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tv   1968 - America in Turmoil Conservative Politics  CSPAN  April 15, 2018 8:31am-10:01am EDT

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♪ tonight, notstory for ourselves, but for the ages. we make in 1968 will determine not only the future of america, but of the future of peace and freedom in the world and the question that we answer tonight -- can america me to this great challenge? for a few moments, let us look at a man, let us listen to a man to find the answer to that question. as we look at america, we see smoke and flames. we hear sirens in the night.
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we see americans dying on distant battlefields. we see americans hating each other, fighting each other, killing each other at home. and as we see and hear these millions of americans cry out in anguish, did we come all this way for this? did american boys die in korea and in valley forge for this? listen to the answers to those questions. it is another voice, it is a quiet voice. it is the voice of the great majority of americans, the forgo tten americans. they are not racist or sexist. they are not guilty of the crimes, they are black and white, they are native and foreign, young and old. at america's factories, they run american
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businesses, they serve in government, they provided most of the soldiers who died to keep us free. they give drive to the spirit of america, lift to the american dream. the backboneel to of america. they are decent people. they work and they save and they pay their taxes. , if thisdore roosevelt country will not be a good place for any of us unless it is a good place for all of us. [applause] to this i say. [applause] >> this i say to you tonight. is the real voice of america. in this year, 1968, this is the message that will broadcast to americans of the world. let them never forget that despite her colts, america is a great nation, -- despite her
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faults, and america is great because her people are great. we have not journeyed all this acrossoss the centuries, the oceans, across the mountains, across the prairie because we are made of sugar candy. in trouble today not because her people have failed, because our leaders have failed, and what america needs are leaders and that is the greatness of her people -- that match the greatness of her people. america in turmoil in 68, that was the speed by a richard nixon as he accepted his party nomination after losing in 1960 and losing in 1962. joining us here is robert mary, the editor of the american conservative, thanks for being with us. graduate school of political management and associate professor and author of the book the right moment,
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ronald reagan's first victory and the decisive turning point in american politics. 1968.order to talk about many are wondering what is going to happen with the conservative movement? what's changed before 1964 and 1968? liberals said that conservatism is dead. the extreme right has no home in the center of american politics. but of the country changed dramatically as we are going to discuss. issues of urban unrest, law and order. ultimatelycan party captures the nomination, signaling the energy of the ideologically, all
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that energy was flowing. and it was flowing to the right of the republican party and prevailed in 68. player, richard nixon loses the california governorship in 1962 and that famous speech -- you won't have dick nixon to kick around anymore. >> my parents were very upset about that. >> that actually made him look like a victim, correct? >> it made him look like a has been. inre is the old role american politics -- you are not finished until you say you are finished. but currently if you say you are finished, you are finished. and nixon said he was finished. so he thought that he was finished, and he wasn't. and his good friends in
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california, they said get out of york, and, go to new you could actually rise back up. and that is what he did. name of verythe cold water in a nomination in 1964, and what happens between 1964 and 66 that led the groundwork for his campaign? when did a brilliant thing he gave his nominating speech for goldwater. the liberals in the party were resisting goldwater, and in doing so, they were resisting the constituency. and you can't do that in politics. nick's and wisely understood that nixon widely understood that he couldn't do that. he managed to maintain his standings and the party whereas ally and scranton
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relinquished their standing. >> let's talk about nelson rockefeller. he was in the race, out, back in. what was that all about? >> he had run before twice, and i think the most important moment to understand is that in 64, he got up on the convention stage and denounced extremism. g washat he was doinj rejecting the republican party under goldwater. he was detested by conservatives. he was seen as the embodiment of moderation in the republican party. rights, hecivil enacted building projects, you wanted to use government as a catalyst, and he refused in campaign to reject civil rights. he said he had to be true to who i am.
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he announced after martin luther king was killed, he thought kennedyarey -- robert might be the nominee. misread where the party was, the strength of the and heative movement, really was not much of a force or threats to richard nixon. >> was he in the wrong party? there would be no place for him in the republican party today. -- he claimed he was committed to physical discipline. in social issues, he was more progressive. but he came out of his northeastern tradition of liberal republicans and, had he as a politician
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in the 1970's or 80's, he would be a very easy fit to see him in the democratic party. --in 1964, i am paraphrasing he says we are rockefeller republicans, goldwater republicans, but we are all republicans. tactically, what was he doing with his eye on 1966 and was actually running again in 1968? >>he was trying to thread the needle. as thetion himself person who could bring the fractured party back together. because he supported goldwater and because he managed to maintain some relationship or association with the more liberal elements of his party, he was the one who positioned himself. what is interesting is the extent to which they did not quite understand -- the extent to which the liberals had been
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left behind and all of those people who thought they could still serve did not understand what had hit them. >> and these so-called liberals york, senator from new what was happening with these different factions in the gop? >> there were remnants of moderates. there were, obviously, elected officials who are moderate. ultimately, that battle, i think, had been fought in 1964. in fact, in 1966, what we see with richard nixon is that he is backing republicans on the right and also in the middle. he gets a lot of the credit in 1966 for endorsing and helping republicans take up dozens of seats in the midterm congressional election.
