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1. In assessing and interrogating the success and /or failures of social protest many social scientists and historians introduce the “ human dimensions” of leadership as an explanatory variable (factor) , with regard to its impeding or catalyzing effects on policy and actions. In so doing they examine critically, the strengths and flaws of personal actions by these leaders in their quest for social change. With this context as a framework, please evaluate the leadership of Cesar Chavez, Martin Luther King Jnr, and FDR, with regards to how the “ human dimensions” of their leadership impacted their efforts, positively or negatively, to bring about change in our nation.
2. Recently, policy makers , commentators and academics have all tried to draw parallels between the historical juncture and policy dilemmas faced by President Johnson as he was trying to make a decision between two “ contending imperatives “- the War on Poverty and the War in Vietnam; and the situation President Obama faced on taking office in 2009 in dealing with a severe fiscal crisis ( the Great Recession) – impacting employment massively and negatively- while executing a War in Afghanistan , which he himself had once described as a necessary one , and the ongoing War on Terror.
a) What were the major issues facing LBJ, the divergent policy options; and what was his decision and with what consequences?
b) What are/were the major issues facing the Obama administration, what were the divergent policy options and what has been his decision(s) and with what consequences?
Finally, do you see any parallels between President Johnson’s actions in Vietnam and President Obama’s in Afghanistan? Why or why not? Explain fully!
a) When Lyndon B. Johnson became president, America is rocked by civil unrests that are threatening to cause social and political turmoil. Labor protests, civil right activism as well as organized crimes are among the pressing issues during his presidency. Poverty is an incremental social issue in America that Johnson has inherited from previous administrations. Social unrests characterize the 1960’s and Johnson’s ‘ War on Poverty’ would serve as a deviation from an already critical scenario, which is further heightened by the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Also, Johnson was trying to create a legacy of his own, reminiscent of the ‘ New Deal’ program of the Roosevelt administration. Johnson wants to be seen as a man of action. While the ‘ War on Poverty’ secures Johnson’s social agenda, the ‘ War on Vietnam’ would secure his political agenda. Aside from curbing poverty, combating the spread of communism would be a popular political agenda that the Johnson administration would like to capitalize.
b) The struggling economy and the constant threat of terrorism as the two most pressing issues that Obama’s presidency would have to deal with. After a deep recession and the terrorist attack of 9/11, the Obama administration inherited a troublesome past from the previous Bush administration. To address these issues, Obama continued the Bush’s economic stimulus package by allocating funds to unemployment, education and health care. On the other hand, the ‘ War on Terror’, which was a brainchild of the Bush administration is still being consistently pursued in Obama’s presidency. Without any major change of policies from the previous administration, Obama’s presidency is criticized for not being able to initiate change. Obama’s health care policies, which is considered as the focal point of his presidency, is still being viewed with skepticism wherein Medicare payment might not be able to cover for the actual cost of health care spending which would force the government to increase taxes.
The Johnson and Obama administration has inherited a troublesome past from their previous administration. However, while Johnson is driven by his desire to take action, Obama is quite tiptoeing his way into his national and foreign policies. Vietnam, for example, was an aggressive decision taken by Johnson while Afghanistan was a just a continuation of the ‘ War on Terror’ that was started by the Bush administration, which the Obama administration would have to contend whether he likes it or not. Also, the Obama administration is less intent in using military action as it intends to decrease the U. S. military manpower. According to its military agenda of 2011, a massive downsizing of its troops will reduce the military’s standing army from 514, 000 soldiers to 450, 000 soldiers by 2019.
3. Much to Shirley Chisholm’s credit the U. S Congress approved the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in1972, and by 1973, 30 states had ratified it. Yet the ERA encountered significant opposition from Phyllis Schlafly and others.
a) Based on the primary sources, what were the pressing issues facing women in the 1970s? To what extent have women made progress in the twentieth – first century and how did Chisholm’s legacy affect such?
b) Chisholm always saw herself as teacher. How did Chisholm campaign for public education and to expand access to higher education and, finally,
c) Why did Chisholm run for the presidency? And what did she believe were the most compelling issues facing the American people at that time?
a) Scholars refer to the 1970’s era as the second wave of Feminism in the United States. Feminism has come a long way from being a suffrage struggle, towards a a struggle for further equality in social, political and occupational environment. Among the primary issues that women face or have been allegedly facing is the unequal recognition of women’s talents and abilities or the unequal opportunity given to women. Accordingly, women are considered as an inferior gender wherein some jobs are off-limits to them. Apparently, in the 20th and 21st century, women have taken major roles in almost all areas of endeavors. Being the first African-American woman to be elected in congress, Shirley Chisholm is perceived as the icon of women’s struggle for equality both in political and occupational status.
b) Shirley Chisholm was primarily an educational consultant in the day care division of New York from 1959 to 1964 before she launched her political career. Because of her strong attachment to education, primary to Chisholm’s political agenda is to provide equal opportunities for women in basic and higher education. Chisholm was notable in her works with black colleges and compensatory education, which laid the framework of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and other compensatory programs in education today.
c) For Chisholm, her bid for presidency is not based on winning as she, herself, knew that winning would be impossible given the current political scenario of the U. S. Accordingly, her candidacy is not to win but to make a statement. In contemplation of her unsuccessful bid for the presidency, Chisholm stated, ““ The next time a woman runs, or a black, or a Jew or anyone from a group that the country is ‘ not ready’ to elect to its highest office, I believe that he or she will be taken seriously from the start I ran because somebody had to do it first”. Chisholm believes that gender equality and poverty are the most compelling social issue of America during her time. For the same reason, she advocated numerous civil right movements aimed at addressing such issues.
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