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Chapter Thirty The Conservative Ascendancy, 1974–1991 Part One: Introduction Chapter Focus Questions What structural shifts occurred in the economy? What characterized the Ford and Carter presidencies? What were the crises in the cities and in the environment? How did community politics contribute to the rise of the New Right? What caused the Iran hostage crisis and how was it resolved? What contributed to the Reagan Republican presidential victory? What were Reagan’s domestic and foreign policies? What contributed to the growth of inequality? Part Two: Grass Roots Conservatism in Orange County, California Orange County In 1962, Garden Grove resident Bee Gathright discovered she was a conservative. Gathright and her husband Neil soon joined the California Republican Assembly and were active in Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign. In the 1960s and 1970s, Orange County had thousands of “kitchen table” activists who began transforming American conservatism and American politics, leading to the election of Ronald Reagan as president. Conservative rhetoric shed its extremist message by stressing less government and family issues. Evangelical religion also played a role. Part Three: The Overextended Society Oil and the Troubled Economy Map: World’s Oil Producers High prices and a stagnant economy. question faith in progress and prosperity. Dependence on imported oil had steadily grown. U.S. backed Israel during 1973 Yom Kippur War. OPEC pushed through an embargo. Skyrocketing prices and public suspicion. Oil and Economic Decline Nixon ordered oil conservation measures. Soaring energy prices led to rapid, sustained inflation. Worst economic decline since the Great Depression began. Steel and auto making faced stiff competition. American productivity and quality continued to decline. Soaring energy costs hurt farmers. forced to borrow money at high interest rates. Sunbelt/Snowbelt Communities Map: Population Shifts Midwest and Northeast hurt most. Sunbelt prospered. Large-scale migration fueled Sunbelt population. Computer industry, defense contracts helped Sunbelt. Sunbelt two-tier class society developed. Snowbelt cities like Philadelphia and New York faced urban decay. The Ford Presidency Map: The Election of 1976 Gerald Ford succeeded Nixon’s resignation. After pardoning Nixon, Ford lost the nation’s trust. Ford lacked a clear program. Vetoed bills to hold down spending. Congress passed many over his veto. Ford narrowly defeated Reagan for the ‘76 GOP race. Democrats turned to one-term Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter. Carter narrowly defeated Ford. The Carter Presidency Carter was unable to get his legislation through Congress. Carter by and large supported conservative policies. • Deregulation • increased military spending. Inflation and interest rates soared. Carter could not turn the economy around. The New Urban Politics 70s political mobilization focused on community issues. cut across ideological lines. College students and African Americans mobilized. Several major cities elected black mayors. Fiscal crisis of the 1970s foiled plans for reforms. The Endangered Environment Rachel Carson in the early 1960s sparked environmental movement. Twenty million Americans participated in the first Earth Day. The Three Mile Island. Love Canal. Renewable energy, protecting endangered species, and reducing pollution. Government officials frequently responded to other pressures. Part Four: The New Conservatism The New Right Great society stopped and New Right forms: conservative centers like the Heritage Foundation paramilitary groups religious conservatives who supplied the strongest boost The New Right promoted its agenda through televangelists. Politicians like Jesse Helms amassed huge campaign chests. Anti-ERA and Anti-Abortion The New Right successfully blocked ratification of the ERA. Rallied support for efforts to make abortions illegal. Gallup Poll: Abortion The “Me Decade” Critics characterized 1970s as a decade when Americans: abandoned political change focused on personal well-being fostered a “culture of narcissism” A wide range of personal-growth techniques flourished among the middle class. Religious cults grew. Popular music became despairing and nihilistic, nostalgic, or decadent. Part Five: Adjusting to a New World A Thaw in the Cold War Presidents Ford and Carter both believed that American power declined. here should be no more Vietnams. Military spending hurt effective economic competition. American diplomats sought end to cold war. Foreign Policy and Moral Principles Carter pledged to