Student Question

What events in the late 1960s and 1970s caused voters to lose faith in the political system?

Quick answer:

In the 1960s and 1970s, voters lost faith in their leaders and political system due to the Vietnam War, assassinations, and the Watergate scandal.

Expert Answers

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The Vietnam War (1965–1973) dragged on throughout the late sixties and early seventies. It was a long, costly, and divisive conflict. There were numerous protests in the streets, and some protesters were shot at Kent State University in 1970. The publication of the Pentagon Papers showed that the government had lied about the Vietnam War. Was the war really necessary? Was it a just war? Average Americans came to doubt their military and political leaders. Also, the war was extremely frustrating for America's leaders and its people. North Vietnam was a small country, and the yet victory remained elusive. Also, the United States's involvement in war crimes in Vietnam disgusted many Americans. In the end, the Vietnam War doomed President Lyndon Johnson's administration.

The assassinations of 1968 also caused Americans to lose faith in their political system. Martin Luther King's valiant fight for civil rights ended with an assassin's bullet. Robert F. Kennedy, favored to become the next president, was also murdered.

President Richard Nixon was undone by Watergate. Nixon had an obsessive penchant for secrecy. His minions burglarized the Democratic Party's national headquarters, and Nixon tried to cover up the crime. After a protracted investigation, Nixon resigned in 1974 in order to avoid impeachment.

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