Public Sentiment Regarding the Vietnam War

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Many of the democrats within the legislative branch turned against Johnson’s war. Scholar’s conflict on the reason why Johnson’s own party turned against him, some scholars attribute it to the growing number of antiwar constituents, while other scholars such as E.M. Schreiber, Burstein and Freudenburg cite the numerous deaths of American soldiers in combat. One democrat by the name of Eugene McCarthy labeled the entire Vietnam War as an “error” and describes the Johnson administration as “misguided.” McCarthy decides to run for President, but loses in the primaries by a slim margin to Johnson, further indicating that the antiwar movement was gaining significant momentum. Things were only beginning to get even worse as the Tet Offensive…show more content…
In response to the tragedy and the Cambodia invasion, mass rallies were held in almost every major city in that month. The elite demographic, which includes doctors, lawyers and other professionals also flooded into Washington to display their opposition not only to the war but the increasing domestic violence. The incident dramatically affected Americans and it was further indicated through public opinion polls, which pointed blame towards the National Guard. To many Americans, the domestic upheaval following Cambodia and Kent State suggested that the country was becoming unhinged according to Melvin Small. Newspapers such as the New York Times suggested that the United States was as divided as it had been since the Civil War. Individuals that would identify themselves as pro-war now felt that the war’s cost in terms of domestic consequence outweighed the benefits of continuing the war. The White House was now in full damage control following the Kent State shootings. Public opinion polls showed a 31 percent approval for the war following the Kent State massacre. In response, White House officials anxiously discussed how to contain the uproar. According to David Anderson and John Ernst in their book titled, “The War That Never Ends: Student Opposition to the Vietnam War,” White House officials agreed that it was important to avoid steps that would further
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