Jack wrote this in August, 2005. I have searched all through these photo files and can’t locate the picture of the bumper sticker (photos didn’t save from the original blog site), but if my memory is correct, it said “Dump Johnson.”
I came across this bumper-sticker among my papers a while back. It brought back a lot of memories a lot of you probably aren’t old enough to share.
In 1967, the Vietnam War was still cranking up, more body counts every day. In the streets, the universities, the restaurants, over the evening meals people were arguing over whether we had any business getting our young men killed in Vietnam. Discussing how to end it. Trying to understand why we were there at all.
There was no consensus yet, but there was also no forum for communicating to the Johnson Administration the growing dissatisfaction within the population concerning a foreign war with no clear objectives, no consistent strategy, no obvious way of winning, or even ending it. In those days the citizenry was torn between the desire to support our troops who were fighting, but without the concomitant nuance of supporting a war many believed shouldn’t be.
One of the ways the movement to get the hell out of Vietnam congealed was through empty rhetoric, such as this bumper sticker.
To a limited degree, it worked. Johnson had enough difficulties as a result of Vietnam to convince him not to run for re-election in 1968. The Vietnam War became a major issue in the election.
If Lyndon Johnson had listened to the first murmurings of the people, this country would have been saved a lot of heartache, lives, and a piece of history that every president since would prefer to forget, as Lyndon Johnson’s now mostly forgotten in favor of the next guy who actually was impeached (but almost certainly wouldn’t have been if this population hadn’t been so stirred up over Vietnam).
In the absence of any other means of communicating with the deaf, the rhetorical, empty threat of job loss isn’t an altogether useless approach.
The alternative is for the citizenry to wait as quietly as grazing sheep for another endless war to run the full course, until people are throwing bricks and burning cars in the streets in the next step toward communicating with a deaf government.