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46 seats. he gets a lot of the credit for. seen increasingly as a credible conservative. there is a lot of skepticism, i don't want to say that now. but he sees where the energy is in the republican party and the moderates ultimately form a significant minority within the party and if you packed away george wallace who would ultimately become the body of his conservative coalition, we see that the moderates are force andying frankly, in 68, to the extent that there was a first ixon.ction, -- threat to nex those battles had been fought
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and the moderates came out on the losing end. even if romney and rockefeller did not necessarily buy into that. >> nixon has another problem. he has the image problem. part of that was elements of his personality that did not go over very well with a great deal of people. campaigning for republicans all over america, he was indefatigable, he was everywhere. for liberal republicans, moderate republicans, conservative republicans. in doing so, he addressed the question of old nixon versus new nixon? they had him on the cover of all these major publications and basically accepting that yes, there is a new nixon. governor romney was the first
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to enter and also leave the race. what happened? managed't think he ever to graduate from state politics to national politics. i used to cover presidential campaigns. it is a totally different situation from being governor of a state and running for the presidency. you have to move so fast, you can't make a mistake. what he said he had been brainwashed in vietnam, it made -- devastatingly he said probably a light rinse would have been adequate. >> the issue of civil rights. again, rockefeller and run were pro-civil rights. after the civil voting rights republican party
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becomes opposed to mandatory -- opposed to federal desegregation effort, the war on poverty targeting african-americans is a total failure and example of government overreaching. the only issue, but i think it is a central issue. i think it is hard to see how romney and the brainwashing minimized it -- it was hard to see how romney in 1968 version of the republican party being pro-civil rights, how he would emerge as the nominee. cast, ity votes were was a very short-lived and political effort. another candidate whose rise came in 1964 was ronald reagan as the retired actor and he ran for governor. 1968, he appeared on
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the cbs news in which he talked about the state of the republican party and the conservative movement. >> one we talk about the convention or the delegates, there are estimates ranging from 48%, 60%. goldwater delegates returning this year. do you see yourself as the only hope of the conservatives in the parking? they certainly are not going to rally around rockefeller and many of them rally around richard nixon. where else would they have to go except you? know, i won't go on anymore with using those labels. i have an working for two years trying to get the party to drop those labels. we have been very successful. a different philosophy or bully philosophyifferent in the party.
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i think you'll find the party today is far more willing to see good in other republicans in the entrance -- interest of what i. -- of winning. we have had a bloodbath and learned a lesson from it. we were virtually out of existence just a few years ago. i don't think people are going to this convention with an ideological mold. >> thank you to cbs news for the excerpt. let me ask you about ronald reagan. but primarilyrace as a favorite in california. can you explain what his role was in the primary process, if any? >> he just won the governorship of california, this is his first political campaign. he did was richard nixon could not do and he beat brown in california. he just stepped into the governor chair and there was
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-- among his supporters in the west coast and that this is the rising star of the conservative movement. this is a much more electable goldwater. reagan had just gotten into office and what one of his aides said is that they actually did much more work than reagan did in those primaries. they tried to draft him. reagan really declared himself as a candidate at the convention in the hopes that they could deprive richard nixon of nomination on the first ballot. nixon's forces were somewhat concerned that reagan could be a credible -- beforexon had reagan even announced at the convention -- nixon had wrapped up the endorsements from a very goldwater -- barry goldwater.
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many of the southern conservatives that reagan would have needed. it was ultimately -- there was not much of a credible threat to richard nixon. >> just to go back to the , paying off in 1968 during the primary process. >> there is a reality in american politics that things happen that are perceived as impossible, and perceivable. soon as they do happen, they become commonplace. the election of donald trump, abraham lincoln. when he dismissed reagan and tried to make light of him. i am really interested in aviation. reagan won the election by
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almost a million votes. and immediately, he was a major figure in american politics. in 60, he was the stuff candidate. he let his size run him and these of various states. in a new up 11% hampshire, 22% in nebraska. base going into the convention and the only way as we just heard -- the only way he could possibly get the nomination is deny the first ballot nomination. was not in a great position of strength going into the convention. it was entirely conceivable that he could have been denied the nomination on the first ballot. he wasn't, largely because of that --.
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1968, a year in turmoil. part of the c-span american history tv. we look at your phone call. john in tampa, florida. >> 1968 was a pivotal year in american history. to understand that year, you have to go backwards in time a long distance and then go forward in time until now. you can't understand the significance being so pivotal without looking at the periods of 48-65 when the americans pay an income tax rate of over 90%, and yet you had basically the middle class stronger than ever. >> setting the stage for 1968. your thoughts? >> i was in college and campuses were burning up.
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demonstrations were everywhere. in the year before we had race riots in urban areas in which tens of people were killed. in detroit and you are -- newark. the country appeared to be coming apart at the seams. and i think we have to put that context into our discussion because that was driving an awful lot of what was happening. and what was happening was a reaction to that. nixon was a politician of the year who understood how to thread that needle. how to position himself as a candidate who is not a radical, not extremist, but who can straddle various elements of the republican party and take the party and the nation forward. ways, ronald reagan's 1966 campaign was a template for
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richard nixon. he emphasized the issue of law and order. the idea that the country was unraveling, that there were protests ofies, antiwar demonstrations, university unrest, nixon was able to get this theme that the , the quiets americans -- and he was primarily appealing to white, middle-class suburbans or working-class americans. --t we have got a crackdown we have got a crackdown on the supreme court justices who are too lenient, the politicians who have embraced expectations, failed the.common cities . the caller is absolutely right
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and i would say this about most of the years, we could see 68 as a pivot. a pivot from the post 1945 american order or the country neerged as the lo superpower, untouched by the bombing, the economic growth, the nonstop expansion. the sense of military strength that nobody could challenge. and, the sense that there was abundance for all. fundamentalof these -- and of course, issues of race and gender. which spilled into the floor race in 68. all of these things spilled out in that year and of course we are still living in the shadow. >> are serious, kevin is joining
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us from chicago, democrats line. good morning, i am so happy that you are doing this show. 1968 throughs that 1972, it is a time conservatives do not want to talk about. we certainly don't teach about it. it was a total realignment of the parties. it cannot be discussed in any context and you can tiptoe around it what undergirds it are two vectors. -- race and class. when we look at divisiveness of today and what is going on in , itcurrent administration is undergirded by 1960 at politics -- 1968 politics.
