Fulbright College Associate Professor Publishes Book on Lyndon B. Johnson and the Democratic Party

Fulbright College Associate Professor Publishes Book on Lyndon B. Johnson and the Democratic Party

Fulbright College Associate Professor Publishes Book on Lyndon B. Johnson and the Democratic Party

by Megan Cordell

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Pearl K. Dowe, an associate professor in the Department of Political Science and interim director of the African and African American Studies Program in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, has published a book on the reshaping of one of the U.S.'s major political parties.

Remaking the Democratic Party: Lyndon B. Johnson as a Native-Son Presidential Candidate focuses on the elections of Lyndon B. Johnson to Congress and the presidency, as well as his success in furthering a more liberal agenda while in office.  

Dowe co-wrote the book with the late Hanes Walton Jr., professor at the University of Michigan, and Josephine A.V. Allen, professor emerita at Cornell University and Binghamton University.

The book analyzes the concept of the native-son phenomenon, stating that a Southern native-son, like Johnson, can be elected president even without the localism that was evident in both Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter's presidencies. The book focuses on Johnson's campaigns, and presents aggregate election returns for 254 Texas counties for each of his campaigns.

Remaking the Democratic Party also examines the notion that Johnson played a huge role in the transformation of the Democratic Party during his campaigns for Congress and Senate, beginning in 1937 when he campaigned for African American and Mexican American votes in Texas. Formerly known for its long custom of Southern conservatism, exclusivity and white supremacy, the  Democratic Party would ultimately solidify its change during Johnson's presidency in a time of great social unrest in the United States.

During his time in political office, Johnson pushed for civil rights legislation as well as expanded the role of government to advance the social and economic quality of life of citizens, turning the traditional Democratic Party into something entirely new. As a result of this change, the Republican Party underwent a shift as well, setting the stage for partisan conflicts to persist for years to come. The heart of these party changes were the questions  of if and how government should address the impact of racial discrimination and economic inequality, and that the Democratic and Republican parties we know today are a direct result of LBJ's policy adjustments.

The authors conclude that Johnson's legacy was not only institutional and legal, but also psychological for all Americans as evidenced in the advancement of African American politicians and President Barack Obama.

This book completes a trilogy of works on Southern presidents by the late Hanes Walton Jr., who began research on Johnson in 1999. Dowe, along with Allen, worked with Walton to bring this monumental work to completion.

"I am extremely proud and honored that Hanes who was my teacher, friend and mentor, asked me to work on completing this volume," Dowe said. "Although Hanes passed away in 2013, Dr. Allen and I were committed to ensuring this important work was published, it truly was a labor of love."  

Remaking the Democratic Party was published by the University of Michigan Press.

Megan Cordell

About the author

Megan Cordell is a senior in the Walter J. Lemke Department of Journalism and serves as a communications intern in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences for the 2016-17 academic year.