January 4, 2015

50 years ago today: Lyndon Johnson delivered his "Great Society" State of the Union Address.

"We worked for two centuries to climb this peak of prosperity. But we are only at the beginning of the road to the Great Society. Ahead now is a summit where freedom from the wants of the body can help fulfill the needs of the spirit.... The Great Society asks not how much, but how good; not only how to create wealth but how to use it; not only how fast we are going, but where we are headed...."

Full text of speech here. Video of part of the speech here.

The State of the Union speech wasn't the first time LBJ used the term "Great Society." He'd introduced it in 1964 in 2 graduation speeches. This is from the University of Michigan speech:
Your imagination and your initiative and your indignation will determine whether we build a society where progress is the servant of our needs, or a society where old values and new visions are buried under unbridled growth. For in your time we have the opportunity to move not only toward the rich society and the powerful society, but upward to the Great Society.

The Great Society rests on abundance and liberty for all. It demands an end to poverty and racial injustice, to which we are totally committed in our time. But that is just the beginning. The Great Society is a place where every child can find knowledge to enrich his mind and to enlarge his talents. It is a place where leisure is a welcome chance to build and reflect, not a feared cause of boredom and restlessness. It is a place where the city of man serves not only the needs of the body and the demands of commerce but the desire for beauty and the hunger for community. It is a place where man can renew contact with nature. It is a place which honors creation for its own sake and for what is adds to the understanding of the race. It is a place where men are more concerned with the quality of their goals than the quantity of their goods.

But most of all, the Great Society is not a safe harbor, a resting place, a final objective, a finished work. It is a challenge constantly renewed, beckoning us toward a destiny where the meaning of our lives matches the marvelous products of our labor....

Many of you will live to see the day, perhaps 50 years from now, when there will be 400 million Americans -- four-fifths of them in urban areas. In the remainder of this century urban population will double, city land will double, and we will have to build homes and highways and facilities equal to all those built since this country was first settled. So in the next 40 years we must re-build the entire urban United States....
For the record, there are something like 318 million Americans, with something like 80.7% living in urban areas. So LBJ was right about the four-fifths. We failed to re-build the entire urban United States.

I was especially interested in the line about leisure. The Great Society is "a place where leisure is a welcome chance to build and reflect, not a feared cause of boredom and restlessness." I actually found the second clause hard to read and checked the audio to see if it was a mistake. I even thought it might be some southern rural parlance — "afeared [be]cause of boredom" — before I realized he was talking about something we rarely hear about anymore: the problem of too much leisure. People back then feared that leisure would cause boredom and restlessness. In the Great Society, we were supposed to use leisure to "build and reflect."

What happened? Was the prediction of leisure wrong, or is our present-day busyness something we've manufactured to camouflage leisure and thereby stave off boredom and restlessness... and — God forbid! — reflection?

74 comments:

EDH said...

At the time, I think "boredom and restlessness" were used by Johnson as euphemisms for indolence, disorder and civil unrest.

surfed said...

The man had a way with the cadence of speech - a southern trait if there ever was one. Writing. We know how to write well too.

Paco Wové said...

That speech assumes a commonality of goals and interests that was fast disappearing in Johnson's day, and is thoroughly dead today.

I suppose that is what all politicians do – write as though of course, everybody would agree with me if they just thought it through.

FleetUSA said...

Sadly, the Great Society created a class of lazy welfare citizens - bored and restless spending other people's money.

IMHO,the GS should be spending money only on the truly needy (invalids, mentally ill, etc.) while other money is used only to teach trades (teach them out to fish, not give them fish).

FleetUSA said...

Oops: "how" not "out"

Ann Althouse said...

I was 13 at the time of the 1964 election, and I'd been for Goldwater. I loathed LBJ and I detested the term "Great Society."

But presented with a checklist of the components of the Great Society, I agreed with every single thing. It was interesting to see that and think about that at the age of 13.

hawkeyedjb said...