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invite you to really explain the realignment of the parties, blacks away from republican electoral politics, and the legacy that has on the present, especially going into reagan, because as a black young men of the time, goldwater was the name in urban communities. it was like saying vodldemort. >> do you want to respond? >> yes, i think that is a very good question to be posing. landmark legislation and civil rights bills and the voting rights bills, he told his friends "what i have done is i have just washed the south of the democratic party."
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and he was right. the next opportunity after that have been completed when the american people came together for the presidential election, we had the emergence of george hadace and george wallace the five deep south states and he basically took the south out of the democratic party where it was just lying there and nobody was going to pick it up and who was going to get it? , vibrating the south and those voters into the republican party, remains controversial among historians for very good reason. own feeling is that it ultimately serve to domesticate racial issues in the south to the extent that it moderated them.
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obviously, there was a backlash to that legislation and the selfless reliant -- south was realigned. >> the democratic lock on the south through the end of reconstruction -- that locke was no more and remember, wallace was a segregationist. he defended explicitly segregation and he ran what i think many historians consider a racist campaign. that wasn't of the only issue that he appealed to, but he did make explicit appeals to white voters both in the south but also in the industrial north. and talk about working police and barbershop workers and
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beauticians revolting against not just african-american unrest, but educated elites. it was, in essence, a modern campaign. we do see the republican party today, much of its strength still remains in the south. not just of the deep south, but the border states. and at that really happened in the 60's, it happened over time. you do see by the end of the 1960 election, you do see the republican party in the ascendance in the south and dominance. >> a quick follow-up. are there parallel to the george wallace 1968 voters and the donald trump voters? >> i will caveat by saying history does not repeat itself and it is hard to equate these analogies because the issues in 68 were different than the
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issues today. like the issues of trade. having said that, using the language, donald trump, as nixon appropriated george wallace's themes in 1968, donald trump explicitly, in his convention address, said, and actually did appropriate some of richard nixon's themes on law and order, on this notion of american carnage, american crisis, that i'm the voice for the forgotten americans. he really used some of that language, used some of those ideas, and i do think that some of trump's so-called kind of populist appeals, primarily to white voters, i think that there are real echos in the wallace 1968 effort. host: george wallace, the governor of alabama in 1968, and in the summer of that year, his appearance on cbs' face the nation. >> you were quote as having observed once people know the
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way to stop a riot is to hit someone on the head. >> yes, i've said something similar to that. when somebody goes out and begins to loot and burn a building down, which endangers the health and safety of everybody, that's a good way to stop it. f you let the police know, let the police knock somebody in the head breaking a plate glass window, assaulting a plaque, a person on the street, throwing a firebomb, i think they'd be getting out mighty light if somebody knocked them in the head, and frankly, that's ought to be done. if i were president of the united states, i would take whatever was necessary to prevent what happened in this city if we had to order the knocking in the head of many people. when you do that, you're going satisfy the overwhelming majority of people are all races in this country, the government is cow today had a every anarchist group in the united states and as a consequence, we don't have any safety in the streets of our large cities right here in
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washington, d.c. host: july 1968, "nice the nation," courtesy of cbs. robert? >> well, wallace got 13.5% of the vote in 1968 as a third party, as an alternate party candidate. that's a very significant margin. he held the winner, richard nixon, down to little more than 43%. making him a minority president. he was a very significant figure, and he was a significant figure because of the turmoil and because of the ferment that was going on, and we had a sort of realignment not just in terms of people in the electorate, but also in terms of the issues that were going to be driving politics. host: we'll go to katherine from mobile, alabama, good morning. caller: yes, yes, gentlemen, i lived 1968 till now. i'm older than at least one of and you probably both of you. i would like to say that from 1968 until what i see now, it
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is really horrified me. and in 1968, what y'all are not talking about is how your party began to break up civics by using so much dogma, and the dogma became the whole deal with the republican party. you're against everyone but what you want done. that is not futile. we the females in the south and the minorities did not have voting rights like the rest of you, and we still don't. there are many problems with the gerry mannedering and republican party always saying hat they win the vote. cheating is not winning, folks. if we are going to have free and fair elections, we must allow all of our population to speak and be included. host: thank you for the call. who would like to take that? guest: one thing i'll say is in 1980, moving ahead a little
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bit, ronald reagan goes mississippi to launch his campaign, and in the place where three civil rights workers were murdered, he invokes the word states' rights, which is really a code, ight, a code for some of the resistance of civil rights from the 1960's. and there had been efforts, despite the passage of the 1965 voting rights act to suppress the votes primarily african-americans in the south. but ultimately i would say the republican party has been dominant in the south, primarily because it wins overwhelming numbers of the white vote and whites remain a majority in the south. the democratic party wins an overwhelming majority of the african-american votes. so when doug jones, for example, was able to win in alabama, there was a highly unusual coalition that is
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probably not going to repeat itself of biracial or cross-racial coalitions. so, you know, i think race really remains a central fault line, and it's not just, of course, in the south. it's around the country, but we do see in 1968 the issue of race emerge and flowerfully. host: we'll talk about the primary and show you richard nixon campaign new hampshire. but first, we go to pennsylvania on the republican line. good morning. caller: good morning. i'd like to make a comment on the reasons why the republican party was able to support richard nixon as well as they did in 1968. richard nixon did something in 1960 that was quite unusual in politics.
