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By Michael A. Cohen

"In his presidential inaugural tackle of January 1965, Lyndon Johnson provided an uplifting imaginative and prescient for the US, person who may finish poverty and racial injustice. Elected in a landslide over the conservative Republican Barry Goldwater and reinforced by means of the so-called liberal consensus, monetary prosperity, and a powerful wave of nostalgia for his martyred predecessor, John Kennedy, Johnson introduced the main ambitious Read more...

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an exciting account of the 1968 presidential election and its impression at the subsequent 4 a long time of yankee politics Read more...

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Extra info for American Maelstrom : the 1968 election and the politics of division

Sample text

Over the next two years, with the political wind at his back and an unshakable congressional majority in his pocket, he would steamroll through Congress the single most ambitious set of domestic initiatives since the New Deal. National challenges were identified, political obstacles overcome, and legislation drafted. Out of the congressional meat grinder emerged Lyndon Johnson’s vision for a Great Society. 3 Practically every American received some benefit. There was expanded public education, from elementary and secondary to college and university; “ A L o t t a P e o p l e .

So, for example, Americans would repeatedly endorse the position that federal spending should be cut, but not if it meant cutting Social Security, Medicare, defense spending, student loans, money for police, roads, schools, even programs that helped poor people heat their homes. Indeed, the only area where a majority of Americans generally support spending cuts is foreign aid—and largely because they tend to overestimate how much of the budget is directed to it. This would become the fundamental divergence in American politics: between the electorate’s ideological views about the role of government and their operational interest—reinforced at the ballot box—in maintaining a robust welfare state that served their interests.

He felt “carefree” and “zestful,” according to the New York Times. He “had a smile, a wave, a handshake or a kiss for everyone,” wrote the Washington Post. That night he would become the first president to dance at his own inaugural ball. His festive mood reflected the historic political and personal achievement that was his overwhelming victory in the 1964 presidential election. “Millions and millions of people, each marking my name on their ballot. Each wanted me as their president. 3 His win had been no ordinary triumph.

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