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US History: 1980s & 1990s WEBQUEST
1. What were the popular and electoral vote results for the 1980 election?
Click on the “Direction of the Country” poll and answer the following:
2. What were the results of questions 1 and 2 and what role do you think question 1 and 2 played in Ronald Reagan’s
victory? click on the commercials below to answer:
3. First view the Republican Door Slam and Safire ads. What issues is Ronald Reagan raising in these two ads?
4. Next view the Jimmy Carter Lorraine and Bible ads. What issues is Jimmy Carter raising in these two ads?
5. Which candidate do you think did a better job of addressing the issues that Americans cared about and why do you
think their ads were more effective?
See HANDOUT at the end of this assignment and read “CONSERVATISM AND THE RISE OF REAGAN”:
6. What message did conservatives bring to the nation in 1980?
7. What group did Jerry Falwell lead?
8. What was, and still is, a galvanizing issue that helped to elect Reagan?
9. Why did they call Reagan the “Great Communicator”? and read “ Economics”:
10. What is Reaganomics?
11. How did Reagan attempt to fix the economy?
12. What were some of his economic successes and failures?
13. What happened on January 28, 1986?
14. Who was Christa McAuliffe?
15. Why did Sandra Day O’Connor make history?
16. What sparked the Gulf War (Aug 2, 1990)?
17. What was Operation Desert Storm?
18. What were terms of the cease-fire?
19. How many Americans died?
21. What three countries were invaded by the US military in the 1980s?
22. What happened to Rodney King?
23. Explain what happened at the trial.
24. What events occurred after the trial?
25. What happened at the World Trade Center?
26. How many Americans died?
27. What is significant about this attack in terms of terrorism?
28. What did Ryan White die of?
29. How did he get infected?
30. Summarize White’s experience in school after his diagnosis.
31. What impact did his experience/life have on society?
Because you’re going to miss it… look at page 865 in Section 26.1 of your textbook and read “Clinton Impeached”
32. What happened to President Bill Clinton?
33. Was he removed from office?
Google it:
34. Why was O.J. Simpson in the news during the 1990’s?
35. Who is Timothy McVeigh and what did he do?
36. What happened on April 20th, 1999?
Conservatism and the Rise of Ronald Reagan
For many Americans, the economic, social and political trends of the previous two decades -- ranging from crime and
racial polarization in many urban centers, to the economic downturn and inflation of the Carter years -- engendered a
mood of disillusionment. It also strengthened a renewed suspicion of government and its ability to deal effectively with
the country's deep-rooted social and political problems.
Conservatives, long out of power at the national level, were well positioned to exploit this new mood. It was a time
when many Americans were receptive to their message of limited government, strong national defense and the
protection of traditional values against what were seen as the encroachments of a permissive and often chaotic modern
This conservative upsurge had many sources. A large group of fundamentalist Christians, who regard the Bible as the
direct and inerrant word of God, were particularly concerned about an increase in crime and sexual immorality. One of
the most politically effective groups in the early 1980s, called the Moral Majority, was led by a Baptist minister, Jerry
Falwell. Another, led by Pat Robertson, built an organization called the Christian Coalition which by the 1990s was a
potent force in the Republican Party. Like many such groups, they wanted to return religion to a central place in
American life. Television evangelists like Falwell and Robertson developed huge followings.
Another galvanizing issue for conservatives was one of the most divisive and emotional issues of the time: abortion.
Opposition to the 1973 Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, which upheld a woman's right to an abortion in the early
months of pregnancy, brought together a wide array of organizations and individuals. They included, but were not
limited to, large numbers of Catholics, political conservatives and religious fundamentalists, most of whom regarded
abortion under virtually any circumstances as tantamount to murder. They were prepared to organize in support of
politicians who agreed with their position -- and against those who disagreed with it. Pro-choice and antiabortion
demonstrations became a fixture of the political landscape.
Within the Republican Party, the right wing grew dominant once again. The right had briefly seized control of the
Republican Party in 1964 with its presidential candidate, Barry Goldwater, then faded from the spotlight. By 1980,
however, with the use of modern fund-raising techniques, the right overtook the moderate wing of the party. Drawing
on the intellectual firepower of such conservatives as economist Milton Friedman, journalists William F. Buckley and
George Will, and research institutions like the Heritage Foundation, the New Right played a significant role in defining
the issues of the 1980s.
Like other conservatives, or the "Old Right," the New Right favored strict limits on government intervention in the
economy. But the New Right was willing to use state power to encourage its view of family values, restrict homosexual
behavior and censor pornography. In general, the New Right also favored tough measures against crime, strong national
defense, a constitutional amendment to permit prayer in public schools, opposition to abortion and defeat of the Equal
Rights Amendment for women.
The figure who drew all these disparate strands together was Ronald Reagan. Reagan, born in Illinois, achieved stardom
as an actor in Hollywood movies and television before turning to politics. He first achieved political prominence with a
nationwide televised speech in 1964 in support of Barry Goldwater. In 1966 Reagan won the governorship of California,
owing to a wave of voter reaction against the student rebellion at the University of California-Berkeley, and served until
1975. He narrowly missed winning the Republican nomination for president in 1976 before succeeding in 1980 and going
on to win the presidency from Jimmy Carter. Reagan won overwhelming reelection in 1984 against Carter's vice
president, Walter Mondale.
President Reagan's unflagging optimism and his ability to celebrate the achievements and aspirations of the American
people persisted throughout his two terms in office. He was a figure of reassurance and stability for many Americans.
Despite his propensity for misstatements, Reagan was known as the "Great Communicator," primarily for his mastery of
television. For many, he recalled the prosperity and relative social tranquility of the 1950s -- an era dominated by
another genial public personality who evoked widespread affection, President Dwight Eisenhower.
Reagan believed that government intruded too deeply into American life. He wanted to cut programs he contended the
country did not need by eliminating "waste, fraud and abuse." Throughout his tenure, Reagan also pursued a program of
deregulation more thoroughgoing than that begun by Jimmy Carter. Reagan sought to eliminate regulations affecting
the consumer, the workplace and the environment that he argued were inefficient, expensive and impeded economic