missile systems. It
also limited the number of nuclear missiles maintained by each country. In 1974, a protocol was signed
that reduced antiballistic missile sites to one per country, since neither country had yet begun to build its
second system. Moreover, the two sides signed agreements to allow scientific and technological exchanges,
and promised to work towards a joint space mission.
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30.3 Vietnam: The Downward Spiral
By the end of this section, you will be able to:
• Describe the events that fueled antiwar sentiment in the Vietnam era
• Explain Nixon’s steps to withdraw the United States from the conflict in South Vietnam
As early as 1967, critics of the war in Vietnam had begun to call for the repeal of the Gulf of Tonkin
Resolution, which gave President Johnson the authority to conduct military operations in Vietnam in
defense of an ally, South Vietnam. Nixon initially opposed the repeal efforts, claiming that doing so
might have consequences that reached far beyond Vietnam. Nevertheless, by 1969, he was beginning
troop withdrawals from Vietnam while simultaneously looking for a “knockout blow” against the North
Vietnamese. In sum, the Nixon administration was in need of an exit strategy.
The escalation of the war, however, made an easy withdrawal increasingly difficult. Officially, the United
States was the ally and partner of the South Vietnamese, whose “hearts and minds” it was trying to win
through a combination of military assistance and economic development. In reality, however, U.S. soldiers,
who found themselves fighting in an inhospitable environment thousands of miles from home to protect
people who often resented their presence and aided their enemies, came to regard the Vietnamese as
backward, cowardly people and the government of South Vietnam as hopelessly inefficient and corrupt.
Instead of winning “hearts and minds,” U.S. warfare in Vietnam cost the lives and limbs of U.S. troops and
millions of Vietnamese combatants and civilians (Figure 30.12).
Figure 30.12 U.S. soldiers in Hue in 1968 at during the Tet Offensive. The frustrating experience of fighting the
seemingly unwinnable war left many soldiers, and the public in general, disillusioned with the government.
For their part, the North Vietnamese forces and the National Liberation Front in South Vietnam also
used brutal tactics to terrorize and kill their opponents or effectively control their territory. Political
assassinations and forced indoctrination were common. Captured U.S. soldiers frequently endured torture
and imprisonment.
MY LAI
Racism on the part of some U.S. soldiers and a desire to retaliate against those they perceived to be
responsible for harming U.S. troops affected the conduct of the war. A war correspondent who served in
Vietnam noted, “In motivating the GI to fight by appealing to his racist feelings, the United States military
discovered that it had liberated an emotion over which it was to lose control.” It was not unusual for U.S.
soldiers to evacuate and burn villages suspected of shielding Viet Cong fighters, both to deprive the enemy
of potential support and to enact revenge for enemy brutality. Troops shot at farmers’ water buffalo for
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target practice. American and South Vietnamese use of napalm, a jellied gasoline that sticks to the objects
it burns, was common. Originally developed to burn down structures during World War II, in Vietnam, it
was directed against human beings as well, as had occurred during the Korean War.
DEFINING “AMERICAN”
Vietnam Veterans against the War Statement
Many U.S. soldiers disapproved of the actions of their fellow troops. Indeed, a group of Vietnam veterans
formed the organization Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW). Small at first, it grew to perhaps as
many as twenty thousand members. In April 1971, John Kerry, a former lieutenant in the U.S. Navy and
a member of VVAW, testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations about conditions
in Vietnam based on his personal observations:
I would like to talk on behalf of all those veterans and say that several months ago in Detroit
we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged, and many very highly
decorated, veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia. These were not
isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of
officers at all levels of command. . . . They relived the absolute horror of what this country, in
a sense, made them do.
They told stories that at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads . . .
randomly shot at civilians, razed villages . . . and generally ravaged the countryside of South
Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war and the normal and very particular ravaging
which is done by the applied bombing power of this country. . . .
We could come back to this country, we could be quiet, we could hold our silence, we could
not tell what went on in Vietnam, but we feel because of what threatens this country, not the
reds [Communists], but the crimes which we are committing that threaten it, that we have to
speak out.
—John Kerry, April 23, 1971
In what way did the actions of U.S. soldiers in Vietnam threaten the United States?
On March 16, 1968, men from the U.S. Army’s Twenty-Third Infantry Division committed one of the most
notorious atrocities of the war. About one hundred soldiers commanded by Captain Ernest Medina were
sent to destroy the village of My Lai, which was suspected of hiding Viet Cong fighters. Although there
was later disagreement regarding the captain’s exact words, the platoon leaders believed the order to
destroy the enemy included killing women and children. Having suffered twenty-eight casualties in the
past three months, the men of Charlie Company were under severe stress and extremely apprehensive as
they approached the village. Two platoons entered it, shooting randomly. A group of seventy to eighty
unarmed people, including children and infants, were forced into an irrigation ditch by members of the
First Platoon under the command of Lt. William L. Calley, Jr. Despite their proclamations of innocence, the
villagers were shot (Figure 30.13). Houses were set on fire, and as the inhabitants tried to flee, they were
killed with rifles, machine guns, and grenades. The U.S. troops were never fired upon, and one soldier
later testified that he did not see any man who looked like a Viet Cong fighter.
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Figure 30.13 Vietnamese civilians in My Lai await their fate. They were shot a few minutes after this 1968
photograph was taken.
