Jump to content

Revisiting LBJ’s Legacy, 40 Years After His Death


Recommended Posts

?singlepage=truePJ Media:


As the foreign policy anger fades from memory, his legacy becomes his social programs.

Patrick Reddy



January 22 marks the 40th anniversary of the death of former President Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1970, Garry Wills wrote that Johnson “was ending his reign in confessed failure,” and 20 years later, in his review of Robert Caro’s scathing LBJ biography, Wills increased his denunciation:


Lyndon Johnson was clearly a monster of ambition, greed, and cruelty. What’s not to loathe?


Liberal Democrats led the intra-party opposition to his Vietnam policies that helped end his career (they have opposed most military actions since), while Republicans have been running against Johnson’s “Great Society” welfare programs for over 40 years now. When liberal economist John Kenneth Galbraith said three decades after Johnson’s departure that LBJ should no longer be judged solely by Vietnam, Robert Novak labeled it his “Outrage of the Week.” The ultra-liberal historian Arthur Pearl dismissed LBJ’s record as “one term and then, sad obscurity.”




When LBJ suddenly became president, some liberals worried that he would be a Southern reactionary. However, he quickly passed the civil rights bill that Kennedy had been negotiating in the Senate. Johnson’s record-breaking landslide over Barry Goldwater in 1964 brought in the most Democratic Congress since the 1930s, and they responded with the largest spate of liberal legislation since the New Deal. A partial list: the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Open Housing Act of 1968, Medicare, Medicaid, federal aid to education, the 1965 Immigration Reform Act, the most national parks created since Theodore Roosevelt, and vast amounts of federal funds for highways, housing projects, and assorted anti-poverty programs. The amount of social spending tripled from 1964 to 1969. Year after year, both the gross domestic product and the number of jobs set new records. It’s safe to say that LBJ did more for black folks than any president since Lincoln. While President Obama constantly cites FDR and JFK as his inspirations, the fact is he could not have gotten elected nationally without the Voting Rights Act and Immigration Reform Act (which helped quadruple the number of Hispanic voters) passed by LBJ. Give the man his due: the Johnson administration created the multi-ethnic, integrated America of today.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • 1685936626
  • Create New...