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you have to remember, he come forward and be a part of a coalition that wanted him to challenge the vote in pennsylvania and also in illinois, and as a result, he lost. if you recall that period of time. then you understand richard nixon a little better. host: robert? guest: i think that's absolutely right. nixon did decline to challenge those questions. i think there was some stealing of the votes that took place in illinois and chicago under the machine of mayor daley. and in doing so, he manifested a pretty good element of character. i think he also showed some character when he became
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president, after 1968 in not ever talking about the mess that he inherited from lyndon johnson. he says, look, i'm struggling, as donald trump has done, as barack obama did, i'm struggling with what i inherited. he didn't do that. he was a man in a very, very significant ways, but in these two instances, i think he showed some significance. host: this is richard nixon campaigning in february of 1968 in new hampshire, being interviewed as he's going from one campaign event to another. >> just to restate this question, why do you want to do this? it's such a man-willing thing, and you've already put in time, you've already served your country. >> well, that's a question that, believe me, has occurred to me too, and it occurs to my family. i suppose that your wife and your children feel even more
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deeply about their father and husband being involved in a great battle than he himself does, because the man who's in the battle, he can fight back, can answer, whereas those on the sidelines have to suffer in silence. but on the other hand, the reason that i think perhaps motivates me more than anything i e is very simply this -- feel that this is the period in the history of the united states in which what we do or fail to do can determine the future of sandeas freedom for the balance of this century. we didn't ask for this, but it is a role that has been placed upon us because of the power that we have and the vacuum of power in western europe, which previously had been hurt. i believe the dangers of world war iii abroad, the dangers of civil war, approaching civil
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war in a very difficult sense of home. and other problems are greater than this country has ever had. but on the other hand, i believe that never in our nation's history have we had more capability to handle these problems. in other words, the forces that can bring peace and avoid war, the forces that unite america and reconcile america and bring progress in our cities are now stronger than they have ever been, if they're just brought into play. what we need is leadership, leadership that will take america's great harnessed power and unharness it and put it to work on the unfinished business at home and the unfinished business abroad. host: from 1968, and as you look at that, matthew, what are you hearing, what are you seeing? guest: well, so much of politics is timing. and what i hear in part at least is nixon projecting a
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sense of calm, of confidence, of experience which is, of course, a dirty word in american politics now. and look, ronald reagan ran against experience. he ran as a citizen politician in 1966ment but nixon was able o say that, look, i have the whether with all, the mettle, the toughness, to restore the order that's been lost. i mean, you talked about the civil war potentially erupting at home. in 1968, it's widely seen, and i think rightly so, as perhaps the most divisive year in the nation's history since the end of the civil war. nixon confronted that. the other thing i hear is he mentioned vietnam. he mentioned the -- and it was really vietnam, of course, that destroyed lyndon johnson's presidency that gave nixon and others a major opening. nixon handled that issue very
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definitely in the sense that he didn't really talk much about it. he implied that he had a secret plan to win the peace in vietnam. he said that he would bring a peaceful end, an honorable end to the war there. and so he was able to kind of offer himself as an answer, a solution to this horrible war which had already taken tens of thousands of american lives, without really divulging what it was he was going to do and project that kind of confidence to restore order and, you know, restore the country's sanity in a sense, as he was implying there. host: our series, 1968: america in turmoil, and joining us here in washington is the editor of the american conservative and a teacher at george washington university and the author of a number of books. rachel is next, texas, independent line. good morning.
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caller: good morning. a lot of back in 1964, 1970e's affected me when i was younger. i'm 62 years old right now. 18964, when they -- in they claimed it was separation of scommunch state. then we had abortions. those two decisions we voted on supreme court justice without -- which was -- which was made up mostly of republican judges, and they're blaming the ndependent people. and it was the judges that made those decisions. back when reagan was in office, another thing that made people my age back then, i was 20-something years old, when you went to apply for a job, they could give you a lot of tips. reagan passed that, had that
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put in there, to where they could give you a lie detector test and asked if you stole anything. well, you might have when i was 5 years old, and that would affect your test. but event we'll they took it out because it was against our rights. and they always talk about rights, who's taking rights away. they need to figure it out. host: rachel, thank you for the call. guest: what it invokes is that richard nixon and other conservatives and wallace, too, they attacked the warren court, or the court for chief justice earl wear ron. they argued that the court had overstepped its bounds and has interfered in american life and all these sort of ways, the miranda decision, for example, giving too many rights to criminals, that the courts were somehow coddling, law breakers, and that -- and this i think is
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also where it's very modern, because we hear some of the origins of the argument that justices are there to interpret the constitution in a strict way. the so-called strict constructionist. and nixon implied that he would employ justices who would respect the rule of law, who would roll back some of the injustices in a sense committed by the warren court, and i think it tied into this larger theme of law and order that nixon tapped into, and that was a powerful issue that they were able to use then, and that, of course, it is a huge nishe american politics, and it has been really ever since. host: let's put the year in perspective. we talked about governor george romney. he was first to formally interview the race in 1967. this is what the time line looks like. november of that year, the tet
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offensive took place on january 30 of 1968. former vice president richard nixon formally enters the race on february 1. george romney withdraws on february 28. nixon wins easily in the new hampshire primary on march 12. then president johnson announcing on march 31 that he will not seek re-election. nelson rockefeller, governor of new york, enters the race on april 30. richard nixon accepts the nomination on august 8 of that year. and he's elected as our 37th president on november 5. kim is joining from us owings mills, maryland, democrats line. good morning. caller: good morning. can you hear me? host: we can. caller: yes, one of the things that i hear i hear nixon speaking, and i want the gentlemen to speak, too, is the thread of what nixon is beginning to crack, taken along the lines of what he can't come out and speak the words that george wallace is speaking, so he begins to craft with
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politics. being able to speak the unspoken things to the white news southern strategy that cannot be -- that cannot be spoke unanimous way, but is spoke bin nixon in a way that has been carried out, pked up by ronald reagan and the state of of how we have to crack down, we have to crack down on the violence and inner cities. and those same dog whistle politics that's been picked up in our politics today with donald j. trump. host: robert, do you want to respond? guest: we still hear about dog whistle politics today from various people, msnbc and others are very, very quick. there's no question that some of that takes place. and we also have another side, the phenomenon of political correctness, which is an effort to intimidate people from expressing themselves on the other side.
