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Chapter Eleven. Richard Nixon, the Great Society, and Social Reforms: A Lost Opportunity?

Romain Huret

Subject History » Political History
Study of History » Historiography

Place Americas » Northern America

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

People Nixon, Richard

Key-Topics legislation and regulations

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781444330175.2011.00013.x


During the 1968 presidential campaign, Richard Nixon appeared in Deshler, Ohio, a swing state crucial to his run for the presidency. A young supporter carried a poster with a simple slogan, “Bring US Together!” Nixon used the opportunity to clarify his views on the meaning of his program: “that will be the great objective of the administration, to bring the American people together” ( Nixon 1978 : 335). Months later, his domestic policy adviser, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, used Benjamin Disraeli's metaphor of “two nations” to define Nixon's main purpose. Once he was in office, Nixon decided to carry out this goal of uniting the two nations. His administration attempted to transform from within the Great Society's programs: the dismantlement of the welfare state was not part of its agenda. With the help of his advisors, Nixon tried to reduce the scope of intervention of the federal government to make it more efficient and less adventurous. Using his expertise in social engineering, Moynihan convinced the president that many social programs of the Great Society had been ill prepared and ill implemented. It was under Richard Nixon – the first president to endorse a guaranteed income – that entitlements replaced education and job training as the centerpiece of antipoverty programs. The domestic legislation passed during Nixon's two terms was, for someone who never claimed to be a liberal, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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