LBJ And The Great Society - January 1965

(LBJ in 1965 - Great plans, great ideas - eclipsed by Vietnam) (Until we get back to normal, Newstalgia is reposting a series of articles on the He

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(LBJ in 1965 - Great plans, great ideas - eclipsed by Vietnam)

(Until we get back to normal, Newstalgia is reposting a series of articles on the Health Care issue, in case you missed them the first time around.)

When Lyndon Johnson gave his first State Of The Nation address on January 4, 1965 after winning the 1964 election, it was filled with hope and optimism. Every good idea and plan for the American people was on the boards and ready to go. Many of the programs were implemented - Medicare, The Civil Rights Bill, the War on Poverty - a lot of programs still in effect today.

LBJ: “We must open opportunity to all our people. Most Americans enjoy a good life. But far too many are still trapped in poverty and idleness and fear. Let a just nation throw open to them the city of promise. To the elderly, by providing hospital care under Social Security and by raising benefit payments to those struggling to maintain the dignity of their later years.”

But there was that one element which would eventually turn the focus from all the good programs to what had become one very bad idea: Vietnam.

By the end of 1965 our involvement went from "training and advisers for the South Vietnamese Army" to increased draft calls and escalating weekly casualty figures of our own. We were in it and we were stuck in it. And by the end of 1965 there looked like no turning back.

The domestic programs were great. The Great Society was a wonderful idea. It's often been said that, had there been no Vietnam, LBJ would have gone down in history as a truly progressive President. Vietnam would become the thorn in his side and his eventual downfall.

It's one of those quirks of history - the ones that often repeat.

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