IX. The LBJ Brand on the Presidency
Lyndon Johnson had been a senator in the 1940s and 50s, his idol was Franklin D. Roosevelt, and
he could manipulate Congress very well (through his in-your-face “Johnson treatment”); also, he was very
vain and egotistical.
As a president, LBJ went from conservative to liberal, helping pass a
Civil Rights Act
which banned all racial discrimination in most private facilities open to the public, including theaters,
hospitals, and restaurants.
Also created was the
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(EEOC), which was aimed
at eliminating discriminatory hiring.
Johnson’s program was dubbed the “
,” and it reflected its New Deal inspirations.
Public support for the program was aroused by Michael Harrington’s
The Other America
revealed that over 20% of American suffered in poverty.
X. Johnson Battles Goldwater in 1964
In 1964, LBJ was opposed by Republican Arizona senator Barry Goldwater who attacked the
federal income tax, the Social Security system, the Tennessee Valley Authority, civil rights legislation, the
nuclear test-ban treaty, and the Great Society.
However, Johnson used the
Tonkin Gulf Incident
, in which North Vietnamese ships allegedly fired
on American ships, to attack (at least partially) Vietnam, and he also got approval for the
, which gave him a virtual blank check on what he could do in affairs in Vietnam.
But on election day, Johnson won a huge landslide over Goldwater to stay president.
XI. The Great Society Congress
Johnson’s win was also coupled by sweeping Democratic wins that enabled him to pass his Great
Congress doubled the appropriation on the Office of Economic Opportunity to $2 billion and granted
more than $1 billion to refurbish Appalachia, which had been stagnant.
Johnson also created the Department of Transportation and the Department of Housing and Urban
Development (HUD), headed by Robert C. Weaver, the first black cabinet secretary in the United States’
LBJ also wanted aid to education, medical care for the elderly and indigent, immigration reform,
and a new voting rights bill.