late 20 th century history the conservative revolution 1980-1992

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  • Late 20th Century HistoryThe Conservative Revolution1980-1992

  • ~Just six years after the Watergate scandal deeply hurt the Republican party Reagan is elected in a conservative Republican landslide.

  • Reagans Political Career~1966 elected governor of California where he:>cuts spending on social programs>moderately increases taxes>reforms State spending and calls for similar reform at National level*All of which results in balancing the States budget~Originally a democrat with FDR as a political hero ~Became politically active in the actors union in Hollywood~1950s becomes more conservative and joins Republican Party

  • The Evolution of Conservatism*At issue: liberal vs. conservative views on the proper size and role of government~1920s Repubs low taxes & minimize spending Dems should do something for suffering farmers, Indians, urban poor, etc.~1930s Dems social & regulatory programs including huge deficit spending to deal with the Great Depression Repubs founded the Liberty League, which opposed large government~WWII ~1950s Eisenhower prosperity moderate Republican with no effort to dismantle big government of 1930s~1964 Repubs very conservative Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater (Ex. Opposed Social Security and anti- poverty measures) crushed by LBJ*However, anti-integration Southern States do break Democrats hold on the Solid South~Dems LBJ and his Great Society programs (Exs. Medicare & Medicaid, subsidized housing, etc., expanded New Deal style government)

  • ~1968 Nixon Presidency>Nixon wanted to trim social welfare programs, believing them to encourage people not to work, but government actually expands during his presidency Exs. O.S.H.A and the EPA are created>Conservatives also opposed cultural shift evidenced by music lyrics, sexual openness, 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision, gay & lesbian rights activism, womens rights movement, and violent student protests>On civil rights, though conservatives generally supported the Brown v Topeka ruling, they opposed forced bussing to achieve integration as well as affirmative action programs

  • 1980 Presidential Election~The New Right powerful political coalition of conservative groups>some wanted to cut government funded social programs>some wanted to restore what they considered Christian valuesEx. The Moral Majority, led by the televangelist Rev. Jerry Falwell, promoted dictates of the bible and traditional values~A Reagan Landslide>Reagan attacked Carters handling of the economy and the Iran Hostage Crisis, and exuded a positive can-do attitude>Reagan wins 489 to 49 electoral votes and 51% to 41% in the popular vote>Republicans also gain control of the Senate (first time since 53) and gain nationwide in this Republican revolution

  • Reagans First Term~3 stated goals: 1.)Slash taxes2.)Eliminate unnecessary government programs3.)Bolster the defense capability of the U.S.

  • Domestic Policies~Reaganomics or supply-side economics vs the Keynesian theory>Cutting taxes puts money into hands of business owners and investors>This money would be invested to grow and start new businesses (supply-side), thus creating new jobs and economic growth>Oppose excessive government spending and high taxes>Keynesian Theory: Government created jobs, programs, and payments puts money into hands of many people>This money would be used to buy goods and services (demand) which would cause the economy to grow*Oppose tax cuts for wealthy and cutting government services for the vulnerable

  • ~Cutting Taxes>1981 a 5% tax cut went into effect>1982 a 10% tax cut went into effect>1983 an additional 10% tax cut went into effect>1986 Tax code is largely rewritten and simplified-Fewer income brackets-Wealthy benefit the most as tax rate on the highest incomes drops from 70% to 28%

  • ~Deregulation*Issue over government regulations (which had been around since the Progressive Era of early 1900s)-Supporters say: needed to make businesses operate ethically>Ex. prevent unfair competition, protect rights of labor, and to protect consumers -Opponents say: they stifle free market competition>Ex. excessive regulations mean higher costs and lower profits to produce, leading to fewer jobs and higher prices for consumers>Reagan continues & expands deregulation of energy & banking begun during the Carter administration>Reagan cuts the number of, and funding for, regulatory agencies like the E.P.A., thus reducing its efforts and effectiveness.