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so that's all part of american politics, and it's all a question of how the political leaders are going to marshal political resources and pressures and forces and move the country forward. that's our system. host: timothy's point is a perfect segue to what we want to talk about now, which is the republican convention meeting in miami beach, florida. this is from the republican platform of 1968, an excerpt that reads as follows, "american needs new leadership that will recapture the control of events, mastering them, rather than permitting them to master us." going on to write that our convention in 1968 can spark a republican resurgence to face the realities of the world in which we live. and matthew, as you hear that platform of 1968, what led to richard nicks nixon's selection f spiro ago new as his running mate? guest: to stave off ronald
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reagan's challenge had to assure without guaranteeding, but assure conservative that is he was going pick a vice-presidential candidate who was not romney, not rockefeller, not a liberal. a lot of conservatives still didn't trust him. agnew had run 1966 as a fairly moderate republican, but he quickly established himself as an anti-radical emblem, somebody who repeatedly ttacked long hairs and protesters, anti-war demonstrators. you know, we heard talk about anarchists i think from george allace, and agnew would engage in like-minded rhetoric. so the selection of agnew in a sense was a sure one, because it was consistent with the campaign themes that nixon was going to run on, especially this issue of law and order.
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the on or about thing i'll say about agnew is he later on became somewhat known for his attacks, really biting and vicious attacks on the media. at one point he called them the nattering boss of negativity. and that's a very modern idea, too, and it echos in our own politics. but nixon had a famously frack tushes relationship with the media, and disliked, distrusted the media. his office, of course, had his enemies list, including members of the media on it. and agnew was also a hard hitting kind of attack dog of sorts, and that was the role that nixon wanted him to play. host: who else did he consider, and was governor reagan on that list? guest: governor reagan was not on the list. i think governor reagan had established himself as too formidable a politician for nixon to want as his vice president. he couldn't be assured he could
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control somebody who commanded that much support. let me say this. nixon, as i mentioned earlier, nixon went to that convention in a somewhat tenuous situation. my recollection is it took 667 votes to get the nomination, and he had, he thought, maybe 26 votes more than that. that's not a position of strength. reagan came in, and at the convention, as soon as' announced his candidacy, he picked up 19 votes. so nixon had to go to thom thurmond of south carolina -- to strom thurmond of south carolina, and strom thurmond knew that nixon needed him desperately. and nixon knew that he needed strom thurmond desperately, and strom thurmond knew that nixon knew. and that therein lies political negotiations. so the two main questions were racial guidelines, guidelines on racial integration, nixon
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favored guidelines, and it fwets into the whole question of time tables and quotas and all of that, which was a very messy, difficult issue at that time. the other issue under that rubric was school busing. nixon opposed school busing. so he finessed the first -- he gave assurance on the second, and he gave him an absolute assurance on the third, which was the vice president, and that's how we got spiro agnew. host: john in washington, d.c. go ahead, please. caller: good morning. i have a question for both of you. what significant role in the republican party played in ting rights act or descendants of american slaves, past and modern day trends. were they embracing the idea of
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black american voters, and also, i'm reading the u.s. recovery act, which asked for judicial protection for descendants of american slaves, since we don't have that here in america. host: matthew dallek? guest: 1965, lyndon johnson couldn't have passed that without strong support from republicans, and there were republicans in congress and around the country who, of course, supported the voting rights. i mean, in 1965, the republican rty had a substantial, moderate wing that was pro civil rights. it was in the midwest, in the northeast. and the party of the ideological, as was the democratic party. but by 196 , even though three short years, that position was really no longer viable in the
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national republican party, which is why it was hard to see a path for romney or rockefeller, and given, frankly, the southern strategy, the idea that the republican electoral future was going to be through the south. so by 1968, i think we see, for example, the nixon negotiations with strom thurmond, reagan's victory in 1966, his ascend ens within the party. we see, i think, a party on the issue of race, even though there were still some voices, pro civil rights voices left, they were really in the minority within the party. and nixon, whether or not you want to call him concessions or not, but his stance, for example, against what he would stribe as mandatory or forced as one example, that was really consistent with the party's view that the federal
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government had overreached in its efforts to enforce decongratulation and ensure the voting rights of all african-americans. host: our next caller -- guest: i think it needs to be voted that that legislation, those pieces of legislation landmark very, very significant. they passed. they were on the books. and what we're talking about is sort of the fallout, the difficulty of some people in america, particularly in the south, but elsewhere, too, in adjusting to that. but ultimately they had to adjust, and american politics had to adjust. so what we're talking about here is that process during that period of adjustment and the difficulty that some people had and how the political system was going to make its way to that particular period. host: from melbourne, england, daniel. you are next. go ahead, sir. caller: thank you. i see the problems of foreign policy of yesterday and of today of being quite different. yesterday, in 1968 and 1969,
