History Assignment Discussion The 1980’s

History Assignment Discussion The 1980’s

PART ONE – Original post of 5-7 paragraphs of professionally written college content, on topic, that is relevant, in final draft presentation mode (no editing needed) competent with references and citations noted.

America in the 1980s


The atmosphere of the 1980s was clearly very different from the 1970s, and enter the flag-waving version of American patriotism was publically revived. Analyze and interpret the historical data of that time period, do you see the 1980s “comeback” as more of an economic recovery or cultural/socio-psychological phenomenon? Elaborate? In 5-7 paragraphs, articulately discuss, professionally written college level content.

PART TWO –Briefly (1-3paragraphs each)) RESPOND to 3 Others LISTED BELOW!

1980’’s responses to use for DISCUSSION 6

1. Bottom of Form

Top of Form

1. The 1980s – Comeback, Continuance, or Contraction?

As the ’70s came to a close, the ’80s opens with Reagan asking if we were “better off than [we] were four years ago”. Many Americans believed that they weren’t, and thus began the Reagan Revolution. A sign for most conservatives and disillusioned Democrats that change is coming, the hostages held captive in the American Embassy in Tehran – held prisoner after the Iranian Revolution – were released soon before his inauguration. America was certain to recover its status as an economic powerhouse, military dominance, and promoter of freedom and democracy throughout the world, thought many people.

Reagan began instituting a series of economic implementations intent on jumpstarting the economy and lifting it from the throes of stagflation, called by promoters and critics as “Reaganomics.” The main tenets of these are a huge cut in corporate taxes, reduction in social welfare programs, and the reduction of regulations, especially for big business. This “trickle-down” economic theory was supposed to adhere to the maxim “a rising tide lifts all boats,” yet the highest 1% of income earners benefitted the most: The middle class, as a result of Reagan’s policies, contracted down to 63.2% in 1989, down from 71.2% in 1969. (According to the Pew Research Center, that number shrunk to 50% in 2015.)  Reagan’s policy also greatly raised the national debt to $400 billion in 1987 – form a $141 billion surplus in 1981. (Zaretsky, 241) Consumerism was on the rise, especially among the upper class, while the wages of the middle class either remained stagnant or fell, especially with inflation.

Also during the 1980s, religious revival and a social conservative movement also began to take hold. Many religious leaders as Falwell, Swaggart (before his sexual scandals), and Roberts preached to America’s moral conscience. They simultaneously merged Christian sermons with cultural and patriotic sensibilities in such a fashion that in the early 21st century, being an evangelical Christian, conservative, and a patriotic American is seen to go hand-in-hand. The culture wars began during Nixon’s tenure resurface in Ragan’s administration, He supported a Constitutional amendment enshrining prayer in school in 1982,

The Cold War was to ideologically escalate during Reagan’s term. This mindset was to guide his actions in both domestic and foreign policy throughout his presidency. He directly called the Soviet Union an “evil empire” in a speech in 1983, and began escalating the arms race with them. Reagan also pursued anti-Communist missions in such places as Grenada, Angola, and most infamously, Nicaragua, which was the focus of the Iran-Contra scandal. (This referred to the selling of arms to Iran with the proceeds supporting the anti-Communist contras in Nicaragua.) This hardline stance on foreign policy appeased the evangelical conservatives, who called communism “godless” because of the application of atheism in many of their governments. As I mentioned earlier, Reagan significant increased the defense budget while he cut spending to social programs, which only exacerbated the arms race. Even after he walked out of the summit at Reykjavik, Iceland, in October 1986, and the famous demand for Gorbachev to “tear down this wall” in Berlin the next year, détente actually commenced between them that would result in the fall of the USSR in 1991.