put human rights at the center of foreign policy. He targeted some nations. He overlooked others in areas vital to U.S. interests. Camp David Accord between Egypt and Israel. Carter reformed the CIA and returning the Canal Zone to Panama. (Mis)Handling the Unexpected Carter received contradictory advice urging him to be both tough on and conciliatory toward the Soviets. His Third World efforts received mixed support for both authoritarian and revolutionary governments. He urged Americans to put aside their “inordinate fear of communism,” but reacted strongly to a Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. The Iran Hostage Crisis Carter’s decision to allow the deposed shah of Iran to enter the country for medical treatment backfired. Iranian students seized the American embassy and held its personnel hostage. He tried diplomacy and at the same time an ill-fated rescue operation. Both failed. The Election of 1980 Map: The Election of 1980 When his programs failed to stimulate the economy, Carter claimed that the nation was experiencing a crisis of confidence. The plan backfired and voters lost respect for him. As the election of 1980 approached, an unenthusiastic Democratic convention endorsed him. The Republicans nominated Ronald Reagan, who asked voters, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” Reagan won 50.9 percent of the vote but an overwhelming majority in the electoral college. Part Six: The Reagan Revolution The Great Communicator Ronald Reagan tried to reshape the political landscape of the nation. Reagan’s program aimed to stimulate the economy by: cutting government spending government deregulation cutting taxes for the wealthy He appointed conservatives to head agencies like the EPA that abolished or weakened rules protecting the environment and workplace safety. Reagan called for a massive military buildup. Reaganomics Reaganomics is based a supply-side economic theory: Essentially, a successful economy depended upon the proliferation of the rich The Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981: the largest tax cut in the nation’s history The Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1981: a comprehensive program of federal spending cuts While decreasing spending on domestic programs, Reagan greatly increased defense budget The Election of 1984 In the 1984 election, Walter Mondale won the Democratic nomination by concentrating on the traditional Democratic constituencies. Reagan countered Mondale’s criticisms by claiming that the nation was strong, united, and prosperous. Reagan won in one of history’s biggest landslides. Recession, Recovery, Fiscal Crisis A recession gripped the economy during the early 1980s. By the mid-1980s the economy grew and inflation was under control. Critics claimed the growth resulted from increased military spending. The economic recovery was unevenly spread; most new jobs did not pay enough to support a family. Enormous budget deficits grew to an unprecedented $2 trillion as the U.S. became the world’s leading debtor. The fiscal crisis was made worse by scandals in securities industry. In 1987, the stock market crashed, ending the bull market of the 1980s. Part Seven: Best of Times, Worst of Times The Celebration of Wealth While the 1980s celebrated wealth and moneymaking, the gap between rich and poor widened. The middle class also declined. A Two-Tiered Society During the 1980s, the average weekly earnings declined substantially. Half the new jobs did not pay enough to keep a family out of poverty. Race sharply defined the gap between rich and poor. Feminization of Poverty Women experienced declining earning power during this period. Divorce contributed significantly to female poverty—new no-fault divorce laws. A sharp rise in teenage pregnancy also contributed. Political mobilization for protecting the rights of poor women was at a low ebb. Epidemics: Drugs, AIDS, Homelessness The 1980s saw new epidemics erupt. “Yuppie” cocaine and inner-city crack use spiraled, unleashing a crime wave. The Reagan administration declared a war on drugs, but concentrated its resources on the overseas supply and did little to control demand at home. In 1981, doctors identified a puzzling disease initially found among gay men—AIDS. An epidemic of homelessness grew during the decade. One-third were mental patients discharged from psychiatric hospitals. Part Eight: Reagan’s Foreign Policy The Evil Empire Reagan made anti-communism the centerpiece of his foreign policy, calling the Soviet Union an “evil empire.” Despite American superiority, Reagan pushed to enlarge the nuclear strike force. He called for a space-based “Star Wars” missile defense system that many saw as an effort to achieve a first-strike capability. Attempts at meaningful arms control stalled. The Reagan Doctrine and Central America Map: The U.S. in Central America The Reagan Doctrine pursued anti-communist activity in Central America. Reagan’s “Caribbean Basin Initiative” to stimulate economic growth tied the region’s economy closer to American corporations. Reagan intervened in Grenada, E1 Salvador, and waged a covert war against the revolutionary government of Nicaragua. The Iran-Contra Scandal In 1986, news broke of how the United States traded arms to Iran in return for their assistance in freeing hostages held by terrorist groups. The money from the arms sales was used to fund the Contras in Nicaragua. Oliver North, who ran the enterprise, acknowledged that he had told a web of lies and destroyed evidence, all in the name of patriotism. An investigating commission concluded that Reagan had allowed a small, unsupervised group to run the operation. In 1992, outgoing President George Bush, whose involvement had been the target of much speculation, pardoned several officials who were scheduled to be tried. The United States in the Middle East Map: The United States in the Middle East The volatility of the Middle East influenced U. S. foreign policy. The Collapse of Communism In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the Soviet Union and instituted a series of political and economic reforms. Under his glasnost and perestroika campaigns, Gorbachev took the lead in negotiating an end to the arms race to allow economic growth to take place. Treaties were finally worked out that called for destruction of some missiles and allowed for on-site inspections. Although the Soviet Union no longer posed the threat it once had seemed to pose, the cold war mentality did not disappear. Part Nine: Conclusion The Conservative Ascendancy, 1974–1987 Media: Chronology Chapter 30 The Conservative Ascendancy MAP 30.1 World Leading Oil Producers MAP 30.2 Population Shifts, 1970–80 Industrial decline in the Northeast coincided with an economic boom in the Sunbelt, encouraging millions of Americans to head for warmer climates and better jobs. MAP 30.3 The Election of 1976 Incumbent Gerald Ford could not prevail over the disgrace brought to the Republican Party by Richard Nixon. The lingering pall of the Watergate scandal, especially Ford’s pardon of Nixon, worked to the advantage of Jimmy Carter, who campaigned as an outsider to national politics. Although Carter and his running mate Walter Mondale won by only a narrow margin, the Democrats gained control of both the White House and Congress. MAP 30.4 The Election of 1980 Ronald Reagan won a landslide victory over incumbent Jimmy Carter, who managed to carry only six states and the District of Columbia. Reagan attracted millions of traditionally Democratic voters to the Republican camp. MAP 30.5 The United States in Central America, 1978–90 U.S. intervention in Central America reached a new level of intensity with the so-called Reagan Doctrine. The bulk of U.S. aid came in the form of military support for the government of El Salvador and the Contra rebels in Nicaragua. MAP 30.6 The United States in the Middle East in the 1980s The volatile combination of ancient religious and ethnic rivalries, oil, and emerging Islamic fundamentalism made peace and stability elusive in the Middle East. FIGURE 30.1 Decline of U.S. Oil Consumption, 1975-81 Source: Department of Energy,Monthly Energy Review,June 1982. FIGURE 30.2 Gallup Poll on the Equal Rights Amendment, 1975 By 1973 thirty of the thirty-eight states required to ratify the ERA had done so. Although the amendment ultimately failed to achieve ratification and died in June 1982, public support was strong. In the 1976 presidential campaign, the platforms of both Democrats and Republicans included planks favoring its passage. SOURCE:The Gallup Poll:Public Opinion,1935 –1974 (New York:Random House,1974). FIGURE 30.3 Gallup Polls on Abortion, 1969, 1974 During the 1960s, numerous American women began to demand control over their own reproductive processes and the repeal of legislation in place in all fifty states rendering abortion illegal. The American Institute of Public Opinion surveyed Americans in 1969, when abortion was still illegal, and again in 1974, one year after Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that struck down state laws prohibiting abortion during the first three months of pregnancy. SOURCE:The Gallup Poll:Public Opinion,1935 –1974 (New York:Random House,1974). These newly built houses in Phoenix, Arizona, a popular retirement community as well as the state capital, helped accommodate a 55 percent rise in the city’s population between 1970 and 1980. Like other burgeoning cities of the Mountain West, Phoenix experienced many urban tensions during this decade, including racial conflict, antagonism between affluent suburbs and the decaying downtown, air pollution, traffic congestion, and strained water supplies. SOURCE:Aerial view.Photo by Guido Alberto Rossi.Getty Images,Inc.