Lecture Guide Part II
(All of this material is for the Final Exam)
The Warren Court and the Expansion of Civil Liberties
The Great Depression, the New Deal, the battle against Aryan supremacy in World War II and growing affluence all encouraged the growing white middle class to become more liberal and seek more individual rights versus the state. For a full list of the key decisions of the Warren Court, see the handout and consult your lecture notes.
“The Charismatic President: John F. Kennedy: The Man and the Myth”
Unlike the traditionally old presidents like Eisenhower, Kennedy was young, Catholic, and charismatic. He was appealing than Richard Nixon (though less experienced) and won the 1960 election. Kennedy was very accessible to the press, had a beautiful and charming wife, and had small children. But few knew what he really stood for. He epitomized the TV candidate that Marshall McLuhan had described—more image than substance. His “New Frontier” policies and accomplishments are covered in lecture. Make sure you know them. Kennedy was a man of contrasts. While he supported democracy and national wars of liberation, he was a conservative in foreign policy. For example, he implemented Eisenhower’s plan to invade Cuba and oust communist dictator Fidel Castro. He also sent 10,000 troops as “advisers” to South Vietnam to help President Ngo Dinh Diem and tried to counter communist gains in neighboring Laos and Cambodia—although he opposed Eisenhower’s plan to use troops.
In Latin America, Kennedy’s Alliance for Progress was a massive aid program to help strugglig economies and reduce unemployment. But pro-American, anti-communist elites sucked up most of the money (so that little trickled down to the peasants) and Kennedy let them.
Kennedy often compromised between “hawks” and “doves.” The result was usually a vague, ineffective, and even disastrous policy. For example, Kennedy’s overly cautious invasion of Cuba resulted in the Bay of Pigs disaster. But his Camelot popularity and courting of the press got him past the political fallout. In a similar vein, Kennedy was outmaneuvered by Soviet Premier Khrushchev at Vienna, although Kennedy’s bold naval blockade of Cuba in the Cuban Missile Crisis (see the lecture for details) helped restore his positive image.
For his somewhat unspectacular “New Frontier” domestic policies, see the lecture notes for details. Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963 occurred just before he could have implemented many of his policies (although just 3 weeks earlier he approved the ouster and probably the subsequent murder of South Vietnamese President Diem). But the “Deadlock of Democracy” that had blocked so many of his programs in Congress ended with the accession of Kennedy’s Vice President, Lyndon Johnson, to the presidency. President Johnson, a longtime powerbroker in Congress, would be able to mobilize national sentiment to pass many of Kennedy’s programs as a fitting memorial to him.
John F. Kennedy was a “maze of contradictions” he gave a lot of idealistic speeches but had few significant accomplishments. Still, his speeches popularized civil rights for minorities and he legitimized an extension of the New Deal to address the continuing poverty problem in America.
But Lyndon Johnson actually extended the New Deal with the new programs he pushed through Congress. LBJ mentioned the “Great Society” in a 1964 campaign speech opposing Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater. Goldwater wrote his book, The Conscience of a Conservative, in which he advocated reducing federal programs and abolishing farm price supports, social security, and other social programs while increasing defense spending. This became an inspiration for Ronald Reagan who would be elected president in 1980. But in 1964, the nation was still supportive of the New Deal/Fair deal programs—and Johnson was elected.
“The Great Society: A Forgotten Achievement”
LBJ had grown up in a lower middle class family in rural Texas. He had been a teacher in a school with many poor Latino students. Johnson was captivated by Michael Harrington’s book The Other America and proposed a series of programs to address the nation’s poverty problem. These included the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Medicare, Medicaid, Appalachian Redevelopment Act, and a host of other programs and laws covered in lecture. Make sure you know them.
“The Tragedy of Lyndon Johnson: Vietnam, Violence, and Protest”
Johnson’s controversial and often unpopular foreign policy overshadowed his significant efforts to combat poverty on the domestic front. In Latin America he reversed the foreign aid policies of Kennedy and his predecessors and cut foreign aid, which pleased conservatives. LBJ ended Kennedy’s insistence on democratic regimes and supported pro-American dictators in Brazil (1964) and elsewhere. In 1965, Johnson sent troops to the Dominican Republic to halt a revolution pushed by anti-American forces. By doing this, he alienated many Kennedy supporters.
