Remaking the Democratic Party
Lyndon B. Johnson as a Native-Son Presidential Candidate
Examining Southern support for Johnson throughout his political career and his transformative leadership of the Democratic Party
A continuation of Hanes Walton Jr.’s work on Southern Democratic presidents, Remaking the Democratic Party analyzes the congressional and presidential elections of Lyndon Baines Johnson. This study builds upon the general theory of the native-son phenomenon to demonstrate that a Southern native-son can win the presidency without the localism evident in the elections of Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.
Although ridiculed by contemporaries for his apparent lack of control over formal party politics and the national committee, Johnson excelled at leading the Democratic Party’s policy agenda. While a senator and as president, Johnson advocated for—and secured—liberal social welfare and civil rights legislation, forcing the party to break with its Southern tradition of elitism, conservatism, and white supremacy. In a way, Johnson set the terms for the continuing partisan battle because, by countering the Democrats’ new ideology, the Republican Party also underwent a transformation.
“Walton argues persuasively that no modern president did more to remake his own political party than Lyndon Johnson. Timely too are his conclusions that LBJ’s Democratic Party and the opposition Republican Party were reshaped into the movements we recognize today, and that central to this seismic shift was the issue of race. This work offers an important contribution to the field of presidential studies. The research is impressive and original.”
—Michael L. Collins, Regents Professor and Professor Emeritus, Midwestern State University
“An invaluable resource for students of Texas electoral history and the electoral career of Lyndon Johnson. For years to come this will be the work to go to on these subjects.”
—Robert C. Smith, San Francisco State University
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