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In "My Political Philosophy", an essay published in 1958, Lyndon Baines Johnson (later US President) describes himself:

I am a free man, an American, a United States Senator, and a Democrat, in that order.

I am also a liberal, a conservative, a Texan, a taxpayer, a rancher, a businessman, a consumer, a parent, a voter, and not as young as I used to be nor as old as I expect to be — and I am all these things in no fixed order.

Later in the same essay, LBJ criticizes the false dichotomy within which political questions are sometimes framed:

This equation process is much a part of our party systems and contributes to the myth of the concept that "there are two sides to every question." True, there are two parties. That is not the same as two sides. But, by maintaining the two-side concept, we satisfy our consciences — again as a matter of convenience — that when a partisan majority has prevailed there is no need to examine either the majority's side or the minority's side again. Our reasoning is that since there are two sides, either side would have been acceptable, and hence the answer decided by political strength does not require closer scrutiny.

I think otherwise. This popular view is, I feel, very much counter to our American philosophy based on the thinking of men like Jefferson and Madison. I do not believe we have arrived at an answer until we have found the national answer, the answer all reasonable men can agree upon, and our work is not done until that answer is found — even if the process requires years of our lives.

Lyndon Johnson concludes with:

Some who equate personal philosophies with popular dogma might inquire, endlessly, as to my "position" on this issue or that issue or some other. Philosophies, as I conceive them at least, are not made of answers to issues, but of approaches more enduring and encompassing than that. By these approaches I have set down, I can seek and, I believe, find answers to the issues of 1958 or 1978, as they arise.

(The article "My Political Philosophy" originally appeared in The Texas Quarterly, Vol. I, No. 4, Winter 1958, and is reprinted in the 1964 collection A Time for Action: A Selection from the Speeches and Writings of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1953-64; cf. LivingPhilosophy (12 Jun 1999), ...)

TopicPhilosophy - TopicSociety - Datetag20061006

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