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Elina Bhagwat Blog Post 11/4

Zinn’s chapter, “The Seventies: Under Control?” highlighted several themes that can still be related to today’s political sentiments. The first idea presented is that after the Vietnam War, there was a general distrust and low approval of the government. Given the outbreak of protests that the United State’s involvement in the Vietnam War causes, this was not a huge surprise to me. However, the statistics that Zinn references were shocking and very drastic changes in not a long period of time. For example, from 1964 to 1972 the percentage of people who thought that the government operated by running on only a few big interests and only looked out for themselves, increased from 26% to 53%. This definitely seems to be a result of the US joining the Vietnam War because the government likes to show its dominance. As Zinn discusses later, the US seems to like to show its importance by getting involved in world affairs rather than keeping an isolationist ideology. In addition to the first poll, Zinn also included statistics of the percentage of independents increasing by 14% from 1940 to 1974. People of both ideologies were so upset with the government and had so much distrust in them that they didn’t want to be affiliated to a party at all. Although party polarization is increasing over time, I see similar sentiments of disapproval and distrust in the government nowadays as well. Thinking back to the 2016 election, there was such a low voter turnout because so many people disapproved of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. I also know a lot of people who disaffiliated and became independent after that election because of disappointment in both the Republican and Democratic parties.

Another idea that stood out to me was Zinn’s discussion of the Honeywell Corporation employee’s feeling about producing weapons for the Vietnam War. 131 employees of the corporation thought that they should stop producing these weapons while only 88 thought Honeywell should continue the production. Zinn includes an example of a response for someone who answered that they should stop as being, “‘How may we have pride in our work when the entire basis for this work is immoral?'” (Zinn 542). When we discussed this idea in class I only thought about the soldier who were actually fighting in combat against the Vietnamese and how they felt unmotivated to complete their tasks when they thought it was immoral. It is interesting to think about all the other people and workers who weren’t actually on the battlefront but still contributed to the war in one way or another. Also, given the discussion of low political approval ratings, it makes me wonder if a lot of the politicians at the time of the Vietnam War were actually against the US involvement, but didn’t have enough authority to stop it. I’m sure there were a fair amount of politicians who opposed this, but given the increased number of independents, it makes me think that neither party was particularly happy with the way politicians from their respective parties handled the conflicts.

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2 Comments

  1. Margot Roussel Margot Roussel

    I agree with you, as I was reading about the distrust in the government I also began to make connections to the last presidential election. I wonder that with time if any of these feelings of distrust have gotten better. I feel like presently it is even more obvious how many government structures like the government but also the justice systems have been set up to benefit the few and hurt the many.

  2. Alexander Barnett Alexander Barnett

    I agree, ever since the Watergate scandal, the United States’ general trust in the government has never been the same. I wonder if the situation will ever get better and if so how long will it take?

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