DBQ: Were LBJ’s Great Society Programs Effective?
In 1964, President Johnson proposed his vision for the United States called the Great Society. Johnson’s goal was to end poverty and racial injustice and to give every child an opportunity to receive a good education. Would President Johnson’s Great Society programs meet his goals or would they become a burden to taxpayers?
Use your knowledge of the era, and documents A, B, C, and D to answer the questions at the bottom and the essential question below.
“Project Head Start was created during the headly, idealistic dats if the mid-1960s. President Lyndon Johnson believed that it was the bnatin’s duty to prvide not just legal equality but also equality of opportunity. In his 1965 commencement address at Howard University, he called for the “next and the more profound stage” in the civil rights stuggle. “we seek not just freedom but opportunity”… Johnson’s War on Poverty would ubclude a host of initiatives designed to bring blacks and other disadvantaged Americans to what he called “:the starting line” of American life with the skills and abilities necessary to compete on a level playing field. The War on Poverty focused on education as a tool for upward mobility, and Head Start was to become one of the cornerstones of the federal effort.”
- Competing Visions, Ron Haskins 2004
“On many domestic issues, (Senator) Dirksen continued the balancing act so central to his effectiveness, as he saw it: maintain a constructive relationship with the opposition and the loyalty of the Republican troops. He took issue with Medicare for example “I would be eligible” he said indignantly. “Why should I be allowed to use dollars the government is taking from some young factory worker in Cleveland in the promise of providing for his old age? The accumulation of Great Society spending programs appalled Dirksen. The taxpayers would have to come up with nearly $160 billion to fund them. Moreover, the programs brought with them an expanding federal bureaucracy and increasing centralization. To Dirkensen, the great Society was a misguided attempt at creating an immediate utopian “blueprint for paradise.”
- - The Education of a Senator, Frank H Mackaman 1998
1. According to Document A, why did President Johnson use Head Start as part of his War on Poverty?
2. Which documents imply that the Great Society had a positive effect on the lives of Americans? Explain
3. In Document C, what viewpoint does Senator Dirksen take toward the Great Society programs?
4. Writing Task: Would President Johnson’s Great Society programs meet his goals, or would they become a burden to taxpayers? Use your knowledge of the era, and specific evidence in documents A-C to answer the question