The precise number of civilians killed that day is unclear: The numbers range from 347 to 504. None were
armed. Although not all the soldiers in My Lai took part in the killings, no one attempted to stop the
massacre before the arrival by helicopter of Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson, who, along with his crew,
attempted to evacuate women and children. Upon returning to his base, Thompson immediately reported
the events taking place at My Lai. Shortly thereafter, Medina ordered Charlie Company to cease fire.
Although Thompson’s crewmembers confirmed his account, none of the men from Charlie Company gave
a report, and a cover-up began almost immediately. The army first claimed that 150 people, the majority
of them Viet Cong, had been killed during a firefight with Charlie Company.
Hearing details from friends in Charlie Company, a helicopter gunner by the name of Ron Ridenhour
began to conduct his own investigation and, in April 1969, wrote to thirty members of Congress,
demanding an investigation. By September 1969, the army charged Lt. Calley with premeditated murder.
Many Americans were horrified at the graphic footage of the massacre; the incident confirmed their belief
that the war was unjust and not being fought on behalf of the Vietnamese people. However, nearly half
of the respondents to a Minnesota poll did not believe that the incident at My Lai had actually happened.
U.S. soldiers could not possibly do such horrible things, they felt; they were certain that American goals in
Vietnam were honorable and speculated that the antiwar movement had concocted the story to generate
sympathy for the enemy.
Calley was found guilty in March 1971, and sentenced to life in prison. Nationwide, hundreds of
thousands of Americans joined a “Free Calley” campaign. Two days later, President Nixon released him
from custody and placed him under him house arrest at Fort Benning, Georgia. In August of that same
year, Calley’s sentence was reduced to twenty years, and in September 1974, he was paroled. The only
soldier convicted in the massacre, he spent a total of three-and-a-half years under house arrest for his
crimes.
BATTLES AT HOME
As the conflict wore on and reports of brutalities increased, the antiwar movement grew in strength.
To take the political pressure off himself and his administration, and find a way to exit Vietnam “with
honor,” Nixon began the process of Vietnamization, turning more responsibility for the war over to South
Vietnamese forces by training them and providing American weaponry, while withdrawing U.S. troops
from the field. At the same time, however, Nixon authorized the bombing of neighboring Cambodia,
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which had declared its neutrality, in an effort to destroy North Vietnamese and Viet Cong bases within
that country and cut off supply routes between North and South Vietnam. The bombing was kept secret
from both Congress and the American public. In April 1970, Nixon decided to follow up with an invasion
of Cambodia.
The invasion could not be kept secret, and when Nixon announced it on television on April 30, 1970,
protests sprang up across the country. The most tragic and politically damaging occurred on May 1,
1970, at Kent State University in Ohio. Violence erupted in the town of Kent after an initial student
demonstration on campus, and the next day, the mayor asked Ohio’s governor to send in the National
Guard. Troops were sent to the university’s campus, where students had set fire to the ROTC building and
were fighting off firemen and policemen trying to extinguish it. The National Guard used teargas to break
up the demonstration, and several students were arrested (Figure 30.14).
Figure 30.14 On April 30, 1970, Richard Nixon announces plans for the Cambodia Campaign (a), provoking
protests on college campuses across the country. Within days, the governor of Ohio had called in the National Guard
in response to student demonstrations at Kent State University. Bill Whitbeck, who was a student majoring in photo
illustration at Kent State University in May 1970, captured this image (b) on campus on May 3, one day before the
shootings that would result in four student deaths. (credit b: modification of work by Bill Whitbeck)
Tensions came to a head on May 4. Although campus officials had called off a planned demonstration,
some fifteen hundred to two thousand students assembled, throwing rocks at a security officer who
ordered them to leave. Seventy-seven members of the National Guard, with bayonets attached to their
rifles, approached the students. After forcing most of them to retreat, the troops seemed to depart. Then,
for reasons that are still unknown, they halted and turned; many began to fire at the students. Nine
students were wounded; four were killed. Two of the dead had simply been crossing campus on their way
to class. Peace was finally restored when a faculty member pleaded with the remaining students to leave.
Click and Explore
Read the New York Times account of the shootings at Kent State University
(http://openstaxcollege.org/l/15KentState) and view (under the headline) one of the
most iconic photographs in American history.
News of the Kent State shootings shocked students around the country. Millions refused to attend class, as
strikes were held at hundreds of colleges and high schools across the United States. On May 8, an antiwar
protest took place in New York City, and the next day, 100,000 protesters assembled in Washington,
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DC. Not everyone sympathized with the slain students, however. Nixon had earlier referred to student
demonstrators as “bums,” and construction workers attacked the New York City protestors. A Gallup poll
revealed that most Americans blamed the students for the tragic events at Kent State.
On May 15, a similar tragedy took place at Jackson State College, an African American college in Jackson,
Mississippi. Once again, students gathered on campus to protest the invasion of Cambodia, setting
fires and throwing rocks. The police arrived to disperse the protesters, who had gathered outside a
women’s dormitory. Shortly after midnight, the police opened fire with shotguns. The dormitory windows
shattered, showering people with broken glass. Twelve were wounded, and two young men, one a student
at the college and the other a local high school student, were killed.
PULLING OUT OF THE QUAGMIRE
Ongoing protests, campus violence, and the expansion of the war into Cambodia deeply disillusioned
Americans about their role in Vietnam. Understanding the nation’s mood, Nixon dropped his opposition
to a repeal of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution of 1964. In January 1971, he signed Congress’s revocation of
the notorious blanket military authorization. Gallup polls taken in May of that year revealed that only 28
percent of the respondents supported the war; many felt it was not only a mistake but also immoral.
