The state of America in 1968
1.) Tet Offensive Jan-Feb >> unpopular with many people, showed a great division between those who supported the war & those who did not
2.) Death of MLK highlighted racial tensions
3.) Assassination of Robert Kennedy highlighted class and political divide/tensions
4.) Disruption of the Miss America pageant highlighted tension between feminists & traditionalists
5.) Richard Nixon won the presidency >> 'Middle America'
The presidency of Gerald Ford
- When Ford was first sworn in there was a stigma of relief across the country at being rid of Nixon & the climate of secrecy
- After he pardoned Nixon he lost many votes
- He had a poor relationship with congress
- Ronald Reagan called him a 'caretaker' who had been in Congress for too long (since 1948)
- Lost the presidency to Jimmy Carter in 1976, likely because the Republicans had been in power for such a long time, Ford was a 'bumbler' & Carter was a Democrat
How America had lost faith in its government in th
- When Carter became president, only 54% of eligible Americans had even voted in the election
- A welfare worker said 'Why don't people vote? Because it doesn't make a difference'
- % who thought government 'will do what is right most of the time >> 1969 = 56% >> 1979 = 29%
- % who believed government officials were 'smart people who know what they are doing' >> 1969 = 69% >> 1979 = 29%
- % 'people who run the country don't care what happens to you' >> 1966 = 28% >> 1977 = 60%
Why America had lost faith in the government by th
- The country still weakened & disillusioned by memories of Vietnam & Watergate, both of which painted a poor image of politics
- Liberalism was being increasingly discredited & much of society seemed to want a return to traditional conservative values
- The country was suffering crises in energy, the economy, inner cities & health care
Why Ford wasn't re-elected, summarized
- Poor relationship with Congress
- No clear goals, lacked good presidential qualities
- Press portrayed him in a bad light (e.g. 'Bozo the clown' on a New York magazine cover) >> image was that of a bumbler
- Right-wing Republicans criticized him >> Reagan called him a 'caretaker'
- Women voters >> did not appeal to them
- Pardon of Nixon
How Watergate affected the US
- Congress called for his impeachment in July (1974), instead he resigned in August
- Lost Republican support in the WH >> Barry Goldwater famously said 'Nixon should get his *** out of the White House'
- Nixon came out of the presidency with a villanous reputation
- Congress enacted new laws to limit the power of the presidency, e.g. Ethics in Government Act (1978)
- It had such an impression on America and other countries that many scandals now have 'gate' added onto the end.