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The Contender
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Lyndon B. Johnson's Presidency

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/2/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,493 times Debate No: 48212
Debate Rounds (5)
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I look forward to debating the topic of the Presidency of Lyndon Baines Johnson, the 36th President of the United States. I am a supporter of the LBJ Presidency.

My opponent will oppose the presidency.I would like to implement some crucial rules:

1. Sources must be cited.
2. Proper grammar and spelling will be used.
3. Fair treatment will be enacted.

I will begin my arguments in the next round.


I'm pleased to argue against the presidency of Lyndon Baines Johnson. I have long held that LBJ was in fact a horrible president who did great damage to his country. I will begin my argument in the next round and layout extensive reasons for his failure. These failures will include some things that many have credited him with over the years. Starting with Civil Rights, the economy, the Vietnam War and others that I will detail. In the next rounds I will also offer rebuttals to my opponent's position and refute his assertions. Finally in the last round I will perform a summary and conclusion demonstrating that Johnson was not only incompetent but so much bordering on criminal.
Debate Round No. 1


I will begin my argument with the Great Society, which includes the issues of civil rights, economy, healthcare, and the environment:

The Great Society

"And with your courage and with your compassion and your desire, we will build a Great Society. It is a Society where no child will go unfed, and no youngster will go unschooled." [1]

PresidentJohnson's vision was immense, yet it was bright. Programs such as Medicaid and Medicare are still around today, andthey benefit this country greatly.

Civil Rights
A key aspect of the Great Society was the Civil Rights Movement. As you know, racial segregation was a very large issue in the 60s.

"On July 2, 1964, Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that banned discrimination based on 'race, color, religion, sex or national origin' in employment practices and public accommodations. The bill authorized the Attorney General to file lawsuits to enforce the new law. The law also nullified state and local laws that required such discrimination." [2]

This was a major issue in the Great Society. President Johnson's vision was a world of harmony, justice, and tolerance.

The Economy
During the Johnson administration, the economy was booming. A controversial aspect of the Great Society was the War on Poverty, which would fight toward eliminating hunger and deprivation from American life. The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 was the centerpiece of the War on Poverty. The act created the following programs [4], among many others:

1. The Job Corps; "provides basic education and work in "separate residential centers for young men and young women, from ages sixteen to twenty-one." [4]

2. Neighborhood Youth Corps; "provides work and training for young men and women, ages sixteen to twenty-one, from impoverished families and neighborhoods." [4]

3. Volunteers in Service of America; "recruits, selects, trains, and refers volunteers to state or local agencies or private nonprofit organizations to perform duties to combat poverty." [4]

These are only some of the programs created by the act. I will only list these three for now. I only have limited time to make this argument. Please give me an opportunity to expand on my arguments and to make more points in the next round. I do not havemuch time to write this argument and I had to rush it. However, you may go forward with your argument.

[1], [3];


During the debate I hope to prove that the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson was a complete and utter failure. I will focus on three main areas for this presentation. They are the Vietnam War, runaway entitlements and a failed war on poverty. In addition I hope to prove that the fate of African Americans had less to do with Johnson's policies and more to do with good old hard work.

By far the most famous,not the most expensive and dangerous failures resulted from LBJ"s escalation of the Vietnam War. More than 50,000 Americans and many more Vietnamese died as a result of that policy. Our country was bitterly divided in ways that still weaken us today, and the economic cost of the war was immense. It contributed to the wave of inflation that shook the country in the 1970s and in addition to the interest on the debt from this foolish war we are still paying the pensions and medical costs for the vets and their spouses.

