tv 1968 - America in Turmoil Conservative Politics CSPAN April 15, 2018 6:30pm-8:01pm EDT
look back at conservative politics 50 years ago, perceived liberal excesses and disenchantment with the size of a politicalave rise. ronald reagan made his debut as a presidential candidate foreshadowing the conservative revolution. our guest discusses conservative politics including robert mary and author of where they stand, the american presidents in the eyes of voters. george washington university professor in the graduate school of management. is the decisive turning point in american politics. here is richard nixon accepting the republican nomination for president at the gop national convention on august 8 1968.
>> we make history tonight. not for ourselves but for the ages. the future of peace and freedom of the world for the last turn of the 20th century. and the question we answer to --ht, can america greet america meet this great challenge? for a few moments, let's look at america, let us listen to america to find the answer to that question. as a look at america we see cities and smoke enveloped in flames. we hear sirens in the night. 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 forgotten 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. they were at america's factories, they run american 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. they give steel to the backbone of america.
they are decent people. they work and they save and they pay their taxes. like theodore roosevelt, if this 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 faults, and america is great because her people are great. we have not journeyed all this way across the centuries, across the oceans, across the mountains, across the prairie because we are made of sugar candy.
americans 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. and from the graduate school of political management and associate professor and author of the book the right moment, ronald reagan's first victory and the decisive turning point in american politics. >> in order to talk about 1968. many are wondering what is going to happen with the conservative movement? what's changed before 1964 and 1968? a lot of 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. the republican party ultimately captures the nomination, signaling the energy of the grassroots, ideologically, all that energy was flowing. and it was flowing to the right of the republican party and ultimately prevailed in 68. >> a key 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. there is the old role in 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 california, they said get out of california, go to new york, and you could actually rise back up. and that is what he did. >> he places the name of very cold water in a nomination in 1964, and what happens between 1964 and 66 that led the groundwork for his campaign? >> he did a brilliant thing when 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 percy and scranton all 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. and what he was doing was rejecting the republican party under goldwater.
he was detested by conservatives. he was seen as the embodiment of moderation in the republican party. he was pro-civil rights, he enacted building projects, you wanted to use government as a catalyst, and he refused in the campaign to reject civil rights. he said he had to be true to who i am. he announced after martin luther king was killed, he thought robert carey -- robert kennedy might be the nominee. but again, he misread where the party was, the strength of the conservative movement, and he really was not much of a force or threats to richard nixon.
>> was he in the wrong party? >> certainly, there would be no place for him in the republican party today. arguably -- 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 been in office as a politician 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. to position himself as the 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 left behind and all of those people who thought they could still serve did not understand what had hit them. him and >> and these so-called liberals -- the senator from new york, what was happening with these different factions in the gop? >> there were remnants of moderates.
there were, obviously, elected officials who are moderate. but 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. 46 seats. he gets a lot of the credit for. he is 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 really a dying force and frankly, in 68, to the extent that there was a first connection, -- threat to nixon. those battles had been fought 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. in terms of campaigning for republicans all over america, he was indefatigable, he was everywhere.
in campaigns 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 to enter and also leave the race. what happened? >> i don't think he ever managed 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 him a figure -- 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 act, the republican party 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. that is not 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.
before any votes were cast, it 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. in june of 1968, he appeared on 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 many of them rally around richard nixon. where else would they have to go except you? >> as 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 in the -- different philosophy in the party. 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. he was in the race but primarily 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 this -- 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. while i think nixon's forces were somewhat concerned that reagan could be a credible threat, nixon had -- before reagan even announced at the convention -- nixon had wrapped a up the endorsements from a very goldwater -- barry goldwater. 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
earlier point, 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. as 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 almost a million votes. and immediately, he was a major in figure in american politics. in 60, he was the stuff candidate. he let his size run him and these of various states. he picked up 11% in a new hampshire, 22% in nebraska. that gave him a 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. and nixon 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 --. >> 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. 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. >> in some ways, ronald reagan's 1966 campaign was a template for richard nixon. he emphasized the issue of law and order. the idea that the country was unraveling, that there were riots in cities, protests of antiwar demonstrations, university unrest, nixon was able to get this theme that the non-shouters, the quiet
americans -- and he was primarily appealing to white, middle-class suburbans or working-class americans. that 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 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 emerged as the lone 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. i think all of these fundamental -- 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 us from chicago, democrats line. >> good morning, i am so happy that you are doing this show. what i find is that 1968 through 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 the current administration, it is undergirded by 1960 at politics -- 1968 politics. i 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 voldemort. >> do you want to respond? >> yes, i think that is a very good question to be posing. that 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." 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 wallace and george wallace had 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?