Just as influential as antiwar protests and campus violence in turning people against the war was the
publication of documents the media dubbed the Pentagon Papers in June 1971. These were excerpts from a
study prepared during the Johnson administration that revealed the true nature of the conflict in Vietnam.
The public learned for the first time that the United States had been planning to oust Ngo Dinh Diem
from the South Vietnamese government, that Johnson meant to expand the U.S. role in Vietnam and bomb
North Vietnam even as he stated publicly that he had no intentions of doing so, and that his administration
had sought to deliberately provoke North Vietnamese attacks in order to justify escalating American
involvement. Copies of the study had been given to the New York Times and other newspapers by Daniel
Ellsberg, one of the military analysts who had contributed to it. To avoid setting a precedent by allowing
the press to publish confidential documents, Nixon’s attorney general, John Mitchell, sought an injunction
against the New York Times to prevent its publication of future articles based on the Pentagon Papers.
The newspaper appealed. On June 30, 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the government could not
prevent the publication of the articles.
Realizing that he must end the war but reluctant to make it look as though the United States was admitting
its failure to subdue a small Asian nation, Nixon began maneuvering to secure favorable peace terms
from the North Vietnamese. Thanks to his diplomatic efforts in China and the Soviet Union, those two
nations cautioned North Vietnam to use restraint. The loss of strong support by their patrons, together
with intensive bombing of Hanoi and the mining of crucial North Vietnamese harbors by U.S. forces, made
the North Vietnamese more willing to negotiate.
Nixon’s actions had also won him popular support at home. By the 1972 election, voters again favored his
Vietnam policy by a ratio of two to one. On January 27, 1973, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger signed an
accord with Le Duc Tho, the chief negotiator for the North Vietnamese, ending American participation in
the war. The United States was given sixty days to withdraw its troops, and North Vietnam was allowed to
keep its forces in places it currently occupied. This meant that over 100,000 northern soldiers would remain
in the South—ideally situated to continue the war with South Vietnam. The United States left behind a
small number of military advisors as well as equipment, and Congress continued to approve funds for
South Vietnam, but considerably less than in earlier years. So the war continued, but it was clear the South
could not hope to defeat the North.
As the end was nearing, the United States conducted several operations to evacuate children from the
South. On the morning of April 29, 1975, as North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces moved through the
outskirts of Saigon, orders were given to evacuate Americans and South Vietnamese who had supported
the United States. Unable to use the airport, helicopters ferried Americans and Vietnamese refugees who
had fled to the American embassy to ships off the coast. North Vietnamese forces entered Saigon the next
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day, and the South surrendered.
The war had cost the lives of more than 1.5 million Vietnamese combatants and civilians, as well as
over 58,000 U.S. troops. But the war had caused another, more intangible casualty: the loss of consensus,
confidence, and a sense of moral high ground in the American political culture.
30.4 Watergate: Nixon’s Domestic Nightmare
By the end of this section, you will be able to:
• Describe the actions that Nixon and his confederates took to ensure his reelection in
1972
• Explain the significance of the Watergate crisis
• Describe Gerald Ford’s domestic policies and achievements in foreign affairs
Feeling the pressure of domestic antiwar sentiment and desiring a decisive victory, Nixon went into
the 1972 reelection season having attempted to fashion a “new majority” of moderate southerners and
northern, working-class whites. The Democrats, responding to the chaos and failings of the Chicago
convention, had instituted new rules on how delegates were chosen, which they hoped would broaden
participation and the appeal of the party. Nixon proved unbeatable, however. Even evidence that his
administration had broken the law failed to keep him from winning the White House.
THE ELECTION OF 1972
Following the 1968 nominating convention in Chicago, the process of selecting delegates for the
Democratic National Convention was redesigned. The new rules, set by a commission led by George
McGovern, awarded delegates based on candidates’ performance in state primaries (Figure 30.15). As a
result, a candidate who won no primaries could not receive the party’s nomination, as Hubert Humphrey
had done in Chicago. This system gave a greater voice to people who voted in the primaries and reduced
the influence of party leaders and power brokers.
Figure 30.15 In November 1968, Shirley Chisholm (a) became the first African American woman to be elected to the
House of Representatives. In January 1972, she announced her intention to run for the Democratic presidential
nomination. The nomination eventually went to George McGovern (b), an outspoken opponent of the war in Vietnam.
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It also led to a more inclusive political environment in which Shirley Chisholm received 156 votes for
the Democratic nomination on the first ballot (Figure 30.15). Eventually, the nomination went to George
McGovern, a strong opponent of the Vietnam War. Many Democrats refused to support his campaign,
however. Working- and middle-class voters turned against him too after allegations that he supported
women’s right to an abortion and the decriminalization of drug use. McGovern’s initial support of
vice presidential candidate Thomas Eagleton in the face of revelations that Eagleton had undergone
electroshock treatment for depression, followed by his withdrawal of that support and acceptance of
Eagleton’s resignation, also made McGovern look indecisive and unorganized.
Nixon and the Republicans led from the start. To increase their advantage, they attempted to paint
McGovern as a radical leftist who favored amnesty for draft dodgers. In the Electoral College, McGovern
carried only Massachusetts and Washington, DC. Nixon won a decisive victory of 520 electoral votes to
McGovern’s 17. One Democrat described his role in McGovern’s campaign as “recreation director on the
Titanic.”