FleetUSA is right - people who get up and go to work usually don't find boredom their greatest problem. It's a luxury that very rich people and people on welfare do get to enjoy.

surfed said...

It was a conundrum for Southern voters. We knew LBJ was right. But it was difficult going against the ingrained prejudices of a racist society within a racist country. But we did the right thing. And like many things, some of it turned out well and some of it didn't.

Sebastian said...

"What happened? Was the prediction of leisure wrong, or is our present-day busyness something we've manufactured to camouflage leisure and thereby stave off boredom and restlessness... and — God forbid! — reflection."

Or was it less a prediction than one among many rhetorical maneuvers used to justify expanding government, "bridling" growth, and funding welfare?

A proper Althousian fisking seems in order.

traditionalguy said...

LBJ had the Great solution to boredom among the young men. He sent them on all expenses paid tours of beautiful Southeast Asia where they spent many exciting months at resorts such as Khe Sanh, and toured the beautiful Ia Drang Valley, and spent Spring celebrating Tet with local's in the streets of historic Hue.

mesquito said...

I'm grateful I live under a government which is very concerned about how I spend my downtime.

khesanh0802 said...

@traditionalguy 0928: Nicely put!

Meade said...

"Our goal is peace in Southeast Asia. That will come only when aggressors leave their neighbors in peace."

10 years later, LBJ's party cut off funding and our military left. Over the next 4 years, 2 million people were murdered in the Cambodian genocide.

Meade said...

Beware politicians and government office holders with Great Social Intentions.

khesanh0802 said...

We lost sight of the fact that there was little or no commercial competition for the US during the 15 or so years after WWII. It was just as Johnson began his exercise in national and international hubris that the rest of the world came closer to historical norms, making it impossible for us to continue in our self-adopted role of Messiah.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

LBJ and Ted Kennedy represent the worst of American grotesqueness. Many leftist are disgusted by America because America chose leaders like LBJ and Teddy. Unable to acknowledge this because of tribal affiliations they redirect the hate to The South or Rednecks.

Any words spoken by these monsters were to keep and or gain power. The deaths both near and far are just material for these evil pricks to *€><%*! joke about. In fact, Ted *^!' Kennedy had a buddy who thought it was smart to tell a reporter Mary Jo Kopechne was a rich source of humor for old Ted, one of his favorite topics.

Scott said...

The "killing fields" of Cambodia are not considered a genocide because the victims were not selected because of race or religion. I think the academic left makes that distinction so that they can gloss over the mass killings in the recent history of governments that they support.

Anonymous said...

The Great Socity laws ruined the country.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

50 years ago today: Lyndon Johnson delivered his "Great Society" State of the Union Address.

A date that will live in infamy.

Roger Zimmerman said...

If he were honest (hah!), LBJ would have concluded every sentence of that list of utopian desiderata with:

"... which we will accomplish by coercing the productive members of society to sacrifice little bits of their life and liberty for the rest of us."

Hagar said...

There is an article in the Journal this morning that says Nancy Pelosi thinks the cure for the Democrats losses in the last election is to move to more clearly distinguish the Party from the Republicans.

That apparently means she wants to take it farther left.

surfed said...

Truth be told, other than the Civil Rights Act of 1965 it has not turned out well.

JK Brown said...

I now see the speech excerpt presented in a different light after recently reading Ch 12 of George Orwell's 'The Road to Wiggan Pier' where he discusses socialism being intertwined with the march toward the machine-civilization.