Johnson continued to send and keep troops in Vietnam and was hated for his escalation of the war. He lost public support and was heckled by the phrase:
"Hey, hey LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?" (1)

The largest expense destroying the nation is the Medicare/Medicaid black hole. These entitlement programs are the biggest single financial problem we face. They dwarf all the Bush-Obama wars; they make TARP look like chump change. They not only cost money we don"t have , and are scheduled to cost much more until they literally ruin the nation. They have distorted our entire health system into the world"s most bloated and expensive monstrosity. Thanks to these programs, we have a health system that marries the greed of the private sector to the ineptitude of government, and unless we can somehow tame these beasts America and everything it stands for could be lost. By comparison Social Security can be relatively easily reformed to be solvent for the next 75 years. The New Deal, whatever its shortcomings, was almost infinitely more realistic and sustainable than the Great Society. (2)

The War on Poverty, and specifically the attempt to treat inner city poverty primarily as a racial problem is another great failure. After the Medicare/Medicaid catastrophe the single greatest policy failure of modern America is urban policy. Since the Great Society era of Lyndon Johnson, the country has poured hundreds of billions of dollars into poor urban neighborhoods. The violence and crime generated in these neighborhoods costs hundreds of billions more. And after all this time, all this money and all this energy, the inner city populations are worse off than before. There is more drug addiction and more social and family breakdown among this population than when the Great Society was began. Incarceration rates have risen to levels that shock the world. The inner city abortion rate has reached levels that must surely appall even the most fervent pro-choicers not on the Planned Parenthood payroll. Forty percent of all pregnancies in New York end in abortion, with higher rates among Blacks; nationally, the rate among Blacks is three times the rate among white women. Put it all together and you have a holocaust of youth and hope on a scale hard to imagine. (3)

Most liberals claim the Great Society deserves so much credit as its backers like to claim. However, most of African-American progress since 1965 is due to the dogged hard work of a people determined to change their own lives. Government action did play a role, but clearly racial attitudes in the United States have dramatically changed, perhaps especially so among conservatives. When conservative Republicans whose parents were Dixiecrat segregationists cheering on Lester Maddox and George Wallace now swoon at the rhetoric of Herman Cain, give standing ovations to Condoleezza Rice, write angry letters to editors when liberal journalists attack Clarence Thomas and elect an African American Republicans to the House and Senate.


1. Brands, H. W. The Wages of Globalism.

2. Dallek, Robert. "Presidency: How Do Historians Evaluate the Administration of Lyndon Johnson?"

3. "The Impact of the Great Society Upon The Lives of Families and Young Children". Infant & Toddler Coordinators Association.
Debate Round No. 2


Some of your poins, I will not deny. However, I think you lack the capacity to realize how much the Great Society has positively influenced this country. The Great Society had flaws and it wasn't the best policy set, but overall, Johnson's vision of a free, economically thriving, peaceful America is what we should give him credit for. You cannot deny his influence in the Civil Rights Movement. You cannot deny his passion and his determination to create a great society for all of us.

When I went to the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum in Austin, I learned quite a lot. When I entered the building, I had nearly no knowledge of the Johnson presidency. When I left, however, that changed. I began to see the goodness and pure greatness within his person and his policy. Lyndon Baines Johnson climbed up the ladder into my list of top ten favorite presidents. That is saying something.

Now, opinions are no good here. For that reason, I will begin making more arguments:

Economic Success of the Great Society

The Great Society wasn't a perfect set of programs, but you can't deny some of the greatness it has accomplished:

"In fact, from 1963 when
Lyndon Johnson took office until 1970 as the impact of his Great Society programs were felt, the portion of Americans living below the poverty line dropped from 22.2 percent to 12.6 percent, the most dramatic decline over such a brief period in this century. Since then, the poverty rate has hovered at about the 13 percent level and sits at 13.3 percent today, still a disgraceful level in the context of the greatest economic boom in our history. But if the Great Society had not achieved that dramatic reduction in poverty, and the nation had not maintained it, 24 million more Americans would today be living below the poverty level."

This is crucial. This can't be denied. Also, I see you are a Republican. I do not want to start the debate between the two parties again, but I will say this: Conservatives are usually the ones that deny the successes of any Democratic programs. Republicans hate the Obama policies, Republicans hate the Great Society, and Republicans somewhat hate the New Deal. Let's put party aside and look at the facts, shall we? The facts are clear: The Great Society had a flaws like any other policy, but its successes cannot be denied.