and nixon, vibrating the south and those voters into the republican party, remains controversial among historians for very good reason. my own feeling is that it ultimately serve to domesticate racial issues in the south to the extent that it moderated them. 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. union members, and talk about these hard working police and barbershop workers and 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 issues today. like the issues of trade. immigration that donald trump used. much of thethat, language -- for example, donald trump, as nixon appropriate a george wallace's themes in 1968, donald and didplicitly said
appropriate's on richard nixon themes. on american carnage, american -- american crisis. he used that language and used those ideas. i think that some of trump's populist appeals, primarily to voters, i think there are real echoes in the wallace 68. year the summer of that his appearance on cbs's face the nation. >> the people know the way to stop a riot is to hit somebody on the head. >> when somebody goes out and begins to loot and built -- bernie building down, that is a good way to stop it. if you let the police knock , who wasin the head
assaulting a policeman or a person on the street, i think they would be getting out mighty like if somebody hit him in the head. that is what ought to be done. would take what was necessary to prevent what happened in this city. when you do that, you're going all races people of in this country because it is not a matter of race. as a consequence, we do not feel safe in the city of washington dc. host: robert married. -- mary. >> that is a very significant margin. richardthe winner,
nixon down to little more than 43%, making him a minority president. he was a significant beginner because of the turmoil going on an american topics. we have the realignment in terms of people and in terms of the issues that were going to be driving politics. i lived 1968 until now. i am probably older than one of you, probably both of you. now, it hastil horrified me. you are not what talking about is how your party ,egan to break up the civics using so much dogma. the dogma became the whole deal with the republican party. you are against everything
except for what you want done. we come with females in the south and minorities did not have voting rights like the rest of you. we still do not. there are many problems with the gerrymandering in the republican party. cheating is not winning, gentlemen. if we are going to have fair and allowlections, we must all of our population to be included. >> one thing i will say is that in 1980, ronald reagan goes to mississippi to launches campaign. words, states for thewhich is a code master resistance of civil rights from the 1960's. i have been efforts, despite the
passage of the 1965 voting rights act. it oppressed the votes of primarily african-americans in the south. ultimately, i would say the republican party has been dominant in the south, primarily because of overwhelming numbers of the white vote. they remain a majority in the south. the democratic party wins in overwhelming majority of the votes. when doug jones was able to win in alabama, there was a highly unusual coalition that is probably not going to repeat itself, of cross racial coalition. athink race really remains central fault line. it is not just the ports of the south, it is around the country. we do see the issue of race emerge and flour fully.
host: who will talk more about the primary and show you more of the campaigning. but first, the republican line. caller: good morning. i would like to make a comment on the reason for why the republican party was able to support richard nixon, as well as they did in 1968. inhard nixon did something 1960 that was quite unusual in politics. you have to remember. to come forward and be a part of a coalition that voted him to challenge the in pennsylvania and in illinois. as a result, he lost.