HIGH CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS
Nixon’s victory over a Democratic party in disarray was the most remarkable landslide since Franklin D.
Roosevelt’s reelection in 1936. But Nixon’s victory was short-lived, however, for it was soon discovered
that he and members of his administration had routinely engaged in unethical and illegal behavior during
his first term. Following the publication of the Pentagon Papers, for instance, the “plumbers,” a group of
men used by the White House to spy on the president’s opponents and stop leaks to the press, broke into
the office of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist to steal Ellsberg’s file and learn information that might damage
his reputation.
During the presidential campaign, the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP) decided to play “dirty
tricks” on Nixon’s opponents. Before the New Hampshire Democratic primary, a forged letter supposedly
written by Democratic-hopeful Edmund Muskie in which he insulted French Canadians, one of the state’s
largest ethnic groups, was leaked to the press. Men were assigned to spy on both McGovern and Senator
Edward Kennedy. One of them managed to masquerade as a reporter on board McGovern’s press plane.
Men pretending to work for the campaigns of Nixon’s Democratic opponents contacted vendors in various
states to rent or purchase materials for rallies; the rallies were never held, of course, and Democratic
politicians were accused of failing to pay the bills they owed.
CREEP’s most notorious operation, however, was its break-in at the offices of the Democratic National
Committee (DNC) in the Watergate office complex in Washington, DC, as well as its subsequent coverup. On the evening of June 17, 1972, the police arrested five men inside DNC headquarters (Figure
30.16). According to a plan originally proposed by CREEP’s general counsel and White House plumber G.
Gordon Liddy, the men were to wiretap DNC telephones. The FBI quickly discovered that two of the men
had E. Howard Hunt’s name in their address books. Hunt was a former CIA officer and also one of the
plumbers. In the following weeks, yet more connections were found between the burglars and CREEP, and
in October 1972, the FBI revealed evidence of illegal intelligence gathering by CREEP for the purpose of
sabotaging the Democratic Party. Nixon won his reelection handily in November. Had the president and
his reelection team not pursued a strategy of dirty tricks, Richard Nixon would have governed his second
term with one of the largest political leads in the twentieth century.
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Figure 30.16 The Watergate hotel and office complex, located on the Potomac River next to the John F. Kennedy
Center for the Performing Arts, was the scene of the 1972 burglary and attempted wiretapping that eventually brought
down the presidency of Richard Nixon.
In the weeks following the Watergate break-in, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, reporters for The
Washington Post, received information from several anonymous sources, including one known to them
only as “Deep Throat,” that led them to realize the White House was deeply implicated in the break-in. As
the press focused on other events, Woodward and Bernstein continued to dig and publish their findings,
keeping the public’s attention on the unfolding scandal. Years later, Deep Throat was revealed to be Mark
Felt, then the FBI’s associate director.
THE WATERGATE CRISIS
Initially, Nixon was able to hide his connection to the break-in and the other wrongdoings alleged against
members of CREEP. However, by early 1973, the situation quickly began to unravel. In January, the
Watergate burglars were convicted, along with Hunt and Liddy. Trial judge John Sirica was not convinced
that all the guilty had been discovered. In February, confronted with evidence that people close to the
president were connected to the burglary, the Senate appointed the Watergate Committee to investigate.
Ten days later, in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, L. Patrick Gray, acting director of
the FBI, admitted destroying evidence taken from Hunt’s safe by John Dean, the White House counsel,
after the burglars were caught.
On March 23, 1973, Judge Sirica publicly read a letter from one of the Watergate burglars, alleging that
perjury had been committed during the trial. Less than two weeks later, Jeb Magruder, a deputy director
of CREEP, admitted lying under oath and indicated that Dean and John Mitchell, who had resigned
as attorney general to become the director of CREEP, were also involved in the break-in and its coverup. Dean confessed, and on April 30, Nixon fired him and requested the resignation of his aides John
Ehrlichman and H. R. Haldeman, also implicated. To defuse criticism and avoid suspicion that he was
participating in a cover-up, Nixon also announced the resignation of the current attorney general, Richard
Kleindienst, a close friend, and appointed Elliott Richardson to the position. In May 1973, Richardson
named Archibald Cox special prosecutor to investigate the Watergate affair.
Throughout the spring and the long, hot summer of 1973, Americans sat glued to their television screens,
as the major networks took turns broadcasting the Senate hearings. One by one, disgraced former members
of the administration confessed, or denied, their role in the Watergate scandal. Dean testified that Nixon
was involved in the conspiracy, allegations the president denied. In March 1974, Haldeman, Ehrlichman,
and Mitchell were indicted and charged with conspiracy.
Without evidence clearly implicating the president, the investigation might have ended if not for the
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testimony of Alexander Butterfield, a low-ranking member of the administration, that a voice-activated
recording system had been installed in the Oval Office. The President’s most intimate conversations had
been caught on tape. Cox and the Senate subpoenaed them.
Click and Explore
Listen to excerpts (http://openstaxcollege.org/l/15NixonTapes) from Nixon’s White
House tapes. Some of the recordings are a bit difficult to hear because of static.
Transcripts are also available at this site.
