Today is the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s speech calling upon us to work with him to build a Great Society.
In that speech, President Johnson outlined the principles behind the programs he would later propose; programs intended to lift Americans out of poverty, first by ending discrimination, then by putting a safety net under our elderly in the form of Medicare and finally, by launching programs intended to improve the well-being of all of our citizens. Some programs were resounding successes and some were unable to be implemented or were dismantled by Ronald Reagan and his
demon spawn ideological progeny.
The paths could not have been more clearly marked. We can be a Great Society or we can be the puny country that the Reagan Republicans, and now Ryan Republicans, want for us; a country where George W. Bush’s have-mores hoard the wealth and despoil our natural resources: a path leading us to a country where the middle class is destroyed and our children are left with an earth that is uninhabitable.
A quick scan of right-wing opinion pieces shows that, to Republicans, championing the causes of minorities and the working poor is called “Democrats pandering”. That is because to them it would be pandering, an attempt to get people’s votes by pretending to care about them. To Democrats, civil rights and women’s reproductive rights and the rights of workers and LGBT rights are not poll-tested talking points … they are the core of our party and embedded as Democratic Party principles.
It is not pandering, it is who we are.
It is the promise of a Great Society, one that “rests on abundance and liberty for all” and “demands an end to poverty and racial injustice” with this reminder from LBJ: “we have the power to shape the civilization that we want. But we need your will, your labor, your hearts, if we are to build that kind of society.”