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The Era of Reform New Frontiers and Great Societies History 17B Lecture 18 Progressive and New Deal Traditions Progressivism has served as the basis for all subsequent American reform movements. Goal: save capitalism from its own excesses. A positive role for government Moderate reform

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progressive and new deal traditions
Progressive and New Deal Traditions
  • Progressivism has served as the basis for all subsequent American reform movements.
  • Goal: save capitalism from its own excesses.
    • A positive role for government
    • Moderate reform
    • New executive agencies
obstacles to reform
Obstacles to Reform
  • American reform comes in waves.
  • People are exhausted and disillusioned after wars.
    • Americans want a return to normalcy.
  • After WWII, Americans seek to enjoy post-war prosperity.
calls for reform continue
Calls for reform continue…

…but few are listening.

truman s fair deal
Truman’s Fair Deal
  • Government should provide full employment
  • Subsidize housing
  • National health insurance
  • Federal aid to education.
  • Civil Rights legislation
    • Integrated the military.
  • “Do Nothing” 80th Congress
dwight eisenhower
Dwight Eisenhower
  • Americans sought a more low-key President in 1950s.
  • A bumbling figurehead or a commander behind the scenes?
  • Hidden-Hand Presidency
    • Subordinates take the heat while he stays above the fray.
modern republicanism
Modern Republicanism
  • Ike was a pragmatic, moderate Republican
    • Filled his Administration with business executives.
    • Government had a limited role.
  • Increases in Social Security and unemployment insurance.
  • Construction of Federal highways.
the other america
The Other America

25% of Americans were poor

Vast majority of senior citizens lived in poverty

Racism and discrimination

getting the country moving again
Getting the Country Moving Again
  • Expansive years of the 1950s were seedbed for major reform in 1960s.
  • Minorities and poor wanted to participate in U.S. economic prosperity.
    • Prosperous America felt generous enough to let them.
  • Americans wondered if the country could do more…
john f kennedy
John F. Kennedy
  • JFK combined a coherent vision of social change with political pragmatism.
  • His youth embodied the activist role of a President.
  • A darker side to JFK that we now know.
    • But while alive, he represented the promise of the 1960s as an era of reform.
the new frontier
The New Frontier
  • No radical intentions.
    • Tame the excesses of capitalism, not overthrow it.
  • JFK reformers pragmatists willing to compromise.
  • New Frontier promises: end racial discrimination, federal aid to education, medical care for the elderly, increase in minimum wage, government action to halt 1960-61 recession.
nation building
Nation Building
  • Promote reform both at home and abroad through American values and capitalism
    • Also fight the Cold War
  • Strengthen Third World through liberal-economic efforts.
  • Peace Corps
    • teachers, technicians, agricultural advisors
  • Alliance for Progress
    • $20 billion and technical assistance
counter insurgency
  • Training of native police and armed forces.
  • Green Berets ferret out communist rebels.
accomplishments and setbacks
Accomplishments and Setbacks
  • Executive Orders
    • Food distribution to needy families
    • Peace Corps
    • Committees on equal employment and the status of women
    • Collective bargaining in the federal service
    • Public works acceleration
    • Equal opportunity in housing
  • Most New Frontier legislation bottled-up in Congress
    • His death assures passage.
lyndon baines johnson
Lyndon Baines Johnson

A crude but passionate man.

a master in persuasion
A Master in Persuasion
  • Not willing to compromise for half a loaf.
  • Legislative accomplishments:
    • Health care
    • Poverty legislation
    • Federal aid to schools and arts
    • Domestic spending on freeways and roads
    • Civil Rights (greatest achievement)
war on poverty
War on Poverty
  • Economic Opportunity Act (1964)
    • Job training in Job Corps
    • Loans to rural families and urban small businesses
    • VISTA (Volunteers for Service to America) helped the poorest in America
  • Over $1 billion for EOA
the great society
The Great Society
  • LBJ sought to extend the New Deal
    • Job Corps and training programs
    • Medicare for the aged
    • Medicaid to the poor
    • Aid to education and Head Start
    • Federal dollars for cities, mass transit, and housing.
    • Environmental safety legislation
    • Mental health facilities.
critics of reform
Critics of Reform
  • Critics on the Right
    • Government intrusion and centralization
  • Critics on the Left
    • Not really attacking roots of the problems (racism, class discrimination, maldistribution of wealth)
  • Also very expensive!
impact and legacy
Impact and Legacy
  • In 1960, 1 in 3 Americans were poor.
  • In 1973, 1 in 10 Americans were poor.
  • Great Society was the high water mark of activist government.
    • We now expect government to regulate environmental safety or industrial pollution.
  • All Americans benefited (not just the poor).
limits of liberal reform
Limits of “Liberal” Reform
  • Capitalism accepted as a positive system.
    • Provide fair opportunities so people can succeed on their own.
  • Great Society not a “cure-all” – but sold as one.
  • Vietnam War shatters Liberal consensus.