Explain the extent to which the Vietnam War impacted social and political domestic developments in the United States.

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Vietnam War was a tremendously important event in recent United States history.  The war affected the country’s society and its politics, with impacts that continue to be felt to some degree today.

Socially, the Vietnam War affected the US because it helped to create the Counterculture.  The Counterculture was a movement that rejected traditional American values.  It rejected values in areas such as patriotism, sexuality, and respect for authority.  The controversy over the Vietnam War helped motivate some people to join the Counterculture.  Additionally, the rise of the Counterculture helped to trigger a backlash against those who still believed in traditional values.  This split between traditionalists and others continues to be important today.

Politically, the Vietnam War helped to create a major divide between Republicans and Democrats.  While both parties were more or less on the same page while the war was going on, the aftermath of the war divided them.  After the war, the Democrats became much more wary of using US military power abroad.  The Republicans, by contrast, felt that Vietnam had been a good war and were much more willing to accept the idea of military intervention abroad.  This split can be seen to this day in, for example, Republican criticisms of President Obama’s policies towards ISIS.