It would seem that this discussion post would not be much more than a criticism of much of Reagan’s policies of the 1980s, but it would be fair to say that they are quite influential to which course the United States would chart toward the end of the 20th century. There is much more of his era that we cannot go in great detail here, such as his comforting the nation after the Challenger explosion in 1986. Many conservatives still view Reagan as an icon of their cause, whereas progressives view him as the progenitor of the country’s sharp right turn. Regardless of one’s political or ideological viewpoint, Reagan was a focal point for a renaissance of optimism, patriotism, and “morning in America.”


“The American Middle Class is Losing Ground.” Pew Research Center. Dec. 9, 2015. Accessed June 27, 2018. http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/12/09/the-american-middle-class-is-losing-ground/ .

Zaretsky, Natasha. No Direction Home: The American Family and the Fear of National Decline, 1968-1980. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007.

“Reagan Supports School Prayer Amendment.” New York Times. May 18, 2. America in the 1980’s

I think it is safe to say that there was an economic recovery during the 1980’s and a cultural/socio-psychological phenomenon. There were differences from the 1970’s and 1980’s—changes in culture, attitudes of individual Americans, and economic weaknesses. However, both time periods improved overall in their own ways.

In the 1970’s, America suffered from the Tet-Offensive, riots and assassinations, and energy-crisis. America lost its sense of hope. Unemployment was high, stagflation hovered over certain areas, and America was struggling to fix these problems. Not to mention, the 1970’s transferred from one president to the next while national issues were still effective. Drugs and cultural changes took power over the economy as women felt more free than ever, cocaine and marijuana became the popular stress-reliever, and the rapid growth of evangelical Christian movement arose.

In the 1980’s, President Reagan took on issues that were not his fault, computer technology and other industrial improvements eliminated the demand for workers, and America gained its confidence again with support from the “Morning in America” commercials. Per lecture four, the comparisons of Reagan as a good president and bad president cannot be limited only on him. There are always positives and negatives for a president and the economy. Therefore, it is safe to say that during the 1980’s, America experienced economic recoveries, along with a cultural phenomenon that allowed America to see pros and cons.

1. 3. The 1980s

Is it a cop-out to suggest that it was somewhat of both? The economist in me knows that the economics plays a role, but I think the social and cultural aspects of the decade played a bigger part.


The lecture notes show that the economy started to get worse in the early 1980s before it got better. The early years of Reagan’s presidency actually showcased contractionary fiscal policies in many ways with the decline in government spending in some areas. Government spending did increase on military matters, but the decline in spending along with a reduction in taxes meant the government was taking in less money than they did before. This was a major bump in the road for “Reaganomics” until prices stabilized in 1983.


The tax cuts envisioned by Reagan and his economic advisers did help in stimulating the economy. However, I have a hunch that Reagan coincidentally was president at the same time that the economy improved. The lecture notes both compare the cases for and against Reagan, but I believe that the improvement of the supply-side economics began under Carter’s presidency. “Reaganomics” enriched the wealthy and allowed for business to retain more money. In theory, businesses would take this money and reinvest it into their companies to hire more workers and produce more goods. The jobs that were created were mainly lower service jobs. The tax cuts led to massive yearly deficits, which would have to be controlled under the Clinton administration in the 1990s.


In all likelihood, the perception of a growing economy helped instill confidence in the average American. The disparity of income distribution grew larger, but it did not seem to faze Americans much at the time.


Just as Zaretsky writes in No Direction Home, conservative values became a focal point in the 1980s. An emphasis was put on the nuclear family and protecting that family. Religious programs and Christian denominations became a larger part of this decade, in stark contrast to some of the ills that plagued society in the 1960s and 1970s. Some of the ills of society like drugs are now also actively being combatted through programs like the DARE program. The “Morning in America” commercials absolutely made an impact among the masses, giving patriotic pride back to Americans. The country had a different mindset than it did after the failure of Vietnam. Some scandals in government (Iran-Contra comes to mind) did not have the same effect as Watergate and did not affect growing optimism in the country. This change in mindset would set the stage for a new division in politics that would grow over the next thirty years.

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