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I would point to two major ways in which Pres. Johnson fulfilled the liberal vision for the US. These have to do with the areas of civil rights and what might be called social justice.
Liberals wanted a society in which people of all races were treated equally under the law. It was under LBJ that this finally happened. Johnson worked hard to push the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 through Congress. These two acts gave blacks the legal equality that liberals wanted them to have.
Liberals also wanted a society that cared for its poor and elderly and tried to help them out. LBJ's Great Society programs were aimed at this very goal. Programs like Medicaid and Medicare were meant to ensure that there was a basic "safety net" that would prevent Americans from becoming poor. This goal was not achieved since poverty continues to exist, but Johnson did push the government to do more to promote social justice, just as liberals wanted.
President Johnson's 'Great Society' war on poverty legislation definitely allowed him to fortify his liberal vision for the United States. They include:
1. Medicare-health insurance for those 65 yrs. or older
2. Medicaid- health insurance for those who could not afford it
3. The Office Of Economic Opportunity- to attack the problems connected with poverty
4. Job Corps- training high school drop-outs and the unemployed
5. Project Head Start- preoared children from disenfranchised children for school
6. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act- provided federal funds for schools in poverty areas
In addition, his success in Civil Rights with the Civil Rights Act 1964 and the Voting Rights Act 1965
Lyndon Johnson is rightfully famous for his "Great Society" war against poverty that involved various new legislation giving greater rights to the poor and elderly, some of which are listed above in #3. These definitely helped some of society's poorest who were unable to help themselves. However, although this attack on poverty was undoubtedly incredibly important, I feel his most important legacy was the way in which he achieved equal rights for blacks through the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act in 1964 and 1965 respectively. This definitely was a key move in advancing towards the liberal vision of the United States of America.
The recent health care reform law, controversial as it is, was the first major attempt at reform in the industry since Johnson created Medicare in the mid-1960s, which was also very controversial at the time and passed by the slimmest of margins. Today, any politician that tries to cut Medicare does so at their political peril, and the program is very popular with liberals and conservatives alike. So one thing that Johnson had done to bring a liberal vision to the US was to convince the vast majority of Americans, liberal and conservative, over time, to support the liberal ideal of universal health care for our elderly.
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