20 Things I Learned from Reading #Nixonland

1. On The Great Society

During his presidency, Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society Initiatives included creating the? Department of Housing and Urban Development, the High Way beautification act, a Water Quality, a Clean Air act….The Republican national committee could barely raised the $200K each month necessary to keep its office open. (p.13)

2. New Deal Liberals created the middle class then turned around and started criticizing the middle classes consumption of cheap products. (p.42). Fascinating. How could this possibly been productive? Talk down to the people who believed in you and your policies?

3. JFK on the Democratic party in a debate with Nixon.

I come out of the Democratic party, which in this century has produced Woodrow Wilson…..Nixon comes out of the Republican party. He was nominated by it….for the last of these twenty five years, the Republican leadership has opposed federal aid for education, medical care for the aged, development of the Tennessee Valley, development of our natural resources (p.56).

4. Joe Kennedy fixed it so that JFK’s book, Profiles in Courage won the Pulitzer prize (p. 59). #Joewasgully.

5. In 1965 Democrats made up most of registered voters. Nixon NEEDED Democrats to win (p. 69).

6. 1966 Civil Rights Act? was introduced by President LBJ, and at its center was Title IV to outlaw housing discrimination (p.77). White folks were not having this shit.

To those who claimed? it was unconstitutional for the federal government to interfere with the private housing market, the bill’s supporters pointed out how deeply the federal government subsidized the private housing market.

White folks faught this tooth and nail writing to their congressmen’s mailboxes saying,

This takes away a person’s rights. We are people and need someone to protect us.

Freedom for all- including the white race, please! (p.77).

7. Nixon had William Safire on retainer to write his speeches. #ummhmm

8. Perlstein called Strom Thurmond a racist gargoyle. Shit made me laugh.

9. In 1962, lying about Vietnam was now a Washington way of life. (p.99). As soon as I read this I thought, to what extent are we being lied to about Afghanistan and Iraq.

10. On Chicago’s awful housing for Black folks.

In the late 1940’s Chicago, when the postwar housing shortage was at its peak, you could find ten Black families living living in a basement, sharing a single stove but not a single flush toilet, in “apartments” subdivided by cardboard. One racial bombing or arson happen every three weeks. The job of the mayors Commission on Human Relations was to see that none of these incidents made it into one of the city’s six daily papers. (p.106).

11.? SPONGE (Society for the Prevention of Negros Getting Everything). A gang of Italian kids in Summer of 1966 in Brooklyn who were ready to go at it in the name of a race war (p.109).

The name of this organization reminds me of White fear that Black folks gone take everything, if they got the chance. Yes it is irrational, but it is hella real and needs to be acknowledge. Isn’t this a Tea Party talking point as well?

12. MLK on Chicago ” I think the people of Mississippi ought to come to Chicago to learn how to hate.” (p.119)

13.When a Black man tried to move in the Chicago community of Cicero in 1951 the ensuing white riot was so big it made news around the world (p.123).

According to Wiki,

“Between July 10 and 12, 1951, approximately two to five thousand white Cicero residents attacked an apartment building housing a single black family.”

16. On White Flight from DC to the Suburbs.

From my work on the Oakland + Crack project, I know that where white white people go, government funding for houses, roads, schools follows.

18. On the Republicans and Whites.

The Republicans were only following the lead of the public. Millions of voters were newly equation Republicanism with preserving their homes, and voting Democratic with surrendering them. In California, people who’d voted Democrat their entire adult lives were pledging fealty to Ronald Reagan(p.126).

This is huge, and one of the main reasons why I wanted to read this book in the first place.

19. There is a difference between policy + law and a budget and the political will to enforce it. The fight over school integration speaks to this.

20. On Guns and Butter.

The notion that the nation could afford both Vietnam ad the Great Society – “Guns and Butter”- was a central organizing principal of his presidency (p.139).

Its incredible that he thought we could afford wars and a society that invested in keeping people alive, educated and working. Its 2010, how does Guns and Butter play now?

What was the most surprising thing you have read in Nixonland?

Did you know his mom was a pacifist?

Would our country had been different, racially + politically without a Nixon?

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 7,934 other subscribers


  1. Renina says

    Hi Tasasha (so glad I didn’t misspell your name)

    Thank you for stopping by and commenting.
    Awesome. This book sounds like it dovetails perfectly with Nixonland.


  2. Renina says

    I HAD BEEN talking about it. Then finally decided to do it….Been chatting about Twitter.

    You want to join. Would Love to have you.


  3. says

    I’m gonna read it. I know you were talking about it, but this came before the other one announcing the book in the google reader, so I thought y’all were done!

  4. Renina says

    Nah. I did two posts last night. I think I need to do a Join the New Model Minority Book Club post. Thank you for pointing this out. I just assumed that folks knew.

  5. msdailey says

    This post is very interesting and informing.

    #11 is like Woah.

    So since the 60s and LBJ and Nixon, has anything really changed?

  6. Renina says

    Join the reading Group. Its going to be SOOOO good and epic. I have a head start so imma slow down and start reading stuff for the fall for class…but still come up w/ discussion points. Plus the author of the book and I have been going back and forth on twitter.


    It should be in the MD/DC public library. Its big, but a REALLY fast read.

  7. says

    im just getting into it but re: point 16 directly and 2,6, 10, 12, 18-20 read the failures of intergration by Sheryll Cashin

  8. arieswym says

    I’m catching up on the blogs in my Google reader but I wanna join the book club. I got it out the library last week. I wasn’t expecting an 800 pg book tho…

    In response to your points, (before I’ve read)
    2 – They initially criticized the middle class consumption but then used Americans’ middle class consumerism as a point of pride during the Cold War.
    The mass amounts of objects Americans could afford were used as non-military displays of America’s supremacy.
    “The US State Department had begun developing domestic consumption as a propaganda weapon [in 1949] in divided Berlin” (Castillo, 262) (From the Journal of Contemporary History)

    9 – Lying about wars in general is the American establishment way. Yellow journalism ginned up enough fervor to push the US into the Spanish American War. Pre-Pearl Harbor FDR presented the US as neutral but used the Lend-Lease Act to provide for and support the Allies and essentially provided security to all ships in the Atlantic thru the US Navy.

    10/16/18 I second skipp’s point about the Failures of Integration by Sheryll Cashin. It’s also well covered in The Hidden Cost of Being African-American by Thomas Shapiro and When Affirmative Action Was White by Ira Katznelson

    16 – I think that white people go to where govt funding has been established. The money comes first then most of the people

    I don’t think the country would have been that different without a Nixon because he wasn’t the only one that believed in his ideology and put it into a governing format. He did what he did well but others did it too.