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Chapter 31 - The Ordeal of Liberalism

Expanding the Liberal State
John Kennedy
·The campaign of 1960 produced two young candidates who claimed
to offer the nation active leadership.
·The Republican nomination went almost uncontested to Vice President
Richard Nixon, who promised moderate reform.
·John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the son of the wealthy powerful, and
highly controversial Joseph P. Kennedy, former American
ambassador to Britain.
·He premised his campaign, he said, “on the single assumption that
the American people are uneasy at the present drift in our
national course”.
·Kennedy had campaigned promising a set of domestic reforms more
ambitious than any since the New Deal, a program he described
as the “New Frontier”.
·Kennedy had traveled to Texas with his wife and Vice President Lyndon
Johnson for a series of=2 0political appearances.
·While the presidential motorcade rode slowly through the streets of
Dallas, shots rang out.
·He got shot in the throat and head, he was rushed to a hospital, where
minutes later he was pronounced dead.
·Lee Harvey Oswald, was arrested for the crime later that day, and
then mysteriously murdered by a Dallas nightclub owner, Jack
Ruby, 2 days later as he was being moved from one jail to
·In years later years many Americans came to believe that the Warren
Commission report had ignored evidence of a wider conspiracy
behind the murders.
Lyndon Johnson
·The Kennedy assassination was a national trauma-a defining event for
almost everyone old enough to be aware of it.
·Johnson was a native of the poor “hill country” of west Texas and had
risen to become majority leader of the U.S. Senate by dint of
extraordinary, even obsessive, effort and ambition.
·Between 1963 and 1966, he compiled the most impressive legislative
record of any president since Franklin Roosevelt.
·He created the “Great Society”.
·Record Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, any of
whose members had been swept into office=2 0only because of
the margin of Johnson’s victory, ensured that the president would
be able to fulfill many of his goals.
The Assault on Poverty
·The most important welfare program was Medicare: a program to
provide federal aid to the elderly for medical expenses.
·Its enactment in 1965 came at the end of a bitter, 20 year debate
between those who believed in the concept of national health
assistance and those who denounced it as “socialized medicine”.
·Medicare benefits available to all elderly Americans, regardless of
·Medicare simply shifted responsibility for paying those fees from the
patient to the government.
·The centerpiece of this “war on poverty”, as Johnson called it, was the
Office of economic Opportunity, which created an array of new
educational, employment, housing, and health-care programs.
·The Community Action programs provided jobs for many poor people
and gave them valuable experience in administrative and
political work.
·The OEO spent nearly $3 billion during its first two years of existence,
and it helped reduce poverty in some areas.
Cities, Schools, and Immigration
·The Housing Act of 1961 offered $4.9 billion in federal grants to cities
for the preservation of open spaces, the development of mass
transit systems, and the subsidization of middle income housing.
·In 1966, Johnson established a new cabinet agency, the Department
of Housing and Urban Development.
·Johnson also inaugurated the Model Cites program, which offered
federal subsidies for urban redevelopment pilot programs.
·Johnson managed to circumvent both objections with the Elementary
and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and a series of subsequent
·Total federal expenditures for education and technical training rose
from $5 billion to $12 billion between 1964 and 1967.
·The Immigration Act of 1965 maintained a strict limit on the number
of newcomers admitted to the country each year (170,000), but
it eliminated the “national origins” system established in the
1920s, which gave preference to immigrants from northern
Europe over those from other parts of the world.
Legacies of the Great Society
·In 1964, Johnson managed to win passage of the $11.5 bill ion tax cut
that Kennedy had first proposed in 1962.
·The cut increased the federal deficit, but substantial economic growth
over the next several years made up for much of the revenue
initially lost.
·The high costs of the Great Society programs, the deficiencies and
failures of many of them, and the inability of the government to
find the revenues to pay for them contributed to a growing
disillusionment in later years with the idea of federal efforts to
solve social problems.
The Battle for the Racial Equality
Expanding Protests
·John Kennedy had long been vaguely sympathetic to the cause of
racial justice, but he was hardly a committed crusader.
·In February 1960, black college students in Greensboro, North
Carolina, staged a sit-in at a segregated Woolworth’s lunch
counter, and in the following weeks, similar demonstrations
spread throughout the South, forcing many merchants to
integrate their facilities.
·The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, worked to keep the
spirit of resistance alive.
·In 1961, an interracial group of students, working with the Congress of
Racial Equality, began what t hey called “freedom rides”.
·Traveling by bus throughout the South, the freedom riders tried to
force the desegregation of bus stations.
·SNCC workers began fanning out through black communities and even
into remote rural areas to encourage blacks to challenge the
obstacles to voting that the Jim Crow laws had created and that
powerful social custom sustained.
·In April, Martin Luther King, Jr., helped launch a series of nonviolent
demonstrations in Birmingham, Alabama, a city unsurpassed in
the strength of its commitment to segregation.
