Reviving LBJ’s Vision

Talk about a Green New Deal is rife these days, but perhaps what we should be talking about instead is a Green Great Society. Actually, Lyndon Johnson’s vision of the great society was green from the get-go, so maybe we could just call for a renewed Great Society. What the Great Society is known for now is its anti-poverty campaign. Conservatives have focused their attacks on that for decades. But the anti-poverty effort did have some clear successes that are now deeply embedded in our society, such as Medicaid and food stamps. And there was much more to Johnson’s vision than anti-poverty efforts, including urban planning, education, and the environment. When he announced the Great Society in a commencement speech at the University of Michigan, Johnson gave the environment a leading place. He began his May 1964 speech with the plight of American cities, where he decried “the decay of the centers and the despoiling of the suburbs.” Then he turned to the…

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