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伟大的期盼与极大的失望:20世纪60年代的美国(英文)

Andreas Etges  
【摘要】:正The inauguration of John F.Kennedy on January 20,1961 was seen by many as the beginning of a new era in American politics.His youthfulness,his charm,his intellectualism,and the spirit of innovation which emanated from his administration touched people everywhere.James Meredith and James Farmer interpreted Kennedy's words as a call to fight for civil rights.Others like Ron Kovic were ready to"pay any price(...) to assure the survival and the success of liberty"in Vietnam.Thousands of others wanted to serve as"ambassadors of peace"in the Peace Corps,and some of the impetus for the early student movement derived from Kennedy who made people believe that with his or her own individual deeds each of them could make the world a better place.Kennedy's life and presidency,to use Robert Dallek's word's-remained"unfinished."But when one compares the United States in 1961 and in 1963 the country had clearly begun to change,and Kennedy had played a crucial part in it. Referring to the work of his predecessor,President Lyndon Johnson asked his countrymen:"Let us continue."With Congress supporting him,Johnson launched a reform program comparable only to the New Deal and signed major civil rights bills in spite of massive resistance,most clearly visible in the often violent opposition to civil rights activities.It seemed that the United States was truly becoming a"Great Society."Only a few years later though,Johnson had lost support everywhere and there were deep divisions inside the country.The civil rights movement had radicalized,there were race riots in urban ghettos,and in 1968 both Martin Luther King and presidential hopeful Robert F.Kennedy were assassinated.The increasingly unpopular war in Vietnam became a focal point for a number of protest movements,and the Weathermen even declared war on the U.S.government.Finally,on March 31,1968,Johnson declared that he would not run for reelection. The paper will argue,that it was not the failures of both the Kennedy and Johnson administrations alone that can explain the deep divisions inside the country in the late 1960s.It was also their visions and rhetoric as well as their successes.Kennedy himself had raised the expectations so high that the results were doomed to be disappointing,even if he had been able to win reelection in 1964 together with a more reform-minded Congress.During his presidency there was a growing tension between what the late German intellectual historian Reinhart Koselleck in a very influential article called the"horizon of expectation"(Erwartungshorizont) and the"space of experience"(Erfahrungsraum).This gap grew much bigger during the Johnson presidency when the rhetoric and many accomplishments had even increased the hopes and expectations.Much of the bitter criticism of both administration by contemporaries and in the literature in my view results from the tensions described so aptly by Koselleck. Does it mean it was wrong to raise the expectations in the first place? I don't think so,because this was a driving force that often as an unintended consequence put pressure on the politicians themselves.Also,the crises in part were results of change and some of them had to do with disappointments that change did not go far enough.Tensions,I would argue,are unavoidable,but there might be better ways to handle them than especially the Johnson administration did.

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