Esoteric Dissertations from a One-Track Mind

January 20, 2008

Bill Moyers on LBJ and MLK

Filed under: history — Tags: , , — codesmithy @ 1:28 pm

Bill Moyers did a piece on the role LBJ had in enacting the Civil Rights Act of 1964. President Johnson’s legacy will always be tarnished because of the escalation of the Vietnam War and the haunting chants of “Hey, Hey LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?” Johnson’s policies of war, and support for the Civil Rights movement were central to the Democratic party’s schism in the 1968 election. One could argue that Johnson gave in too much.  By fighting for King, Johnson alienated Southern segregationists while not being progressive enough to preserve votes from Robert Kennedy. This combined with the split over war policy assured that a President with a solidly progressive record would only serve one full term in office.

Johnson’s legacy will always be complex. However, if Moyers story tells us anything, it is the importance of having a President that can empathize, can listen, and will try to do the right thing. For all of Johnson’s flaws, I think we can at least credit him with those traits.



  1. Monday is much more than a day without mail delivery.

    Martin Luther King Jr. stood for freedom and against what he called an “arrogance” in the world.

    We see that today in Ron Paul. Last month on the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, people contributed a big chunk of money to the Ron Paul campaign, because the Tea Party represents freedom. Even more so does MLK day represent peace and freedom. So, the Ron Paul grassroots effort is calling on people who look for freedom to contribute to the Ron Paul campaign.

    Like MLK, Paul stands for freedom for all, and a focus on using the military for directly defending this nation.

    Ron Paul sees rights as belonging to individuals. He cares about individuals.

    Comment by Thomas — January 20, 2008 @ 8:03 pm

  2. Hi Thomas. Don’t get me wrong, I like Ron Paul. I think he is a stand up guy, but you are grandly misrepresenting MLK’s politics if you think he’d endorse Ron Paul’s brand of libertarianism. MLK expressed his support for democratic socialism, something that has been most fully realized in the Scandinavian countries of Norway and Sweden. Here is a short quote from a speech he gave at Frogmore, S.C. in 1966 (source:

    You can’t talk about solving the economic problem of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars. You can’t talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of slums …. we are treading in difficult water, because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong …. with capitalism …. There must be a better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.

    Comment by codesmithy — January 21, 2008 @ 10:01 am

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