·Medgar Evers was murdered in Mississippi.
A National Commitment
·To generate support for the legislation, and to dramatize the power of
the growing movement, ore than 200,000 demonstrators
marched down the Mall in Washington, D.C., in August 1963 and
gathered before the Lincoln Memorial for the greatest civil rights
demonstration in the nation’s history.
·Early in 1964, after Johnson applied both public and private pressure,
supporters of the measure finally mustered the two-thirds
majority necessary to close debate and end a filibuster by
southern senators; and the Senate passed the most
comprehensive civil rights bill in the nation’s history.
The Battle for Voting Rights
·During the summer of 1964, thousands of civil rights workers, black
and white, northern and southern, spread out through the South,
but primarily in Mississippi.
·The campaign was known as “freedom summer”, and it produced a
violent response from some southern whites.
·The “freedom summer” also produced the Mississippi Freedom
Democratic Party, and integrated alternative to the regular state
party organization.
·It permitted the MFDP to be seated as observers, with promises of
party reforms later on, while the regular party retained its official
·A year later, in March 1965, King helped organize a major
demonstration in Selma, Alabama to press the demand for the
right of blacks to register to vote.
·Two northern whites participating in the Selma march were murdered
in the course of the effort there- one, a minister, beaten to death
in the streets of the town; the other, a Detroit housewife, shot as
she drove along a highway at night with a black passenger in her
·The Civil Rights Act of 1965, better known as the Voting Rights Act,
which provided federal protection to blacks attempting to
exercise their right to vote.
The Changing Movement
·By 1966, 69 percent of American blacks were living in metropolitan
areas and 45 percent outside the South.
·Well over half of all American non-whites lived in poverty at the
beginning of the 1960s; black unemployment was twice that of
·Over the next decade, affirmative action guidelines gradually
extended to virtually all institutions doing business with or
receiving funds from the federal government- and to many
others as well.
·Organizers of the Chicago campaign hoped to direct national attention
to housing and employment discrimination in northern industrial
cities in much the same way similar campaigns had exposed
legal racism in the South.
Urban Violence
·Well before the Chicago campaign, the problem of urban poverty had
thrust itself into national attention when violence broke out in
black neighborhoods in major cities.
·The first large race riot since the end of World War II occurred the
following summer in the Watts section of Los Angeles.
·The incident triggered a storm of anger and a week of violence.
·34 people died during the Watts uprising, which was eventually
quelled by the National Guard; 28 of the dead were black.
·Televised reports of the violence alarmed millions of Americans and
created both a new sense of urgency and a growing sense of
doubt among many of those whites who had embraced the cause
of racial justice only a few years before.
·A special Commission on Civil Disorders, created by the president in
response to the disturbances, issued a celebrated report in the
spring of 1968 recommending massive spending to eliminate the
abysmal conditions of the ghettoes.
Black Power
·Disillusioned with the ideal of peaceful change in cooperation with
whites, an increasing number of African Americans were turning
to a new approach to the racial issue: the philosophy of “black
·The most enduring impact of the black-power ideology was a social
and psychological one: instilling racial pride in African Americans,
who lived in a society whose dominant culture generally
portrayed blacks as inferior to whites.
·It encouraged the growth of black studies in schools and universities.
·Traditional black organizations that had emphasized cooperation=2
0with sympathetic whites- groups such as the NAACP, the Urban
League, and King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conferencenow
faced competition from more radical groups.
·In Oakland, California the Black Panther Party promised to defend
black rights even if that required violence.
Malcolm X
·In Detroit, a once-obscure black nationalist group, the Nation of Islam,
gained new prominence.
·Founded in 1931 by Wali Farad and Elijah Poole, the movement taught
blacks to take responsibility for their own lives, to be disciplined,
to live by strict codes of behavior, and to reject any dependence
on whites.
·Malcolm became one of the movement’s most influential spokesmen,
particularly among younger blacks, as a result of his intelligence,
his oratorical skills, and his harsh, uncompromising opposition to
all forms of racism and oppression.
·He did not advocate violence, but he insisted that black people had
the right to defend themselves, violently if necessary from those
who assaulted them.
·Malcolm died in 1965 when black gunmen, presumably under orders
from rivals within the Nation of Islam, assassinated him in New
"Flexible Response and the Cold War"
Diversifying Foreign Policy
· The Kennedy administration entered office convinced that the United
States needed to be able to counter communist aggression in
more flexible ways than the atomic weapons-oriented defense
strategy of the Eisenhower years permitted.
· Kennedy was unsatisfied with the nation’s ability to meet communist
threats in “emerging areas” of the Third World- the areas in
which, Kennedy believed, the real struggle against communism
would be waged in the future.
· Kennedy also inaugurated the Agency for International Development
to coordinate foreign aid.
· The Peace Corps, sent young American volunteers abroad to work in
developing areas.
