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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 might finish poverty and racial injustice. Elected in a landslide over the conservative Republican Barry Goldwater and strengthened 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 influence at the subsequent 4 many years of yank politics Read more...

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Except for the ideologically orthodox who opposed expanded government on principle, few Americans had reason to be against better schools, a helping hand for the poor, and improved access to medical care. It wasn’t as if they were being asked to sacrifice themselves. 6 On June 4, 1965, Johnson delivered the commencement speech at Howard University, the elite, predominately black college in Washington, DC. ” A year earlier, Johnson had pushed through Congress a landmark civil rights bill, which remains his seminal legislative accomplishment, but also the one for which public support had been the most tenuous.

Fearful that any flagging momentum would undermine the cause of reform, Johnson believed that he had to act without delay. 4 This lack of attention to execution would come to haunt Democrats. Neither the federal government nor the states were adequately prepared to carry out such a wide array of initiatives. Establishing hundreds of antipoverty programs—and having them run by often inexperienced practitioners with minimal oversight—ensured there would be a share of high-profile failures that would be used by Johnson’s opponents to delegitimize the entire undertaking.

On Election Day in California, a state Johnson won handily, voters by a two-to-one margin backed Proposition 14, a ballot measure to overturn the Rumford Fair Housing Act, one of the nation’s first legislative remedies for housing discrimination Introduction ■ 3 against blacks. While trounced practically everywhere else, Goldwater, who had opposed the Civil Rights Act, won five southern states—and by wide margins. Indeed, a deeper look at public opinion polling shows that the president’s victory had not been quite as overwhelming as it appeared.

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