  • ~Slowing Growth of Federal Government*Issue over social welfare programs:-Supporters say: Government should help people who cant help themselves-Opponents say: Anyone can succeed if they work hard>The Reagan administration:-Reduced unemployment compensation-Lowered welfare payments-Reduced spending on food stamps-Raised fees on Medicaid payments*Note Federal spending still grew during this period due to population growth but slower than it would have without the cuts

  • ~Recession and Recovery>During the first 2 years of Regans presidency, the U.S. experienced the worst recession since the Great Depression-Unemployment reached 10.8% in 1982-Several hundred businesses closed each week>The economy began to recover in 1983-High interest rates had cooled inflation (rising prices)-Tax cuts led to increased consumer spending-Business leaders increased investments-The stock market pushed upward> Debate over supplyside economics-Republicans claimed the recovery supported this approach-Poverty & homelessness, however, remained high-And contrary to supply-side theorists predictions, the Federal deficit grew rather than shrank*1981 Assassination attempt- shot by John Hinkley, an unbalanced fan of the actress Jodie Foster - Reagan fully recovers, but Press Secretary James Brady is permanently disabled, leading to the Brady Bill gun law

  • Foreign Policy~Reagan felt our position in the world had been weakened in recent years and was determined to regain status and defend American interests in the Cold War>Reagan spent huge sums to build up both conventional and nuclear weapons>Strategic Defense Initiative (S.D.I.) Popularly known as Star Wars, this program proposed creating a satellite missile defense shield in space to intercept and destroy any incoming Soviet missiles*Never fully realized, we continue to work on missile interceptor technology today

  • ~Trouble spots in the Middle East>Lebanon In 1983 a suicide truck bomber kills 241 U.S. marines sent there by Reagan as part of a peace keeping force (causing us to withdraw our troops)>Libya Led by Muammar Gaddafi, this nation sponsored terrorism against U.S. and Israeli targets in Europe*With proof relating to the bombing of a German nightclub that killed a U.S. serviceman, Reagan ordered an airstrike on Libya on April 14, 1986

  • ~Fighting Communism in the Americas>El Salvador in the 1980s The U.S. supported a repressive regime fighting a civil war because some of the guerilla fighters were Marxist>Grenada 1983 Following a military coup by forces supportive of Cuba, Reagan ordered U.S. military forces to the Caribbean island where they:-Protected American medical students-Overthrew the military government-Stayed to oversee free elections>Nicaragua explained in detail later in the study guide

  • Reagans Second Term:~1984 Presidential Election-Despite the recession early in his first term and rising budget deficits, Reagans campaign asked voters, are you better off than you were four years ago? and most felt that they were-Dems nominate Walter Mondale (Carters V.P.) and Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman to be on a major partys presidential ticket-The recovered state of the economy and Reagans popularity help him win a huge landslide, 525 to 13 in the electoral college

  • Patriotism & National Pride:~Reagans optimism and national pride helps give the U.S. a sense of confidence it hadnt felt since the Kennedy years.*Why? Radicalism of 60s, Nam, Watergate, Iran Hostage Crisis now behind us~Patriotic events included:-1984 L.A. Summer Olympics-1986 Centennial of the Statue of Liberty celebration-1987 200th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution

  • Continuing Social Debates(In the Conservative Era):~Black Civil Rights:>Support for:-As a result of the 1960s Civil Rights legislation blacks were voting and holding office in larger and larger numbers and in more places-1983 Reagan signed a Congressional bill making the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. a national holiday (third Monday in January)>Opposition to:-Reagan tried to prevent the extension of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, backing off only after intense criticism-Reagan appoints federal judges less sympathetic to civil rights goals-Reagan worked to end affirmative action programs

  • ~The Womens Movement>Progress:-Women gained access to jobs and opportunities previously denied them>Limiting:-In 1982 the Equal Rights Amendment, passed in 1972, fails to be ratified (so it goes away)-Anti-abortion groups worked to limit Supreme Courts 1973 Roe v Wade decision*Still a hugely polarizing issue today~Sexual Orientation-The campaign for rights of homosexuals saw similarly polarizing views-The AIDS epidemic contributed to this as many of the earliest victims of this then-little-understood disease were homosexual men*1984 Ryan White story

  • ~Conservatives on the Supreme Court*These social issues often wound up in the judicial system and during Reagans two terms the court shifted to the conservative side due to his three appointments:-1981 Sandra Day OConnor becomes first woman on the Supreme Court-1986 Antonia Scalia is seated and William


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