By H2O Man
"I knew from the start that I was bound to be crucified either way I moved. If I left the woman I really loved-the Great Society-in order to get involved in that bitch of a war on the other side of the world, then I would lose everything at home. All my programs…. But if I left that war and let the Communists take over South Vietnam, then I would be seen as a coward and my nation would be seen as an appeaser and we would both find it impossible to accomplish anything for anybody anywhere on the entire globe." -- President Lyndon B. Johnson
Strange man, that Lyndon Johnson. He was an extreme mixture of good and bad. Despite his personal flaws, his concepts for a Great Society were progressive. He was also aware that all government programs tended to bloat, and that social programs could only work if the public saw they got "a dollar’s worth for every buck spent."
At the same time, he was able to convince himself that a war he was afraid to stop was actually not only a way of combating the evil threat of communism, but a way to spread the fruits of social progress on a global scale.
By late 1967, LBJ had begun to lose touch with reality. His closest and most loyal advisers were concerned by his behaviors. The rest of the nation experienced an extreme mix of good and bad as 1967 became 1968. If younger folks want to know what 1968 was really like (or if older folks want to refresh foggy memories), the book "An American Melodrama: The Presidential Campaign of 1968" by Chester, Hodgson, and Page is the single best comprehensive source of information.
There are, of course, valuable lessons to be learned from 1968. Just like then, there are numerous issues that are important to the majority of democrats today. These include ending the wars of occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan; repairing the damage the Bush-Cheney administration has done to our reputation on a global scale; restoring the Constitutional balance of federal powers; improving the economy; investing in education; insuring the rights of all US citizens; addressing the environmental crisis; and creating real job opportunities in our communities.
We can see that those who oppose these traditional democratic values seek to divide us. As long as we are divided into small groups, our enemy can break us like individual fingers. Yet when we recognize that we have common interests – and are confronted by a common enemy – we can see the advantages of joining the individual fingers together to create a fist that is powerful enough to confront that common enemy.
We must also see that it will be impossible to deal with the other problems in a meaningful way if we continue down the administration’s path in the Middle East. The PNAC/neoconservative policies of violence are not going to spread the fruits of social progress in Iraq. It is a policy that can only lead to an expanded level of violence involving Syria, Iran, and eventually other interests in that area of the world.
The war budget will make it impossible to deal in any meaningful way with the other urgent problems we face in this country. There isn’t enough money for butter and bombs. That was true in 1967, and it’s true in 2007. It isn’t just the lower economic class that is suffering from the economic crunch the Bush-Cheney policies have caused: it’s the shrinking middle class, as well. The war is taking money that should be being invested in the communities across this nation. As we become poorer, a tiny minority becomes richer. They are the common enemy looking to break your fingers and steal what is good about America from you.
When we talk about the democratic party being a big tent, that’s fine -- just as long as we don’t allow ourselves to be fooled into thinking it includes those who would continue the current war of occupation in Iraq.
Posted in full with author's permission.
Originally posted at democraticunderground.com: http://journals.democraticunderground.com/H2O%20Man/240