· On April 17, 1961, with the approval of the new president, 2,000 of
the armed exiles landed at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba, expecting
first American air support and then a spontaneous uprising by
the Cuban people on their behalf.
Confrontations with the Soviet Union
· In the grim aft ermath of the Bay of Pigs, Kennedy traveled to Vienna
in June 1961 for his first meeting with Soviet Premier Nikita
· Before dawn on August 13, 1961, the East German government,
complying with directives from Moscow, constructed a wall
between East and West Berlin.
· For nearly 30 years the Berlin Wall served as the most potent physical
symbol of the conflict between the communist and
noncommunist worlds.
· On October 14, aerial reconnaissance photos produced clear evidence
that the Soviets were constructing sites on the island for
offensive nuclear weapons.
· On October 22, he ordered a naval and air blockade around Cuba, a
“quarantine” against all offensive weapons.
Johnson and the World
· Lyndon Johnson entered the presidency lacking even John Kennedy’s
limited prior experience with international affairs.
· A 1961 assassination had toppled the repressive dictatorship of
General Rafael Trujillo, and for the next four years various
fascinations in the country had struggled for dominance.
· In the spring of 1965, a conservative military regime began to
collapse in the face of a revolt by a broad range of groups on
behalf of the left-wing nationalist Juan Bosch.
· Only after a conservative candidate defeated Bosch in a 1966 election
were the forces withdrawn.
The Agony of Vietnam
The First Indochina War
· Vietnam had a long history both as an independent kingdom and
major power in its region, and as a subjugated province of China;
its people were both proud of their past glory and painfully aware
of their many years of subjugation.
· In the mi-19th century, Vietnam became a colony of France.
· The French wanted to reassert their control over Vietnam.
· In the fall of 1945, after the collapse of Japan and before the western
powers had time to return, the Vietminh declared Vietnam an
independent nation and set up a nationalist government under
Ho Chi Mihn in Hanoi.
· For the next 4 years, during what has become known as the First
Indochina War, Truman and then Eisenhower continued to
support the French military campaign against the Vietminh; by
1954, by some calculations, the United States was paying 80
percent of France’s war costs.
Geneva and the Two Vietnams
· An international conference at Geneva, planned many months before
to settle the Korean dispute and other controversies, now took up
the fate of Vietnam as well.
· Secretary of State Dulles, who reluctantly attended but left early; the
United States was not a party to the accords.
· Vietnam would be temporarily portioned along the 17th parallel, with
the Vietminh in control of North Vietnam, and a pro-western
regime in control of the South.
America and Diem
· The U.S almost immediately stepped into the vacuum and became the
principal benefactor of the new government in the South, led by
NGO Dihn Diem.
· The Buddhist crisis was alarming and embarrassing to the Kennedy
From Aid to Intervention
· Lyndon Johnson thus inherited what was already a substantial
American commitment to the survival of an anticommunist South
· Intervention in South Vietnam was fully consistent with nearly 20
years of American foreign policy.
· In August 1964, the president announced that American destroyers on
patrol in international waters in the Gulf of Tonkin had been
attacked by North Vietnamese torpedo boats.
The Quagmire
· There was a continuous stream of optimistic reports from American
military commanders, government officials, and others.
· The “attrition” was a strategy premised on the belief that the Unites
States could inflict so many causalities and so much damage on
the enemy that eventually they would be unable and unwilling to
continue the struggle.
· By the end of 1967, virtually every identifiable target of any strategic
importance in North Vietnam had been destroyed.
· Another crucial part of the American strategy was the “pacification”
program, which was intended to push the Viet Cong from
particular regions and then pacify those regions by winning the
“hearts and minds” of the people.
The War at Home
· A series of “teach-ins” on university campuses, beginning at the
University of Michigan in 196 sparked a national debate over the
war before such debate developed inside the government itself.
· Opposition to the war had become a central issue in left-wing politics
and in the culture of colleges and universities.
The Traumas of 1968
The Tet Offensive
· On January 31, 1968, the 1st day of the Vietnamese New Year (TET),
communist forces launched an enormous, concerted attack on
American strongholds throughout South Vietnam.
The Political Challenge
· On March 31, Johnson went on television to announce a limited halt in
the bombing of North Vietnam.
The King and Kennedy Assassinations
· On April 4, Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed while standing on
the balcony of his motel.
· In the days after the assassination, major riots broke out in more than
60 American cities.
· Rober t Kennedy shaped what some would later call the “Kennedy
Legacy”, a set of ideas that would for a time become central to
American liberalism.
· The passions Kennedy had aroused made his violent death a
particularly shattering experience for many Americans.
The Conservation Response
· George Wallace established himself in 1963 as one of the nation's
leading spokesmen for the defense of segregation.
· As a governor of Alabama, he attempted to block the admission of
black students to the University of Alabama.
· In 1964, he has run a few Democratic presidential primaries and
although had done surprisingly well, standing in the polls with
20%, he had no serious chance of winning the election.

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