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Firing Line: Firing Line With William F. Buckley- Wilbur Cohen And The Great Society in 1967
One of the things if not the main thing that united the Republican Party in the mid and late 1960s, was President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society agenda and all the social insurance programs that came with it. Similar to President Clinton in 1993-94 with his deficit reduction plan, crime bill and failed health care reform attempt. Conservatives in America saw the growth of the Federal Government in the 1960s as a threat to individual freedom. Which is why they united behind Senator Barry Goldwater in 1964 and conservative candidates for Congress in 1966 and 68. And why they united behind Richard Nixon for President in 1968.
The GOP saw the Johnson Administration wanting to make America like Europe with a large welfare state. With things like Medicare and Medicaid, Head Start, Public Housing, increasing public education funding from the Federal Government, etc. And conservatives in America like Bill Buckley and others saw all of these programs as unconstitutional under the 10th Amendment. And didn’t like the new tax hikes that came from Medicare, especially since America was a fairly low tax country. Pre-FDR New Deal, LBJ Great Society and still a low tax country today compared with Europe. But Classical Conservatives and Libertarians, still believe that America is still overtaxed as a country.
American Conservatives wanted to get behind candidates and politicians who would work to downsize or eliminate the New Deal and Great Society. And they saw the Johnson Administration and Secretary Wilbur Cohen of the Department of Health, Welfare and Education, as people who wanted to make America more like Europe from the Federal Government. At the expense of individual freedom and state and local governments and try to centralize the power with the Federal Government.
This is how Barry Goldwater, Ron Reagan and other Conservatives got into to power. And how Dick Nixon got back into power in 1968 and how more Conservative Republicans got elected to Congress in the late 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s. And how the Republican Party became relevant again in the Federal Government and across America. By running against the New Deal and Great Society and saying that they want to change it and still try to solve the same problems. But do it in a way that gives the people more individual freedom in how they solve their own problems.
In some ways the Goldwater defeat in 1964 and the LBJ Great Society was great for the Republican Party. Because it brought them together and united them behind the same agenda. And why you saw more conservatives run for Congress and get elected especially in the 70s, 80s and 90s. Like Trent Lott, Ted Stevens, Orrin Hatch, Al Simpson, Newt Gingrich, Dick Cheney and may others. Because the Republican Party came together behind the same agenda. And how the Rockefeller faction of the party almost faded away.
From → Firing Line