The Youth Movement, Counterculture, and Anti-War Protests Questions and Answers

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What was one major political moment in 1969?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I would suggest that one major American political moment in 1969 was an idea that President Nixon advocated.  The "Silent Majority" was introduced in 1969. This idea asserted that the protests and vocal outspoken attitudes towards American government and society was largely a construct of a minority of Americans.  Nixon's administration pivoted from this in 1969 with the introduction of the "Silent Majority" concept.  For Nixon, the "Silent Majority" became a significant aspect of his leadership.  It was the way in which he could deflect attention from growing social and political discord and assert his own condition as one of strength.  The "Silent Majority" was a significant political moment in 1969 because it enabled Nixon to move away from the protests and criticisms against the Vietnam War and suggest that more Americans were in support of his policy than in opposition to it:  

So tonight, to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans, I ask for your support. I pledged in my campaign for the Presidency to end the war in a way that we could win the peace. I have initiated a plan of action which will enable me to keep that pledge. The more support I can have from the American people, the sooner that pledge can be redeemed. For the more divided we are at home, the less likely the enemy is to negotiate in Paris.

The "silent majority" speech was an important moment because it represented Nixon's attempt to cast his opponents as enemies.  He drew a social division in which those who dissented were adversaries and those who supported were speaking for a larger group.  Vice President Agnew reinforced this idea when he suggested that "It is time for America's silent majority to stand up for its rights, and let us remember the American majority includes every minority. America's silent majority is bewildered by irrational protest."  The "Silent Majority" idea was an important political moment because it marked the point where Nixon and his staff believed that social fragmentation was inevitable. The best they could do was to demonize it and make it something negative, as opposed to viewing it as a constructive and transformative part of the American political lexicon.  Research shows this political moment as significant, with a rise in public approval of the President in the wake of his speech.

robyn-bird96 | Student

One radical political movement in 1969 was the creation of Weatherman, now more popularly known as Weather Underground.  Weather Underground came from an organization called SDS, Students for a Democratic Society.  These were mainly college students who were protesting the Vietnam War and were advocating for black rights.  However, the Weathermen were growing increasingly frustrated by the lack of results that their protesting was doing, so they broke off.  Weather Underground believed in bringing a revolution to the United States in order to set up a more humane society.  They were known for bombing public buildings in protest of what the government was doing.  They were characterized by Black Power and their opposition to the Vietnam War.