Nixon, however, refused to hand the tapes over and cited executive privilege, the right of the president
to refuse certain subpoenas. When he offered to supply summaries of the conversations, Cox refused. On
October 20, 1973, in an event that became known as the Saturday Night Massacre, Nixon ordered Attorney
General Richardson to fire Cox. Richardson refused and resigned, as did Deputy Attorney General William
Ruckelshaus when confronted with the same order. Control of the Justice Department then fell to Solicitor
General Robert Bork, who complied with Nixon’s order. In December, the House Judiciary Committee
began its own investigation to determine whether there was enough evidence of wrongdoing to impeach
the president.
The public was enraged by Nixon’s actions. It seemed as though the president had placed himself
above the law. Telegrams flooded the White House. The House of Representatives began to discuss
impeachment. In April 1974, when Nixon agreed to release transcripts of the tapes, it was too little, too
late (Figure 30.17). Yet, while revealing nothing about Nixon’s knowledge of Watergate, the transcripts
showed him to be coarse, dishonest, and cruel.
Figure 30.17 In April 1974, President Richard Nixon prepares to address the nation to clarify his position on
releasing the White House tapes.
At the end of its hearings, in July 1974, the House Judiciary Committee voted to impeach. However,
before the full House could vote, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered Nixon to release the actual tapes of
his conversations, not just transcripts or summaries. One of the tapes revealed that he had in fact been
told about White House involvement in the Watergate break-in shortly after it occurred. In a speech on
August 5, 1974, Nixon, pleading a poor memory, accepted blame for the Watergate scandal. Warned by
other Republicans that he would be found guilty by the Senate and removed from office, he resigned the
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Chapter 30 | Political Storms at Home and Abroad, 1968-1980
presidency on August 8.
Nixon’s resignation, which took effect the next day, did not make the Watergate scandal vanish. Instead,
it fed a growing suspicion of government felt by many. The events of Vietnam had already showed that
the government could not be trusted to protect the interests of the people or tell them the truth. For many,
Watergate confirmed these beliefs, and the suffix “-gate” attached to a word has since come to mean a
political scandal.
FORD NOT A LINCOLN
When Gerald R. Ford took the oath of office on August 9, 1974, he understood that his most pressing
task was to help the country move beyond the Watergate scandal. His declaration that “Our long national
nightmare is over. . . . [O]ur great Republic is a government of laws and not of men” was met with almost
universal applause.
It was indeed an unprecedented time. Ford was the first vice president chosen under the terms of the
Twenty-Fifth Amendment, which provides for the appointment of a vice president in the event the
incumbent dies or resigns; Nixon had appointed Ford, a longtime House representative from Michigan
known for his honesty, following the resignation of embattled vice president Spiro T. Agnew over a charge
of failing to report income—a lenient charge since this income stemmed from bribes he had received as
the governor of Maryland. Ford was also the first vice president to take office after a sitting president’s
resignation, and the only chief executive never elected either president or vice president. One of his first
actions as president was to grant Richard Nixon a full pardon (Figure 30.18). Ford thus prevented Nixon’s
indictment for any crimes he may have committed in office and ended criminal investigations into his
actions. The public reacted with suspicion and outrage. Many were convinced that the extent of Nixon’s
wrongdoings would now never been known and he would never be called to account for them. When Ford
chose to run for the presidency in 1976, the pardon returned to haunt him.
Figure 30.18 In one of his first actions as president, Gerald R. Ford announced a full pardon for Richard Nixon on
September 8, 1974. Nixon had appointed Ford vice president after the resignation of Spiro Agnew.
As president, Ford confronted monumental issues, such as inflation, a depressed economy, and chronic
energy shortages. He established his policies during his first year in office, despite opposition from a
heavily Democratic Congress. In October 1974, he labeled inflation the country’s most dangerous public
enemy and sought a grassroots campaign to curtail it by encouraging people to be disciplined in their
consuming habits and increase their savings. The campaign was titled “Whip Inflation Now” and was
advertised on brightly colored “Win” buttons volunteers were to wear. When recession became the
nation’s most serious domestic problem, Ford shifted to measures aimed at stimulating the economy.
Still fearing inflation, however, he vetoed a number of nonmilitary appropriations bills that would have
increased the already-large budget deficit.
Ford’s economic policies ultimately proved unsuccessful. Because of opposition from a Democratic
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Chapter 30 | Political Storms at Home and Abroad, 1968-1980
911
Congress, his foreign policy accomplishments were also limited. When he requested money to assist the
South Vietnamese government in its effort to repel North Vietnamese forces, Congress refused. Ford was
more successful in other parts of the world. He continued Nixon’s policy of détente with the Soviet Union,
and he and Secretary of State Kissinger achieved further progress in the second round of SALT talks. In
August 1975, Ford went to Finland and signed the Helsinki Accords with Soviet premier Leonid Brezhnev.
This agreement essentially accepted the territorial boundaries that had been established at the end of
World War II in 1945. It also exacted a pledge from the signatory nations that they would protect human
rights within their countries. Many immigrants to the United States protested Ford’s actions, because it
seemed as though he had accepted the status quo and left their homelands under Soviet domination.
Others considered it a belated American acceptance of the world as it really was.
30.5 Jimmy Carter in the Aftermath of the Storm
By the end of this section, you will be able to:
• Explain why Gerald Ford lost the election of 1976
• Describe Jimmy Carter’s domestic and foreign policy achievements
• Discuss how the Iranian hostage crisis affected the Carter presidency
At his inauguration in January 1977, President Jimmy Carter began his speech by thanking outgoing
president Gerald Ford for all he had done to “heal” the scars left by Watergate. American gratitude had
not been great enough to return Ford to the Oval Office, but enthusiasm for the new president was not
much greater in the new atmosphere of disillusionment with political leaders. Indeed, Carter won his
party’s nomination and the presidency largely because the Democratic leadership had been decimated
by assassination and the taint of Vietnam, and he had carefully positioned himself as an outsider who
could not be blamed for current policies. Ultimately, Carter’s presidency proved a lackluster one that was
marked by economic stagnation at home and humiliation overseas.
