American Politics: 1945-1968

Truman’s Domestic Policy

  • Unable to advance further New Deal programs due to conservative coalition in Congress (Republicans and Southern Democrats)
  • Civil Rights
    • To Secure These Rights
    • Desegregation of Armed Forces, 1947
  • Election of 1948: Truman (D), Thomas Dewey (R), Strom Thurmond (“Dixiecrats”), Henry Wallace (Progressive)
  • The “Fair Deal”
    • Rapidly dismantles New Deal
    • Assaults Wagner Act with the Taft-Hartley Act, which makes the “closed shop” illegal
  • The “Vital Center”

Dwight D. Eisenhower and “dynamic conservatism”:

  • Maintains (but doesn’t expand) New Deal programs: Department of Health and Welfare
  • National Highway Act; St. Lawrence Waterway
  • Seeks to balance the budget
    • “New Look” military – emphasis on nuclear forces; “more bang for your buck”

Federal gov’t should not get involved in social issues; states should be responsible


John Kennedy

-Election of 1960 RepàVP Nixon, DemàJohn Kennedy

-JFK banked on appearance almost as much as charm

-campaign promised a set of domestic reforms more ambitious called

New Frontier

                        -stymied by Republicans and conservatives (narrow win = lack of approval from the people)

-managed to win tariff redux + began building ambitious legislation for econ growth and cuts in taxes

-Space race!

-Civil Rights bill sent to Congress does not succeed until Johnson is in office

-Assassination by Marxist Lee Harvey Oswald, who was later killed by Jack Ruby, later generates conspiracy theories that people say the Warren Commission Report ignored


Lyndon Johnson

-rags-to-riches Texas hill person who also believed in the active use of power (intimidation + pathos from JFK’s death) and manages to create an impressive legislative record

-constructed a remarkable reform program “Great Society” to fight a “war on poverty” (influenced by The Other America)

-Federal government designs new social welfare programs

Medicare and Medicaid: provides aid to elderly for medical expenses. Comes at the end of a bitter debate about “socialized healthcare”

-available to all elderly, creates large middle class constituency

-doctors could still practice privately; gov’t foots bill

Office of Economic Opportunity: creates array of new edu., emp., housing, and HC programs. Con’tro b/c

-Head Start: free pre-K and K for disad. (Sesame Street)

-“Community Action” –effort to involve members of poor communities in the planning and admin of help programs

–gave jobs and edu, launched careers

–impossible to sustain b/c of corruption and lacking of funding

-envisioned himself as a great “coalition builder” and wanted the support of everyone

Cities, Schools, and Immigration

Housing Act of 1961 offered 4.9 billion to cities for preservation of open spaces, development of mass transit and subsidz of middle-income housing and gov’t funded mass transport

Department of Housing and Urban Development headed by Robert Weaver, #1 AA to serve in Cabinet

Model Cities program inaugurated. Offers federal subsidz to urban redevelopment pilot programs

Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 based on needs of indv students

Immigration Act of 1965 maintains limit on number of newcomers allowed but elims “national origins” limits. More Asians

Legacies of the Great Society

-increase in gov’t spending = increase in deficit

-raise minimum wage

-failures à disillusionment à distrust in American gov’t social reform

-reduced poverty, hunger, elderly issues by approx. 40%

-PBS, Medicare/Medicaid

The King and Kennedy Assassinations

MLK produces a week of rioting

-Kennedy creates the “Kennedy Legacy”—champion of the poor

1968 DNC: so much chaos that Nixon wins because he represented the “silent majority” and promised peace and stability

-known as a “police riot”, meaning that it was not the fault of the protesters


Richard Nixon

-Nixon Doctrine: will help third world countries develop, but not take responsibility

-Champion of the “silent majority”—conservative

-Attempts to dismantle much of the Great Society

-The US can no longer afford to rely on third world countries to supply it with fuel and resources. Instead it does outsourcing. As inflation soars, so does international competition.

-Response: tries to tighten money policy while dealing with a stagnating economy. Starts a cycle of increasing and decreasing money value

Watergate destroys Nixon, who was caught in some sketchy business. This reveals that what the America public expected of the president had changed.



Engel vs. Vitale: Prayers in school violate separation of church and state
Roth vs. United States: Limited local authority to curb pornography
Gideon vs. Wainwright: Pro bono
Escobedo vs. Illinois: Defendant must receive counseling before interrogation
Miranda vs. Arizona: Miranda Rights
Baker vs. Carr: requires state legislatures to apportion electoral districts so that all citizens’ votes would have equal weight

(Warren Burger) FOOD COURT: committed against Nixon and to Social Reform

Swann vs. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education: Forced busing is OK
Furman vs. Geogia: Forced busing is not OK
Roe vs. Wade: abortions legalized due to “right of privacy” based on Griswold vs. Connecticut


Milliken vs. Bradley: rejected a plan to transfer students across district line
Bakke vs. Board of Regents of California: restrictive new guidelines for affirmative action

[Move onto  the Battle for Equality ==>]


2 responses to “American Politics: 1945-1968

  1. Pingback: Map of the US History Guide | Surviving High School: A Hypocrat in a Perpetual State of Procrastination·

  2. Pingback: American Society: 1945-1968 | Surviving High School: A Hypocrat in a Perpetual State of Procrastination·

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s