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the soviet union was a problem, and i think richard nixon and the republican party were ideally placed to meet that challenge, right? and reagan met the challenge. the problem of today is demographics. if you look at all these countries in asia, muslim countries, they are reproducing very fast. as soon as you within a war, they replenish the numbers. if you look carefully at demographics, you will see, for example, they have four sons per father, or six sons per father, so they can replenish -- so a country like afghanistan can defeat russia or defeat the united states. and my question to you is this -- accidents of history, as you were explaining, the republicans became dependent on the southern states, and the very religious states that ppose abortion, oppose liberal values, and some of the new liberal values. but what you need now is to educate tpwhem these other
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countries to have fewer children, support contraception. so my question is this. do you think the way politics developed in america internally has compromised the ability of a republican president to actually win these conflicts abroad to lead the world? host: thank you. does the caller have a point, matthew dallek? guest: i mean, i don't know. you know, it's a little hard to say. i mean, first of all, in 1968, you know, it was it was the bloodiest year of the vietnam war. there's nothing comparable to what we have today. the united states had about half a million troops, soldiers, in vietnam, in southeast asia. the war was tearing the country apart, ideologically. it was tearing apart on the streets, on the campuses. i think that that war, i think the point the caller was making
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was that the war then transformed to some extent, pushed the republican and democratic parties in distinct directions. i think it has made it harder for the united states to the good to sustain wars overseas, the idea that the country is going to go to war without majority support, and just kind of sink endless blood and treasure into a place. in that sense, it does remain the kind of vietnam syndrome or shadow. it remains as something of a con at any rate on elected officials and policy makers. i guess one last thought is that the country today, even though this is nothing comparable, but the country today, i think there is no an future for sending tens of thousands of u.s. troops overseas to engage in combat
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anywhere. there is no, whether it's syria, afghanistan, or iraq. and i think in 1968, the country was also beginning to support u.s. withdrawal, wouffer it happened for vietnam. host: let me ask about another key player in this period, william f. buckley. who was he? guest: well, big buckley emerged as probably the leading voice on the conservative side of politics. he was a very young man in 1950, i believe, when he wrote a book after having graduated from yale. he took his alma mater to task or its liberal inclinations. and then five years later became a very young, he was 30 years old, very young editor of the brand-new magazine, national review, which emerged as the leading voice of
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conserve tism in america. i will say i knew him a bit. i actually ended up corresponding with him when i was in college. i was in a research project that one of my professors at the university of washington organized, and we went off and interviewed various members of a 1947 commission on the american press that was underwritten by henry luth. i flew to new york from seattle, met with henry, and met with a woman. scommoip henry luth was? guest: i'm sorry, he was the founder and chairman and editor in chief of "time" magazine and "life" magazine. and i met, on that trip also, a woman who worked on the commission who was a close friend of buckley's. i ended up cranding with her and probably -- corresponding with her and probably waxing naive about what's going on in american politics, and she showed my letter to buckley, who promptly wrote to me. so i knew him over the years,
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had lunch with him in new york a few times, also in connecticut at his place there. and as everyone knows who knows anything about him, he was a most charming, most funny, -- in 1968, he emerged on the scene by running for mayor of new york in 1965, and he had a gadfly campaign that got a lot of attention, very amusing. the famous line was when somebody asked him, what will you do if you win? he said, demand a recount. that kind of what sort of brought him forward, -- that forwardwit brought him and gave him stature in the conservative movement. host: at the democratic convention, abc news hired garvey dell and william f andley -- gore vidal
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william f buckley to debate. [video clip] 14, the sweet little girls with their sundresses. the chant between 11:00 and 5:00 this morning, from 4000 or 5000 voices, was share of senate is directed at the president of the united states and the mayor of the city. ,lso, the intermittent reframe ho, ho chi minh." their fathers were being shot at . nevertheless, we are fighting. it is remarkable that there was as much restraint shown as was cops were outht,
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there for 17 hours without inflicting a single loaned on a wound person -- won't -- on a single person. host: courtesy of abc news, that is william f. buckley on the program, talking about the demonstrations in chicago, which disrupted the democratic party and in many respects, hurt hubert humphrey. guest: a national commission later described it as a police riot. the police in chicago unleashed beatyor daley, demonstrators. there were a handful that were bent on provoking violence, but the majority were peaceful. park and on the streets around the convention -- on, a reflection of the antiwar student movement, the feelings that the democratic
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party, especially by handing the nomination to hubert humphrey and enjoy singh lyndon johnson's strategy in the vietnam war -- and/or sing lyndon johnson -- endorsing lyndon johnson's strategy in the vietnam war -- and what i will say about the buckley click is first of all, you hear how articulate buckley is. buckley was not only a brilliant publisher, but he really was extraordinarily adept at television, at modern communications. he had his firing line show. these debates that he had with gorby doll, which were quite idal whichgore vuitto were quite heated. debatable. , in 1964, believe
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and increasingly engaged in the political process and endorse 1978 --hat nixon in the 68. he said, i want the most conservative candidate who can win, so there was a pragmatic streak and how he ran national review and his public commentary. he is really the leader of a whole constellation of conservative media voices, was deeply influential, and that pragmatic streak i think was critical. host: the book is called "the right moment, ronald reagan's victory at a decisive turning point." the editor of the american conservative, as we continue our conversation on 1968, a year in turmoil, america in turmoil.
