The election of 1968

The Democratic Party in disarray

The 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago showed how divided the Democratic party had become. The “New Left” made up one faction, while the older New Deal Democrats were another. Thousands of antiwar activists filled the streets of Chicago, and law enforcement officers met them with violence.

Dismayed by the stalemate in the Vietnam War and disturbed by the splintering of the Democratic Party, Lyndon Johnson chose not to run for reelection. The Democratic National Convention nominated Johnson’s vice president, Hubert Humphrey. There was a three-way race between Humphrey, Republican Richard Nixon, and Alabama Governor George Wallace, a Southern segregationist who ran as an independent and took advantage of white people’s fear of the gains of the Civil Rights Movement.

Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign

Republican nominee Richard Nixon promised to restore law and order, end the war in Vietnam, and restore traditional American values. His presidential campaign emphasized the theme of “law and order,” which he thought would appeal to the “silent majority”—those white middle-class Americans anxious and fearful of radical social change. Nixon used the phrase “law and order” to signal his intention to crack down on student protesters and anyone else who sought to challenge the status quo of American society.

Source: The election of 1968
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