The 1960s in America was a turbulent time associated with racial tension within the country and the Vietnam war outside of its borders. The 1968 Presidential election was especially controversial with the close political confrontation between Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey (Buzzanco, 2019). Financial support of Humphrey from the Soviets, Nixon’s tactics to appeal both to the right and left parties, and political machinations are some of the discussed conspiracies (Kilgore, 2018). However, the Vietnam war had the most impact on the election, as more people joined the anti-military movements (Kilgore, 2018). Specifically, the released Nixon’s tapes were utterly different from his public speeches and demonstrated the severe degree of hypocrisy regarding the Vietnam war (Burns & Novick, 2017). However, this controversy around the Presidential election also reminds people that politics is frequently about gaining the advantage, and it is essential to analyze politicians’ speeches and decisions critically.
That being said, I believe that if Johnson had revealed the information about Nixon’s tapes, it would not have changed the outcomes of the election. Johnson had scarce public support at the time, and his statements (even if supplemented by actual tape recordings) would have been perceived as the last resort and fabrications. Consequently, I agree with Johnson that releasing the tapes would have caused more public chaos and confusion, which was unnecessary for an already divided society. While Nixon’s actions were dishonorable and potentially led to the continuation of the war, releasing the tapes would have only increased social tension in the country. Ultimately, I do not think that the recordings would have changed the outcome of the election, but they would have divided people apart even more. From these considerations, I agree with Johnson’s decision to withhold the information until the political tension was slightly relieved.
Burns, K., & Novick, L. (2017). How the Vietnam war broke the American Presidency. The Atlantic. Web.
Buzzanco, R. (2019). The Vietnam War. Nunn McGinty.
Kilgore, E. (2018). The ghosts of the ’68 election still haunt our politics. Intelligencer. Web.