THE ELECTION OF 1976
President Ford won the Republican nomination for the presidency in 1976, narrowly defeating former
California governor Ronald Reagan, but he lost the election to his Democratic opponent Jimmy Carter.
Carter ran on an “anti-Washington” ticket, making a virtue of his lack of experience in what was
increasingly seen as the corrupt politics of the nation’s capital. Accepting his party’s nomination, the
former governor of Georgia pledged to combat racism and sexism as well as overhaul the tax structure.
He openly proclaimed his faith as a born-again Christian and promised to change the welfare system
and provide comprehensive healthcare coverage for neglected citizens who deserved compassion. Most
importantly, Jimmy Carter promised that he would “never lie.”
Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon had alienated many Republicans. That, combined with the stagnant
economy, cost him votes, and Jimmy Carter, an engineer and former naval officer who portrayed himself
as a humble peanut farmer, prevailed, carrying all the southern states, except Virginia and Oklahoma
(Figure 30.19). Ford did well in the West, but Carter received 50 percent of the popular vote to Ford’s 48
percent, and 297 electoral votes to Ford’s 240.
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Chapter 30 | Political Storms at Home and Abroad, 1968-1980
Figure 30.19 President Gerald Ford (right) and Democratic challenger Jimmy Carter dueled in Philadelphia in 1976,
during the first televised presidential debate since that between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy in 1960.
Click and Explore
In the mid-1970s, the United States celebrated the two-hundredth anniversary of its
independence from Great Britain. Peruse the collection of patriotic bicentennial
memorabilia (http://openstaxcollege.org/l/15Bicent) at the Gerald R. Ford
Presidential Library.
ON THE INSIDE
Making a virtue of his lack of political experience, especially in Washington, Jimmy Carter took office
with less practical experience in executive leadership and the workings of the national government than
any president since Calvin Coolidge. His first executive act was to fulfill a campaign pledge to grant
unconditional amnesty to young men who had evaded the draft during the Vietnam War. Despite the early
promise of his rhetoric, within a couple of years of his taking office, liberal Democrats claimed Carter was
the most conservative Democratic president since Grover Cleveland.
In trying to manage the relatively high unemployment rate of 7.5 percent and inflation that had risen
into the double digits by 1978, Carter was only marginally effective. His tax reform measure of 1977
was weak and failed to close the grossest of loopholes. His deregulation of major industries, such as
aviation and trucking, was intended to force large companies to become more competitive. Consumers
benefited in some ways: For example, airlines offered cheaper fares to beat their competitors. However,
some companies, like Pan American World Airways, instead went out of business. Carter also expanded
various social programs, improved housing for the elderly, and took steps to improve workplace safety.
Because the high cost of fuel continued to hinder economic expansion, the creation of an energy program
became a central focus of his administration. Carter stressed energy conservation, encouraging people to
insulate their houses and rewarding them with tax credits if they did so, and pushing for the use of coal,
nuclear power, and alternative energy sources such as solar power to replace oil and natural gas. To this
end, Carter created the Department of Energy.
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Chapter 30 | Political Storms at Home and Abroad, 1968-1980
913
CARTER AND A NEW DIRECTION IN FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Carter believed that U.S. foreign policy should be founded upon deeply held moral principles and
national values. The mission in Vietnam had failed, he argued, because American actions there were
contrary to moral values. His dedication to peace and human rights significantly changed the way that
the United States conducted its foreign affairs. He improved relations with China, ended military support
to Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza, and helped arrange for the Panama Canal to be returned to
Panamanian control in 1999. He agreed to a new round of talks with the Soviet Union (SALT II) and
brought Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian president Anwar Sadat to the United
States to discuss peace between their countries. Their meetings at Camp David, the presidential retreat in
Maryland, led to the signing of the Camp David Accords in September 1978 (Figure 30.20). This in turn
resulted in the drafting of a historic peace treaty between Egypt and Israel in 1979.
Figure 30.20 President Jimmy Carter meets with Egypt’s Anwar Sadat (left) and Israel’s Menachem Begin (right) at
Camp David in 1978. Sadat was assassinated in 1981, partly because of his willingness to make peace with Israel.
Despite achieving many successes in the area of foreign policy, Carter made a more controversial decision
in response to the Soviet Union’s 1979 invasion of Afghanistan. In January 1980, he declared that if the
USSR did not withdraw its forces, the United States would boycott the 1980 Summer Olympic Games in
Moscow. The Soviets did not retreat, and the United States did not send a team to Moscow. Only about
half of the American public supported this decision, and despite Carter’s call for other countries to join the
boycott, very few did so.
HOSTAGES TO HISTORY
Carter’s biggest foreign policy problem was the Iranian hostage crisis, whose roots lay in the 1950s. In 1953,
the United States had assisted Great Britain in the overthrow of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh,
a rival of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the shah of Iran. Mossadegh had sought greater Iranian control over
the nation’s oil wealth, which was claimed by British companies. Following the coup, the shah assumed
complete control of Iran’s government. He then disposed of political enemies and eliminated dissent
through the use of SAVAK, a secret police force trained by the United States. The United States also
supplied the shah’s government with billions of dollars in aid. As Iran’s oil revenue grew, especially after
the 1973 oil embargo against the United States, the pace of its economic development and the size of its
educated middle class also increased, and the country became less dependent on U.S. aid. Its population
increasingly blamed the United States for the death of Iranian democracy and faulted it for its consistent
support of Israel.
