The address of President Lyndon Johnson to the University of Michigan in 1964 has been give priority in this document. The test of the success of the nation lies in the ability of the American people to exercise liberty and pursue happiness for the general population. These are the main pillars of the country’s life in relation to President Johnson. Happiness and liberty are the main components of a peaceful living. By highlighting these attributes in his opening sentence; the president’s appeal to the people is that of sobriety and peaceful coexistence. The president reminds the people that for a century they fought to claim what is now called the American continent. He further states that for half a century the American people embarked on inventions and innovations that have put the country above the rest. The president outlines the main challenge in this century as that of managing the wealth generated by earlier generations to better the lives of the people. In his statements he reiterates the need for wisdom when dealing with this situation (Rodgers, 2011, p124).
This can be summarized as a call to the American people to stand up and defend their legacy. By touching on the wealth created by earlier generations, the president is passing a message of hope and restoration of the American values. The president describes the great society as a place where every child has a chance to use his knowledge to enrich his mind. The president outlines three areas where reconstruction of the American society is supposed to begin. These include the cities, the classrooms and the countryside. He has used this term to explain the three main pillars of a successful society. These are; education, infrastructure and food availability. From his speech, the president is requesting the people to focus more on these three aspects.
In his address to the national association of American evangelicals, President Reagan had other views about the American society. He opens his speech by acknowledging the role of religious groups in the building of the American society. This is an issue that had no coverage in Johnson’s address. While Reagan concentrates on religious beliefs as the instigators of social growth and development, Johnson preferred that use of education and riches as the means to achieve the same goal. This contrast is evident in the way these two presidents gave their opening speeches. The other big contrast between these two speeches is Reagan’s reiteration the freedom and liberty are things that can only be enjoyed with the full blessings of God (Rodgers, 2011, p164). This is a religious perspective that Johnson ignored and based his theory of growth in self preservation. The other major point of departure between these two speeches is the audience. While Reagan chose to address the religious and more conservative part of the population, Johnson went for the secular and more liberal society.
The undertones in each speech were designed to identify with the target audience. Reagan pointed out that the political philosophy that motivates his administration is largely influenced by religious beliefs and respect for each other. Reagan decided to tackle the issue of parenting head on without relying on sweet words while Johnson used good words to express the same sentiments. this is evident in his speech where he asks the American people to be wise and uphold the ideals of the great society which should be passed down to generations. This phrase emphasizes the importance of parenting in the society. The other main difference between these two speeches is the way the role of religion has been brought out. Reagan states that he has asked the congress to pass the amendment that will allow prayers in American schools. This is different from Johnson’s view which embraces secularism and wealth creation at every level. By admitting that the country has a legacy of evil doing, Reagan is admitting to the society’s failure to address the social ills that face it. Such is the situation that Johnson seeks to address in his speech although it is done in a passive manner. By relating to a story of the young man who preferred his daughter to die in Christ than grow up to be an irresponsible person, Reagan is trying to instill a sense of responsibility into the audience through the narration. In contrast, Johnson relies on stories of successes of the forefathers to instill a sense of responsibility into his audience (Rodgers, 2011, p313).
Daniel T. Rodgers, ‘Age of fracture’, New York City, NY: Harvard University Press, 2011