George Wallace and Richard Nixon tapped into the stereotype of Vietnam for political advantage by establishing an “us vs. them” mentality to solidify the Republican party and gain their own political support. During the late 60s and 70s the split between “elite doves’ ‘ and “reactionary hardhats’ ‘seemed to grow immensely as it was popularized across the country. The “elite doves” were categorized as upper middle class and upper-class citizens who grew up rich and were from white collar families who could afford to go to college. They were seen as anti-war liberals who went against the United States and common order of the country because they were overeducated and never had to work for themselves. The “reactionary hardhats” were the white working-class, blue-collar workers who had to work to provide for their families and took pride in following order in the United States. These two groups were pitted against each other for political gain by George Wallace and Richard Nixon to gain support from the “reactionary hardhats”. Wallace and Nixon saw that this group of people was starting to move away from the democratic party and wanted to bring in this “Middle America” group by appealing to their background and work ethic. Both leaders spoke to their need to provide for their families and work hard as well as how that group of people followed the rules and was not disobedient as compared to the rich- upper class that was protesting. There was no actual “pro-war” side, there was just a side that opposed opposition to order. By appealing to these characteristics, this group of blue collar workers supported Nixon and Wallace now more than ever and led to Nixon winning the presidency and Nixon getting 10 million votes.
Aside from the anti-war left, the source of antagonism for the white working-class Americans came from resistance to change and overall class inequality. The white working-class Americans typically came from generations of families who had to work blue collar jobs to provide for their families to put food on the table and a roof over their heads, and they did not like seeing a lot of change into how their lives would work based on social and political changes during the time period. They also resented seeing white collar people born into money making decisions for their lives and felt underrepresented in the government as a whole. While the anti-war left aligned with the Democratic party sparked this realignment, unless the Vietnam and Korean Wars were to have never happened, the realignment could not have been prevented. There was too great of a publicized divide between the working class and upper-class with a variation of causes that left the working class feeling a need to be politically represented and appreciated.
I thought it was really interesting to see how the actual shift of realignment for the Republican party happened and was publicized. Big-time political party leaders completely took advantage of the “us vs. them” mentality that grew between classes to get people into the Republican party. I can also see how this divide of ideals and demographics still exists in the modern day party divide between Republicans and Democrats.