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The Resurgence of Conservatism

The Resurgence of Conservatism - The Resurgence of...

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The Resurgence of Conservatism I. The Election of Ronald Reagan a. New Right i. The “Old Right” had been Southerners and Westerners who advocated States’ rights and harbored suspicions of federal power ii. Gained momentum from the countercultural protests of the 1960s. They were concerned about social issues iii. They denounced: 1. Abortion 2. Pornography 3. Homosexuality 4. Feminism 5. Affirmative action iv. They advocated: 1. Prayer in schools 2. Tougher penalties for criminals b. Reagan’s Political Ideas i. Was brought up in a generation whose values were formed well before the upheavals of the 1960s ii. Sided with the New Right iii. Denounced activist government; championed the “common man” against big business iv. Condemned: 1. Federal intervention in local affairs 2. Favoritism for minorities 3. Elite and arrogant bureaucrats c. Neoconservatives i. Drew on the ideas of “neoconservatives,” who: 1. Championed free-market capitalism with no government restraints as domestic policy 2. Tough anti-Soviet positions in foreign policy 3. Questioned liberal welfare programs and affirmative action 4. Called for the reassertion of traditional values and centrality of the family d. Reagan’s Characteristics i. Had a down-home attitude ii. Had been: 1. A sports announcer for a radio station 2. Actor in Hollywood 3. President of the Screen Actors Guild (helped purge reds from the industry)
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4. Spokesman for General Electric 5. Governor of CA e. Democratic Nomination i. Was bungled by Carter’s inability to bring inflation down ii. Tried to nominated Senator Edward Kennedy of MA, but it fell short when revelations about a 1969 car accident in which a young woman assistant was drowned when Kennedy’s car plunged off a bridge iii. Carter was finally nominated f. Republican Nomination i. Reagan was nominated ii. He attacked Carter’s fumbling performance in foreign policy and blasted the “big-government” philosophy of the Democratic party iii. The high interest rates and inflation led to Carter’s doom, although he tried to counter that Reagan was a trigger- happy warrior who might push the country into nuclear war g. Results of the Election of 1980 i. Reagan won: 1. Won 51% to 41% of the popular vote 2. 489-49 ii. Republicans gained control of the Senate for the first time in 25 years; first president voted out of office since Herbert Hoover in 1932 iii. On Inauguration Day, January 20, 1981, after 444 days of captivity, the Iran hostages were released h. Carter’s Legacy i. Accepted defeat gracefully ii. Continued to work in foreign affairs iii. Earned the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 II. The Reagan Revolution a. Scaling Down Government i. Wanted to dismantle the welfare state and reverse the political evolution of the preceding half-century ii. He believed that years of New Deal style tax-and- spend programs had created a federal government that was large and not responsible b. The Facts About the Expanded Government i. From 1960-1980, federal spending had risen from 18% of the GNP to 23% ii. The federal budget had been shifting from defense to entitlement programs
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iii.
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