A Great Society and Post WWII Liberalism
A Great Society and Post WWII Liberalism HIST 2112
Popular in American History Since 1865
Popular in History
This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Carina Sauter on Monday April 11, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to HIST 2112 at University of Georgia taught by Dr. Rohrer in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 24 views. For similar materials see American History Since 1865 in History at University of Georgia.
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Date Created: 04/11/16
A “Great” Society and Post WWII Liberalism’s Peak • 1960’s – A Liberal Decade o federal government = left of center o broad goals of post-war liberalism shared by Democrats and moderate Republicans o Ex. § Anti-war movement § Hippies § Civil rights § Women activists § Environmentalists o Decade of main stream politicians becoming more moderate and moving to the left of center § Demonstrates everyday Americans • 1960’s America and Liberalism o political ideology centered political outlook from end of WWII to the end of the 1960’s o democratic and republican accept liberalism as central ideology § in sync and committed to broad goals o 2 components: § government at all levels can and should use power for social and economic improvements • similar to progressivism • new deal • the opposite of laissez-faire economics o government does have capacity to make life better • economic and social improvement: Lindon Johnson and Kennedy want to expand power of federal government • federal programs o i.e. Head Start § containing communism around the world • enormously expensive venture • federal budget mostly went to Cold War o Vietnam war was a war within the Cold War o Specifically there to contain communism/roll it back o Budget expands exponentially • costly: could we afford both components? o Guns or butter § Cold war or social and economic programs o What should the federal government focus on? o Butter: § “everything was better with butter” § evidence: • Kennedy’s New Frontier • LBJ’s Great Society o John F. Kennedy and the New Frontier § Domestic Liberalism § Moderate president – democrat § Combat poverty § 25% below poverty line § initially knew little about conditions poor faced § from rich family • business and investing • influence in politics • JFK had comfortable life o 26 room mansion in New York o best prep schools in country o vacation at family home in Florida and Massachusetts o Harvard o Naval officer o House of representatives o US Senate o President • Could not relate to miners, farmers, etc. o Saw poverty as something that needed to be tackled o Used this to run for president o Activists were also wanting to show poverty § Ex. Michael Harrington’s book The Other America • 1962 • highly influential journalist and social critic • exposed conditions of the bottom 20% of Americans and in the process influenced politicians to take concrete action • inspired president to wage war against poverty • similar to Jacob Riis How the Other Half Lives – but 70 years later w/ new problems • best seller and required reading • the poor were invisible to most of Americans because they were in isolated rural or urban slums • working poor – factories, farms § The New Frontier • Used by JFK in his acceptance speech in 1960 to the Democratic National as the Democratic slogan to inspire America to support him • Term refers to JFK’s administration introducing bills and programs that reflected liberalism • How does the administration combat poverty? o 1. Minimum Wage Bill § raise minimum wage for poor Americans § passed through Congress § increased from $1.15 to $1.25 = 8% § expanded the number of Americans that could get a minimum wage – many jobs not covered by minimum wage legislature previously o 2. Funding Increases for Social Security § expands on FDR’s new deal in the 30’s § provide financial benefits to retired Americans, unemployed and dead § keep older Americans financially afloat § liberalism § increase minimum benefits § give American men the option to collect at 62 rather than 65 § helped widows § did not pass through congress o 3. Housing Act of 1961 § housing and urban renewal § $4.88 billion (in 1961 dollars) in loans/grants to cities, towns, and rural areas for renewal, housing, community facilities, and expansion of mass transportation § public housing, college housing, elderly housing, community centers § money for moderate income farmers § liberalize the FHA mortgage programs – tax dollars o 4. Increases in Educational Funding § key to bring more Americans into middle class § competitive positions to fight communist world § set aside billions of dollars to expand education § Ex. federally backed student loans, scholarships, libraries, vocational/technical schools § Education for the disabled § Focus on higher education § Ex. Russell, Creswell, Brumby (1960’s), Instructional Plazas • Lyndon B Johnson and the Great Society o JFK is assassinated and VP LBJ takes place o More liberal than Kennedy o Liked butter more o Grew up in poor region of Texas o Devoted career to uplift those not in middle class § Defeat the war on poverty o Liberal on race – even though he was brought up in the South § Encouraged southern members of congress to be more accepting of civil rights movement § Needed their might to help African American community o Build a Great Society § Reduce racial tension § Spread America’s prosperity and de-concentrate wealth o LBJ on Race § Civil Rights Act of 1964 • Disallow segregation in all public facilities § Voting Rights Act of 1965 th • 15 amendment fully enforced • 100’s of thousands, even millions, of African Americans could now register to vote in US o Great Society like New Deal § January 4, 1964 State of the Union Address § Poverty in America must be dealt with § Widespread prosperity § Great Society = economically wealthy America o 4 Main Approaches § Medicare/Medicaid • Medicare: for the elderly o 44% had no health coverage o >1/3 over 665 were living under the poverty line • Medicaid: for the poor o Regardless of age § Head Start • Provides pre-k to children with house hold income below a certain amount • Help to even the playing field • Expensive • At risk poor children • Though it would help economy and justice system § Job Corps • Tries to help young people complete high school education and have a better start in the working world • Training and networking programs § Vista • Volunteers in Service to America • Domestic counter part to peace corps • Anti-poverty projects all over the US • Still around today • An End to the “Great” Society? o Question that dominates by later 1960’s – guns or butter § Its one or the other § US cannot fund both costly social programs and war o Vietnam War dashes hopes of expansion for federally-backed social programs o Johnson was committed to the US § Poverty rate did decline, yet he was only remembered for the escalation of the Vietnam War • 1960: below line of poverty >20% • 1969: below line of poverty ~12% o Cold War § Guns obliterated butter • Due to Vietnam War • Destroyed dreams and legacy of LBJ • “One of the greatest casualties of the war in Vietnam is the Great Society… shot down on the battlefield in Vietnam” - MLKJ
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