Political Voice in 1960's-70's America By: dawoud seraj and bashir DUale

The Vietnam War was an 11 year conflict, from 1964-1975, that involved North and South Vietnam as well as the United States. The United States supported democratic South Vietnam in an effort to stop the spread of communism from the North. This effort was based on the domino theory, the fear that if nations fell under communist hands neighboring nations would inevitably become communist as well.

Escalation of war under Johnson after of Gulf of Tonkin incident lead to increase is costliness of war and economic downturn

Formed in the mid to late 1960’s, college protest groups such as the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) used tactics such as “legal demonstrations, grassroots organizing, congressional lobbying, electoral challenges, civil disobedience, draft resistance, self-immolations, [and] political violence” to push the government to end the war (Wells).

This strong anti-war sentiment, along with little progress being made, also lead the Nixon administration to adopt a policy of Vietnamization, in which the US government would build up the South Vietnamese military forces while slowly bringing back US troops

This movement traces its roots to Silent Spring, a novel written by Rachel Carson, which brought environmental issues to the American public. It spoke of the danger of the use of pesticides, especially DDT, “and conveyed the ecological message that humans were endangering their natural environment, and needed to find some way of protecting themselves from the hazards of industrial society”(Geary). This lead to the growth of the movement in the 1960’s with drastically increasing membership in conservationist organizations such as the Wilderness Society and Sierra Club “skyrocket[ing] from 123,000 in 1960 to 819,000 in 1970”(Geary).

This led to the creation of multiple pieces of legislation such as the “Clear Air Act of 1970, the Pesticide Control Act of 1972, the Ocean Dumping Act of 1972, the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972, the Clean Air Act of 1974, the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974, and the Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976” that established federally enforced standards for environmental protection (Geary).

The movement is considered to have started on the night of June 28, 1969 in the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York. Gay bars were frequently the site of police raids where homosexual individuals often faced harassment and were physically assaulted (Gianoulis). But on this night the patrons of the bar stood up for themselves and “rioting in the streets of ‘their’ neighborhood, shout[ed] the new rallying cry, ‘Gay Power!’”(Gianoulis) Known as the Stonewall Rebellion, this protest set off the gay liberation movement by leading to the creation of a number of gay liberation organizations.

Fighting for legal reforms, gay activists demanded that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) remove homosexuality from its list of mental diseases. This culminated in an annual gay pride parade and “‘zaps’ or public protests, to draw attention to their cause” (Chan). The gay community won a victory when, in 1973, the APA removed homosexuality from its list.

The White House denied the accusations, but two journalists (Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein) from The Washington Post were able to make this a coveted topic across the nation

Two former White House aides testified that the Attorney General of the time, John Mitchell, ordered the break-in and Nixon covered it up

Since this was national news, a Senate select committee appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the matter (Archibald Cox)

In late-July 1969, the House Judiciary Committee voted 3 articles of impeachment against Nixon

Nixon later resigned from office (only president to do so), and Gerald Ford became president

Even though the US had only “6% of the world’s population at the time, they consumed about a 33% of the world’s energy supply,” which was mainly oil (OPEC Oil Embargo).

But the people were skeptical that the oil companies were holding back on oil to spike up the prices even higher, and as a result, Simon attempted to secure statistics from the government and oil companies on private fuel inventories (OPEC Oil Embargo).

One of the final straws that led the people to long for a weaker federal government was the Iran hostage crisis.

The militants in Iran were furious of the support he got when he fled to the US, which resulted in the takeover of the US embassy in Tehran by students, where 52 people were held hostage.

One of the final straws that led the people to long for a weaker federal government was the Iran hostage crisis.Between 1953 and the mid-1970s, the US was in support of Iran’s ruler Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, who fled because he was losing support from his people and surrounding countries

The militants in Iran were furious of the support he got when he fled to the US, which resulted in the takeover of the US embassy in Tehran by students, where 52 people were held hostage. This was a huge issue for the American people. One of the hostages recalled, “When you stop and think about it, we were the icons of a crisis. But this whole nation was held hostage”

President Carter was pressured by the public to conclude the situation, which he was unable to do before the 1980 election. When he ran for reelection in 1980, his opposition’s campaign, Ronald Reagan, bashed him for his ineffectiveness with this crisis. The public bought into this viewpoint and Regan won by a landslide. Coincidentally, the hostages were freed by Carter’s campaign 30 minutes after Reagan was inaugurated.

One of Carter’s aides, Gary Sick, contended that Reagan's campaign director, William Casey, made a deal with the Iranians to delay the release until after the election. He also claimed that Reagan feared an “October Surprise,” which was the release of the hostages during the campaign would win Carter the election.


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