1964 Revisited: Antiwar Voters Were Right to Back LBJ After All!


President Abbie Hoffman

A Mother Jones writer tries to convince Occupy to work within the Democratic Party:

Though politicians don't always fulfill their promises, history shows that social movements tend to advance when they help elect people who at least feel compelled to listen to them. Lyndon B. Johnson was not seen as a great progressive in the '60s, but his time in office coincided with the civil rights and anti-war movements.

Lyndon Johnson's time in office did coincide with tremendous growth in the antiwar movement. This was because he escalated Washington's intervention in Vietnam into a no-win war that killed thousands of Americans and even more Vietnamese each year. As far as I can recall, the only time he listened to the protesters was when he decided not to run again in 1968.

If Johnson is the touchstone for presidents and social movements, Occupiers and Tea Partiers alike should secretly root for a Romney victory. Give us a president left and right can hate; then we can really get things done.

[Hat tip: Charles Davis.]

NEXT: John Stossel on Keeping Nature As Is...Forever

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  1. This would be the same way that GWB’s time in office “coincided with the antiwar movement.”

  2. TEAM is all. All is TEAM.

    1. My life for TEAM!

        1. [cupped hand smacks ass]

          Go TEAM!

  3. You know who else escalated Washington’s intervention into a no-win war that killed thousands of Americans…

    1. Woodrow Wilson?

      1. James Madison?

  4. Hey Beavis. His name was “el B.J.”


    Get it? B.J.?


    Yeah. That’s cool!


    1. Johnson is probably the president most closely resembling what Gingrich is. Disgusting.

      I permanently have a grimy feeling from the shame that Americans caused me by even allowing the possibility for Bitchtits to be president, and for as close as it came to that, even though that likelihood was always completely nonexistent. It was still too close.

      1. Everything I’ve ever read about the real behind-the-scenes LBJ has disgusted me. I don’t like the Bushes’ politics, but they seem like decent men. While W got carried away with the whole “War on Terror” thing, he always listened to Generals and treated the military with respect. Not that piece of shit LBJ.

  5. Lyndon B. Johnson was not seen as a great progressive in the ’60s, but his time in office coincided with the civil rights and anti-war movements.

    If they’d referred to the Great Society rather than anti-war movements, they’d have been dead on.

    And an expansion of the Great Society really is what the OWS movement is after, isn’t it? They’re the spiritual successors to Kennedy and Johnson’s War on Poverty that was an important part of Johnson’s Great Society.

    1. Damn so that’s 2 endless unwinnable wars that Johnson got us into

      1. LBJ! You killed Kenny! You bastard!

  6. Jesse, I have a feeling that voting for Romney wasn’t the take a way Mother Jones intended:)

  7. Slightly off topic:

    Bar Refaeli naked! (safe for work, unfortunately)


    1. It appears that you require attendance of another human resources seminar on safe for work rules. Generally, anything of a boner causing nature can get one in hot water these days.

  8. LBJ practically invented civil rights!

  9. It’s pretty funny to suggest that an anti-war movement would grow yet not be protesting the sitting president.

    Taken that way, we can give George W. Bush credit for the modern anti-war movement. What a progressive inspiration he was!

    1. We need to focus on the big differences between Johnson and Bush Jr.

      Johnson was from Texas, but Bush was from Texas.

      Johnson vastly expanded a pre-existing conflict predicated on the half-bogus Gulf of Tonkin Incident, but Bush predicated the Iraq War on bogus yellowcake from Niger.

      Johnson got us involved in a war for the purpose of spreading democracy, but Bush Jr. got us involved in a war for the purpose of spreading democracy.

      Johnson initiated the huge expansion of Medicare by way of the Great Society, but Bush Jr. pushed for the biggest expansion of Medicare anyone had seen to date by way of the prescription drug benefit.

      Lyndon Johnson was a Southern Democrat before Reagan brought the South into the Republican Party, bit Bush Jr. was a fake Republican AKA traditional Southern Democrat after Ronald Reagan brought the South into the Republican party.

      So, you can see there are some really important differences. …Somewhere? I’m sure.

      The important one to my eye? Fiscally conservative, anti-tax Republicans understood back then that Johnson was a liberal Democrat, but fiscally conservative, anti-tax Republicans today? Can’t come to terms with the fact that George W. Bush was a liberal in the tradition of his fellow Texan, Lyndon Johnson.

      And that’s pretty much where the differences end.

      1. More to the point, other than the tax cuts, did Dubya really govern all that differently from his dad?

        1. More to the point, Dubya shouldn’t have invaded Iraq for all the same reasons his father didn’t invade Iraq.

          And, yes, his father’s achievement had a lot to do with free trade, not to mention holding a coalition of Arab states together in union with the United States, even as one of them was lobbing missiles at Israel.

          He made common cause with the Europeans–rather than enemies of them. In the face of an economic emergency, Bush Sr. did exactly what Bush Jr. should have done–almost nothing.

          If Bush Jr. had been half the president Bush Sr. was, we’d be a lot better off today. …not that Bush Sr. was a great president–but he wasn’t completely incompetent like his son was, either.

  10. it is difficult to convince ‘progressive’ friends that government is just an organization of humans, like any other.

    Of course shrinking government and its ability to take rents also reduces its ability to make things ‘fair’.

    they need to occupy Washington, not wall street.

    1. But, but but…corporations are EEEVILL.

  11. Meh, historians are now convinced that the racist who neutered all of the Civil Rights bills in the 50s loved black people, and that the long-time NAACP member wanted to burn crosses in their yards. It wouldn’t surprise me if they’ve got LBJ burning his draft card in 10 years. Team Blue has revisionism down to an art.

    1. Wait, Goldwater was an NAACP member?

  12. Funny thing is, the OWSers should be looking to Tricky Dick Nixon as just as big a hero as LBJ. Such progressive crapola as the EPA, Legal Services Corp., wage & price controls, and ending the gold standard were the products of his administration.

  13. My dad was in college during the early Vietnam war and joined SDS (not so much as a leftist but as somebody definitely opposed to dying in Asia). They all hated LBJ. His main anecdote from that time is the chant “hey hey LBJ, how many gooks you kill today?” in opposition to the body counts the LBJ administration was fond of touting.

    It’s funny that anybody would use LBJ as an example of a president who listens to the grassroots. His main claim to fame prior to 1960 was being a master power-broker behind the scenes of the Senate, not exactly a man of the people.

    1. LBJ was always about his own self-aggrandizement. The Caro biographies are pretty consistent about showing him as a lickspittle to people he thought could increase his power profile, like Rayburn, and a complete asshole to everyone else.

      If he had come up in politics in, say, Vermont instead of Texas, nothing about him would be any different except the party he belonged to.

  14. Get the book “LBJ: The Mastermind of the JFK Assassination” by Phillip Nelson.

    Damn good book.


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