MSNBC contributor John Meacham argued today that Ronald Reagan’s political career took off because the Republican capitalized on anti-civil rights sentiment, in addition to his opposition to the welfare state.

“There’s never been a politically painless great hour of political action,” Meacham said on Morning Joe. “You look at Lyndon Johnson and the great society. We think about ’68 and Vietnam — remember, he got killed in the ’66 midterms out of civil rights and out of the Great Society. War on poverty. And in ’66, Ronald Reagan becomes Governor of California and the backlash begins.”

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