I knew from the start if I left the woman I really loved - The Great Society - in order to get involved with that bitch of a war on the other
side of the world, then I would lose everything at home. All my programs - All my hopes - All my dreams.
Lyndon Baines Johnson (August 27, 1908 - January 22, 1973), a skilled and savvy Washington operator for decades, was right. American escalation in the Vietnam War led to increasingly negative public opinion toward him and overshadowed his cherished social programs, and would eventually figure into his decision to drop out of the race for re-election in 1968.
War is always the same. It is young men dying in the fullness of their promise. It is trying to kill a man that you do not even know
well enough to hate. Therefore, to know war is to know that there is still madness in the world.
Johnson's Great Society, his agenda presented to Congress in 1965, was a landmark set of programs to tackle social concerns, chief among which were poverty and racial injustice. He also introduced programs addressing transportation, education, disease, Medicare, urban renewal and crime.
This administration here and now declares unconditional war on poverty.
Congress enacted many of Johnson's programs, many of which, such as Medicare and federal education funding, remain to this day, while others languished as more and more money was spent on Vietnam. Johnson also elected the first African American to the cabinet as well as the first black Supreme Court Justice (Thurgood Marshall).
Until justice is blind to color, until education is unaware of race, until opportunity is unconcerned with the color
of men's skins, emancipation will be a proclamation but not a fact.
Anti-war candidate Eugene McCarthy's surprising showing in the 1968 New Hampshire presidential primary revealed that not only was the American public divided on the War, but the Democratic Party was split as well. Johnson withdrew his candidacy in March, paving the way for Robert Kennedy to step in. Johnson died from a third heart attack at age 64 in 1973.
I'm tired. I'm tired of feeling rejected by the American people. I'm
tired of waking up in the middle of the night worrying about the war.