Wednesday, November 07, 2018

The LuLac Edition #3926, November 7th, 2018


HUMPHREY-NIXON  ELECTION

50 YEARS ON

The campaign of 1968 ended 50 years ago this week on November 5th, when Hubert Humphrey was defeated by Richard Nixon. Third party candidate George Wallace came in third and got 45 Electoral votes.
For me, this was personal. I felt that HHH, despite his alliance with Lyndon Johnson on the Vietnam War was the best path to victory even before Robert Kennedy was shot and killed. I had, most likely naively, felt Humphrey and Kennedy could be allies with a ticket that would not oily unite the party but America.
On both counts that did not happen. But I was not deterred. Every weekend I handed out Humphrey literature in shopping centers and worked tirelessly for Dick Adams who was in a race to get a seat in the State House in the old 5th District.
Humphrey broke with LBJ on the war on September 30th in Salt Lake City and LBJ came around at the end of the campaign doing the same thing.
For the nation and for me, Humphrey was not "the one". But for me, it was a valuable baptism o fire at the age of 14.
Here's more:
Nixon campaigned on a theme to restore "law and order,"which appealed to many voters angry with the hundreds of violent riots that had taken place across the country in the previous few years. Following the murder of Martin Luther King in April 1968, there was severe rioting in Detroit and Washington, D.C., and President Johnson had to call out the U.S. Army to protect lives and property as smoke from burning buildings a few blocks away drifted across the White House lawn. However, Vice-President Humphrey criticized the "law and order" issue, claiming that it was a subtle appeal to white racial prejudice. Nixon also opposed forced busing to desegregate schools. Proclaiming himself a supporter of civil rights, he recommended education as the solution rather than militancy. During the campaign, Nixon proposed government tax incentives to African Americans for small businesses and home improvements in their existing neighborhoods
During the campaign, Nixon also used as a theme his opposition to the decisions of Chief Justice Earl Warren. Many conservatives were critical of Chief Justice Warren for using the Supreme Court to promote liberal policies in the fields of civil rights, civil liberties, and the separation of church and state. Nixon promised that if he were elected president, he would appoint justices who would take a less-active role in creating social policy. In another campaign promise, he pledged to end the draft. During the 1960s, Nixon had been impressed by a paper he had read by Professor Martin Anderson of Columbia University. Anderson had argued in the paper for an end to the draft and the creation of an all-volunteer army. Nixon also saw ending the draft as an effective way to undermine the anti-Vietnam war movement, since he believed affluent college-age youths would stop protesting the war once their own possibility of having to fight in it was gone.
Humphrey, meanwhile, promised to continue and expand the Great Society welfare programs started by President Johnson, and to continue the Johnson Administration's "War on Poverty." He also promised to continue the efforts of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, and the Supreme Court, in promoting the expansion of civil rights and civil liberties for minority groups. However, Humphrey also felt constrained for most of his campaign in voicing any opposition to the Vietnam War policies of President Johnson, due to his fear that Johnson would reject any peace proposals he made and undermine his campaign. As a result, early in his campaign Humphrey often found himself the target of anti-war protestors, some of whom heckled and disrupted his campaign rallies.
After the Democratic Convention in late August Humphrey trailed Nixon by double digits in most polls, and his chances seemed hopeless. According to Time magazine, "The old Democratic coalition was disintegrating, with untold numbers of blue-collar workers responding to Wallace's blandishments, Negroes threatening to sit out the election, liberals disaffected over the Vietnam War, the South lost. The war chest was almost empty, and the party's machinery, neglected by Lyndon Johnson, creaked in disrepair." Calling for "the politics of joy," and using the still-powerful labor unions as his base, Humphrey fought back. In order to distance himself from Johnson and to take advantage of the Democratic plurality in voter registration, Humphrey stopped being identified in ads as "Vice-President Hubert Humphrey," instead being labelled "Democratic candidate Hubert Humphrey." Humphrey attacked Wallace as a racist bigot who appealed to the darker impulses of Americans. Wallace had been rising in the polls, and peaked at 21% in September, but his momentum stopped after he selected Curtis LeMay as his running mate. Curtis LeMay's suggestion of tactical nuclear weapons being used in Vietnam conjured up memories of the 1964 Goldwater campaign. Labor unions also undertook a major effort to win back union members who were supporting Wallace, with substantial success. Polls that showed Wallace winning almost one-half of union members in the summer of 1968 showed a sharp decline in his union support as the campaign progressed. As election day approached and Wallace's support in the North and Midwest began to wane, Humphrey finally began to climb in the polls.
In October, Humphrey—who was rising sharply in the polls due to the collapse of the Wallace vote—began to distance himself publicly from the Johnson administration on the Vietnam War, calling for a bombing halt. The key turning point for Humphrey's campaign came when President Johnson officially announced a bombing halt, and even a possible peace deal, the weekend before the election. The "Halloween Peace" gave Humphrey's campaign a badly needed boost. In addition, Senator Eugene McCarthy finally endorsed Humphrey in late October after previously refusing to do so, and by election day the polls were reporting a dead heat.
