Picking Up the Pieces: The Great Society at 50
In a couple of days, America will be celebrating the 50th Anniversary of LBJ’s inception of the Great Society, and there is much to celebrate — despite the inclination among today’s conservatives, be it Republicans and Democrats or Libertarians for its impending “implosion” that will eventually occur, given our ever-increasing national debt of an approximate $27 trillion. And yes, I am being somewhat cynical despite my constant obsessing when it comes to “crafting” a newer and better Great Society that is sure to occur in the years ahead, which the Super Wealthy will strenuously oppose. Therefore, a platform of tax rates that would be equivalent to the Eisenhower Era, will be emblazoned onto our political trail and for its sheer embarrassment, as well as for the sheer enjoyment for seeing our family members, friends and neighbors achieve a semblance of the American Dream, somewhat belatedly.
In the meantime, Karen Tumulty, writing for the Washington Post, of this past week in her article titled, “The Great Society at 50” (May16th) where she quotes from LBJ’s determined and demonstrative speech on Commencement Day at the University of Michigan on May 22nd. And one particular paragraph was quite symbolic of what was being said and being “projected” onto America’s future, before an audience of 70,000.
The challenge of the next half-century is whether we have the wisdom to use that wealth to enrich and elevate our national life and to advance the quality of our American civilization. Your imagination and your initiative and your indignation will determine whether we build a society where progress is the servant of our needs or a society where old values and new visions are buried under unbridled growth. For in your time, we have the opportunity to move not only toward the rich society and the powerful society but upward to the Great Society.
Today, the proverbial Question is: “Have we lived up to this ‘Standard’ that encapsulates our Great Society?” In short, our votes in November of this year and in November, 2016, will demonstrate our determination for a better future. And the past cannot be jettisoned fast enough, and here’s why.
Obviously, the answer is easily understood among Native Americans and Chicanos. To wit, today’s entire political contest of wits and wills between Republicans and Democrats goes as follows. The Democrats want Hillary Clinton as their nominee, and the Republicans want Jeb Bush. And if this comes about, the overall political contest will be about the Clinton’s in the 1990s and the Bush’s in the 2000s. In the meantime, for the next two years, neither a mention nor an effort is made to craft a newer and better Great Society. Therefore a “new” Great Society will be intentionally hibernated or mothballed for a minimum period of ten years given to us by both the conservatives among the Democrats and the conservatives among the Republicans. Furthermore, the effusiveness of the white patriarchy’s privilege becomes even more unrelenting in our national politics.
Note: Originally posted on the web site of the Chicano Veterans Organization.
Public domain image via Wikimedia Commons.