Richard Nixon On Order – March 7, 1968 – The 1968 Presidential Campaign – Past Daily Reference Room
Richard Nixon – a Paid Political Program by the Nixon For President Campaign and broadcast via radio on March 7, 1968. When you look at the date on this paid political program, March 7, 1968, you realize most of the milestone events that shaped this year, and indeed shaped the outcome of the election, hadn’t occurred yet. The War in Vietnam was taking its toll, not only on American troops but American morale, with the Tet Offensive beginning only weeks earlier. But that was only the beginning – a month to the day, Dr. Martin Luther King would be assassinated in Memphis. It would ignite passions and outrage all throughout America. President Johnson would decline his party’s nomination for re-election as President only five days earlier – and the Presidential candidate most everyone thought you inherit The White House, Robert F. Kennedy, would be assassinated three months later. Momentous times – and Richard Nixon, having lost his bid for the White House in 1960, came back with a vengeance in 1968. In addition to relentless campaigning, paid political programs, such as this one, from March 7,1968, did much to stoke fears and anger towards those who protested the Vietnam War and to those who struggled with Civil Rights.
Here is a printed excerpt of the complete address as it ran on March 7,1968:
Richard Nixon: We live today at a time of deep and fundamental questioning, when millions of Americans are asking whether their country can survive, and whether their world will survive. Both abroad and at home, the forces of destruction threaten our lives and our institutions.
Here at home, we have been amply warned that we face the prospect of a war-in-the-making in our own society. We have seen the gathering hate, we have heard the threats to burn and bomb and destroy. In Watts and Harlem and Detroit and Newark, we have had a foretaste of what the organizers of insurrection are planning for the summers ahead. The President’s National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders now cautions that “in the summer of 1967, we have seen in our cities a chain reaction of racial violence. If we are heedless none of us shall escape the consequences.”
Abroad, we have lived for a generation with the abrasive tensions of the cold war, with the threat of nuclear weapons, with the explosive instabilities of a rapid dismantling of the old colonial empires. We have fought World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the peace is still elusive. Still we live in a world in which tyranny and greed and fanaticism march behind the barrels of guns. Are we, then, to be divided forever into warring worlds?
And here at home, are we to become two nations, one black, one white, poised for irrepressible conflict?
On both counts, the answer is no. But we cannot have peace abroad by wishing for it. And we cannot heal the wounds of our nation either by blind repression or by an equally blind permissiveness.
The peace we want in our cities is not the illusory peace of an abdication of authority, and not the sullen peace of the dispirited, but the peace that springs from participation — participation in the processes of growth and change, in the excitement of the present and the promise of the future.
As they survey the prospects of our cities, some cry out in despair that all is lost, that nothing can be done, that The Fire Next Time already is licking at the window-sills. Even President Johnson said not long ago that “we will have a bad summer,” and “we will have several bad summers before the deficiencies of centuries are erased.”
This is not a time for Pollyannas, but neither is it a time to throw up our hands in helplessness. Violence in a free society is never inevitable — unless we accept its inevitability.
The first responsibility of leadership is to gain mastery over events, to shape the future in the image of our hopes. If the present Administration persists in its weary voice of defeatism, its tired counsels of despair, it will have abdicated this great responsibility.
We should not for a moment underestimate the threat to our safety and our stability. But neither should we underestimate the means we have of countering that threat. Above all, we should make clear to those who threaten that these means will be employed — and thus that they cannot hope to carry out their threats and get away with it.
For a generation now, America has had the chief responsibility for keeping the peace in the world. In meeting this responsibility, we have been learning the uses of power — and specifically the uses of power in preserving the peace. We have learned from our successes, and I would hope that we have learned from our failures. Those lessons are needed today at home as never before.
And here is that complete address, as it was aired over NBC Radio on March 7,1968.