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The Nixon Era: Rebellion and Reaction in the 1960s and 1970s - Essay Example

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The 1960s are commonly known as a turbulent decade. The assassinations of John F. Kennedy in 1963 and Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy in 1968, the Vietnam War and its accompaniment of antiwar protests and political and social upheaval contributed to a social climate of "despair, disenchantment, conflict, and frustration" (Genovese, 1990, p6)…
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The Nixon Era: Rebellion and Reaction in the 1960s and 1970s
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Download file to see previous pages Nixon). This was a group of people who felt excluded and unheard in the 1960s, and Nixon recognized the importance of having this previously silent but influential group on his side. His 1968 presidential campaign promised "an honorable end" (Richard M. Nixon) to the Vietnam War, and he further endeared himself to Middle America by promising a return law and order in the wake of chaotic anti-war protests. Together with his strongly anti-communist stance, this was enough to allow him to scrape a small majority and win the election, winning the popular vote by a narrow margin of just 0.9% on November 5 1968. At the start of his presidency and throughout 1969 Nixon scored in the low 60s in Gallup Poll approval surveys (Roper Center), and maintained 50-60% approval until April of 1973. Nixon remained reasonably popular with the silent majority until the rumors of his involvement in Watergate became too impossible to ignore. However, he still lost ground as America remained involved in the Vietnam War until 1973.
By the time Nixon assumed the role of president, America had been involved in the Vietnam War for four long years, more than 30,000 Americans had died fighting, and over half a million were still stationed in Vietnam. Having vowed to end the war honorably, Nixon intended to gradually withdraw US forces from Vietnam while building up the South Vietnamese Army so that it could fight the war without US involvement. Nixon was confident that this strategy would end America's involvement in Vietnam by the end of 1970 (Richard M. Nixon), and in the summer of 1969 announced the first of withdrawal of American troops. To those who were critical of America's involvement in Vietnam, this gradual withdrawal was unacceptable - anti-war protests and demonstrations continued, Nixon's disapproval rating increased from 5% at the start of 1969 to 23% at the close (Roper Center), and the country remained divided.
However, at the end of April 1970, American troops moved into Cambodia, a country which had remained neutral throughout the war (Genovese, 1990, p117). Invasion of Laos in 1971 and extensive bombing of North Vietnam followed, and disillusioned Americans again took to the streets in protest. However, as Nixon's plans to end America's involvement peacefully unraveled and the war dragged on, protest marches became increasingly filled with the middle class Americans who had previously been staunch Nixon supporters. It was not until January 27, 1973 that US involvement in the Vietnam War officially ended with the signing of the Paris Peace Accords. This significantly increased his popularity with the American voter and his approval rating was higher than it had ever been before (Roper Center).
Nixon Triumphant
As the war continued, and as unemployment and inflation rose, Nixon's popularity fell and at the start of 1972 he feared losing the coming election (Richard M. Nixon). However by May of that year he had negotiated a treaty between China and the Soviet Union in which these two countries agreed to slow the nuclear arms race which had been ongoing for over 25 years. On May 22 he became the first American president to enter the Kremlin, and ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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