On this day, 45 years ago, the nation was stunned by President Lyndon B. Johnson’s announcement that he was withdrawing from the Presidential race of 1968 to devote attention to an attempt to end US involvement in the Vietnam War.
Sadly, the action led to no such thing, as Richard Nixon was elected, and continued the war until 1973, gaining nothing permanently, as Vietnam would be unified under Communist North Vietnam in 1975.
Meanwhile, the number of American troops killed more than doubled to 58,000, with many more wounded, some permanently, and massive damage done by US bombing of South Vietnam, North Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, and we are still paying for the cost of that war with aging veterans of the war who need medical and psychological care that is never ending.
It seems clear that had Vice President Hubert Humphrey been elected to succeed Johnson, US involvement in the war would have ended sooner than the beginning of the second term of Nixon.
And the Great Society of LBJ would have been continued and expanded on a massive scale with Humphrey, the premier liberal of his time, in the Presidency.
And had Robert Kennedy not been assassinated, and somehow became the Democratic nominee, instead of Humphrey, there would also have been a quicker end of the war, and an expansion of the Great Society.
America went from a nation at its peak in the 1960s, to a deterioration of the middle class after 1973, due to the investment in war spending that continued, leading to three major wars in the 1990s and 2000s, and eating up funding that could have been used for more social and economic change and reform.
The conservative counter revolution did great damage, and we are paying heavily now in our national debt which multiplied under Republicans Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, mostly in foreign policy and defense spending, while the top two percent became ever more massively wealthy due to major tax cuts on them, which did not promote stimulation of the economy!
Barack Obama is trying to reverse the course that has been endemic since 1968, but is being challenged and obstructed at every turn, but even with that, already he has become the major Presidential reformer in domestic affairs since the retirement of Lyndon B. Johnson!