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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Richard Nixon makes a comeback: The election of 1968

The United States of America was drastically changing throughout the 1960's, especially in the world of politics and culture. The Vietnam War had escalated during Lyndon Johnson's second term, and the assassinations of political leaders shook the nation. Besides the death of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy would also fall to the assassin's bullet. President Johnson made clear in early 1968 that he would not accept the nomination for president again, throwing open the race during the summer for many candidates. At the Democratic Convention, Vietnam War protestors came out in the thousands, and caused quite a disturbance. Robert Kennedy had seemed likely to win the nomination, but his untimely death led to the incumbent vice president Hubert Humphrey from Minnesota to win the nomination. As for the Republicans, conservatives and moderates were still battling, as Barry Goldwater remained popular, as did newly elected governor of California Ronald Reagan. Having semi-retired from political office, former Vice President and presidential candidate Richard Nixon made a comeback and won the nomination, with Spiro Agnew chosen as the vice-presidential nominee. With the unpopularity of the Vietnam War and the culture change, Nixon was destined to win, and that he did, winning comfortably in the popular vote and electoral college. Nixon's first term marked a change in foreign relations, as he visited China and signed an arms agreement with the Soviets. In the pre-Watergate era, Nixon was one of the most popular presidents up to that time, and it would show in the election of 1972. Nixon also began to tone down the Vietnam War, but mostly moved troops around instead of completely bringing them home, and conflicts with nations like Cambodia continued for much of the 1970's. Another big event that took place on Nixon's watch was the first flight to the moon, occurring in 1969. Another part of this election was the campaign of Alabama Governor George Wallace, who ran on the platform of opposing integration and promoting segregation. Wallace did pretty well in the election for a third party, especially in the South, but it was not enough to upset Richard Nixon's popularity. Political items from this election are abundant, as many of the word pins with slogans like "Nixon Now" or just "Nixon" can often be bought for a dollar. Most jugate buttons or single picture pins of Nixon are also very affordable, and the same is true for Humphrey items. Some of the slogans for Nixon's campaign were "Nixon's the One" or "Dump the Hump." George Wallace items are also very common, and I have included a couple of those as well. I have over 50 Nixon items, but I have included a few of my favorite buttons and a poster. I have also pictured a poster from Humphrey's campaign.

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