period ofall that time, then you understand richard nixon a little better. >> i think that is absolutely right. i think there was some stealing of the votes in illinois, in chicago. so, he manifested a pretty good elements of character. i think he also showed character when he became president after 1968, in not ever talking about the nest that he inherited from lyndon johnson. i am struggling with what i inherited. he did not do that. .e was a smart man
in these significance, i think he showed significant character. campaigning in february of 1968 in new hampshire and being interviewed as he went from one campaign event to another. >> why do you want to do this? you have already served your country. that is a question that has occurred to me. it occurs to my family. your wife and children feel more deeply about their father and husband being involved in a great battle than he himself does because the man backe battle, he can fight and answer, whereas those on the sidelines have to suffer in silence. reasonother hand, the
that i think -- what motivates me more than anything else. i feel that this is the period in the united states in which , forwe do or failed to do the balance of this century, we did not ask for this. a role that has been placed upon us because of the power that we have and the vacuum of power in europe. i believe the dangers of world war iii, broad, the dangers of civil war, approaching ship -- civil war in a difficult sense of war. other problems are greater than this country has ever had. on the other hand, i believe that never in our nations history have we had more capability to handle these problems. the forces that can bring peace and avoid war, the forces that can unite america and reconcile
america and bring progress in our cities are now stronger than they have ever been, if they are just brought into play. we need leadership that will powermerica's harnessed and on harnessed it and put it arness it and put it to work. from 1968. as you look at that, what are you hearing and seeing? >> so much of politics is timing. mixinghear in part is projecting a sense of calm, confidence, experience, which is a dirty word in american politics now. ronald reagan ran against experience. he ran as a citizen politician. , ion was able to say, look
have the wherewithal. andve the metal -- mettle toughness to restore the order that has been lost. seen as it is widely perhaps the most divisive year in the nation's history, since the end of the civil war. nixon confronted that. he mentioned vietnam. reallyioned -- it was vietnam that destroyed lyndon johnson's presidency. nixon and other is a major opening. nixon handled that issue very deftly and that he did not talk much about it. he said he would bring a peaceful and come an honorable peaceful endr -- a
an honorable end to the war. projecting that kind of andidence to restore order restore the country's sanity, in a sense. series, 1968, america in turmoil. is the editor of the american conservative. rachel is next. texas, independent line. caller: good morning. 1964, 1970. i am 62 years old. in school, they claimed they separated church and state. legal abortions. those who voted, supreme court
justice -- it was made up -- mostly -- it was made up mostly of republican judges. it was republican judges who made those decisions. reagan was in office. i was 20 something years old. when you went to apply for a job -- they get had to take a test and ask you if you had ever stolen anything. you might have stolen something we were five years old and that would affect your data. they are always talking about rights. back atd to look
history and figure it out. host: thank you for the call. it evokes is that richard nixon and other conservatives, wallace too, attacked the war in court -- they argued the court had overstepped its bounds and interfered in american life. the miranda decision, giving too many rights to criminals, that the courts were somehow coddling lawbreakers. think it is very modern. we hear the argument that justices are there to interpret the constitution in a strict way. strict constructionists. nixon implied that he would appoint justices who would respect the rule of law, who would roll back some of the
injustices committed by the warren court. it tied into this larger theme of law and order that he checked into. that was a powerful issue that they were able to use then. it is a huge issue in american politics today. it has been ever since. about governor george romney in 1967. this is what the timeline looks like. in tet offensive took place 1968. nexen enters the race on february 1. toward romney withdrew on february 28 and nixon wins easily in the new hampshire primary march 12. president johnson announces on march 31 that he will not seek reelection. nelson rockefeller enters the
race. nixon accepts the nomination august 8 of that year and is elected the president on november the fifth. caller: good morning. managedhe things that i to hear, i was the gentleman to speak as well. but friday of what nixon is beginning to craft, taking along the lines that you cannot come out and speak the words george wallace is speaking somma -- speaking. being able to speak the unspoken that to the right news seven strategy, they cannot be spoken in a way. it is spoken by next and in a way that has been carried out and pick up by ronald reagan in the state of how we have to
