Implications of the 1968 Elections

The 1968 had diverse implications for the future elections of the US. Firstly, the elections reinforced issues of foreign policy as central to the determination of the elections outcome. The impact of foreign policy is for instance noted even with the diverse domestic issues that the US faced at the time. For instance, the US had faced rising social tension especially with the assassination of the prominent civil rights activist, Martin Luther King Jr. (Gould 8). Despite such domestic events the issue of Vietnam War became a predominant feature affecting the outcome of the election. Even with other aspects such as party loyalty and candidate evaluation contributing to the elections (Abramson et al. 504), the approach taken on the Vietnam War eventually became the core barrier to a Democratic presidency. During the 1968 election campaigns, Wallace, the independent candidate is noted to have drawn and sustained large crowds during his campaigns (Nicholas 9). Such an effect has led to subsequent evaluations of whether the two party system in America was moving towards its death. Analyzing such a concept, Abramson, Aldrich, Paolino and Rohde, note that though the election did not erode the trust in the two party system, it indicated that voters were moving more towards an issue-based political system, thus remaining averse to individuals who espoused practices the voters did not align with (504 – 507). A study by Hartwig, Jenkins and Temchin buttresses the noted effects of loss of partisanship from the 1968 elections (553). Additionally, the study indicates that the 1968 elections ushered in an era of issue-based politics gaining importance and candidate evaluations continuing to influence the voter decisions in elections (553).

Such influence of the foreign policy has become evident even in the modern times. For instance, the Republican’s prolonged deployment of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq led to voters electing a Democrat in 2008. In contrast, the elections of other presidents such as Lincoln’s have been defined more by the domestic affairs (e.g. the retaining of the US as a united nation) rather than the administration’s foreign policy.

Another impact of the 1968 elections is the reduction of the impact of partisanship in the influence of the election outcomes. Such was for instance exemplified by the increasing popularity of the independent candidate, Wallace, whereas the previous elections were mainly contests between the Democratic and Republican parties. Additionally, the rise of an issue-based political system was buttressed by the 1968 elections. This was for instance notable in the Democratic Party where the subscription to advance engagement in the Vietnam war by the reigning Democratic administration resulted into the rise of opposition within the party (Small 523). Such opposition culminated into the incumbent failing to defend his nomination.

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