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A High-Wire Crusade: Republicans and the War on Poverty, 1966

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/07/2019
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Policy History
Issue number3
Number of pages24
Pages (from-to)382-405
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date13/06/19
<mark>Original language</mark>English


During 1966, the Republican Party launched a largely successful challenge to Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty.” Republican candidates pursued an anti–War on Poverty midterm strategy, which made antipoverty programs the symbol of Great Society liberalism, rather than its more popular programs, such as Medicare or the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Moreover, in Congress and on the campaign trail, Republicans offered well-crafted alternatives—such as their “Opportunity Crusade”—to offset charges of negativism and elitism that had dogged the Grand Old Party (GOP) since the creation of the New Deal in the 1930s. Significantly, while the War on Poverty survived the year, the Republican minority was unexpectedly successful in making important changes to the Economic Opportunity Act during the antipoverty legislation’s renewal. Overall, the Republican challenge to the War on Poverty in 1966, boded ill for the program’s longevity when the GOP finally secured the levers of power.