The first thing to notice is that the idea of Socialism is bound up, more or less inextricably, with the idea of machine-production. Socialism is essentially an urban creed. It grew up more or less concurrently with industrialism, it has always had its roots in the town proletariat and the town intellectual, and it is doubtful whether it could ever have arisen in any but an industrial society. Granted industrialism, the idea of Socialism presents itself naturally, because private ownership is only tolerable when every individual (or family or other unit) is at least moderately self-supporting; but the effect of industrialism is to make it impossible for anyone to be self-supporting even for a moment. Industrialism, once it rises above a fairly low level, must lead to some form of collectivism. Not necessarily to Socialism, of course; conceivably it might lead to the Slave-State of which Fascism is a kind of prophecy. And the converse is also true. Machine-production suggests Socialism, but Socialism as a world-system implies machine-production, because it demands certain things not compatible with a primitive way of life. It demands, for instance, constant intercommunication and exchange of goods between all parts of the earth; it demands some degree of centralized control; it demands an approximately equal standard of life for all human beings and probably a certain uniformity of education. We may take it, therefore, that any world in which Socialism was a reality would be at least as highly mechanized as the United States at this moment, probably much more so. In any case, no Socialist would think of denying this. The Socialist world is always pictured as a completely mechanized, immensely organized world, depending on the machine as the civilizations of antiquity depend on the slave.

Orwell goes on to explore the problems that will come when the machine-civilizaton makes human work not only unnecessary but a misallocation of resources.

The Great Society speech seems to be an attempt to offer a vision of life after machines. Interestingly, just as it was presented the "Progressives" turned against progress in many fashions with the back to nature trend, the environmental movement, etc. Orwell was prescient in his predictions:

The truth is that many of the qualities we admire in human beings can only function in opposition to some kind of disaster, pain, or difficulty; but the tendency of mechanical progress is to eliminate disaster, pain, and difficulty. In books like The Dream and Men Like Gods it is assumed that such qualities as strength, courage, generosity, etc., will be kept alive because they are comely qualities and necessary attributes of a full human being. Presumably, for instance, the inhabitants of Utopia would create artificial dangers in order to exercise their courage, and do dumb-bell exercises to harden muscles which they would never be obliged to use.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

If you add back all the aborted babies post-Roe (45 to 60 million of them depending upon whose numbers you use), then LBJ was not far off on his estimate of 400 million. Had the birth rate also stayed the same -- and it bottomed in 1973-'74 -- our population would be a bit over 400 million, so his extrapolation was fair.

The saddest irony is that a majority of aborted babies were children "of color", especially blacks.

And 9 Trillion dollars of government anti-poverty moneys have left America with a poverty rate higher than it was in 1965.

Abysmal failure on all counts, especially for African Americans, who foolishly (and slavishly) keep on voting Democrat.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Urban America has been entirely rebuilt, if you include renovated kitchens and bathrooms.

Paco Wové said...

"the inhabitants of Utopia would create artificial dangers in order to exercise their courage"

Micro-dangers, to go along with their micro-aggressions and micro-trauma.

Scott said...

"Urban America has been entirely rebuilt, if you include renovated kitchens and bathrooms."

With granite countertops and stainless steel appliances.

HGTV Nation.

sane_voter said...

As a result of The Great Society we have an underclass that despises work, education and self-reliance. And it is all still Whitey's fault

Bruce Hayden said...

Sadly, the Great Society created a class of lazy welfare citizens - bored and restless spending other people's money.

I think that it was actually worse. It subsidized illegitimacy. And the problem there is the reality that the left tries so hard to avoid discussion of, is that this is probably the primary reason that the Black violence level is many times that of the white or Asian rate. Subsidizing women to have children without husbands, means raising them without fathers, which means many of the boys never being properly socialized, and their sisters repeating the cycle. And boys who are not properly socialized by their fathers and wives, tend often to run in violent juvenile packs, terrorizing the communities they live in.

Let me suggest that anyone who glorifies the Great Society and its War on Poverty is glorifying wishful thinking and rhetoric over results. Actions have consequences, and contrary to their wishful thinking, they have much of the blood being lost in the inner cities these days on their hands. As well, of course, responsibility for the poverty and hopelessness encountered these days by our lower classes.

Curious George said...

The cost of "The Great Society"...$22 trillion present day dollars. And counting.

JK Brown said...

Don't miss that it was in the Michigan speech where the first air was blown into what has become the higher education bubble.

