The political education of Lyndon Baines Johnson : the making of a Texas and national Democrat




Young, Mark Eldon

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Lyndon Johnson, the thirty-sixth President, had a profound affect on the Democratic Party in America. Johnson was contradictory, supportive, and harmful to the Democratic Party during the middle decades of the twentieth century. In a new interpretation of Johnson the politician, this dissertation explores Johnson's early partisan development and ascent as Democratic Leader in the United States Senate. Furthermore this dissertation evaluates the reasons for Johnson's ambiguous relationship with the Democratic Party. Johnson's first teacher in the art of Democratic politics was his father, Sam Ealy Johnson. This revisionist study of Johnson emphasizes for the first time how Sam Ealy Johnson taught his son about the art of pragmatic political behavior. However, his father's lessons and Johnson's early application of political knowledge was in the context of the Democratic one-party world of Texas politics. Johnson took his understanding of politics in a hegemonic Democratic system and soon applied it to a series of positions first as a Congressional Secretary, then as a New Deal administrator, and later as Congressman and Senator. By the end of his first senate term, Johnson's vision of what it meant to be a Democrat had changed little. Yet his focus on achieving consensus put him in opposition to the political objective of other Democrats. The partisan problems Johnson encountered after six years only increased later in his Senate career and as President.




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