Despite the shah’s unpopularity among his own people, the result of both his brutal policies and his desire
to Westernize Iran, the United States supported his regime. In February 1979, the shah was overthrown
when revolution broke out, and a few months later, he departed for the United States for medical
treatment. The long history of U.S. support for him and its offer of refuge greatly angered Iranian
revolutionaries. On November 4, 1979, a group of Iranian students and activists, including Islamic
fundamentalists who wished to end the Westernization and secularization of Iran, invaded the American
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Chapter 30 | Political Storms at Home and Abroad, 1968-1980
embassy in Tehran and seized sixty-six embassy employees. The women and African Americans were
soon released, leaving fifty-three men as hostages. Negotiations failed to free them, and in April 1980, a
rescue attempt fell through when the aircraft sent to transport them crashed. Another hostage was released
when he developed serious medical problems. President Carter’s inability to free the other captives hurt
his performance in the 1980 elections. The fifty-two men still held in Iran were finally freed on January 20,
1981, the day Ronald Reagan took office as president (Figure 30.21).
Figure 30.21 The fifty-two American hostages return from Iran in January 1981. They had been held for 444 days.
Carter’s handling of the crisis appeared even less effective in the way the media portrayed it publicly. This
contributed to a growing sense of malaise, a feeling that the United States’ best days were behind it and the
country had entered a period of decline. This belief was compounded by continuing economic problems,
and the oil shortage and subsequent rise in prices that followed the Iranian Revolution. The president’s
decision to import less oil to the United States and remove price controls on oil and gasoline did not help
matters. In 1979, Carter sought to reassure the nation and the rest of the world, especially the Soviet Union,
that the United States was still able to defend its interests. To dissuade the Soviets from making additional
inroads in southwest Asia, he proposed the Carter Doctrine, which stated that the United States would
regard any attempt to interfere with its interests in the Middle East as an act of aggression to be met with
force if necessary.
Carter had failed to solve the nation’s problems. Some blamed these problems on dishonest politicians;
others blamed the problems on the Cold War obsession with fighting Communism, even in small nations
like Vietnam that had little influence on American national interests. Still others faulted American
materialism. In 1980, a small but growing group called the Moral Majority faulted Carter for betraying his
southern roots and began to seek a return to traditional values.
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Chapter 30 | Political Storms at Home and Abroad, 1968-1980
915
Key Terms
Carter Doctrine Jimmy Carter’s declaration that efforts to interfere with American interests in the
Middle East would be considered a act of aggression and be met with force if necessary
counterculture a culture that develops in opposition to the dominant culture of a society
Deep Throat the anonymous source, later revealed to be associate director of the FBI Mark Felt, who
supplied reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein with information about White
House involvement in the Watergate break-in
Dixiecrats conservative southern Democrats who opposed integration and the other goals of the African
American civil rights movement
détente the relaxation of tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union
executive privilege the right of the U.S. president to refuse subpoenas requiring him to disclose private
communications on the grounds that this might interfere with the functioning of the
executive branch
identity politics political movements or actions intended to further the interests of a particular group
membership, based on culture, race, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender, or sexual
orientation
Pentagon Papers government documents leaked to the New York Times that revealed the true nature of
the conflict in Vietnam and turned many definitively against the war
plumbers men used by the White House to spy on and sabotage President Nixon’s opponents and stop
leaks to the press
silent majority a majority whose political will is usually not heard—in this case, northern, white, bluecollar voters
southern strategy a political strategy that called for appealing to southern whites by resisting calls for
greater advancements in civil rights
stagflation high inflation combined with high unemployment and slow economic growth
Vietnamization the Nixon administration’s policy of turning over responsibility for the defense of South
Vietnam to Vietnamese forces
Yippies the Youth International Party, a political party formed in 1967, which called for the
establishment of a New Nation consisting of cooperative institutions that would replace those
currently in existence
Summary
30.1 Identity Politics in a Fractured Society
In the late 1960s and 1970s, Indians, gays and lesbians, and women organized to change discriminatory
laws and pursue government support for their interests, a strategy known as identity politics. Others,
disenchanted with the status quo, distanced themselves from white, middle-class America by forming
their own countercultures centered on a desire for peace, the rejection of material goods and traditional
morality, concern for the environment, and drug use in pursuit of spiritual revelations. These groups,
whose aims and tactics posed a challenge to the existing state of affairs, often met with hostility from
916
Chapter 30 | Political Storms at Home and Abroad, 1968-1980
individuals, local officials, and the U.S. government alike. Still, they persisted, determined to further their
goals and secure for themselves the rights and privileges to which they were entitled as American citizens.
30.2 Coming Apart, Coming Together
When a new Republican constituency of moderate southerners and northern, blue-collar workers voted
Richard Nixon into the White House in 1968, many were hopeful. In the wake of antiwar and civil
rights protests, and the chaos of the 1968 Democratic National Convention, many Americans welcomed
Nixon’s promise to uphold law and order. During his first term, Nixon strode a moderate, middle path
in domestic affairs, attempting with little success to solve the problems of inflation and unemployment
through a combination of austerity and deficit spending. He made substantial progress in foreign policy,
however, establishing diplomatic relations with China for the first time since the Communist Revolution
and entering into a policy of détente with the Soviet Union.
