The 1964 campaign was a turning point in the nation’s politics and one of the rare elections in American history marked by sharp ideological divisions. Differences over race relations, the Vietnam War, and federal power divided the parties, and racial issues dominated the campaign as candidates clashed over the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. Racial factions disrupted the Democratic Convention and George Wallace openly courted white supremacists. The election took place amid national turmoil and great historic events such as Freedom Summer, the murder of three civil rights activists in Mississippi, and the Gulf of Tonkin incident. Seldom had the nation faced a starker choice.
The election proved to be a watershed moment in American political historybut not in the way most contemporaries viewed it. Democrat Lyndon Johnson trounced Republican Barry Goldwater in a huge landslide. To most observers at the time, liberalism rode triumphant and conservatism crumbled, with some even talking of the demise of the Republican Party. But it was not to be, as the liberal wave crashed almost immediately and conservatives came to dominate a resurgent Republican Party in the late twentieth century.
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About the Author
Gary A. Donaldson is the Keller Family Foundation Chair in American History at Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans. He is the author of numerous books on American political and diplomatic history including The Making of Modern America: The Nation from 1945 to the Present; Modern America: A Documentary History of the Nation Since 1945; The First Modern Campaign: Kennedy, Nixon, and the Election of 1960; American Foreign Policy: The Twentieth Century in Documents; and Truman Defeats Dewey.
Table of ContentsIntroduction 1. Conservatives in the "Modern" World of Eisenhower - and the Rise of Goldwater 2. The Democrats Resurgent and the Rise of the Boston-Austin Axis 3. Goldwater Ambivalence and the Decision to Run 4. Early Republican Battlegrounds and the Rise of George Wallace 5. Lyndon Johnson and the Reins of Power 6. Conservatism Triumphant: Wallace and Goldwater in the Primary Season 7. Guillotine: The Jacobins Remove the Ancient Regime 8. LBJ's "Bobby Problem" and the Humphrey String-along 9. The King Is Dead. Long Live the King 10. Goldwater and Johnson in a Cause Predetermined 11. Home Stretch 12. Analysis Appendix