Each year more than 100,000 high school graduates, with proved ability, do not enter college because they cannot afford it. And if we cannot educate today's youth, what will we do in 1970 when elementary school enrollment will be 5 million greater than 1960? And high school enrollment will rise by 5 million. And college enrollment will increase by more than 3 million.

In many places, classrooms are overcrowded and curricula are outdated. Most of our qualified teachers are underpaid and many of our paid teachers are unqualified. So we must give every child a place to sit and a teacher to learn from. Poverty must not be a bar to learning, and learning must offer an escape from poverty.

But more classrooms and more teachers are not enough. We must seek an educational system which grows in excellence as it grows in size. This means better training for our teachers. It means preparing youth to enjoy their hours of leisure as well as their hours of labor. It means exploring new techniques of teaching, to find new ways to stimulate the love of learning and the capacity for creation.


Hmm, where have we heard almost every point in that passage recently?

Bruce Hayden said...

Sane - but in reality, it is the whitey who enables their bad behavior who is at fault - meaning, in particular, the progressive Democrats who have tried so hard over the last two centuries to keep Blacks, in particular, beholden and subservient. The utter tragedy here, of course, is that since LBJ, Blacks have become ever more dependent upon the crumbs thrown them by Dem politicians, while being now so essential to keeping those same Dem politicians in power.

Bruce Hayden said...

Curious George - you are just counting the direct financial cost, and not including the blood lost and deaths s a direct and consequential result of the culture of dependency that resulted from these policies.

Hagar said...

In Britain some Labour pol is complaining that Tony Blair got too many of "the wrong kind of people" to vote for his "New Labour Party."

sydney said...

I've been watching old Twilight Zone reruns. It's amazing to me how many have "The State" as an explicit enemy, especially the early episodes. We failed to heed the warnings.

Michael K said...

"Peak" is the right word. It was all downhill after that. Reagan did some good but it has fizzled under lety Democrats. The Bushes were not much help in domestic matters.

I voted for LBJ in 1964 and have regretted it ever since. My first vote was for Nixon in 1960 and I have never regretted that one. My family was all Democrats and were outraged. I had taken an Economics course in college.

Roger Zimmerman said...

And, then, (the honest version of) LBJ would have concluded this speech with:

"And, a side-benefit of all of this will be that we will foster a permanent government-dependent class that will provide job security for do-gooders and politicians in perpetuity. God bless America!"

Robert Cook said...

"10 years later, LBJ's party cut off funding and our military left. Over the next 4 years, 2 million people were murdered in the Cambodian genocide."

Which might never have occurred had we never continued the war started by the French in Viet Nam.

Anglelyne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anglelyne said...

I was brought up with the old Catholic/classical concept of "leisure" (fading into nonexistence though it was by that time), so most current discussions of leisure sound very "off" to me. The speech does hint at the older idea - leisure for "build[ing] and reflect[ing]", not "leisure" as merely "the time not devoted to earning a living or doing necessary chores". But by definition this wasn't a condition available to people with no desire or capacity to devote themselves to working on "finer" things not directly related to earning one's bread.

An amateur (in the exact sense) carpenter absorbed in making fine furniture on his days off is a "man of leisure" in those hours; a man watching a football game is not. A woman who comes home from her job every day and then spends un-remunerated sweat and hours on developing a beautiful garden is at leisure; a woman shopping at the mall is not. A "man of leisure" can be working very hard indeed, and he is very happy to be doing so.

The problem with all this lah-de-dah "Great Society" stuff is that most of us, left to our own devices, prefer to use our free time to watch football games and shop or goof off on the internet. This doesn't mean that these things are wrong and only lazy worthless people want to do them. It just means that the people who enjoy them also need jobs and duties and responsibilities to be happy and to avoid being bored and restless and making themselves pests or worse to other citizens - because only a minority of us have the mental and temperamental gifts to be self-starting, productive, happy "men of leisure".