Vietnam- In his 1964 presidential campaign, Johnson criticized Barry Goldwater for urging US military intervention to help our regime in South Vietnam. But in August 1964, after North Vietnamese gunboats in the Gulf of Tonkin supposedly fired on the US destroyer “Maddox” after repelling an A-34 attack, LBJ went to Congress and asked for a blank check power to take any actions necessary to protect American lives. In a patriotic moment Congress approved the Tonkin Resolution, but Johnson did nothing until after he safely won the election. After that, Johnson looked for a pretext to send in US troops. He got it in February 1965 after a Viet Cong mortar attack on the US base at Pleiku killed seven Americans. In March 1965, he so-called “Rolling Thunder” campaign began and American troop strength in Vietnam jumped to 385,000 by December 1966 and to 536,000 by December 1968. This escalating involvement was opposed by a number of Democratic “Doves” led by Senator Wayne Morse (D-Oregon), Senator Eugene McCarthy (D-Minn.), and J. William Fulbright (D-Ark.). These dissidents were opposed by conservatives like Gov. Ronald Reagan (R-Calif.), Gov. George Wallace (D-Alabama), Richard Nixon, Barry Goldwater, and columnist William F. buckley, Jr.
North Vietnam’s Tet Offensive in early 1968 was a political turning point in the war. The successful attack on 20 South Vietnamese cities including a shootout with marines in the lobby of the US embassy in Saigon exposed the “credibility gap” between the Administration and the people. War opponents charged that LBJ and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara had consistently lied to the American people about our progress in the war. As a result, LBJ, a sitting president, nearly lost the Democratic New Hampshire primary to Eugene McCarthy—an event that drew New York Senator Robert Kennedy into the race. Realizing that he might well lose to Kennedy, LBJ pulled out of the re-election race in March 1968. But in April 1968, Martin Luther King was assassinated and Bobby Kennedy suffered the same fate in June. In the end, LBJ’s Vice President (and former Minnesota Senator) Hubert Humphrey ran with VP and Senator Ed Muskie (D-Maine) against Republicans Richard Nixon and Maryland Governor Spiro Agnew. Nixon won the 1968 election.
Violence and Protest: Many skeptical college students who had read The Power Elite and similar books in class were determined not to be a mass society of conformists but instead to fight the elite to end the war. The New Left opposed Kennedy/Johnson Progressivism and instead pushed radical reform that included complete civil rights for minorities and an end to the war. Student activism had been sporadic and minimal in US history, but in the 1960s students around the world were engaged in various revolts and protests. American students accused Johnson of lies and duplicity. They opposed the 1967 “punitive draft” of war resisters as well as the 1968 draft of male college students whose educational deferments Johnson abolished. Many students viewed Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Cong as the true liberators of Vietnam from Franco-American imperialistic rule.
Students were encouraged to be dissenters by a variety of factors that included a series of liberal Earl Warren Supreme Court decisions (covered in an earlier lecture), ROTC on-campus recruiting, Daniel and Philip Berrigan, Martin Luther King, and many other people and movements covered in lecture. Slowly, the “New Left” began to emerge which linked poverty, the arms race, civil rights injustice, and environmental deterioration into a new ideology that rejected the “Old Left” symbolized by Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson. Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and other groups organized by students stressed participatory democracy, and these groups mobilized students for voter registration drives to get more black and Hispanic voters to oust the power elite from office. The Berkeley Free Speech movement of 1964-1968 (led by Mario Savio) demonstrated the feasibility of effecting change by mobilizing large groups of students. Students on other campuses quickly imitated their Berkeley counterparts and in some places violence escalate into bombings that killed several college employees. Students demanded an end to the draft, ROTC programs, and university research for the Pentagon, and made numerous other demands.
“Dissent and Non-Conformity: The Rise of a Counterculture”
Many baby-boomers saw American youth as “an oppressed class.” They worked to create a youth consciousness. As noted earlier, impressed by the works of David Riesman and other authors, they rejected conformity and urged dissent. Many college women embraced Betty Friedan’s call to arms and rejected the housewife role that the dominant culture, they felt, imposed upon them. American youth created a “culture of dissent” or “counterculture” that spawned various subcultures. Hippies wore long hair and non-traditional clothing to reject the crew-cut, grey flannel suit style of the 9-5 “straight” world. They used drugs instead of the usual booze to space out their minds. They saw the mighty US as irrevocably corrupt and committed to consumerism and material gain. A small group of dissenters resorted to violence and revered Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara, who was later killed by US Rangers in Bolivia.