crack down on the violence in the inner-city. it has been picked up in our politics today with donald j. trump. doge still hear about whistle politics today. there is no question that some of that takes place. we also have on the other side, the phenomenon of political correctness, which is an effort to intimidate people from expressing themselves. that is all part of the american politics. it is a question of how political leaders are going to marshall political resources and pressures and forces, and move the country forward. perfects point is a 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. americans urgently need new leadership that will recapture the control of events come mastering them, rather than permitting them to master us. can spark a republican resurgence to face the realities of the world in which we live. you hear that platform of 1968, what led to richard nixon's selection of the governor of maryland as his running mate? >> to hold off ronald reagan's challenge, he had to assure conservatives, especially in the south that he was going to pick a revised version and chill candidate -- vice presidential candidate who is not romney. he quickly established himself
as an anti-radical emblem. somebody who repeatedly attacked longhairs and protesters, antiwar demonstrators. we heard a talk about anarchy is and wouldwallace engage in like-minded rhetoric. was a shrewd one because it was consistent with the campaign that nixon was going to run on, especially this issue of law and order. really biting and vicious attacks from the media. at one point, he called them the nattering bombs and -80. -- of negativity. had a famously fractious
relationship with the media. he disliked and distrusted the media. he had his enemies list, including members of the media on it. agnew was a hard-hitting, attack dog of sorts. that was the role that nixon wanted him to play. host: who else did he consider and was governor reagan on that list? >> governor reagan was not on the list. he had established himself as to formidable of a politician. he cannot be sure that he could control somebody that demanded that -- that much support. nixon went into that convention in a tenuous situation. votes to get the nomination. .e had the thought since he had 26 votes more than
that. that is not a position of strength. and as soon as he announced his candidacy, he picked up 19 votes. inon had to go to the berman -- sermon -- strom thurmond. stromknew he needed thurmond desperately. that thurmond new -- knew nixon knew. integrationn racial , nixon favored guidelines. it gets into the whole question of timetables, quotas and all that, which was a messy and difficult issue at the time. was schoolssue busing. he opposed school busing. he finessed the first.
he gave him is or is right on the second and gave an absolute assurance on the third, which was the vice president. that is how we got spirit agnew. -- spiro agnew. caller: i have a simple question to ask both of you. did thenificant role republican party play in the voting rights act? past and modern day? were they embracing the idea of black american voters? in writing the u.s. recovery act, which i am asking for judicial protection, since we do not have that here in america. 1965, lyndon johnson cannot have passed voting rights act
without strong support from the republicans. there were republicans in congress. they supported the voting rights. in 1965: the republican party had a substantial, moderate wing that was pro-civil rights. heterogeneous, ideologically, as was the democratic party. three8, even though it is short years, that position was really no longer viable in the national republican party, which is why it was hard to see a pass for romney or rockefeller, given their post civil rights view. republican electoral future was going to be through the south. see -- forthink we
example, the nixon negotiations with strom thurmond, reagan's victory in 1966, his ascendance through the party. on thea party that, issue of race, even though there post-civiloices of rights voices left, they were the minority within the party. his stancecessions, against what he would describe as mandatory or forced nothing, this is one example. that was consistent with the -- party's view that the federal government had overreached in its effort to enforce desegregation and integration to ensure the voting rights of all of the american -- afghan americans. >> and needs to be noted that those pieces of lit legislation -- of legislation were on the
books. what we are talking about is the fallout and local the of some people in america, particularly to that.uth, adjusting ultimately, they had to adjust. american politics had to adjust. what we are talking about is the process during that period of adjustment and the difficulty that some people had come and how the political system was going to make its way to that particular period. host: daniel, your next. -- view our next. caller: i see the problems of for policy of yesterday and today of being quite different. yesterday, the soviet union was a problem. i think richard nixon and the republican party were ideally placed to meet that challenge. reagan met the challenge. the problem today is demographics. if you look at all these countries in asia, the muslim countries, they are reproducing very fast.
especially with the war, they have replenished the numbers. sonsill see they have four or six sons per father. afghanistan can defeat russia or the u.s. youdents of history, as were explaining, the republicans became dependent on the southern states and the very religious states that oppose abortion and liberal values. what you need now is to educate women and these other countries to have fewer children, support contraception. think the way politics developed in america, internally, has compromise the ability of the republican president to win these conflicts abroad? host: does the caller have a point?