You can't get a "great society" out of decades of frenzied growth in transfer and "social justice" programs that ignore all this. What we got instead are conditions and supporting ideologies that not only don't "serve...the hunger for community", but which actively and explicitly seek to, and succeed in, destroying any trace of commonality among citizens. "Great Society" (like its even tawdrier modern Western offspring, "Big Society") very rapidly came to mean "no society at all".

Paco Wové said...

Yes, Robert, everything is ALWAYS OUR FAULT. You've been banging on with the perpetual-guilt hobby horse for years, we get it.

Gahrie said...

For the record, there are something like 318 million Americans, with something like 80.7% living in urban areas. So LBJ was right about the four-fifths.

He'd probably be a lot closer to the right population number too, if we hadn't spent the last 50 years killing tens of millions of unborn children.

Gahrie said...

Which might never have occurred had we never continued the war started by the French in Viet Nam.

Just to be pedantic, the war was started by the Vietnamese as they rebelled against the return of French rule after WW II.

Secondly, let us be clear, the "we" involved are JFK and LBJ.

Scott said...

The political point of inflection happened sometime in the 1950s when Democrats decided that their Jim Crow and Ku Klux Klan strategies were not keeping Black people from voting for Republicans.

LBJ decided that if force wouldn't work, bribery would. And the Great Society did work, amazingly well.

Robert Cook said...

"I've been watching old Twilight Zone reruns. It's amazing to me how many have 'The State' as an explicit enemy, especially the early episodes. We failed to heed the warnings."

In any sufficiently populous society, there must be a "state" of some sort, as it is the only means by which masses of atomized individuals may organize and manage their affairs. The question, then, becomes: what kind of state will there be, and, assuming a state is established that is a manifestation of the people's will, how can it be maintained?

The great unending difficulty will always be in the people maintaining their power over the mechanisms of state, and preventing the usurpation of their power by those entrusted to manage those mechanisms, (or by those with the riches to buy the loyalty and services of those who manage the mechanisms of state). Stories such as those presented by The Twilight Zone are intended as reminders and warnings to a people who have not yet succumbed to the state, as if to say: "This is what awaits you if you are not vigilant!"

We have failed to retain our power. Perhaps in some future state the people will have better results.

Robert Cook said...

"Just to be pedantic, the war was started by the Vietnamese as they rebelled against the return of French rule after WW II."

And did the Vietnamese not have a right to attempt to cast off colonial rule over their land, as, ahem, we did two centuries ago?

"Secondly, let us be clear, the 'we' involved are JFK and LBJ."

Of course, but let us not forget also Eisenhower. This is not a partisan issue--both parties are complicit, as they are with all our many subsequent wars.

Robert Cook said...

No, Paco Wove...everything is not our fault...just those things that are.

cubanbob said...

It's time to declare victory in The War On Poverty and bug out. Just limit it to as mentioned earlier to the invalids and those too ill or too old to work. As for the others, one program only, get rid of the bulk of the bureaucracy and time limit it for five years and after that no more for another ten years. Enough is enough. The taxpayers needn't be indentured servants to deadbeats and screw ups .

JAORE said...

"The Great Society rests on abundance..."

And we're going to ride that little pony to death.

Anonymous said...

"One risks nemesis by uttering such words" while condemning a people to debasement by good intention.

Gahrie said...

And did the Vietnamese not have a right to attempt to cast off colonial rule over their land, as, ahem, we did two centuries ago?

Sure they did. In fact if they hadn't have been as misguided and ignorant as you in their support for Communism, I would have been a supporter of their revolution. But the essential fact remains they same, they started the war, not the French.

Oso Negro said...

Professor Althouse - Did you ever visit the LBJ Museum on one of your Austin sojourns? It was there on rare break from engineering studies one afternoon in the 1980s that I discovered I was a conservative. I examined the exhibits on the Great Society and concluded they were massive failures.

n.n said...

Following different paths may make it less than obvious, but we may be headed to the same destination. In this case, it is proper to then judge the path.

