The Rise of Ronald Reagan and the New Right





The Rise of Ronald Reagan and the New Right

            Ronald Reagan, a former democrat rose to power in 1966, when he was elected as Republican governor of the state of California, where he served until 1975. His power status peaked in 1980 when Reagan was elected the president of the United States of America. Reagan assumed power at a period when U.S.A. was in the middle of successful government initiatives and positive prospects for governance. His ideologies that enhanced his attainment of presidency mainly revolved around moral order in society. He was also opposed to the high taxes imposed on the citizens by government, and pressed for individual initiative. However, Reagan was faced with a people who held reservations about the post-war government expansion and influence. Nonetheless, Reagan is remembered for having initiated a change in the argument as to whether the government could still be trusted to deliver national development or whether this task was to be entrusted with a private enterprise.

The “New Right” was a movement, as well as a name given to a group of activists, who were conservatives, and shared same ideologies. This group of conservatives came together in the year 1970 and together acted as a strong political force for the Republican Party, with the group’s five strategists playing an important role. In the early 1970s, the group met more frequently, in a bid to seek strategies of speeding up their development and establishment of conservative causes and ideas. They also sought ways of marketing themselves with their ideas in order to win the trust and votes of people.

In the mid-1970s, this movement/group began their mission of gaining popularity in the society. Among the strategies employed by the group’s strategists include holding a coalition meeting in 1973, development of the national Conservative Political Action Conference. The coalition meeting was in a bid to establish national coalitions; however, this resulted in their introduction to Howard Phillips, who had served as a Nixon administrator. He later played significant roles in the running of the New Right in Washington. By 1977, the New Right had gained considerable exposure and popularity in the U.S.A.

During the post-war period, Americans lived in disillusionment due to the moral and economic decay of the state. Conservatives aimed at defend the state and protect America’s traditional values. The New Right comprised practicing Christians, who were greatly opposed to sexual immorality and increased crime rate in the nation. These wished for religion to take a central place in the life of Americans. Abortion was another concern for the New Right; they agreed to support any political leader that would as well be opposed to abortion.  This was because of the 1973’s Roe v. Wade by the Supreme court, which had legalized abortion during a woman’s early months of pregnancy.

The New Right also comprised intellectuals such as economists, researchers, and journalists, who all contributed to the address of vital roles in the 1980s. their popularity mainly was due to their effort to restrict government intervention in the economy, as well as employing state power in the restoration of family values, and morality issues. Tough measures against crime, amendment of the constitution to allow prayers in public schools, women’s rights, and a strong national defense.

Ronald Reagan was the figure behind all the proposed state changes by the New Right. His televised speech in 1964 in support of Barry Goldwater was responsible for throwing him into the political limelight. After taking over American presidency from Jimmy Carter, he served a second term started 1984 after his overwhelming reelection. During his two terms, Reagan ensured stability of Americans, and was regarded a great communicator.

The Vietnam War

The Vietnam War, which lasted between 1959 and 1973, was between the U.S.A. and North Vietnam. The U.S.A. demanded the end of communism, while Vietnam demanded the end of diplomatic relations with the U.S.A. This war was devastating to both countries as it left many dead and wounded. After the Tet Offensive in 1968, it became clear that Americans were not winning the war, neither was the Viet Cong.  However, this war was the most unpopular war in the war history of U.S.A. Neither of the parties won the war, and U.S.A. had to pull out of the war by the end of 1973.

The American citizens were opposed to this war for a variety of reasons, and this contributed to the unpopularity of this war. The actions of American troops in Vietnam did not gain any justification from the American people, as these troops were killing the Vietnams in large numbers. Similarly, many Americans in the troops in Vietnam were killed massively. 61 per cent of the American men killed were 21 years-old and below. Americans thought this was tearing their country apart and therefore wished for the war to end.

The killings that resulted from this war called for the action of the anti-war movements, demanding an end to the war as this was tearing the country apart. It is estimated that, approximately 300 Americans died every week in the war killings. The government expenditure on the war was also high. The government spent close to $30, 000 million each year on this war. In addition, $400, 000 was spent on every Vietcong guerrilla that died. According to the opponents of this war in the anti-war movement, if this war would continue for even a few more years, it was capable of devastating the state economy and result in death of more people. This war had to stop, as it was not healthy for both countries involved. Loss of life was also considered a violation of individuals’ right to life.

Back in America, the media played a significant role in bringing to public attention the effects of the war in process, mainly through the television and radio. The television aired the bombings of the Vietnam citizens by America, leaving many of them dead, and thousands homeless. All this views were brought closer to the Americans through the television. Scenes of torture by American soldiers on Vietnam prisoners were also showed, including the execution of some of them by the American troops. In addition, the effects of chemical weapons on the Vietnam civilians by the American troops were as well shown by televisions. This war had equally devastated Vietnam. The televisions equally showed the effects of this war on Americans. Images of dead American soldiers were shown in body bags. 300 000 Americans died in this war. This therefore evoked sympathy in Americans as they saw their country fall apart before their own eyes. More important was the events that unfolded in the Lai Massacre, where American troops massacred nearly a whole village in South Vietnam. This was the greatest indicator that this war was inappropriate.

