The age of disillusionment america in the seventies
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The Age of Disillusionment America in the Seventies. Dazed and Confused. Popular media portrayals and the 1970s. A Turning Point. Social Movements from 1960s advanced. Backlash by Americans feeling economic insecurity and loss. Contributes to rightward turn in American politics.

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The Age of Disillusionment America in the Seventies

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The Age of DisillusionmentAmerica in the Seventies

Dazed and Confused

Popular media portrayals and the 1970s.

A Turning Point

  • Social Movements from 1960s advanced.

    • Backlash by Americans feeling economic insecurity and loss.

  • Contributes to rightward turn in American politics.

    • Liberal reform movement shattered.

    • Culture wars we are still fighting.

1960s Hangover

  • National exhaustion from the reform and conflict of the 1960s, but still an ongoing commitment to social change by:

    • Environmentalists, feminists, gays and lesbians, people of color


  • Rachel Carson and DDT

    • Fossil fuels and chemicals threatening global warming.

  • Earth Day – April 22, 1970

    • Rights of nature

Three Mile Island

  • Dangers to use of alternative sources of energy.

    • 100,000 residents evacuated after nuclear power plant experiences near meltdown.

      • Increase in cancer cases reported afterwards.

  • We still debate the safety of nuclear power today.

Feminist Movement

  • Outgrowth of the Civil Rights and Anti-War movements.

  • “Consciousness-raising” sessions.

  • National Organization for Women (NOW) issues:

    • equal pay

    • Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)

    • reproductive rights

      • Roe v. Wade (1973)

Gay Rights

  • Stonewall Riot, June 27, 1969

    • Gay Liberation movement demands equal protection

  • American Psychiatric Association declassifies homosexuality as mental disorder (1974)

Civil Rights and Identity Politics

  • Expansion of Affirmative Action

    • Policies to redress historical patterns of race and sex discrimination in education and employment.

  • Court-mandated busing to achieve integration.

  • American Indian Movement

    • 71 day protest at Wounded Knee (1971)

  • The Chicano and Asian American Movements

    • Bilingual Education, ethnic studies

    • Cesar Chavez

Politics of Resentment

  • White Middle-Class and Blue Collar workers struggle with economic changes and cultural changes.

  • Economic Insecurity

    • Vietnam War increases inflation (“too many dollars chasing too few goods.”)

    • Higher prices and an end to increases in real incomes.

  • “Deindustrialization”

    • The United States lost between 32 and 38 million jobs in the 1970s.

Oil rose from $3 to $34 a barrel (1973-1979)

Politics of Resentment

  • White resentment of further calls for minority rights.

    • Affirmative Action and Busing called “reverse discrimination.”

  • Opposition to Feminist Movement

    • Both among women and men.

Boston Busing Protest, 1976

Watergate Scandal

Nixon Refused to release personal audio tapes which detailed his orders for a cover-up.

  • White House cover-up of break-in at Democratic HQ at Watergate Hotel.

    • Tried to get FBI to shut down investigation.

Nixon Resigns

  • Tapes show his involvement in cover-up and obstruction of justice.

    • House votes articles of impeachment.

  • First President to resign.

    • August 8, 1974

“I will never lie to you.”-- President Jimmy Carter

  • An ineffective president.

    • Micromanaged affairs

    • Played the outsider and alienated potential insider allies.

    • Economic problems too big.

Loss of International Influence

  • Fall of Saigon, 1975

  • Crumbling relations between U.S. and Soviet Union

    • Soviet Union supports revolutions in Africa and invades Afghanistan in 1979.

Iranian Hostage Crisis

53 Americans are taken hostage from the U.S. embassy in Iran in 1979.

Failed U.S. rescue mission reinforces sense of helplessness.

Voter Revolt

  • Americans are frustrated with elected leaders and the political system.

  • With economic troubles and international humiliation, Carter defeated in 1980 election.

Ronald Reagan

  • Conservative Revolution sweeps the country.

    • Promises low taxes, more defense spending, return to cultural values, balanced budget.

  • Americans didn’t believe him…but they wanted to.

    • They liked his message and were willing to take a chance.

Cultural Wars

  • A Paradox:

    • 1960s social movements gain strength in 1970s but fuel a politics of resentment, leading to conservative revolution.

  • We still fight these culture wars today:

    • School curriculums

    • Gay and Minority Rights

    • Affirmative Action

    • Role of Government

    • Environmental Concerns

    • Energy Policy

    • Abortion and Reproductive Rights

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