Describe the changing role of the federal government in the 1960s.

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The federal government increased its role during the 1960s. The government passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and ended poll taxes. All of this was done by Democratic presidents even though most Democrats in Congress were from Southern states who favored segregation. By getting the federal government involved in...

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The federal government increased its role during the 1960s. The government passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and ended poll taxes. All of this was done by Democratic presidents even though most Democrats in Congress were from Southern states who favored segregation. By getting the federal government involved in civil rights, segregation ended more quickly than it would have on a state-by-state level.

The federal government under Johnson also tried to end poverty through Medicaid programs and also increased welfare for the poor. Johnson, a supporter of Franklin Roosevelt, wanted to see the federal government take a more active role in protecting the most vulnerable members of society. Johnson also created the Housing and Urban Development program in order to provide housing to low-income individuals. All of these programs gave the federal government a more active role in people's daily lives as more people became dependent on governmental assistance.

The greatest change for the federal government of the 1960s was its willingness to stand before television cameras. The only way people were able to see their elected officials or news events before this was to see them on newsreels. The government's achievements and tragedies of the decade were all placed on television. John F. Kennedy was able to win the 1960 presidential election because of his appearance on television. Tragedies such as the murder of Oswald were also televised. Television also played a role in people's changing opinions about the Vietnam War and the 1968 Democratic National Convention. While television was not state-run, it is important to note that government was open in front of television reporters. This was probably the greatest legacy of the decade—people expected to see their politicians and news events in real time in order to form their own opinions.

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The decade of the 1960s was turbulent and eventful. America was marred by domestic unrest, assassinations, and its controversial role in the Vietnam War. The national government changed and expanded during this period. This is evident by examining its role in the New Frontier and the Great Society.

The New Frontier was John F. Kennedy's reform plan for the country. It was a set of challenges to "get the country moving again." The New Frontier was built on previous presidents' Square Deal, New Deal, and Fair Deal programs. In 1893, Frederick Jackson Turner, a historian, lamented the end of the frontier in American history. JFK said there was a new 'frontier' for the country to explore. This meant exploration of outer space but also challenges facing the country on the domestic front, such as civil rights. JFK was only partially successful. His accomplishments included: a minimum wage increase, financial aid for urban development, and the creation of the Peace Corps. In 1963, he was assassinated.

Lyndon B. Johnson replaced Kennedy in the White House. His Great Society was a continuation and expansion of the New Frontier. In fact, LBJ's Great Society was the most ambitious reform plan since the New Deal of the 1930s. He had to win the presidential election of 1964 before he could implement most of his far-reaching agenda. He easily won the election and that gave him a mandate to enact his proposals. LBJ got the Civil Rights Act through Congress in 1964. The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 was passed as part of his War on Poverty. Seniors and low-income persons got Medicare and Medicaid, respectively. Education reform was implemented in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. And the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program was established. In spite of these achievements, LBJ's presidency was ruined by its role in the Vietnam War.

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Both the role and the size of the federal government grew significantly during the 1960s. For one thing, the federal government took on a more active role in the enforcement of civil rights. It had been established over a number of years that, without concerted action from the center, civil rights would not be properly enforced by the states and would be left instead to wither on the vine.

President Johnson's Great Society programs greatly expanded the role of the federal government in the provision of welfare. In the early 1960s, the American economy grew at an impressive pace. Johnson wanted to share the fruits of this growing prosperity more widely. To that end, under the Great Society program, the Johnson administration allocated billions of dollars to a raft of new programs designed to tackle poverty. The Social Security Act of 1965 established the Medicare program for seniors as well as medical care for welfare recipients through Medicaid. Welfare spending also greatly increased with the passing of the Food Stamp Act in 1964. Changes to Social Security at this time included a substantial increase in benefits.

In addition, the founding of the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act in 1965 extended the role of the federal government as never before, committing substantial sums toward the funding of a wide range of projects in the arts and humanities.

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