>> i do not know. it is a little hard to say. it was the bloodiest year of the vietnam war. there is nothing comparable to what we have today. vietnamillion troops in in southeast asia. the war was tearing the country apart. ideologically, it was tearing apart on the streets and campuses. -- the pointwar the caller was making was that the war transformed. it pushed the parties in distinct directions. i think it has made it harder to sustain wars overseas. the idea that the country will
go to war without majority sink endlessust blood and treasure into a place. --that sense, it does remain the vietnam syndrome that remains as a sort of constraint on elected officials and policymakers. thought is thest country today, even though this is not comparable. for tens ofappetite thousands of u.s. troops to engage in combat anywhere. whether it is syria, afghanistan or iraq. in 1968, the country was beginning to support u.s. withdrawal, however it happened from vietnam. host: let me ask you about another key player. buckley.
who was he? >> probably the leading voice on the republican side of politics area at he was a young man in , whichnd he wrote a book he took his alma mater to task. inclinations." , he became ther young editor of a brand-new magazine, which emerged as the leading voice of conservatism in america. think i'm a bit. i ended up corresponding with him when i was in college. i was in a research project that one of my press -- professors organized. we went off and interviewed various members of a 1947 presssion on the american
. it was underwritten by henry lewis. i met with henry lewis and i met with a woman. andy lewis was the founder chairman and editor in chief for time magazine and life magazine. , on that trip also, a woman who worked on the commission who was a close friend of buckley's. i corresponded with her and will be waxing naive on what is going on in american politics. she showed buckley my letter who wrote to me. as everyone knows, he was a charming, funny, amusing fellow. if you are talking about 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. again, very, very amusing. the famous line was when somebody asked him, what will you do if you win? people thought it was no prospect he could possibly win. he said, demand a recount. that kind of wit brought him forward and i think gave some credibility and stature to the ledervative movement, which ultimately into the reagan administration. host: at the democratic convention, abc news hired gore vidal and william f. buckley to debate the issues of the time. here's an excerpt. and 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, there for 17 hours without inflicting a single loaned on a single person -- won'ational con
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 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 lyndonliant
reflection of the state of american politics is it that buckley statement during the debates with gorby dall regarding the democratic convention. in that, as matthew noted, there was a commission that said it was a police riot. millions of americans believed it was perpetrated, encouraged, basically created by the demonstrators. chasmn lay a split, a that sort of went right through america knows times. -- in those times. you have to understand just how dramatic that chasm was.
stuck in part was because it reflected his resentment towards the media. it was kind of a flash of just how much vitriol he felt under siege by the media. but the caller makes, i think, an important point, which is 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 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. the irony, of course, in part behind watergate as he went on in 1972 this crushing landslide
win over 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 committee headquarters. so, nixon was really ultimately undone by many of his deep-seated insecurities. guest: if i could just add, i think it might be worth noting that difference between nixon and reagan. nixon thought the media were mostly liberal, and he was right, and therefore they will be against me. and 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. he thought 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. and he never seemed to pay much attention to us. he was always cordial and very friendly if you were 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. host: you point out you work for the washington journal and the quarterly appeared one side note, another conversation for another time, your latest book on president mckinley. by the way on c-span3's american history tv, we are taking your questions and comments, your vote, i should say, at a htv at c-span3. the question is which party changed the most since 1968?
the vote right now with more than 24,000 casting their votes say the democrats changed the most. 56%. republicans at 44%. we go to tony in henrietta, texas on the republican line. good morning. caller: i was a high school kid in 1986. in 1972, i voted the first time, absentee overseas for richard nixon. i have voted republican since then, until 2016. i have noticed our party has changed a lot. we have people that are calling themselves conservatives that do not really conserve a thing. the other thing is, i would almost venture to say that the gentleman in the white house, our president now, mr. trump, he may just as well have been a democrat as long as our former president, president obama. because of the age difference.
