By Michael A. Cohen
"In his presidential inaugural tackle of January 1965, Lyndon Johnson provided an uplifting imaginative and prescient for the US, one who might finish poverty and racial injustice. Elected in a landslide over the conservative Republican Barry Goldwater and strengthened through the so-called liberal consensus, fiscal prosperity, and a powerful wave of nostalgia for his martyred predecessor, John Kennedy, Johnson introduced the main ambitious executive schedule in many years. 3 years later, every thing had replaced. Johnson's approval rankings had plummeted; the liberal consensus used to be shattered; the battle in Vietnam splintered the state; and the politics of civil rights had created a fierce white backlash. A document from the nationwide Committee for an efficient Congress warned of a "national anxious breakdown." The election of 1968 was once instantly stuck up in a swirl of robust forces, and the 9 males who sought the nation's optimum place of work that yr tried to journey them to victory-or in simple terms live to tell the tale them. at the Democratic part, Eugene McCarthy energized the anti-war move; George Wallace spoke to the working-class white backlash; Robert Kennedy took at the mantle of his slain brother. Entangled in Vietnam, Johnson, stunningly, opted to not run back, scrambling the chances. at the Republican aspect, 1968 observed the vindication of Richard Nixon, who outhustled Nelson Rockefeller, Ronald Reagan and George Romney, through navigating among the conservative and average wings of the Republican get together. The assassinations of first Martin Luther King, Jr., after which Kennedy appeared to push the rustic to the threshold of chaos, a chaos mirrored within the Democratic conference in Chicago, a televised horror exhibit. vp Hubert Humphrey emerged because the nominee, and, ultimately freeing himself from Johnson's grip, approximately overcame the lead lengthy loved by means of Nixon who, via exploiting department and channeling the nationwide longing for order, will be the final guy status. In American Maelstrom, Michael A. Cohen captures the whole drama of this watershed election, setting up 1968 because the hinge among the decline of political liberalism, the ascendancy of conservative populism, and the increase of anti-government attitudes that proceed to dominate the nation's political discourse. during this sweeping and immersive publication, equivalent components compelling research and exciting narrative, Cohen takes us to the very resource of our glossy politics of division." -- Publisher's description Read more...
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Extra info for American Maelstrom : the 1968 election and the politics of division
For the majority of Americans, a ballot for Johnson meant something else: an endorsement of the status quo, particularly since his opponent, Goldwater, risked moving the country in a very different direction. So the White House’s political strategy would not be oriented toward ensuring that the American people remained supportive of the president’s agenda, 16 ■ BEFORE but rather toward accomplishing as much as possible before they lost interest. For Johnson, the electorate was a fickle beast that he would be forced to work around in order to realize his goals.
For both parties, 1968 represented a crucial turning point, one in which the ideologically committed wings of each side began to more forcibly assert themselves. These developments in of themselves were historic and transformative, but their impact would be felt far beyond Election Day. Out of 1968 a defining political narrative would emerge. The political stereotypes that have characterized American politics over the past forty years—the “strong and resolute,” “tough on crime,” “defender of cultural values,” “small government” Republican, as opposed to the “weak,” “unpatriotic,” “tax and spend,” “big government,” “liberal elite” “beholden to special interest” Democrat—emerged or were reinforced.
In this photo, officers beat demonstrators in Grant Park, August 28, 1968. ■ american maelstrom ■ Courtesy of the Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation, Cornell University. Figure 19: After the lost month of September 1968, Humphrey’s Salt Lake City speech gave him a burst of momentum that almost took him to the Oval Office. Only weeks before Election Day he rallies Democratic partisans, October 1968. ■ american maelstrom ■ ■ american maelstrom ■ Figure 20: Nixon’s advisors viewed campaign rallies primarily as an opportunity to create visuals for their omnipresent television ads.
American Maelstrom : the 1968 election and the politics of division by Michael A. Cohen