Great Society

The Great Society was a set of domestic programs in the United States launched by Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964–65. The term was first coined during a 1964 commencement address by President Lyndon B. Johnson at Ohio University[1] and came to represent his domestic agenda.[2] The main goal was the total elimination of poverty and racial injustice.

Pens used by President Lyndon B. Johnson to sign Great Society legislation

New major spending programs that addressed education, medical care, urban problems, rural poverty, and transportation were launched during this period. The program and its initiatives were subsequently promoted by him and fellow Democrats in Congress in the 1960s and years following. The Great Society in scope and sweep resembled the New Deal domestic agenda of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Some Great Society proposals were stalled initiatives from John F. Kennedy's New Frontier.[3] Johnson's success depended on his skills of persuasion, coupled with the Democratic landslide victory in the 1964 elections that brought in many new liberals to Congress, making the House of Representatives in 1965 the most liberal House since 1938.[4][3] In the 88th Congress it was estimated that there were 56 liberals and 44 conservatives in the Senate, and 224 liberals and 211 conservatives in the House. In the 89th Congress it was estimated that there were 59 liberals and 41 conservatives in the Senate, and 267 liberals and 198 conservatives in the House.[5]

Anti-war Democrats complained that spending on the Vietnam War choked off the Great Society. While some of the programs have been eliminated or had their funding reduced, many of them, including Medicare, Medicaid, the Older Americans Act and federal education funding, continue to the present. The Great Society's programs expanded under the administrations of Republican Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.[6]


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