50 Years Ago Today, “Great Society” Speech Of Lyndon B. Johnson!

A half century ago, on this date, President Lyndon B. Johnson gave a commencement address at the University of Michigan, on the six month anniversary of his becoming President, due to the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Instead of just stating that he would finish the work of John F. Kennedy that had been left undone, LBJ enunciated the greatest series of domestic reform goals ever formulated, more than the New Deal programs of Franklin D. Roosevelt thirty years earlier, particularly in the “Second New Deal” legislation of 1935-1936.

What followed in 1965-1966 was the most productive Congress in American history, the 89th Congress, with the FDR 74th Congress the second most productive ever in American history.

We saw the Voting Rights Act, Medicare, the War on Poverty, education legislation, consumer legislation, environmental legislation, immigration reform, and so much else that advanced the American domestic agenda!

While we celebrate that 50th anniversary, one must realize that we have taken many steps backward, and no worse than the present 113th Congress, the absolute worst ever in American history in taking care of the nation’s domestic agenda.

And this comes just four years after the end of the 111th Congress under Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, the most productive since the 89th Congress, during the first two years in office of Barack Obama.

The nation has been poorly served, and we have backtracked on so much that had been done under FDR and LBJ!

This is a tragedy, the extent of which we will not fully realize for many years, and it is a moment to commiserate and to mourn what mean spirit and lack of compassion can do to undermine the “American Dream.” Government activism has been rejected for a harsh, individualistic, libertarian mentality that favors leaving those less fortunate to the “wolves”.

2 comments on “50 Years Ago Today, “Great Society” Speech Of Lyndon B. Johnson!

  1. Engineer Of Knowledge May 23, 2014 3:48 pm

    Hello Professor,
    Yes at one time we dreamed what could be done, searched how to accomplish it, and to make a better life for us all.

    Today the US national characteristic of anti-intellectualism is being noticed in the press with MacLeans, “America Dumbs Down” and the New York Review of Books, “Age of Ignorance”.

    In 2008, journalist Susan Jacoby was warning that the denseness, “a virulent mixture of anti-rationalism and low expectations,” was more of a permanent state. In her book, The Age of American Unreason, she posited that it trickled down from the top, fuelled by faux-populist politicians striving to make themselves sound approachable rather than smart.  (Much like the 2000 W Bush campaign: “Who would you rather have a beer with?” voter turnout.)

    Of course, many of our Founding Fathers were intellectuals (Jefferson and Franklin) who founded Universities or who praised education (Madison), yet the current trend is towards anti-intellectualism.

    I love the story of the Second Grader wrote to the South Carolina legislature that she believed the State should have a “State Fossil”, but was rebuffed by fundamentalist spewing mumbo-jumbo about the Bible & anti-evolution…etc.

    In the past, if someone knew nothing and talked nonsense, no one paid any attention to them.

    Now such people are courted and flattered by conservative politicians and ideologues as “Real Americans” defending their country against big government and educated liberal elites. The press interviews them and reports their opinions seriously without pointing out the imbecility of what they believe. The hucksters, who manipulate them for the powerful financial interests, know that they can be made to believe anything, because, to the ignorant and the bigoted, lies always sound better than truth

    It seems that the big push for ignorance comes from the right since an educated, well-informed population, which is required by a functioning democracy, would be difficult to lie to, and could not be led by the nose by the various vested interests running amok in this country.  It is much easier to spread disinformation to a population which is incapable of critical thinking skills than one which only hears the things which they agree.  That was one of the reason for the First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. As I have often said, it exposes stupid.

    The most common misconceptions today, which are being pushed and offers this conclusion for why anti-intellectualism has become epidemic:

    Christians are persecuted in this country.

    The government is coming to get your guns.

    Obama is a Muslim.

    Global Warming is a hoax.

    The president is forcing open homosexuality on the military.

    Schools push a left-wing agenda.
    Social Security is an entitlement, no different from welfare.

    Obama hates white people.

    The life on earth is 10,000 years old and so is the universe.

    The safety net contributes to poverty.

    The government is taking money from you and giving it to sex-crazed college women to pay for their birth control.

    Should it not be self-evident to ask yourself why millions are being spent to keep your fellow citizens ignorant?

  2. Ronald May 23, 2014 3:56 pm

    Wow, what an entry, and contribution to this blog, Engineer! A piece of brilliant writing! Thanks so much!

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