What key events of the 1960s destabilized American politics and society, and influenced the 1968 presidential campaigns?

Quick answer:

Key events in the 1960s that led to the destabilization of American society and a change in its politics include the assassination of John F. Kennedy; the Civil Rights Act of 1964; the ongoing war in Vietnam; the failed Tet Offensive; and the rise of the radical New Left. Together, these pushed many toward the conservative right.

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The 1960s were a key decade for politics in the United States. A tumultuous decade, it led the American people to view liberalism and conservatism very differently. Some of the most significant events of the 1960s that caused this destabilization in politics and society include the following.

In 1963, George Wallace, the governor of Alabama, insisted on "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!" This racial rhetoric appealed to many voters who were afraid of the government and of race interactions as well as of Communism. John F. Kennedy was also assassinated in this year.

In 1964, the Civil Rights Act was passed; this was then condemned by George Wallace, and Republican Goldwater voted against it. He was defeated in a landslide.

By 1967, the ongoing situation in Vietnam had led to rallies by New Left students against Lyndon B. Johnson opposing the war. Their approach was so radically left that it pushed many voters toward the conservative right

In early 1968, the Tet Offensive in Vietnam failed, and the war came to be viewed as unwinnable. Ongoing race riots over the hot summers of the 1960s inflamed tensions as the Civil Rights Movement continued.

The changing atmosphere of sexual freedom, Marxism, marijuana, rock music, and long hair (the so-called "Swinging Sixties") also shifted many people from the center to the right, particularly the older generation.

In 1968, a watershed year, the Democratic Party splintered over issues relating to Vietnam, race issues, and their perception of the radical New Left, leading to the election of Richard Nixon.

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