Below, is another example of a success of this program:

"Since 1965, 79 million Americans have signed up for Medicare. In 1966, 19 million were enrolled; in 1998, 39 million. Since 1966, Medicaid has served more than 200 million needy Americans. In 1967, it served 10 million poor citizens; in 1997, 39 million. The 1968 Heart, Cancer and Stroke legislation has provided funds to create centers of medical excellence in just about every major city‹from Seattle to Houston, Miami to Cleveland, New Orleans to St. Louis. To staff these centers, the 1965 Health Professions Educational Assistance Act provided resources to double the number of doctors graduating from medical schools, from 8,000 to 16,000. That Act also increased the pool of specialists and researchers, nurses, and paramedics. Community health centers, also part of the Great Society health care agenda, today serve almost eight million Americans annually. The Great Society's commitment to fund basic medical research lifted the National Institutes of Health to unprecedented financial heights, seeding a harvest of medical miracles." [2]

I will make plenty more arguments regarding the Great Society in coming rounds. Again, I have limited time to make my arguments and I will now move on with a very important topic:

Vietnam War

No one is perfect. He has made mistakes I will not deny.

"Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ), as he took over the presidency after the death of Kennedy, initially did not consider Vietnam a priority and was more concerned with his 'Great Society' and progressive social programs. Presidential aide Jack Valenti recalls, 'Vietnam at the time was no bigger than a man's fist on the horizon. We hardly discussed it because it was not worth discussing.'" [3]

I will allow you to argue this issue in detail. Again, I do not have much time to make this argument and I had to make it shorter than I would have wished it to be. Please make arguments about Vietnam and I will then make rebuttals.


[1] & [2]



My opponent points to Johnson's passion toward civil rights and ending poverty. I won't deny that he was passionate however he was also misguided. I'm sure that your visit to the LBJ library was no doubt informative however that's like visiting the foxes version of the hen house. As far as my own political background it's true that I'm a Republican but that is not how I really define myself. I tend toward being conservative, libertarian and republican but I'm first and foremost an American. President Johnson was a man who was haunted by trying to become the next FDR. By having his war and an alphabet soup of laws he could be a great man too. The result is a nation buried in debt and an entitlement state doomed to failure.

Lyndon Johnson is almost the definition of the failure of liberalism in America. First he rammed through Congress the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, giving him war powers in Vietnam. Every president since has become war powers crazy and this is a legacy right at Johnson's feet. Next he signed into Law the Civil Rights Act. He called this ambitious undertaking his "Guns and Butter" program. The first part of this equation to go sour was the war effort. Johnson treated the war like a political problem that he could solve by twisting arms in the same way he had got things done in the Senate for so many years. He tried to micro-manage the war as if it were a giant chess game with our troops as the pawns. He went so far as to select bombing targets and to turn missions on and off instead of letting the generals prosecute the war. His Great Society and War on Poverty programs was socially engineering and sentenced our country into a welfare state prison while funding a military adventure overseas. (1)

The results of his Great Society Programs were far more deadly to our nation and future generations. The mammoth social welfare entitlement programs that streamed out of Washington did more damage to the fabric of our society than any number of Vietnams could have done. The irony is, that the segment of our society that it meant to help, was the one that was most grievously harmed. Of all those who fell victim to the welfare mentality, none suffered more than the black communities. These welfare programs have created a new kind of slavery and a permanent underclass. Prior to the Great Society, although blacks were still struggling for equal opportunities and were on the low end of the economic ladder, the black family was for the most part strong and stable. Two parent families were the rule, not the exception. They attended church together, had strong moral values, and did not comprise a majority of the prison population. Compare that to the present state of the black community after 40 years of Liberal Socialism. Our prisons are disproportionally black, unwed mothers and single parent families are the rule, black youths without a strong male role model other than rap stars and basketball players, roam the streets and are drawn into a culture of drugs and crime.

The following statistics are provided by Star Parker's Coalition of Urban Renewal, (CURE).
60 percent of black children grow up in fatherless homes.
800,000 black men are in jail or prison.
70 percent of black babies are born to unwed mothers.
Over 300,000 black babies are aborted annually.
50 percent of new AIDS cases are in the black community.
Almost half of young black men in America's cities are neither working nor in school. What we have here is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode. (2)

This is the legacy of the entitlement society that LBJ's War on Poverty produced. One of the most devastating to the family was that if an unwed woman became pregnant, moved out of the home of her parents, did not name or know who the father was, then their government daddy would provide for all their needs. Therefore they no longer needed a husband or the support of her family. In fact, the more children she had out of wedlock, the more money she would receive from the government. Unfortunately many black men saw this as the best of all possible worlds. They could father as many children as they wanted, from multiple women, without ever having to accept the responsibility of fatherhood. Many women rejected marriage in favor of a boyfriend who could slip in the back door and not jeopardize her government check.

