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What Democrats can learn from Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society

Published February 3, 2020 by CNN

Democrats are laser-focused on winning the 2020 presidential election, but what remains less obvious is the vision that will unify them and appeal to others in November and beyond. Even as they debate often profound policy disagreements, a successful Democratic candidate must inspire Americans with a clearer, bolder vision than President Trump has offered for what America can be in the 21st century. He or she must understand that policy matters, but purpose matters more.

For those seeking inspiration for such an approach, Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society offers a compelling case study of what the federal government can achieve and how grassroots activists can help move Washington toward a better place if animated by a clear purpose.
When Johnson delivered his Great Society speech on May 22, 1964, at the University of Michigan, he called Americans to a higher purpose. In the midst of social convulsions and divisions unseen in modern America, Johnson offered a vision of American freedom born of our bedrock values — tolerance, pluralism and the rule of law — and he challenged Americans to extend the benefits and responsibilities of those values to everyone, expanding our notion of American citizenship.
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