Remembering Lyndon B. Johnson Amidst Today’s GOP

On this day in 1908, Lyndon Baines Johnson was born. With all of the GOP’s documented anti-democratic voter suppression efforts underway across the country, this quote from President Johnson came to mind:

A man without a vote is a man without protection.

Reading this quote, on his birthday, made me think about Johnson’s legacy and how far we as a nation have come since his presidency. Johnson became president after a turbulent event, at a time during which the nation faced both great emotional upheaval and pressing domestic issues that had finally reached a point at which all forces involved realised their time had come. As noted on Wikipedia:

Johnson succeeded to the presidency following the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, completed Kennedy’s term and was elected President in his own right, winning by a large margin in the 1964 election. Johnson was greatly supported by the Democratic Party and as President, he was responsible for designing the “Great Society” legislation that included laws that upheld civil rightspublic broadcastingMedicareMedicaid, environmental protection, aid to education, and his “War on Poverty.”

The words that jump out the most are: “Great Society“, “Civil Rights”, “Medicare”, “Medicaid” and “War on Poverty“. These were pressing issues during Johnson’s term in the 1960s yet, nearly 50 years later, these issues are still at the forefront of American politics.

Johnson and the Democratic Party fought against the Republican Party then and, shamefully, the nation is still engaged in the same battles now. Johnson was able to advance legislation which resulted in safety nets that built on FDR’s New Deal legislation and prevent many citizens from living in abject poverty.

What have we learned? The old adage states that those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it so, given that history is repeating itself, did we actually learn anything?

One thing is clear: the forces at work then haven’t changed their goal. While they may have been more civil towards President Johnson than they are to President Obama, the objective remains the same: protect corporate interests, drain the middle class, provide no social safety net for hard-working citizens, and leave those who are not part of the upper percentile of wage earners to fend for themselves no matter how much they contribute towards building this nation and preparing it for the future.

Casting a vote for today’s GOP is tantamount to going backwards and wiping out years of hard-won gains that took place during and since Johnson’s administration. The GOP has been screwing over operating against the working class since 1929 and they’ve shown they have no qualms about using every dirty, unpatriotic trick in the book to further their goals.

Johnson said the following:

 ”Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”

We can learn from the lessons history teaches us but we also need to keep focused on how much is at stake. He also said:

“We have the opportunity to move not only toward the rich society and the powerful society, but upward to the Great Society.”

The choice is ours — and anyone not certain of what the GOP has in store for us needs to pay attention to what is said at the GOP’s convention, and then match that against what is in the Paul Ryan Budget and his destructive ‘Path to Prosperity’.

If you’re really paying attention, this may become your favourite Johnson quote too:

“It is important that the United States remain a two-party system. I’m a fellow who likes small parties and the Republican Party can’t be too small to suit me.”