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ruth is joining us from illinois. caller: good morning, everyone. i think my question has been answered. askedhen lyndon johnson for the civil rights law to be passed, democrats would not vote for it. , butlicans got it voted in before that when president kennedy took us into vietnam, that was a war that i never did understand. it, youe we were in have got to support the united states, no matter what. that is about it. host: thank you. we will turn to robert mary. guest: yes, she is right, as matthew was saying earlier. it took republican votes to get
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civil rights act passed, those various acts of the 60's. it was a democratic president who took us into vietnam. i think -- whether you want to attribute that to kennedy or johnson. reflection of the state of american politics is in that buckley statement during those debates regarding the violence that took place at the democratic convention. matthew noted, there was a commission that said it was a police riot. there were masses of americans, millions of americans who did not believe it was a police riot . they believed it was perpetrated
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, encouraged, created by the demonstrators, and they are in aay a split -- therein lay split, a chasm that went to america at those times. of this tond any understand what is going on politically, you have to understand just how dramatic that chasm was. host: charles is joining us, miami florida. -- miami, florida. go ahead. guest: my question is, the right man, the right job. nixonext and retired -- was retired from the presidency, [indiscernible] he did not securely, as a person, as a man, led to most of watergate,ons about
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about a lot of other things. charles' point, that was from 1962 when he lost the race for governor. guest: there was only an attack on the media. he said after losing to pat brown in 1962, he said, you will nixon to kick around anymore. i think it reflected his resentment of the media, kind of a flash of just how much vitriol he felt, under siege by the media. the caller makes, i think, an important point, that nixon, who was very smart, he had vast political strengths, incredible will and resiliency, and yet, really was -- and i do not want to over psychoanalyze him -- but
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it is pretty clear now as we have a picture of him, that he was, he had these deep insecurities, as the caller put it. he was suspicious of the media, of his enemies. course, behind watergate as he went on in 1972 this crushing landslide win against george mcgovern. i think he won 49 out of 50 states, and yet he was so desperate, in a sense, to ensure victory that he created the operation that allowed some of these crimes and transgressions to occur in terms of the plumbers and the break-in at the democratic national headquarters. really ultimately undone by many of his
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deep-seated insecurities. guest: if i could just add, it might work -- it might be worth noting that difference between nixon and reagan. nixon thought the media was mostly liberal, and he was right, and therefore they will be against me. he took it seriously and took it personally and read what they were saying, and got outraged at the breakfast table. reagan felt the same thing, the media were largely liberal and not in favor for what i stand for, but he did not care. he pretty much ignored us. i covered reagan and his campaign and the white house. he never seemed to pay much attention to us. verys always cordial and friendly if you are meeting him and shaking his hand, but he just did not worry about it. a little bit of that would have gone a long way for poor dick nixon. side note, another
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conversation for another time, your latest book on president mckinley. on c-span3's american history tv , we are taking your questions a htvmments, your vote at at c-span3. which party changed the most since 1968? the majority saying the democrats changed the most. 56%, republicans at 44%. we go to tony in henrietta texas on the republican line. -- henrietta, texas on the republican line. theer: in 1972, i voted first time, absentee overseas for richard nixon. since voted republican then, until 2016. i have noticed our party has changed a lot.
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we have people that are calling themselves conservatives that do not conserve anything. the other thing is, i would almost venture to say that the gentleman in the white house, our president, mr. trump, may just has well -- just as well have been a democrat as well as our former president, president obama. because of the age difference. mr. trump, i believe he transitioned or changed the republican party and the 2010 forward era. politics is changing. we have people that do not understand that conservative values, are you conserve. you conserve the union, your fiscal resources, international and strategic resources. as of politics, we get wrapped up into a political party right or left, or democrat, republican.
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, and juste the truth like we think about the american civil war as a war between the north and the south, wars are not usually started just by people. it is inspired by the military. host: tony, thank you for the call. guest: it is interesting that the caller in 2016 was the first time he did not vote republican. trump was a democrat for many years, to the extent that he had beliefs. some of his views now invert the party's long-standing support of free trade agreement. in some ways, he does spring out of an alternative tradition within the conservative movement. there are echoes, in george wallace and richard nixon, in terms of how they talk about law and order, when you hear wallace talking about let the police kick their heads in.
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that is this idea of this kind of talk, this incredibly tough talk to crack down on those who break the rules. say, a lotople would of historians would say it is racially infused. we see that with trump. pat buchanan, who ran a 1992 republican campaign against george h w bush, was anti-free trade, anti-immigration. he believed that international institutions that had propped up the united states in terms of its role in the world, that those institutions were eroding american sovereignty. so i think there is an alternative tradition on the right that has not necessarily been ascended. there are lines we can draw from say the 1960's,
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elements of the conservative movement in the republican party in the 1960's. host: pamela from maryland, democrats line. caller: thank you for taking my call. , isarlier caller, kevin absolutely correct about the republican party and the conservative movement, how it is undergirded by race and class. theatwater spelled out strategy used in 1968, and he said in 1954, you can say the n- word in 1968. states rights, civil unrest, and fiscal responsibility. one of your guests said ronald reagan was the electable goldwater. i am listening to the radio so i cannot hear who said that, but goldwater was a vocal opponent of segregation and the civil rights act.
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he won his home state of arizona and the five states in the deep south -- alabama, georgia, mississippi, south carolina. history repeats itself in this country has a history of racism and classism. if it is left unchecked, it can metastasize and that is what we see today. host: thank you for the call. guest: it is a widespread view of what is underlining american politics. i do not agree with it entirely. atwater was not a significant person regarded in the 1968 election. he came later, in the 1980's largely. i have to say, i will go back to what i was saying earlier, the country was struggling with these issues at that time. i think we are struggling with these issues still, but in a much less intense way. that represents a certain amount of racial progress. to suggest a has not be -- there
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has not been any racial progress is on historical. host: george wallace won a number of states in the south. in terms of the popular vote, richard nixon winning with about 500,000 votes. with the electoral vote, richard nixon with -- and george wallace at 46. what was the nixon strategy in the general election? it was to try to not talk a whole lot of specifics about vietnam. he did not really have a plan for how he was going to end the war with peace, with honor. he wanted to keep the focus on the unrest in the country and how he was going to be a voice , as he said, the forgotten
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americans, what he would later term during his presidency "the silent majority." that included some of the wallace voters, although a lot of them went for wallace. working-class, primarily white americans in the north and south, all over the country. middle-class suburbanites. weredea that the cities out of control, that campuses were out of control and these frontstbeds of, really a affronts to american values. the strategy was on the left, he could be kind of in the center. he had wallace far to his right. he had the democrats, including some of the primary candidates who made a part of the coalition, who were antiwar. he could appeal as the calm, confident
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candidate who argued -- but this turned out to not reach her that he could bring the country together. host: that is what we focus on with the democrats and the liberal politics. this week, our focus is the republicans and conservative politics. david from san jose on the republican line, good morning. caller: my question has to do with bobby kennedy and the historic, tremendous feud he had with lyndon johnson. candidateave been a that hubert humphrey turned out to be? the way that bobby kennedy has portrayed,ade -- that it was far from inevitable in june 1968 he would become the democratic nominee and elected
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president in november. throughwould have come and done whatever he could have to seven to sabotage him at the connection in chicago. guest: we talk about nelson rockefeller as being kind of a hamlet in 1968, not sure whether he is in or out. bobby was a little bit of a hamlet also. he wanted to run for president and did not want to put himself in a position of losing. going against a sitting president, even a week sitting president, was going to be too formidable. it fell to gene mccarthy, who was marv a poet and -- more of a poet to go up against lyndon johnson, and basically, he did not get a majority in new hampshire but basically knocked lyndon johnson out and was going to win in wisconsin, which led to johnson getting out of the
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race. bobby immediately got in the race and ran a very dramatic and fascinating campaign, but it was not absolutely clear that he was running a campaign that was going to get him into a position of being able to win either the nomination or the presidency. totals,ook at his vote gene mccarthy one and oregon. inby one" california -- won california and nebraska, but his vote totals showed he was succumbing to a shift in alignment that we have been talking about, and he was maybe getting his victories with a narrower and narrower base within the democratic party. that could have been bad for him. election,he general there was one speech, september 30, salt lake city, utah -- was that a turning point for hubert humphrey?
