The question I am about to answer can not be answered in brief. To fully comprehend the similarities and differences between John F. Kennedy’s “New Frontier” and Lyndon B. Johnson’s “Great Society” you must understand their intentions first. John F. Kennedy was not an ordinary President. He was one with a certain “charisma”, as some put it. He was very blunt and knew how to get what he wanted. During his rain as President, he created the reform program know as the “New Frontier”. The New Frontier was developed to assure Americans of the upcoming sixties’ challenges. This was a program that affected all. Under the influence of the New Frontier Kennedy promised to defend freedom around the world. He stated:
“Let every nation know, whether it wish us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend or oppose any foe in order to assure the survival and success of liberty. This we pledge and more.” Soon Kennedy’s speech would be put to the test. The debate over communism or democracy was still going on. The Cold War had not yet ended.
During his presidency Kennedy was determined to lower unemployment by creating more jobs. He expanded the space program and stimulated military spending. He also cut taxes to give Americans a little more money to spend. This tax cut lead to a period of prosperity. He proposed a medical care program for the elderly. It was rejected by congress. Kennedy appointed black officials to higher government positions to support a Civil Rights Law he was delaying to propose.
Kennedy’s program was a big hit. A national poll indicated that at least 60% of Americans approved his presidential stature. However, Kennedy was soon going to learn that all of his good will and future plans would be evaporated. On November 22, 1963 John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated. Millions of Americans watched his own death as he greeted the crowd strolling down a street in Dallas, Texas. The New Frontier was over.
After Kennedy’s assassination vice president Lyndon B. Johnson took over Presidency. LBJ was the complete opposite of Kennedy. He lacked the charisma that Kennedy used to win his audiences. LBJ immediately assured the world that America was going to make it through this awkward time in history. LBJ understood that America needed a plan like the New Frontier for support. He created the “Great Society”.
The Great Society was a program that used America’s prosperity as a means to improve the economy and help people live a prosperous lifestyle. It was based on the New Frontier. Like the New Frontier it had both accomplishments and failures. The Great Society’s main reforms were in medical care for the elderly, aids to education, and plans to diminish poverty. At the time many families lived a life of poverty and/or were barely getting by. Thus the “unconditional war on poverty” was put into effect. Federal programs to help the poor were created. These programs included loans to those in need, low-income housing, and job training. To some the effort was a success and nearly 10 million were put back to work.
LBJ supported a medical plan for the elderly and congress passed it. That wasn’t the only successful thing that had passed, he also got the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 passed as well. Soon he convinced congress to create a new place in the cabinet called the Department of Housing and Urban Development or HUD. To show he supported Civil Rights he appointed Robert Weaver as the head of the department, making him the first black cabinet member.
The New Frontier was considered a success due to its period of time used. Some say that if it were kept in affect America would have stayed prosperous for longer. The New Frontier founded many of programs in which are still in use today. This program set the cornerstone for future Presidencies and their programs. The Great Society was a success in many ways. It not only helped the economy it helped the average citizen as well. This program ran off of prosperity and it soon produced enough to run itself. LBJ created one of the greatest reform programs in our nations history (in my opinion).
Although the New Frontier and the Great Society share similarities and were created on the same circumstances they share different failures and outcomes. The New Frontier, for example, came to a drastic end due to Kennedy’s assassination and the Great Society just died out after LBJ’s terms in the presidency. Both programs covered some ground on Civil Rights but neither of them tackled the situation. Many Americans, black or white, still were influenced by racism or lack of Civil rights.
These reform programs were some of the nations must influential ideas put into everyday use in our history. They not only earned a place in history but they changed it. Some of there plans, bills, and laws are the basis of our society today. With out them we might not be able to be as prosperous as we are today.
Even though many Americans who were subjected to racism and/or discrimination reformed in different ways and Civil Rights really didn’t take its effect on society substantially, it is one of our founding cornerstones in our society today. If not for those reform programs, which gave Civil Rights its push, we could still possibly have semi-segregated commonwealth. Through out history there have been many presidential plans and reform programs to help improve society. These two are among the best. No doubt about it, the best.