Paco Wové said...

"everything is not our fault...just those things that are"

Would love to see a list sometime. You tend to sound remarkably like those who find a way to blame the U.S. for pretty much everything in the modern world, and if the U.S. can't be made to serve, Western Civ. in general.

St. George said...

That history regards Nixon as the crook and monster and not LBJ is LBJ's greatest victory.

Eisenhower must have been appalled by what he saw in Vietnam.

Bruce Hayden said...

OSI is talking about the exhibit at the LBJ museum in Austin. I thought my brother and sister in law were going to strangle me when I talked so loudly there about how he personally helped to stuff ballot boxes, used to meet with people while sitting on the pot in the White House, etc.

richard mcenroe said...

What happened was perfectly obvious to many people from the git-go. You cannot create industriousness and aspiration in people by giving them everything they might need or want. You can only create sloth, covetousness and envy, classical sins the most modern progressive seems to admire.

By Johnson's own numbers, there is enough manpower in our urban areas to rebuild every fallen city many times over. Where is that manpower? What is it working on? Right there, sitting and waiting to be given, rather than workking to earn.

The only question is whether that was LBJ's (and the Democrats') target all along: to subdue a restless minority or at least direct its anger away from it historical oppressors, and maintain it in a perpetual state of helpless dependence.

It's a strategy not dissimilar, in many ways, from Europe and the Arab world's treatment of the Palestinians...

richard mcenroe said...

"... which we will accomplish by coercing the productive members of society to sacrifice little bits of their life and liberty for the rest of us."

Or as Hillary Rodham Clinton put it: "the tax cuts may have helped you… We're saying that for America to get back on track, we're probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."

They never learn. They never goddam learn.

richard mcenroe said...

And did the Vietnamese not have a right to attempt to cast off colonial rule over their land, as, ahem, we did two centuries ago?

They sure did. That's why hundreds of thousands of them fled to the RVN after the UN partitioned the country and before North Vietnam closed the border.

richard mcenroe said...

Eisenhower provided Air Force transport aircraft to the French as part of our treaty obligations under NATO and SEATO.

He literally laughed out loud when DeGaulle requested he send US ground troops.

Kennedy, a good Ivy Leaguer and Democrat, was of course far more sophisticated and nuanced...

Rusty said...


The great unending difficulty will always be in the people maintaining their power over the mechanisms of state, and preventing the usurpation of their power by those entrusted to manage those mechanisms, (or by those with the riches to buy the loyalty and services of those who manage the mechanisms of state). Stories such as those presented by The Twilight Zone are intended as reminders and warnings to a people who have not yet succumbed to the state, as if to say: "This is what awaits you if you are not vigilant!"

Hence Amendment number two.

The Cracker Emcee said...

"The political point of inflection happened sometime in the 1950s when Democrats decided that their Jim Crow and Ku Klux Klan strategies were not keeping Black people from voting for Republicans.

LBJ decided that if force wouldn't work, bribery would. And the Great Society did work, amazingly well."

Yeah, I never thought the timing was a coincidence. But Blacks can never admit that they were played, and therein lies their destruction. As a history buff, it's been fascinating to watch the Donks plan play out. As an American, it's appalling.

jr565 said...

It was fifty years ago today
Lyndon Johnson taught the land to pay
they've been spending like it's out of style
and it's guaranteed to raise the bile
So let me introduce to you
the act that brings you all the tears
Lyndon Johnson's great Society.

Gahrie said...

@jr565:

Nice job.

Should have used a Dylan tune if you wanted to be front-paged however.

Anglelyne said...

jr565 @1:28 PM:

Nicely done!

The Godfather said...

The New Deal didn't work (unless you consider WW II part of the New Deal). The New Frontier (remember that?) didn't work. The Great Society didn't work. Big government programs aren't what we need. We need to be left alone to work out our own solutions to our own problems. WILL NO ONE LEAVE US ALONE?

Pete from Baltimore said...

