In 1968, both Nixon and Humphrey were not liked

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Nixon was not par­tic­u­larly ad­mired, hav­ing lost the pres­i­den­tial race in 1960 and the race for gov­er­nor of Cal­i­for­nia in 1962. His op­po­nent in the 1968 cam­paign, Hu­bert Humphrey, was also not liked. He was seen as a stooge for Lyn­don B. John­son, who de­clined to run for the same rea­son as Tru­man – be­cause he knew he wouldn’t win. Humphrey was John­son’s vice pres­i­dent, and sup­ported the war. There­fore, the Demo­cratic Party was torn. If they voted for Humphrey, they would be sup­port­ing some­one who be­trayed them. If they voted for Richard Nixon, they would be sup­port­ing a man they de­spised (and re­garded as part of McCarthy’s witch hunt). The Repub­li­cans could live with Nixon but no one re­ally liked him. He won, but by a very small mar­gin in the pop­u­lar vote. Then there was Water­gate, but that’s an­other story. The point is that para­noia, and worse, vi­o­lence, have been seen in pres­i­den­tial races be­fore. The is­sue is whether there is any com­mon­al­ity. There is one. The ten­sions around the 1952 race came after years of frus­tra­tion in Korea. The 1968 race came after years get­ting bogged down in Viet­nam. 2016 comes after 15 years of war in the Mid­dle East and Afghanistan. It would seem that when there is an ex­tended and large-scale war that ap­pears to have no end, what we might call ex­treme elec­tions fol­low. It is the only com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor I can see.

But it is a rea­son­able one. The United States sees it­self, rea­son­ably, as a pow­er­ful coun­try. When it goes to war, there is an ex­pec­ta­tion that it will be suc­cess­ful. When it is not suc­cess­ful, peo­ple search for an ex­pla­na­tion or de­mand that the war be ended.

There are fre­quently two camps. First, there is the camp that wants to be more ag­gres­sive. Sec­ond, there is the camp that wants to with­draw. There is also the camp that wants to find the cul­prit who drew the U.S. into the war, and the cul­prit who caused us to lose.

In Korea, Dou­glas MacArthur, who led the United Na­tions forces in the war, wanted a more ag­gres­sive pol­icy. Joseph McCarthy wanted to iden­tify the peo­ple who caused the U.S. to lose, while many on the left wanted the U.S. to leave.

In Viet­nam, Barry Gold­wa­ter, Repub­li­can can­di­date for pres­i­dent in 1964, wanted the U.S. to be more ag­gres­sive. Many Viet­nam vet­er­ans wanted to know who caused the U.S. to lose, and the anti-war move­ment wanted the U.S. to leave.

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