Chart of the day: Lyndon Johnson’s legacy

From the Los Angeles Times, dramatic evidence that Lyndon Johnson was the last American President to have a positive impact on poverty in the U.S.:

BLOG Poverty

Lydon Johnson left office in 1968, declining to run again after the country erupted in race riots in the aftermath of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and troubled by massive youth opposition to the Vietnam War, a legacy he inherited from John F. Kennedy and Dwight Eisenhower.

Yet Johnson, for all his bombast and bluster, came from a poor background, and cared deeply about the fate of America’s poor, and from his time in the U.S. Senate, then as Vice President under John F. Kennedy, he spent much of his considerable political capital on easing their plight.

Johnson knew that the worst poverty rates were among the nation’s black population, and he also knew that he could never win support for programs seen as primarily beneficial to African Americans.

As president, Johnson, perhaps the greatest political operator to hold the White House in the latter half of the 20th Century, came up with a brilliant strategy: He would focus public attention on the poor white people of Appalachia, backwoods poor whose ancestry went back before the American Revolution.

His strategy worked, and thus was born the War on Poverty, reinventing Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, and it worked, as clearly demonstrated in the chart.

We covered the impact of the War on Poverty in Nevada during our first daily newspaper job at the Las Vegas Review-Journal. and saw first hand the program’s dramatic impacts on a black community previously ignored by the city’s newspapers. Our efforts won us our first major journalism award.

Since Johnson left office, poverty rates have never dropped, other than minor fluctuations.

Back in the mid-1960’s we joined anti-war protests against Johnson, but we cannot deny his legacy when it comes to poverty and his attempt to heal America’s racial divide.

Compared to LBJ, Hillary Clinton is simply pathetic.


5 responses to “Chart of the day: Lyndon Johnson’s legacy

  1. That last line completely caught me off guard. Seems so subjective compared to an otherwise objective article.

    Also, how can one compare a woman who has never been in office to a man who was in 1968?

    Keep in mind I am neither a Clinton or Trump supporter, and cannot vote because I am not yet a citizen. So, totally unbiased question.

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