30.3 Vietnam: The Downward Spiral
As the war in Vietnam raged on, Americans were horrified to hear of atrocities committed by U.S. soldiers,
such as the 1968 massacre of villagers at My Lai. To try to end the conflict, Nixon escalated it by bombing
Hanoi and invading Cambodia; his actions provoked massive antiwar demonstrations in the United States
that often ended in violence, such as the tragic shooting of unarmed student protestors at Kent State
University in 1970. The 1971 release of the Pentagon Papers revealed the true nature of the war to an
increasingly disapproving and disenchanted public. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger eventually drafted
a peace treaty with North Vietnam, and, after handing over responsibility for the war to South Vietnam,
the United States withdrew its troops in 1973. South Vietnam surrendered to the North two years later.
30.4 Watergate: Nixon’s Domestic Nightmare
In 1972, President Nixon faced an easy reelection against a Democratic Party in disarray. But even before
his landslide victory, evidence had surfaced that the White House was involved in the break-in at the
DNC’s headquarters at the Watergate office complex. As the investigation unfolded, the depths to which
Nixon and his advisers had sunk became clear. Some twenty-five of Nixon’s aides were indicted for
criminal activity, and he became the first president impeached since Andrew Johnson and the first to
resign from office. His successor, Gerald Ford, was unable to solve the pressing problems the United States
faced or erase the stain of Watergate.
30.5 Jimmy Carter in the Aftermath of the Storm
Jimmy Carter’s administration began with great promise, but his efforts to improve the economy through
deregulation largely failed. Carter’s attempt at a foreign policy built on the principle of human rights
also prompted much criticism, as did his decision to boycott the Summer Olympics in Moscow. On the
other hand, he successfully brokered the beginnings of a historic peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.
Remaining public faith in Carter was dealt a serious blow, however, when he proved unable to free the
American hostages in Tehran.
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Chapter 30 | Political Storms at Home and Abroad, 1968-1980
917
Review Questions
1. One of the original founders of AIM was
________.
A. Patsy Mink
B. Dennis Banks
C. Jerry Rubin
D. Glenn Weiser
2. The Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v.
Wade established that ________.
A. abortions obtained during the first three
months of pregnancy were legal
B. witnesses were not required to corroborate
a charge of rape
C. marriage could not be abolished
D. homosexuality was a mental illness
3. What kinds of values did hippies adopt?
4. President Nixon took a bold diplomatic step in
early 1972 when he ________.
A. went to Vienna
B. declared the Vietnam War over
C. met with Chinese leaders in Beijing
D. signed the Glasgow Accords
5. The blue-collar workers who Nixon called “the
silent majority” ________.
A. fled to the suburbs to avoid integration
B. wanted to replace existing social
institutions with cooperatives
C. opposed the war in Vietnam
D. believed their opinions were overlooked in
the political process
6. What caused the rifts in the Democratic Party
in the 1968 election?
7. The demonstrations at Kent State University in
May 1970 were held to protest what event?
A. the My Lai massacre
B. the North Vietnamese invasion of Saigon
C. the invasion of Cambodia by U.S. forces
D. the signing of a peace agreement with
North Vietnam
8. Recognizing that ongoing protests and campus
violence reflected a sea change in public opinion
about the war, in 1971 Nixon ________.
A. repealed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution
B. postponed the invasion of Cambodia
C. released the Pentagon Papers
D. covered up the My Lai massacre
9. According to John Kerry, how did many U.S.
soldiers treat Vietnamese civilians?
10. The agreement Gerald Ford signed with the
leader of the Soviet Union that ended the
territorial issues remaining from World War II
was ________.
A. the Moscow Communiqué
B. the Beijing Treaty
C. the Iceland Protocol
D. the Helsinki Accords
11. Of these figures, who was not indicted
following the Watergate break-in and cover-up?
A. John Mitchell
B. Bob Woodward
C. John Ehrlichman
D. H.R. Haldeman
12. In what types of unethical and illegal
activities did the White House plumbers and the
“dirty tricks” squad engage?
13. During the 1976 election campaign, Jimmy
Carter famously promised ________.
A. that he would never start a war
B. that he would never be unfaithful to his
wife
C. that he had never smoked marijuana
D. that he would never lie
14. Carter deregulated several major American
industries in an effort to ensure that ________.
A. companies would become more
competitive
B. airlines would merge
C. oil prices would rise
D. consumers would start conserving energy
15. What were President Carter’s successes in the
area of foreign policy?
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Chapter 30 | Political Storms at Home and Abroad, 1968-1980
Critical Thinking Questions
16. What common goals did American Indians, gay and lesbian citizens, and women share in their quests
for equal rights? How did their agendas differ? What were the differences and similarities in the tactics
they used to achieve their aims?
17. In what ways were the policies of Richard Nixon different from those of his Democratic predecessors
John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson? How were Jimmy Carter’s policies different from those of Nixon?
18. To what degree did foreign policy issues affect politics and the economy in the United States in the
late 1960s and 1970s?
19. What events caused voters to lose faith in the political system and the nation’s leaders in the late 1960s
and 1970s?
20. In what ways did the goals of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s manifest themselves in
the identity politics of the 1970s?
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