The Nixon campaign had anticipated a possible "October surprise," a peace agreement produced by the Paris negotiations, to boost Humphrey and thwarted any last-minute chances of a "Halloween Peace." Nixon told campaign aide and his future White House Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman to put a "monkey wrench" into an early end to the war.  Johnson was enraged and said that Nixon had "blood on his hands" and that Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen agreed with Johnson that such action was "treason." Defense Secretary Clark Clifford considered the moves an illegal violation of the Logan Act. A former director of the Nixon Library called it a "covert action" which "laid the skulduggery of his presidency."
Bryce Harlow, former Eisenhower White House staff member, claimed to have "a double agent working in the White House....I kept Nixon informed." Harlow and Nixon's future National Security Advisor and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who was friendly with both campaigns and guaranteed a job in either a Humphrey or Nixon administration, separately predicted Johnson's "bombing halt": "The word is out that we are making an effort to throw the election to Humphrey. Nixon has been told of it," Democratic senator George Smathers informed Johnson.
Nixon asked Anna Chennault to be his "channel to Mr. Thieu" in order to advise him to refuse participation in the talks, in what is sometimes described as the "Anna Chennault Affair."Thieu was promised a better deal under a Nixon administration. Chennault agreed and periodically reported to John Mitchell that Thieu had no intention of attending a peace conference. On November 2, Chennault informed the South Vietnamese ambassador: "I have just heard from my boss in Albuquerque who says his boss [Nixon] is going to win. And you tell your boss [Thieu] to hold on a while longer." In 1997, Chennault admitted that "I was constantly in touch with Nixon and Mitchell." The effort also involved Texas Senator John Tower and Kissinger, who traveled to Paris on behalf of the Nixon campaign. William Bundy stated that Kissinger obtained "no useful inside information" from his trip to Paris, and "almost any experienced Hanoi watcher might have come to the same conclusion". While Kissinger may have "hinted that his advice was based on contacts with the Paris delegation," this sort of "self-promotion....is at worst a minor and not uncommon practice, quite different from getting and reporting real secrets."
Johnson learned of the Nixon-Chennault effort because the NSA was interfering in communications in Vietnam. In response, Johnson ordered NSA surveillance of Chennault and wire-tapped the South Vietnamese embassy and members of the Nixon campaign. He did not leak the information to the public because he did not want to "shock America" with the revelation,[nor reveal that the NSA was interfering in communications in Vietnam.[ Johnson did make information available to Humphrey, but at this point Humphrey thought he was going to win the election, so he did not reveal the information to the public. Humphrey later regretted this as a mistake. The South Vietnamese government withdrew from peace negotiations, and Nixon publicly offered to go to Saigon to help the negotiations. A promising "peace bump" ended up in "shambles" for the Democratic Party.
The election on November 5, 1968, proved to be extremely close, and it was not until the following morning that the television news networks were able to declare Nixon the winner. The key states proved to be California, Ohio, and Illinois, all of which Nixon won by three percentage points or less. Had Humphrey carried all three of these states, he would have won the election. Had he carried only two of them or just California alone, George Wallace would have succeeded in his aim of preventing an electoral college majority for any candidate, and the decision would have been given to the House of Representatives, at the time controlled by the Democratic Party. Nixon won the popular vote with a plurality of 512,000 votes, or a victory margin of about one percentage point. In the electoral college Nixon's victory was larger, as he carried 32 states with 301 electoral votes, compared to Humphrey's 13 states and 191 electoral votes and Wallace's five states and 46 electoral votes.
Out of all the states that Nixon had previously carried in 1960, Maine and Washington were the only two states that did not vote for him again; Nixon carried them during his re-election campaign in 1972. This was the last time until 1988 that the state of Washington voted Democratic and until 1992 that Connecticut, Maine, and Michigan voted Democratic in the general election. Nixon was also the last Republican candidate to win a presidential election without carrying Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. This is the first time which the Republican Candidate captured White House without carrying Michigan, Minnesota, Maine and Pennsylvania. He would be the last Republican Candidate to carry Minnesota four years later (in 1972), as of 2016. This is also the first time Minnesota voted for the candidate who did not eventually win since 1916.
Remarkably, Nixon won the election despite winning only two of the six states (Arizona and South Carolina) won by Republican Barry Goldwater four years earlier. He remains the only presidential candidate to win in spite of defending such a low number of his own party's states.[citation needed] All of the remaining four States carried by Goldwater were carried by Wallace in 1968. They would be won by Nixon in 1972.  (Source: wikipedia, LuLac archives, Life Magazine)

1 Comments:

At 11:48 PM, Blogger david schaar said...

i remember that year well. I just got my drivers license and I remeber wallace nd hunphrey on tv. my pareents said wallace was a terrible man, for trying to keep segregation, the fact that he got so many votes states racism well alive in well in 68 despite the civil rights act, the hippies that everyone made fun of were right about peace and love.

 

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