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What In The World : January 4, 2022

On This Day In History
On January 4, 1965, “The Great Society” was introduced: President Lyndon B. Johnson put before Congress his vision of a Great Society. Having just won the 1964 election in a landslide, Johnson believed the American people had given him a mandate to push for legislation he believed would improve Americans’ quality of life.

In his State of the Union address President Johnson announced an ambitious plan to make sweeping changes in health care, education, the environment, and civil rights. Johnson also initiated a ‘War On Poverty.’

That day was definitely a turning point in the history of the U.S. and the world.

In The World
Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok resigned on Sunday night amidst mass protests. This leaves the military in control of the country.

The civilian government under Hamdok was to be a transition to Democracy after decades of dictatorship. With the military back in control hopes for a democracy are waning.

The former president of the United States, Donald Trump, has endorsed Hungary’s current prime minister, Viktor Orban, in the coming elections. While Trump has no actual authority, he does have some status. His support for an autocratic-leaning leader such as Orban is a source for consternation in the European Union?

Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his party have steadily consolidated power in Hungary by weakening the country’s independent and democratic institutions. They have re-written election laws to favor their own party. They have changed school textbooks, curbed press freedoms, and overhauled the Constitution.

In America:
Snowfall has caught travelers unawares. In addition to chaos at airports where thousands of flights have been cancelled, there have also been pile-ups on the nation’s highways. Notably in Virginia, on a 40-mile stretch of I-95, ice and snow on the roads contributed to truck accidents, which further contributed to stalling traffic. Some drivers and their families were stranded on the highway for 24 hours, some longer than that.

What became of the Great Society? What President Lyndon B. Johnson proposed more than 55 years ago may have seemed unrealistic. But a lot has been accomplished because of Johnson’s push for a “great society.” In civil rights, in health care, in environmental concerns, and in education, sweeping changes were made. Changes that we take for granted today. But we shouldn’t take anything for granted.

All the elements of a “great society” depend largely on a strong democracy.

Upcoming hearings on the January 6th Capitol riots remind us of the fragility of democracy even in the United States. The same former president who tried to stay in power by force is now endorsing Hungary’s prime minister and his consolidation of power away from the electorate. It is sad to see dictators and autocrats taking power and riches for themselves at the expense of a quality life for the many.

Wouldn’t a Great Society be much better?

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