mr. trump, i believe he transitioned, or changed the republican party in the 2010-somewhere era. not sure where. but the point is, politics is changing. we have people that do not understand that conservative values are, you conserve. you conserve the union, your fiscal resources, your national and strategic resources. and because of politics, we get wrapped up into a political party right or left, or democrat, republican. and we lose the truth, and just 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: so, it is interesting that the caller in 2016 was the first time he did not vote republican.
trump obviously was a democrat for many years, to the extent that he had beliefs. some of his views now obviously invert the party's, for example, long-standing support of free trade agreements. in some ways, trump does spring out of an alternative tradition within the conservative movement. and there are echoes, for example, 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. that is this idea of this kind of talk, this incredibly tough talk, to crack down on those who break the rules. a lot of people would say, a lot of historians would say it is racially infused. i think we see that with trump. pat buchanan, who ran a 1992 republican campaign against
incumbent president george h.w. bush, was anti-free trade, he was anti-immigration. he believed that international institutions that had propped up the united states in terms of its role in the world post-1945, that those institutions were eroding american sovereignty. so i think that there is an alternative tradition on the right that has not necessarily always been ascendant. but there are lines we can draw from trump, to say the 1960's, elements of at least the conservative movement in the republican party in the 1960's. host: i want to turn to the general election in a moment the first, pamela from maryland, democrats line. caller: thank you for taking my call. i wanted to say that an earlier caller, kevin, is absolutely correct about the republican party and particularly the conservative movement, how it is undergirded by race and class. in an anonymous interview in
1981, lee atwater spelled out the southern strategy that was used in 1968, and he said in 1954, you can say the n-word in 1968. you can't say the n-word. so saying stuff like forced busing, 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 see who said that, but goldwater was a vocal opponent to desegregation and the civil rights act of 1964. he won his home state of arizona and the five states in the deep south -- alabama, georgia, mississippi, south carolina. history repeats itself and this country has a history of racism and classism. if it is left unchecked, it can metastasize and that is what we are seeing today. host: thank you for the call.
guest: well, 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. and i have to say, i think 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 different way, in a much less intense way. i think that represents a certain amount of racial progress. to suggest there has not been any racial progress, as some scholars are saying, is ahistorical. 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 301, and george
wallace at 46. what was the nixon strategy in the general election? guest: well, one, it was to try to not talk a whole lot of specifics about vietnam. he did not really know -- he didn't 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 for, as he said in his convention address, the forgotten 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. the idea too that the cities were out of control, that
campuses were out of control, that these were hotbeds of, really affronts to fundamental american values. i think he really tapped into that strain. as well, the strategy was on the left, he could be kind of in the center right. he had wallace far to his right, or to his right. he had the democrats, including some of the primary candidates who made up part of the coalition, who were antiwar. they were on his left. and he could appeal as the center-right, calm, confident candidate who as he argued -- although this turned out not to be true, 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. all that available on our website at www.c-span.org.
david from san jose on the republican line, good morning. caller: good morning. my question has to do with bobby kennedy and the historic, tremendous feud he had with lyndon johnson. and would he have been a much easier candidate for richard nixon to defeat in 1968 than hubert humphrey turned out to be? the way that bobby kennedy has been portrayed -- to me, anyway -- that it was far from inevitable in june 1968 he would become the democratic nominee and elected president in november. and that johnson would have come through and done whatever he could have to sabotage him at the connection in chicago. guest: we talk about nelson rockefeller as being a 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, he did not want to put himself in a position of losing. he thought going up against a sitting president, even a weak sitting president, was going to be too formidable. so it fell to gene mccarthy, who than a rocka poet 'em sock 'em politician 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 big-time, which led to johnson getting out of the race. bobby immediately got into 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. if you look at his vote totals, he won -- gene mccarthy won and
oregon. bobby won in 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. and that could have been bad for him. host: in the general election, there was one speech, september 30, salt lake city, utah -- was that a turning point for hubert humphrey? did that narrow the race between them? guest: where he declared he is his own man? so, nixon -- sorry, humphrey got support from the afl-cio, and the unions started to organize on his behalf in the general election. that gave him a bump. but then when he declared essentially that he was his own man on the vietnam war, that he was going to support a total
stoppage of the bombing of vietnam, and essentially breaking from lyndon johnson, that did help him. i think most historians would agree that in the polls, he began to close the gap. and so, as we discussed earlier, the popular vote, the electoral college vote was a blowout. nixon won it big, 301 votes. but the popular vote was less than 1%. 43.5% for nixon, 42% and change for humphrey. one of the reasons he was able to close that gap was due to that speech, and the sense that he could bring back the eugene mccarthy supporters. the antiwar supporters. veryt kennedy, fascinating. we will never know, of course. we will never know. in some ways, it might have been harder for him to have won the nomination than the general election.
