Summary Of Lyndon B Johnson And American Liberalism

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Lyndon B. Johnson and American Liberalism gives an account of President Johnson’s political career and connects it to the larger liberal movement in America. Bruce Schulman said that Johnson’s career “offers an unparalleled opportunity for investigating U.S politics and public policy from the 1930’s to the 1970’s. To study LBJ is to survey his times, for Johnson was a historical lightning rod, a huge presence that attracted and absorbed the great forces of his era.” The main point of this book seems to that Johnson was the biggest champion and representative of liberalism; therefore, he is crucial for understanding it. Most Americans seemed to have accepted liberalism and the welfare state, however, people still argued exactly how much government …show more content…
On May 22, 1964 Johnson gave a commencement speech at the University of Michigan in which he outlined his Great Society plan. The three major areas Johnson wanted to improve were cities, the countryside, and education; he proposed creating not just economic prosperity but a better quality of life. Johnson admitted that there were already programs directed at those issues but did not believe they were doing enough , and obviously many Americans agreed since they voted for him in the election. As President, Johnson implemented an agenda of massive scale never seen before. Whereas the New Deal mostly benefited those just above the lowest part of the economic scale, The Great Society gave something to everybody: health care for the old, new facilities and programs for schools, food stamps for the hungry, tax incentives for business, even parks and wilderness preservation for environmentalists. In 1966, LBJ’s domestic policy chief, Joseph Califano, listed sixty pieces of legislation in total that he thought were landmark achievements. Johnson’s policies reflected a time when many believed the abundance brought by World War 2 meant that government should provide social and economic needs of its …show more content…
One such issue was Johnson’s strategy in the Vietnam War, which gained protest from both “hawks” and “doves.” James Burnham, a columnist from the National Review, thought the president was not committed enough to stopping the spread of communism in Vietnam; restrictions on weapons, tactics and strategy hampered the soldier’s ability to fight. He basically recommended that the president remove any restrictions and let the professional military leaders control the operations. On the other side of the argument, many college students in the New Left movement opposed the war completely. In 1965, Paul Potter, the president of SDS, gave a speech at an antiwar rally in Washington, D.C. He told his audience “[the Vietnam War] had exposed the hypocrisy of American policy and the emptiness of Johnson’s solemn words about freedom and democracy.” Potter pointed out, for example, that the United States talked about defending freedom in Vietnam but Diem, an oppressive dictator, was placed into power. From this speech, it is clear that Potter (and other New Left protesters) did not think the war was accomplishing any good and was even making the situation in Vietnam worse.
In American since the end of World War 2, was a general trend towards a larger role for the government in domestic and foreign affairs. However, that does not mean that Americans

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