Andrew Leonard: Lyndon Johnson's Tea Party
[Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon.]
I've been reading"Nixonland," Rick Perlstein's illuminating history of how the U.S. fractured into red and blue. Here's an excerpt covering the midterm elections of 1966, just two years after Lyndon Johnson's enormous landslide victory over Barry Goldwater.
Tuesday came the deluge."In the space of a single autumn day," announced Newsweek,"the 1,000 day reign of Lyndon I came to an end." Twenty-seven of Johnson's forty-eight Democratic freshmen were swept out -- the class that had brought America the Voting Rights Act, Medicare, federal aid to education. The Republicans won their first gains in party identification in twenty years."
The backlash against the Great Society did not immediately threaten Democratic control of the House and Senate. The Republicans gained 47 seats in the House, and still were down by 60! In the Senate, the GOP only gained three seats, leaving Democrats with 63. But there's little doubt that the pendulum had started to swing. The Voting Rights Act and associated civil rights legislation ended Democratic dominance in the South, contributed to Richard Nixon's victory in 1968 and put into motion the forces that swept Ronald Reagan into power....
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