because 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 much more vociferously antiwar, and the great unanswered question was 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, but that is one of the great "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 taking the country and where the democratic party wanted to take the country. my view would be it would be very difficult for kennedy to pull that off.
host: it was the war, because the economy was relatively strong in 1968, correct? let's go to jerome in columbus, ohio, good morning. caller: i want to ask very quickly about the new political movement that came on the scene in the late 1960's and early 1970's called the neoconservative movement. where did they come from ideologically? how do they influence the republican party in 1968? host: thank you, jerome. guest: well, it was a very , very significant movement. these are people who are largely intellectual, very far to the left. many of them are trotsky-esque in their outlook in the 1930's and are going to college at nyu and elsewhere. and they came up through the democratic party. but i think that they became disenchanted on two things. number one, foreign policy. they felt america was not prosecuting the cold war as aggressively as it ought to
have. and concerned about some of the racial quotas and those kinds of things that were emerging in the late 1960's and early 1970's. and so they began to move more towards the conservative point of view, national view during -- point of view. the national review 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." so they became very significant. my view is that they became more significant than we want them to be in terms of their foreign-policy views today. host: our last call is from grand prairie, texas, harold. you get the final question. please be brief. caller: yes, 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 would that have had? johnson could've played more in that role. host: thank you, harold. guest: my view is that is a little more ambiguous than a lot of historians have given credit. but nevertheless, it was very incendiary and it could've blown up and it would have been detrimental to nixon. host: let's conclude with richard nixon's comments. the early morning hours of november 6, 1968. [video clip] >> i saw many signs in this campaign. some of them were not friendly. some were very friendly. but the one that touched me the most was one that i saw in ohio at the end of a long day of whistle stopping. a little town, i suppose five times the population was there in the dust. it was almost impossible to see. but a teenager held up a sign -- "bring us together." and that will be the great objective of this administration
at the outset, to bring the american people together. this 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. we want to bridge the gap between the races. we want to bring america together. and 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. as you hear that and reflect on it 50 years later, what is the political legacy of that year and for the conservative movement? guest: i think that the three most significant figures leading to the election of ronald reagan and the triumph of conservatives post-war america were barry goldwater, richard
nixon, and bill buckley. what nixon did 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 legacies? guest: one legacy is that the republican party became -- the conservative movement became much stronger on national defense, pro-military, pro-using aggressive military power overseas, and the democratic party became much more antiwar. the issue of race, i think is central to this discussion. the republican party really became the party of white working-class americans, much more so than the democrats. really exploding the roosevelt-lyndon johnson national electoral coalition,
and became the party essentially opposed to civil rights, in most instances. and i think on those two central fronts, and the party of law and order, at least for a while. in those areas, domestically and overseas, the republican party was able to gain for several t -- es a los and robert, to both of you, thank you as we reflect 50 years later on 1968. we appreciate your time. announcer: next sunday we appreciate -- we continue our series with a look at women's rights. protests at the 1968 miss america palette -- pageant.
women's liberation became part of the national conversation, transforming households and workplaces across the country and society itself. presidency, john taylor discusses the political alliance between harry truman and kansas city political --gpin tom pendergrast pendergast. a well-knownbecame figure through his strong-arm tactics and his wealth. the kansas city public library hosted this hour-long event. >> so good evening, ladies and gentlemen once again. thank you all for being here. i am crosby jet bar, the director of the kansas city library.