The Story: New Republican

They wonder why is it we always have to do what we don't want to do. Is it because a certain few in the country...? Do we have an elitist government that a few in the bureaucracy which is stronger, as I said, than the government itself. Stronger than the president and stronger than the Congress. They've decreed that it's good for the people to do certain things. And even though the people don't like to do it, they must do it because this super elite group is so determined. I think that's the way they feel.

George Wallace

Nixon's campaign 1968

Starting in the presidency, this trend began with Republican Richard Nixon’s wins in both the 1968 and 1972 presidential elections. Nixon’s 1968 campaign benefited from the fact that the Democratic Party was facing serious fractures.

Throughout the 1968 primaries, the Democrats were severely divided. President Johnson’s unpopularity had prevented him from running for reelection. In his place, Vice President Hubert Humphrey announced his candidacy and gained the support of many labor unionists. Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy rallied the support of antiwar activists. New York Senator Robert Kennedy was supported by many from the civil rights movement, but was assassinated mid-election. Following Kennedy’s untimely death, his supporters divided between McCarthy and South Dakota Senator George McGovern. And the support of conservative white southern Democrats was split between Humphrey and Alabama Governor George Wallace. In the end Humphrey was chosen as the Democratic candidate and Wallace ran a strong third-party campaign.

"An elitist government"
- George Wallace

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Nixon defeated California Governor Ronald Reagan for the Republican candidacy. His campaign theme was to restore “law and order”. This promise appealed to many voters upset by the violent rioting that had repeatedly erupted across the country in the years leading up to this election. Examples of severe rioting occurred in Detroit and the District of Columbia when Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in April 1968.