Juan Williams says on the Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, Congress Should Learn From Our Four Living Presidents

Juan Williams says on the Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, Congress Should Learn From Our Four Living Presidents

Fifty years later we are locked in a time of deep political division in America, frustrated by a Congress that can’t deal with a national immigration crisis, protect the right to vote or even pass a jobs bill to help the struggling economy.

But this Thursday, four presidents – Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter – will stand together at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas.

The historical significance of this moment cannot be overstated. The presidents will come together as a powerful symbol of America’s ability, as demonstrated 50 years ago, to do what it takes to solve the most painfully difficult national problems.

The pressures on President Johnson, the Congress and the nation 50 years ago make today’s politics and arguments over spending and immigration seem tame.

The presidents will gather to honor the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. They will be there out of respect for the leadership of President Johnson, a white, Southern president who put his political future on the line to sign the bill. And they will be calling attention to the mix of Republicans and Democrats who also put their political best interests to the side to heal a deep racial wound and change the nation.

With the current Congress, it defies political reality to imagine that 50 years ago it was possible for two conservative white Republicans, Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen of Illinois and Ohio Rep. William McCulloch, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, to work with Democrats. They had support as well from liberal Republican Sen. Jacob Javits of New York to make a deal with the leader of the opposing party, President Johnson, and make history.

Who today can believe that the House passed the controversial bill first, with 153 Democrats and 136 Republicans voting ‘Yes’? The bill was tied up in the Senate by the obstructionist tactics of white segregationists for four months. It was Republicans who pushed the bill over the line; it would not have passed without their votes.

The pressures on President Johnson, the Congress and the nation 50 years ago make today’s politics and arguments over spending and immigration seem tame.

In 1964, the prior century of American history added to the intensity of the political drama.

In 1863, 100 years earlier, President Lincoln, the founder of the modern Republican Party, signed the Emancipation Proclamation to free the slaves. It took an amendment to the Constitution – the 13th – to abolish slavery.

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Source: Fox News

Juan Williams joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in 1997 as a contributor and is also a co-host of FNC’s “The Five,” where he is one of seven rotating Fox personalities. Additionally, he serves as FNC’s political analyst, a regular panelist on “Fox News Sunday” and “Special Report with Bret Baier” and is a regular substitute host for “The O’Reilly Factor.” 

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