There is an old saying that goes "if you want to feed a man for a day give him a fish. If you want to feed him for life teach him to fish." The Great Society taught a nation to give the poor fish instead of teaching them. The result is a legacy of LBJ's Great Society of misguided compassion defined by liberalism.

1. Free
2. Coalition of Urban Renewal
Debate Round No. 3


Grandbudda, I will be going on vacation soon and will have limited time to be online. Therefore, please do not count it against me if I forfeit a round. Please make a detailed argument and I will respond as soon as I can.

Thank you.


Because my opponent has failed to articulate his reasons for arguing the affirmative it's difficult for me in rebuttal. I really look forward to his points and am confident that I can dispense with each of his arguments. For now I will be content to sit on my previous statements which as of yet remain unchallenged in my opinion. I have articulated my stance and look forward to my opponents summation and conclusion and for mine as well.
Debate Round No. 4


There are two ways you can interpret this debate:
Policy or passion. The title of this debate is "Lyndon B. Johnson's Presidency" and I am proudly on the Pro side. When it comes to policy, the Johnson presidency may not have been satisfactory. But when it comes to passion, the presidency was a marvelous success. I will not deny the flaws of the Great Society and the errors Johnson has made regarding Vietnam. But I will say this: Lyndon Baines Johnson was a great man. He had passion and determination. He was misunderstood, insulted, and lied about. Yet, he persevered in his mission. This mission I will not specify. Because whatever mission it was - the War on Poverty, the Space Program, Vietnam - Johnson had passion. I am only fourteen years old and maybe I am a little naive, but I promise you, I have reasons for supporting Lyndon Baines Johnson. He is a man I idolize. He is a man I respect. One day, I would like to be President of the United States. If I gain that extraordinary honor, I will right his wrongs and serve justice.

Voters, I have a message for you: Please give my opponent the "sources" and "more convincing argument" points. My opponent deserves credit and I enjoyed the experience of debating him. I look forward to future debates we may have.


I think my young opponent performed admirably in his task to argue in favor of the Johnson presidency. We are all victims of our own experiences and I'm not immune to my life experience either. I'm a sixty year old man who grew up during a very difficult time and Vietnam. When I was my opponents age boys from our neighborhood were coming home in body bags. Johnson was completely culpable in keeping facts about the war from the public. He wanted that war to make him great like his idol FDR. I understand that passions run high on my opponents side but they do for me as well. Fifty thousand dead Americans for what? To keep south Vietnam from the communists? Who cares! That war was fought with politicians calling the shots instead of generals and that buck stops right at LBJ. His passion was to become famous but to me and many Americans he has become infamous bordering on criminal.

As for civil rights I will credit LBJ to some extent but the flames of injustice were already smoldering and he saw the potential fire. Civil rights legislation is always credited to the democrats but let me give you a history lesson. It was actually a coalition between democrats and republicans that were able to overcome southern democrat resistance to civil rights. I don't have a problem with civil rights and never have. I do have a problem with the so called Great Society and the war on poverty. The price tag that our nation has had to deal with that started with his war on poverty is staggering. The cost of entitlements is overwhelming and much of it do to duplication and misguided allocation of resources. President Johnson showed the democrat party how to build coalitions and voting blocks by giving them stuff. Too bad our nation has to suffer through it all.

Lyndon Baines Johnson was an accident as a president because of the Kennedy assassination. I think one of the bottom five presidents in all of history.
Debate Round No. 5
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by jamccartney 2 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:23 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro had better conduct because he was slightly more polite. He used better spelling and grammar. Con made more convincing arguments because he wrote more and Pro wasted a round to tell Con that he would be going on vacation. They both used good sources.