The Vietnam War heightened social tensions in the United States in that it highlighted many existing social inequities. Once the draft was initiated at the end of 1969, millions of young American men became eligible to be sent off to war. However, there were ways to get around the draft. If someone was a college student, employed in certain trades, or able to pay off a doctor for a medical deferment, they were able to avoid the draft. This drew a sharp divide between privileged Americans and the less advantaged. As a result, a disproportionate rate of minorities and poor Americans were drafted into the military. This led to a high level of class and racial resentment.
Furthermore, the war heightened the ideological divide in the United States. Those who opposed the war were often painted as communist sympathizers by those who supported it. Furthermore, the anti-war movement fueled the rise of the counterculture in the United States. This, in turn, led to a reactionary movement that felt that traditional American values were under threat. Richard Nixon was able to capitalize on this in 1968 by appealing to those who sought a return to normalcy.
Throughout the war, divisions increased over trust in the government. President Johnson (and later Nixon) often tried to downplay American failures in Vietnam. This became more difficult as the media showed images of caskets returning home and issued daily reports of US casualties. This made it harder for many Americans to have confidence that the government was being candid with them. Some Americans continued to support the war as a necessary sacrifice to combat the spread of communism. Meanwhile, other Americans came to view the war as a quagmire resulting in the needless loss of life.