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did that narrow the race? guest: where he declared he is his own man? from thegot support afl-cio, and the unions started to organize on his behalf in the general election. that gave him a bump. when he declared essentially that he was his own man on the vietnam war, that he was going to support a total stoppage of vietnam, andf essentially breaking from lyndon johnson, that did help him. most historians would agree that in the polls, he began to close the gap. , the discussed earlier popular vote, the electoral college vote was a blowout. it big, but the popular vote was less than 1%. 43.5% for nixon, 42% and change for humphrey.
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the reason he was able to close that gap was due to that speech, -- jim sense that mccarthy supporters. know, of course. might have been harder for him to have won the nomination than the general election. if he had won the nomination, he would've had more daylight between the democratic party, which he would lead, and lyndon johnson. because he was an opponent of johnson, because he was much more subversively antiwar, and the great unanswered question -- could he sustain electorally a coalition of african americans, latinos, and working-class white voters around issues of economic justice? of course, we will never know,
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greatat is one of the what if debates of modern american history. guest: it is worth noting that those working-class white voters were getting very restless about where the democratic party was taken the country and where they wanted to take the country. it would bed be difficult for kennedy to pull that off. host: it was a war, because the economy was relatively strong. let's go to jerome in columbus, ohio, good morning. caller: i want to asterisk eric quickly about the new political movement that came on the scene in the late 1960's and early 1970's about the neoconservative movement. where did they come from ideologically? how do they influence the republican party in 1968? host: thank you, jerome. guest: it was a very significant movement. these are people who are largely intellectual, very far to the
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left. quey of them are trotsky-es in their views. they came up through the democratic party. i think that they became disenchanted on two things, number one, foreign policy. they felt america was not prosecuting the cold war's as aggressively as it ought to the racialome of quotas and those kinds of things that were emerging in the late 60's -- late 1960's, early 1970's. they began to move more towards the conservative point of view, national view during that time. i think it was 1972, had an editorial welcoming them to the movement and the headline was "come on in, the water is fine." my view is that they became more significant than we want them to be in terms of their
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foreign-policy views today. host: our last call is from grand prairie, texas, harold. please be brief. in 1968, lyndon johnson was upset that richard nixon sabotaged the peace talks. in october of 1968, had johnson come forward and spoke out against richard nixon, what results were that it had? johnson could've played more in that role. host: thank you. guest: that is a little more ambiguous than a lot of historians have given credit. nevertheless, it was very incendiary and it could've blown up and would have been detrimental to nixon. host: let's conclude with richard nixon's comments. signs in this campaign. some of them were not friendly. some were very friendly. but the one that touched me the
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ohiowas one that i saw in at the end of a long day of whistle stopping. i suppose five times the population was there and the dust, it was hard to see. a teenager held up a sign -- "bring us together." that will be the great objective of this administration at the outset, to bring the american people together. will be an open administration, open to new ideas, open to men and women of both parties, open to the critics as well as those who support us. we want to bridge the generation gap, bridge the gap between the races. we want to bring america together. i am confident that this task is one that we can undertake and one in which we will be successful. host: richard nixon declaring victory in 1968.
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and reflect ont it years later, what is the political legacy of that year and for the conservative movement? guest: the three most significant figures leading to the election of ronald reagan and the triumph of conservatives in america where barry goldwater, richard nixon, and bill buckley. in creating the coalition that ultimately went on to bolster him and lead to that landslide of 1972 that matthew was talking about, and ultimately the election of reagan, was very significant. host: 50 years later, the legacy? guest: one legacy is that the republican party became conservative, much stronger on national defense, promilitary, pro using aggressive military power overseas, and the democratic party became much
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more antiwar. the issue of race, i think is central to this discussion. the republican party really of whitee party working-class americans, much more than democrats. exploding the roosevelt-lyndon johnson national electoral coalition, and became the party essentially opposed to civil rights, in most instances. and the party of law and order, at least for a while. domestically and overseas come the republican party was able to gain for several decades, a lock the national, on college in international .olitics reare host: to both of you, thank you
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for an insightful conversation, 50 years later from 1960. we appreciate your time. next week, 1968, america and turmoil, continues. we look at the women's movement. the former president of bernard college, deborah spahr, and also a fellow at the ethics and policy center. for those of you watching, more from that year. from june 16, 1968, face the nation on cbs. discussing his views on conservatism and the democrats controlling congress and the white house. that conversation is coming up next on c-span3's american tv, and reel america. rgaovernor


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