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The Rise of Conservatism in America Between 1968 and 1980

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In the years between 1968 and 1980, a way of thinking called new conservatism began to rise to prominence due to a combination of reasons. These reasons are, but are not limited to, political unrest, horrible economic conditions, and a rising liberal society among young American citizens.

New conservatism arose in politics because of the general mistrust the people of America had in big government due to the Watergate scandal. Nixon’s betrayal of the American people and Ford’s pardon of him caused Americans to lose faith in their government’s integrity. The continued failure of the American government in both foreign and domestic policies caused American citizens to fall back on conservative ideals. The people were most notably displeased with the Carter presidency. Said by the 1980 Republican Platform, they think that “…as many humiliations, insults, and defeats as it had during the past four years…”. They were extremely disappointed in the workings of their government. Also, the government began meddling with events that required no government assistance. Barry Goldwater, a Republican senator, says that “The root evil is that the government is engaged in activities in which it has no legitimate business”. He is stating his thoughts on the overwhelming effect the government was having in their daily lives. Many young liberals shared this opinion as well. They believed that the interference was not worthwhile. Such as Milton Friedman, stated that “…several decades of experience with governmental intervention…which if any of the great reforms of the past decades has achieved its objectives?” The people begin to feel smothered by the oppressing government while no real effective changes are taking place.

By the 1970s, the economy was in shambles. The unemployment rate was skyrocketing while inflation increased at the same rate. This period of time, called “stagflation”, was mainly caused by the difference of the price of oil in the Middle East. In order to counteract this, the Ford administration unveiled the WIN campaign, which did not work the way it was supposed to. Essentially, the WIN campaign was not intended to reform any economic policy of any sort, it was meant to encourage citizens to budget their money and advocate for the policy to others. This ultimately did not do anything, and stagflation continued. Once President Reagan was elected, he implemented a system called Reaganomics. Another such name for this is “trickle-down economics”. This act cut taxes for corporations to increase spending. Under this system, the economy in the 80’s prospered thanks to Reagan. This raised people’s opinion of him highly. However, Friedman thought that “…co-operating through the free market…” was the key to continued progress in the US. He was not interested in Keynesian economics and did not think it was an efficient system.

The social conservatives of the time lived in fear of what they perceived as the deconstruction of American family values. Christian and Protestant groups were formed to uphold the teachings of the Bible in order to enforce the way of life. In other changes, due to the new legality of birth control, women were able to explore their sexuality freely and did not have to lock themselves down. Roe v. Wade legalized abortion, an action that angered many social conservatives, who claimed that this was a direct violation of religious and family values. Many middle-aged housewives were disgusted by the liberal views of the young women. Teddie Holt asks, “Just what were women liberated from?”. They thought that they were being ungrateful. The housewives saw no reason to revolt since they did not perceive their world as bad. However, the young liberal women wanted equal rights and did not want to be homemakers. Also, a rise in drug experimentation and a surge of nonconformity made many new conservatives think that the young people of America were “…dope addicts and welfare cheats”. The popularity of TV had fundamentally changed how the different generations had grown up. They were able to get information faster and see a broader spectrum of the world. However, conservatives did not like this change, saying that “…they have learned a loss of respect for human life.”. The new conservatives have a very strong dislike for the new liberal generation since they felt like their way of life and their way of thinking were being directly criticized and discriminated against.

In conclusion, the mixture of political unrest, horrible economic conditions, and a rising liberal society amongst the young people of America gave way to new conservatism between the years of 1968 and 1980.    

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The Rise of Conservatism in America Between 1968 and 1980. (2022, August 01). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 28, 2022, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-rise-of-conservatism-in-america-between-1968-and-1980/
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The Rise of Conservatism in America Between 1968 and 1980. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-rise-of-conservatism-in-america-between-1968-and-1980/> [Accessed 28 Sept. 2022].
The Rise of Conservatism in America Between 1968 and 1980 [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Aug 01 [cited 2022 Sept 28]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-rise-of-conservatism-in-america-between-1968-and-1980/
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