Lyndon Johnson had a dream. Following Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, Johnson moved speedily to embody Kennedy’s vision for the country. After Roosevelt’s New Deal, Johnson’s vision for a post-Kennedy country was as ambitious as FDR’s. With only 11 months before the elections of 1964, Johnson had to prove to the country that his presidency wasn’t just due to Kennedy’s departure, but that he also deserved a chance by his own merits to lead the country for four more years. Johnson wooed Congress to pass his agenda. He continued JFK’s vision for a Civil Right’s Act, which was passed. Johnson also instituted a vision for a Great Society, which included a War on Poverty. At that moment, Liberalism’s goal to crown the Federal Government as the giver of life was achieved in a way Roosevelt could not.
Under Johnson’s presidency, Liberalism gained a powerful ally. The following agenda reveals the genesis of some of our current woes:
- The Wilderness Protection Act saved 9.1 million acres of forestland from industrial development.
- The Elementary and Secondary Education Act provided major funding for American public school.
- The Voting Rights Act banned literacy tests and other discriminatory methods of denying suffrage to African Americans.
- Medicare was created to offset the costs of health care for the nation’s elderly.
- The National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities used public money to fund artists and galleries.
- The Immigration Act ended discriminatory quotas based on ethnic origin.
- An Omnibus Housing Act provided funds to construct low-income housing.
- Congress tightened pollution controls with stronger Air and Water Quality Acts.
- Standards were raised for safety in consumer products.
Vietnam, of course, shattered Johnson’s vision for a New Heaven and Earth. Now the attention of a nation was drawn to the disastrous Vietnam War.
Jeb Bush’s Vision
In some ways, Democrats have attempted to continue the Johnson legacy. They have succeeded. $16.5 Trillion in debt reveals that the Democratic leaders paid careful attention to Johnson’s blueprint for the nation. But we have come to expect this type of consistent ideology from Democrats.
Enters Jeb Bush.
The former Governor has been deeply engaged in talks about a 2016 run. In comments made towards immigration Reform, the former Governor of Florida extolled Johnson’s skills as a legislator. Breitbart quotes Bush’s assessment of Johnson:
“He went and he cajoled, he begged, he threatened, he loved, he hugged, he did what leaders do, which is they personally get engaged to make something happen,’’ Bush said of Johnson.
To be fair, Bush did not praise Johnson’s Great Society or War on Poverty, but Bush’s invoking of Johnson positively in any way reminds Conservatives and Moral Libertarians of the misdirected attempts of healing the nation through unconstitutional means. It prompts us to ask, “what keeps Bush from incarnating Johnson’s presidency not only in the immigration issue, but other important matters as well? ”
Of course, the best read of this situation is that he is arguing for a hands-on presidency (like Johnson’s) in an attempt to discredit Obama’s hands-off presidency. But forgive the political pessimism from my perspective, but I seem to have a general distrust of the Bush brand of political reform.