The media exposition of the events of war resulted in massive anti-war protests across the country. In 1969, 700 000 protesters took to the streets in Washington DC, to demand a stop on the war. However, in 1970, four students were shot while protesting for the same course, and this resulted in chaos.

The Vietnam war was therefore the most unpopular war in the U.S. war history, because of the various controversial issues that surrounded it. In the 1960s, there was a high opposition climate to the Vietnam war, as different civil rights movements took counteractions. Other contributing issues to the unpopularity of this war was the fact that during this Vietnam war period, America as a nation was going through a lot of changes, and so had to deal with other national issues as well. For instance, it was during this period that Kennedy was assassinated; in addition the country had to deal with the civil rights anti-draft.

The rise of consumer culture in the post-war 1950s

Americans celebrated the end of the most devastating war in 1945, August. This period saw Americans come out of the Great depression, which had mainly been caused by the investment in weaponry for the war. However, they were uncertain of their economy, if they would plunge back into the depression or not. The period after war did bring a new struggle among Americans, but it was a different kind of struggle. America experienced a clash between business, consumers, and labour. This situation forced President Truman to look for strategies of ensuring a balance between these three. The major problem was the successful transition from war to peace, without obstacles such as shortages, labour unrests, and inflation.

During the war period, there was the policy of rationing in order to save resources. Americans were encouraged to minimize their spending in order to ensure the conservation of resources. The government had even put a temporary ban on specific products for public use. For instance, Platinum was tagged a strategic metal fit for military use only. Therefore, this could not be used in making of jewellery. There were also rules on how many products a person could consume over a specified period. After every six months, the government distributed booklets showing the items that were rationed. These include rubber, silk, fuel, meat, coffee, butter, sugar, and most military items. The government instead encouraged citizens to grow own vegetables to minimize their spending.

After 1945, America experienced an economic boom, as there was a drop in unemployment rate, and the gross national product rose by 70 per cent. This drew some Americans back to consumerism, as they felt the government rationing had restrained them for long.

Most Americans were torn between going back to consumerism or continuing with the limited spending they had adopted. However, the government spurred consumerism among the Americans again. In order to further deal with the problem of unemployment, especially for the soldiers returning from war, the government needed to create jobs. This would also serve to strengthen the state economy. Therefore, the government perceived consumerism as a factor that would help in the achievement of the jobs creation. A campaign began by the government, marketing companies, and businesses, which would see Americans back on the track of consumerism. In this case, spending was regarded as a patriotic act, and not over-indulgence, as it had been portrayed before. Additionally, most political leaders declared consumerism as a strategy for defeating communism, considering this was a period of cold war between the U.S.A. and the Soviet Union, a supporter of communism.

Among the possessions Americans were encouraged to own were homes, automobiles, and the television. This saw many Americans take loans to buy homes, thus increasing the number of people living in the suburbs. Ownership of homes gave birth to more needs. For instance, families now needed cars, as these were now considered necessities, and not luxury as before. The highways linking the suburbs to cities had been developed, so people needed to commute to work and to shopping places. This is where the American car culture originated.  Car culture further resulted in increased travels, thus diversifying the business opportunities in America. There was the emergence of fast food restaurants, motels, convenience stores, car parking, and camping services for families on vacations. This resulted in a shift in family spending patterns.

The television played a significant role in the spread of consumerism. As more families bought televisions, they were exposed to more commercials. These commercials informed consumers of new products in the market and their effectiveness. This was confirmed to have boosted the advertisers’ product sales, thus making them invest more in advertisements, further increasing consumerism.

The American Civil rights Movement.

The civil rights movement had a significant effect on the nation state of America. Since the establishment of this movement during the early years of America’s existence, it has served to call for and bring justice to major cases of justice and fairness in the American society.  During the Vietnam war period, the Civil Rights Movement era was quite successful. This era brought back the memories of important historical figures such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Malcom X, among others. In this movement, different forms of protests such as bus boycotts and street marches were used to show public opposition to vital decisions or issues affecting the society. The civil rights movement of the 1960s is mainly remembered for the immense changes it advocated for in America. Various scholars today agree that this kind of movement resulted in important social, legal, educational, and psychological reforms in the country.

In the legal dimensions, this movement led to the amendment of part of the clause in the constitution, as well as the enacting of new laws. For instance, the amendment of the civil Rights Act of 1964 and the civil Rights Act of 1991. In addition, within the past 50 years, the civil rights movement resulted in the enacting of multiple laws at the state and federal level, regarding discrimination. Discrimination forms such as racial discrimination and gender discrimination were rampant among Americans in the past. However, when the civil rights movement protested against this, laws were passed to curb this phenomenon. These laws applied to different spheres of the society, including schools, voting, the public spheres, and at the workplace. Other non-discriminatory laws pressed for by the civil rights movement addressed discrimination forms such as religious discrimination, age discrimination, and disability discrimination. These laws were enforced, and offenders of these were to face prosecution. Most of the laws proposed by the civil rights movement are still used in the American society today, thereby being the long-term impact of the past civil rights movement on America.

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