On July 1st, 1971 the Twenty-Sixth Amendment to the Constitution was passed granting 18 year olds the right to vote. This Amendment had only been proposed three months earlier making it the fastest Amendment ever passed in American history. The year 1972 was the first election that I voted in and I voted for Nixon. He won the fourth largest landslide in history. I turned 18 on February 28, 1968 and if I could have voted I would have voted for Nixon that year too, Even though I considered myself to be a Democrat at the time. The year 1968 was one of the most important and craziest years of my life. On a personal level it was a happy year for me. I graduated from East High, married my high school sweetheart, joined the Air Force, and discovered that I was going to be a father while in basic training. On a national level the year was absolutely crazy. In January the North Vietnamese launched an all out attack on the Marine base at Khe Sanh. By the beginning of the year there were over 500,000 US troops in Vietnam, the peak of American forces during the war. The Tet Offensive was launched the following month of February which was an all out attack by the Viet Cong on the cities of South Vietnam. Like the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944 American forces were initially surprised but after 48 hours they had the situation well in hand and virtually destroyed the Viet Cong as an effective fighting force. The following paragraph is from a blog called the National Interest. Tet had been a desperation move by North Vietnam, beset by a relentless American killing machine. and the Allied response was awesome. The communists lost ten thousand men in the first few days of the offensive, compared to 249 Americans dead and five hundred South Vietnamese. Overall, throughout the months-long battle, the communists lost nearly forty-eight thousand men. The North Vietnamese had sought to deliver the decisive military blow that would knock the Americans out of the region. They failed.
|Cronkite in Vietnam|
The media reported Tet as a defeat for US forces. Their bias wasn't that much different even back then. Walter Cronkite declared the war unwinnable. Supposedly Johnson said if he had lost Cronkite he had lost the American people, but I have read recently that he probably didn't say that. On March 31st Johnson surprised me and the country when he said "I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president," I never saw it coming. Personally I thought that Johnson could have been reelected at that time and I still think so. He was the ultimate politician. At the time I would have probably voted for him if I could have voted. Now I have the view that Johnson was responsible for setting in motion the political chaos that we have today. Johnson's dropping out of the race opened the field to his Vice President Hubert Humphrey. Robert Kennedy, and Eugene McCarthy were also in the race on the Democratic side. George Wallace ran as a third party candidate. Richard Nixon ran as the Republican candidate on a law and order ticket. He was also making the promise that he would bring about peace with honor in Vietnam. Nixon was not offering a specific plan to end the war. His law and order platform was popular with the silent majority. We were tired of the chaos on college campuses and in the streets by the radical elements of the anti-war movement. Much of which was communist inspired. The civil rights movement was moving in a more militant direction with the rise of the Black Panther movement and radicals like H. Rap Brown and Stokely Carmichael.
On April 4th 1968 Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis. I was working at Plant#2 Baird-Ward printing company when someone told me that King had been shot. I felt sorry for the black guys working there. Some of our more redneck white workers were happy about it and excited. Before we heard the official news of his death they were saying things like, "I hope the son of a bitch dies". Riots were breaking out all over America and cities were burning. There were riots in Nashville and Memphis. For several days Nashville was placed under a curfew from 6:00 PM till dawn. The only people allowed on the streets were people like myself driving to and from work. National Guard tanks, vehicles and troops along with a horde of Metro and State police patrolled the streets. For the first time in it's history the Grand Ole Opry was cancelled that weekend. A few weeks later on June 6th, 1968. the night of our graduation, Robert Kennedy was shot on the campaign trail in California. He died the next day. Again I was at work when I heard the news. I worked the 2nd shift at Baird-Ward and got off at 11:00 PM. On my way home the DJ kept saying over and over that he had died because we were a violent country. Although I didn't realize it then I had the heart of a conservative. I resented the insinuation that somehow we were all guilty for the death of Robert Kennedy. I wasn't violent and most Americans weren't violent. John Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy had all been killed by lone misfits as far as we knew then.
While I was in basic training at Lackland AFB Texas riots broke out at the Democratic National convention and the police were charged with police brutality. The rioters were violent, rock throwing radicals called Yippies. While I was in Texas the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia. At the end of training I received my orders to Kingsley Field Oregon arriving there with my wife Debbie in October 1968 just before the presidential election. I was very interested in politics but I was too busy trying to get settled in to my new job and home life to pay too much attention to the news. We didn't have a car or a television. Debbie was so homesick that she was crying everyday. When we were able to buy very small black and white GE portable there was only one television station in Klamath Falls. The election of Nixon in November was kind of a blur to me. Nixon was elected with 43.4% of the vote and 301 electoral votes. Hubert Humphrey had 42.7%. and 191 electoral votes. George Wallace ran as an independent third party candidate in the American Independent Party. He garnered 13.5% of the vote and 46 electoral votes. Humphrey was gaining on Nixon in the latter weeks of the campaign but just ran out of time. Humphrey was a Northern liberal with progressive views on race. By today's standards of liberalism Humphrey would probably classify as a moderate. He was too closely tied to Johnson's failed Vietnam policy however. Wallace also ran on a conservative law and order platform. It is safe to say that if Wallace had not run that year Nixon would have won by a landslide. Most of Wallace's votes should have gone to Nixon.
The demographics of today have changed quite a bit from that of 1968. We have many more people dependent on government today. The country is not nearly as white and homogeneous. Although I am vastly more fearful for our country today than in 1968, I see some similarities between this election and the 68 election. People were afraid in 1968 and they didn't like the path we were on as a country. They were tired of the chaos and uncertainty. The Democratic Party was a vastly different party then. It had conservative, moderate, and liberal wings. Over the next four years the Saul Alinsky trained radicals that were rioting in the streets of Chicago had taken over much of the machinery of the party. The party has progressively become more radicalized over the years. People are even more scared today. We realize that America has been headed down the wrong path for a long time now. There is worry about our financial future and the future of our children and grandchildren. There is an out of control deficit and anemic economic growth. There is chaos caused by the Black Lives matter movement against our police and on our college campuses. This has been a false crisis created by Obama and the race merchants on the left. A disastrous foreign policy which has created and strengthened Islamic terrorist groups like ISIS. The build-up and modernization of the Chinese military. In the face of all this we are drawing down our military when we should be building up our military. We have a Congress who refuses to be an opposition party to the tyranny of Obama and a president that instead of leading he does nothing but divide us by race, class and gender.
I hate to predict the outcome of elections any more. In 1996 and 2012 I thought surely the American people would wise up and not reelect Clinton and Obama but I was wrong. As a student of history I have read about enemies that because of their hubris overextended themselves. The Germans made the mistake of invading Russia and the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Germany and Japan ran rampant over their enemies until the allies finally pushed back. Obama and the left have had their way for so long and they have won victory after victory. I sense that they have finally overextended themselves to the point that they are losing elections everywhere. Governors, state legislatures, the Federal House of Representatives and the Senate. They are living in a fantasy world and do not begin to understand the anger that is out here in the real world. There is a leadership vacuum that must be filled. If the Republicans can manage to nominate the right candidate they have the chance to administer an old fashioned butt whipping of historic proportions in 2016.