President Lyndon B. Johnson and Themes that defined his Presidential Term
Lyndon B. Johnson was elected as John F. Kennedy's running mate during the 1960 campaign. However, President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, and Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as the 36th United States President from 1963 to 1969. President Johnson's political career began in 1937 when he was elected as a Democrat to the United States House of Representatives. Over the years, his ability to work together with Republican President Eisenhower and unite the party behind vital legislations made him a popular leader in Washington. Once he was inaugurated, he initiated a revolutionary reform plan to create a great society for all the citizens. Thus, an overview of the themes that defined his presidency will be essential.
President Johnson was officially inaugurated into the office for his first term in 1965. He won the presidency with 61% of the vote, which was the highest popular margin in the nation's history. During his first year in office, Johnson facilitated one of the most significant legislative directives in American history. According to Dallek (2004), he used the resources at his disposal to enact tax cuts and new civil rights bills, which were central themes in President Kennedy's administration. As an individual who had learned compassion teaching Mexican natives, creating a community where the meaning of an individual's life aligned with their labor was important. The ambitious goals he had for the country allowed him to achieve some of his objectives as President. He declined to run for a second term as he retired to his Texas ranch in 1969.
Themes that defined Lyndon Johnson's Presidency
The United States' participation in the Vietnam War was quite limited during Kennedy's assassination. However, in 1964 the Gulf of Tonkin encounter triggered Congress to grant President Johnson expansive war-making capabilities. Lyndon Johnson was referred to as a liberal internationalist who believed that communism would only thrive in areas where the government failed to provide basic amenities (Lyons, 2017). In this regard, Vietnam was deemed a threat to the rise of communism. The South Vietnamese army and government no longer had a chance of being successful in the war. President Johnson made the executive decision to lead the United States into the massive scale war in 1965. This was a decision that has since affected Johnson's presidency.
The President sent American troops into Vietnam and authorized the extensive bombing initiative known as Operations Rolling Thunder that would continue for years. He was determined to prevent the North Vietnamese communists from taking control over the South Vietnam government. During his tenure, the United States military participation in the Vietnam War increased from 16,000 in 1963 to over 500,000 in 1968. Based on Lyons (2017), public support was essential in motivating President Johnson to make executive choices regarding the war and aligning Vietnam based on America's vision. Despite his efforts, the Vietnam conflict was the source of frustration throughout his presidency. The decision to avoid re-election was primarily due to the Vietnam War.
The Great Society
As the United States President, Johnson's main objective was the Great Society. This was a combination of domestic initiatives and policies aimed at eliminating poverty and improving citizens' quality of life. Based on Reifman (2014), most of these programs enhanced educational training and the experience of groups that had encountered discrimination and economic challenges. During the first State of the Union address, the President requested Congress to declare "unconditional war on poverty." Further, he noted that the goal was not only to address the symptoms of poverty but also to cure and prevent it (Bailey & Duquette, 2014). During the subsequent five years, Congress passed reforms that changed American schools and launched Medicaid and Medicare programs. Moreover, the legislation allowed for expanding housing aids, training and employment plans, urban development schemes, welfare, and Social Security benefits.
The war on poverty was declared in 1964 when he submitted the Economic Opportunity Act to Congress. This bill devised the Job Corps and Community Action Strategy, which focused on eliminating poverty via job creation and block grants to the local community. According to McKee (2010), the Economic Opportunity office was created to monitor money's disbursement to the community-based anti-poverty projects. On the other hand, the 1964 Food Stamp Act facilitated the federal food stamp initiative's growth. The Great Society was a unique program that expanded the federal government's reach beyond the New Deal.
Based on President Johnson's legacy, he advocated for equality among all the American citizens. Once he was inaugurated as President, he used the opportunity to facilitate the civil rights legislation passage, which stood out in Kennedy's administration. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbade racial discrimination in public facilities and education and housing and jobs (Karatzas, 2016). Under President Johnson's leadership, liberal blueprints characterized his administration as he focused on serving people and increasing their opportunities. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibited literacy tests and poll taxes, restricting the Southern blacks from voting. These acts were some of the most significant achievements of President Johnson's presidency.
In conclusion, President Lyndon Johnson stood out for his efforts at serving the country. He was a professional with the ability to stay focused despite the situation. This was evident when he took over the Presidency after Kennedy's assassination. The objective was to create a society that provides security to all its citizens. The Vietnam War, the Great Society, and the Civil Rights Movements were themes that defined his leadership. Until his death in 1973, he was an advocate for peace and national unity.
Bailey, M. J., & Duquette, N. J. (2014). How Johnson fought the war on poverty: The economics and politics of funding at the office of economic opportunity (No. w19860). National Bureau of Economic Research.
Dallek, R. (2004). Lyndon B. Johnson: Portrait of a president. Oxford University Press.
Karatzas, K. D. (2016). LYNDON B. JOHNSON AND THE CIVIL RIGHT ACT OF 1964. Science Journal of Volgograd State University. History. Area Studies. International Relations/Vestnik Volgogradskogo Gosudarstvennogo Universiteta. Seriâ 4, Istoriâ, Regionovedenie, Mezdunarodnye Otnošeniâ, 21(3).
Lyons, P. (2017). Johnson’s War: How Vietnam Tarnished a Presidency.
McKee, G. A. (2010). Lyndon B. Johnson and the war on poverty: Introduction to the digital edition. The University of Virginia. http://presidentialrecordings. rotunda. upress. virginia. edu/essays.
Reifman, A. (2014). Great Society social programs. In M. J. Coleman & L. H. Ganong (Eds.), The social history of the American family: An encyclopedia (pp.647-650). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage