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Ronald Reagan. The Rise of the Modern Conservative Movement. Ronald Reagan. Born in Illinois, 1911 Active in college. Lifeguard, Radio Announcer Went to California to launch an acting career during the Great Depression Successful actor

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Ronald Reagan

The Rise of the Modern Conservative Movement


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Ronald Reagan

  • Born in Illinois, 1911

  • Active in college.

  • Lifeguard, Radio Announcer

  • Went to California to launch an acting career during the Great Depression

  • Successful actor

  • Eventual president of the Screen Actors Guild (Union for Actors)

  • Became increasingly conservative in face of radical socialists and communists in the movie industry

  • Switched from Democratic to Republican Party in the late 50s/early 60s


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Modern Conservative Evolution1930s-1960s

  • New Deal opponents

  • Eisenhower and ‘Modern Republicanism’

  • 1964 - Barry Goldwater (AZ) conservative Senator.

    • Opposed government activism

    • Opposed social security

    • Opposed Federal Civil Rights laws (not necessarily local or state)

    • Demanded military buildup to defend against Soviet attack

  • Opposed Great Society - extension of New Deal.

    • Overextension of what needs government could or should meet


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Conservative Evolution and Organizations

  • Young Americans for Freedom

  • William F. Buckley

  • Barry Goldwater

  • Disenchanted Southern Democrats

  • Some ‘fringe’ organizations

    • John Birch Society (though most - including Reagan, et al - distanced themselves from this group)


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Richard Nixon & the Welfare State

  • Trimmed social welfare programs of the Great Society

  • Did not cut them altogether

  • Established OSHA (Office of Safety and Health Administration)

  • Established EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)

  • NEW FEDERALISM - Re-distributed federal monies to states

    • Covertly gutted high $ federal programs of their ‘liberal’ intent by redirecting funding


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Social Issues and Conservatism

  • Rapid cultural change of the 1960s

  • Opposition to Warren Court decisions

    • ‘criminal rights’

    • Church-state issues like school prayer

    • Privacy rights/issues

  • Rock music

    • Openly sexual, drug-oriented, rebellious

  • Widespread Use of illegal drugs


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Social Issues and Conservatism

  • Radical and increasingly violent student protests

  • Reagan strongly opposed FSM (Free Speech Movement - radical) on UC-Berkeley campus

    • Dismissed UC president

  • Opposed ‘sexual’ revolution

    • Said Birth control pill encouraged promiscuous behavior


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Social Issues and Conservatism

  • 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision

    • Legalized abortion by striking down state laws prohibiting abortions

    • Launched modern pro-life movement (aka ‘anti-abortion’)

  • Opposed emerging gay rights movement

  • Opposed radical feminism

  • Blamed these for decline of traditional nuclear family

    • Rising divorce rate

    • ‘No-fault’ divorce laws (ironically passed during Reagan’s term in California)


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Social Issues and Conservatism

  • Civil Rights:

    • Federal government laws = end of state mandated segregation

    • Opposed forced and unreasonable integration (forced busing)

    • Opposed Affirmative Action quotas - said it was reverse discrimination

    • Democratic Blue Collar Workers - called “Reagan Democrats”



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The New Conservative CoalitionThe NEW RIGHT

  • The NEW RIGHT - a political coalition of:

    • Conservative evangelical Christians

    • Moral Majority founded by Rev. Jerry Falwell - Baptist minister (founder - Liberty University - Lynchburg, VA)

      • To restore Christian Values in America

    • Southern Democrats

    • Reduction of Social Programs

    • Called for reduction in size and scope of government

    • “Reagan Democrats”

    • Favored return of US military prominence

    • Patriotic focus


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The 1980 “Revolution”

  • Nixon Victories in 1968 and 1972 early indicators of change

  • Carter’s series of ‘Unfortunate’ Events

  • Carter’s perceived mishandling of major challenges

  • Reagan’s ability to communicate - “The Great Communicator”

  • Few simple well-articulated idea





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The Reagan Revolution and the First Inaugural Address

“In the days ahead I will propose removing the roadblocks that have slowed our economy and reduced productivity. Steps will be taken aimed at restoring the balance between various levels of government. Progress may be slow, measured in inches and feet, not miles, but we will progress. It is time to reawaken this industrial giant, to get government back within its means, and to lighten our punitive tax burden. And these will be our first priorities, and on these principles there will be no compromise.” - Ronald Reagan 1981


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Supply-Side Economics a.k.a“Reaganomics”

  • Cut taxes to put more money into the hands of businesses

  • Cut taxes on the wealthiest Americans

  • Lower taxes = more investment in the “supply side” of the economy

  • Would:

    • promote and create new jobs

    • encourage capital investment, and

    • lead to stimulated industrial growth


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Cutting Government Regulation - “deregulation”

  • Continued Carter’s programs to deregulate key industries

  • Energy, Transportation and Banking Industries

  • Challenged Air Traffic Controllers in 1981 - Fired those who refused to go back to work after a strike.


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Slowed Federal Growth - New Federalism (Reagan-style)

  • Limiting government

    • Eliminated public service jobs,

    • reduced unemployment compensation,

    • lowered welfare benefits,

    • raised fees for Medicare patients

  • Federal domestic spending still grew for a couple of years


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Reagan and Military Buildup

  • Sharp increase in military spending = buildup

  • New weapons and new technology

  • Neoconservatives (Neo-cons = Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Condoleeza Rice, Richard Armistead, Colin Powell, etc.)

  • Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) = better known as Star Wars


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Reagan and the Cold War

  • Called Soviet Union the “evil empire”

  • Reagan - Cold Warrior

    • Lebanon

    • Libya

    • Grenada

    • El Salvador

    • Nicaragua (Contra rebels supported by US)


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Reagan: Economic Recession, and Recovery

  • 1981-1982 Recession

  • Inflation slowed, consumer spending increased

  • Stock market grew

  • Federal deficit grew even as domestic spending decreased

  • National debt = $909 billion in 1980 --- $3.2 trillion in 1990



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Patriotic Renewal

  • “It’s Morning in America, Again”

  • 59% of popular vote

  • Second largest electoral victory in history

  • 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles

  • Communist-bloc countries boycotted

  • 1986 - 100th anniversary of Statue of Liberty

  • 1987 - 200th anniversary of the Constitution


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Other issues 1984-1988

  • AIDS Awareness

  • Women’s Movement stalled (ERA failed in 1982)

  • Supreme Court conservatives

    • Sandra Day O’Connor

    • Anthony Kennedy

    • Antonin Scalia

    • Chief Justice William Rehnquist


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More issues: 1984-1988

  • Farm Crisis - foreclosures

  • Manufacturing shift - from metal and textiles (overseas = outsourcing due to labor costs)

  • Service sectors continued to grow

  • Wealthiest Americans flourished in the 1980s

  • Jan 28, 1986 - Space Shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after take off


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S & L Crisis

Savings and Loan institutions deregulated and some corrupt individuals used this to make huge personal fortunes

S & L’s collapsed in late 1980s

$2.6 billion in savings lost

Iran Contra Scandal

Selling arms (to Iran) for the release of hostages to support Nicaraguan Contras

Covered up

Reagan admitted covering up

No long term impact

“Teflon” president.

Scandal


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