(233142A). Geronimo, 1981, by Victor Orozco Ochoa. During the 1970s public murals appeared in many cities, often giving distinctive expression to a community’s racial or ethnic identity. The murals painted in the mid-1970s on the outside of the Centro Cultural de la Raza, in San Diego, were among the most striking. After vandals ruined one section, Ochoa, whose grandmother was Yaqui, replaced it with this enormous representation of Geronimo, surrounded by figures of contemporary Chicano cultural life. SOURCE:Untitled , Geronimo mural.Victor Orozco Ochoa. This infrared photograph of Love Canal, a residential neighborhood east of Niagara Falls, New York, shows toxic chemicals bubbling up in lawns and yards. The media attention given to the Love Canal residents, who reported high incidents of birth defects and rates of cancer, led to the passage of a new federal law in 1980 regulating toxic waste disposal. SOURCE:New York State Department of Environmental Conservation/ In the aftermath of the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, the televangelist Jerry Falwell became increasingly political in his sermons on the Old-Time Gospel Hour. He declared a “war against sin” by opposing abortion, homosexual rights, pornography, and crime, and by appealing for financial contributions he generated an annual income of more than $100 million. The Reverend Falwell reached his peak in the early 1980s and was, at that time, the most visible fundamentalist preacher in the United States. SOURCE:Photo by Eve Arnold.Magnum Photos,Inc. (PER06ARE007001). President Carter signs the Middle East Peace Treaty with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, in Washington DC, March 1979. President Carter had invited both leaders to Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland, where for two weeks he mediated between them on territorial rights to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Considered Carter’s greatest achievement in foreign policy, the negotiations, known as the Camp David Peace Accords, resulted in not only the historic peace treaty but the Nobel Peace Prize for Begin and Sadat. SOURCE:CORBIS. Iranians demonstrate outside the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, raising a poster with a caricature of President Carter. The Iran hostage crisis, which began November 8, 1979, when a mob of Iranians seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran, contributed to Carter’s defeat at the polls the following year. Fifty-two embassy employees were held hostage for 444 days. SOURCE:AP/WideWorld Photos. Ronald Reagan, the fortieth president of the United States, was known for his ability to articulate broad principles of government in a clear fashion. The most popular president since Dwight Eisenhower, he built a strong coalition of supporters from long-term Republicans, disillusioned Democrats, and evangelical Protestants. SOURCE:Corbis WL002467. After the Dow Jones reached an all-time high at the end of August, stocks began to slide and then crashed. On October 19, 1987—“Black Monday”—traders at the New York Stock Exchange panicked, selling off stocks at such a rate that the market lost almost twenty-three percent of its value, marking the end of a five-year “bull” market. The market soon bounced back, and by September 1989 the Dow Jones had made up all its losses. SOURCE:AP/Wide World Photos (025473). In May 1987, members of the Lesbian and Gay Community Services in downtown Manhattan organized ACT-UP. Protesting what they perceived to be the Reagan administration’s mismanagement of the AIDs crisis, they used nonviolent direct action, which often took the form of dramatic acts of civil disobedience. ACT-UP grew to more than 70 chapters in the United States and the world. SOURCE:AP/Wide World Photos. In August 1961, the border between East and West Berlin was closed, and the Berlin Wall was built to divide the city into two sections. After twenty-eight years, on November 9, 1989, the government in East Germany lifted travel restrictions. This photograph shows demonstrators defiantly tearing down the Berlin Wall, which for three decades had embodied the political divisions of the cold war.