I think what LBJ was referring to, was the fact , that even in the 1960s, there were still Americans in rural areas, that were basicly substicence farmers.Who worked all day just to survive.

And there were many coal miners who worked long hours. And if the coal miner got chicken for dinner, it was because his wife raised the chicken, killed it herself, plucked it and cleaned it herself[ often with water brought from a well]and cooked it in a wood stove with wood that she, or her husband cut, themselves .

So a simple thing like having chicken for dinner, was often very time consuming. Nowdays you can just drive to KFC


So LBJ's vision was that these people would get electricity, and indoor plumbing.And that with their newfound free time, they could, and would, spend it bettering themselves

And in some cases that actually has happened. In other cases people spend their free time watching reality tv

david7134 said...

LBJ was one of the worst humans to ever breath O2. Consider that he was the main architect of Vietnam. Yes, Kennedy started the war, but on the insistence of LBJ and against all the advice of the military and previous presidents. Why? Well, I live close to the ammunition and helicopter plants owned by good old LBJ. 60,000 men dead for nothing.

Then we have the social programs. They sound so great. But they are bankrupt and have brought down the US. Just like predicted at the time. Then think of all the rights that were lost. It is dismal. The man was a tyrant and if there is a heaven and hell I hope he finds his proper place.

William Chadwick said...

A moment that will live in history--if the history is "How the USA went from a Free Society to a Statist Society."

RecChief said...

But presented with a checklist of the components of the Great Society, I agreed with every single thing

Did you ask how those points would be paid for? Did you separate the checklist from the policies to address those points? If not, don't pat yourself on the back. agreeing with that checklist only shows that the LBJ administration was skillful in manipulating the emotions of a 13 year old.

jr565 said...

If you don't say how you're going to pay for it, it's easy to promise the world.

ken in tx said...

I was 16 and supported Goldwater by handing out flyers and bumper stickers at shopping centers. I did not like LBJ because I thought he was a lying southern Democrat. I grew up in Alabama, so I was familiar with them.

I suspect some people did not like him because he was a southerner and sounded like one. That was not a good enough reason for me. I remember some northern liberals did not like Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton for the same reason. I read a book called "A Texan Looks at Lyndon" which outlined a lot of his nefarious and crooked doings.The only real job he ever had was as a rural school teacher. Yet through political deals, he ended up a millionaire owning TV stations and other stuff.

mikee said...

LBJ wanted what BHO wants, a divided electorate with a majority that owes allegiance to the Democrat Party, and is held in thrall with money.

There need be no further explanation.

Larry J said...

Trillions of dollars have been spent (and roughly a trillion dollars each year is spent on federal government welfare programs) and poverty is still with us. Gee, you might think that if you subsidized something, you'd get more of it. Nah, that's just crazy talk! Anyway, many years ago, I was having trouble sleeping one night. My solution was to turn on C-SPAN. The testimony was on the amount of that welfare spending that actually went to cover bureaucratic administration and overhead. I don't recall the exact number but it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 80%. Not only can you buy a lot of votes by giving people free stuff, you can buy a lot of votes from the millions of government employees who run the programs. It's almost enough to make you think that was LBJ's rationale all along. He created a system where taxpayer money establishes a permanent voting block for the Democrats. It also managed to shift the
voting allegiance of blacks to the party that was behind slavery, segregation, "Jim Crow", and the KKK. It was a stroke of political genius.

As for the long-term effects of those War on Poverty programs, they've been devastating to those they're supposed to serve. For one example, a woman could get money for having a child but only if there was no man in the household. The more children she had, the more benefits she receives. That's why over 70% of all black children are born out of wedlock which is roughly twice the level before the WoP programs were established. Marriage rates for blacks and whites were roughly equal before those programs. Today, I've seen articles that state "Marriage is something white people do."

I believe that if LBJ had turned over the creation of those programs and rules to the KKK, they couldn't have created a system that would cause more long-term damage than the one we have.