Most dissenters resorted to more peaceful dissent. The student political viewpoint was perhaps best expressed in the Port Huron Statement of Tom Hayden. But perhaps the best book-length exposition of the movement was Herbert Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man . In it, he argued that the welfare state, with its safeguards for unions and its worker benefits such as social security, the 8-hour day, and FHA mortgage guarantees, had bought off the American proletariat. Indeed, blue-collar workers like TV’s Archie Bunker had become conservative and could never be expected to spearhead America’s proletarian revolution. Since the working class could not be counted on, then “the purifying revolution” in America had to be led by “a substratum of outcasts” consisting of students, blacks, Chicanos, poor whites, and disaffected intellectuals and artists. Radicals advocated deliberate confrontations with the power elite’s political puppets as well as with the police to “unmask the true character” of Democrats and Republicans and the “Amerika” military power they used to contain minorities at home and anti-imperial and communist opponents abroad.
Some youth were not part of these confrontations but simply lived a non-conformist lifestyle in “urban pads” and communes. They were inspired by 1950s Beatnik poets like Gregory Corso and Allen Ginsburg as well as later writers like Ken Keysey (“One Flew over the Cucko’s Nest”). Unlike teach-ins and sit-ins, they participated in Love-ins and Be-ins. Drugs (especially hallucinogenic ones like L.S.D.) and music eased the transition. Performers, like Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and others inspired the movement with their lyrics and melodies. The counterculturalists also preferred practicing Yoga, Zen, and Asian and Native American religions rather than traditional, Judaeo-Christian religions, which they felt were too supportive of militarism and the elite’s capitalist agendas.
The movement declined in the 1970s after the Vietnam War ended and civil rights were largely gained. Getting older and needing to enter the 9-5 job force to build a pension for retirement, many counterculturalists returned to the mainstream culture. In addition, the overdose death of too many kids and other forces ended the movement.
“Martin Luther King and the Black Revolution”
This is best reviewed by reading the Osofsky book and focusing on the study questions I gave you. There is not lecture material on this subject.
The Modern Urban Crisis: Suburbs, Ghettos, and Megalopolis:
Both Truman and Eisenhower extended the New Deal concept of public housing by building more in the Housing Acts of 1949 and 1951. But it was less than 1 percent of what American cities really needed. Housing reformer Jane Jacobs in her book, The Life and Death of Great American Cities, argued that high-rise public housing (like the units LBJ built in Harlem) destroyed the sense of community. So, even when built, public housing was flawed. It should all be no higher than 5 floors.
While liberals supported bulldozing older slums, urban renewal often failed to help the poor because it drove out poor families and often replaced their homes with buildings like Dodger Stadium, Detroit’s Renaissance Hotel, or nice townhouses for the upper class (gentrification) who were eager to live near downtown’s cultural attractions and nightlife. Urban renewal permanently scattered the poor. Worse still, FHA and VA funding policies discriminated against minorities and the poor. Between 1937 and 1965, middle- and upper-class whites got 99 percent of the $84 billion in mortgage insurance issued. The “liberal” FHA and VA mortgage programs drove the cities’ middle- and upper-class whites to the suburbs where ‘the “adverse influence of smoke, odor, and inharmonious racial groups” was largely absent. Banks, who used even black depositors’ savings accounts to loan money to builders building new lily white suburbs often redlined minority neighborhoods, so the latter received no bank loans to construct new homes and office buildings to reduce urban blight.
America’s income tax deductions favored landlords over tenants. Congress, through its spending programs, favored some groups over others, and federal policies often resulted in unemployment and poverty for some groups. But Congress did not federalize welfare. So, New York City and other big cities had to spend millions on welfare, and the US Supreme Court later declared NYC’s residency requirement for welfare unconstitutional. The 20 percent+ inflation rate under Jimmy Carter eventually led to the urban crisis. Cleveland (and almost New York!) went bankrupt in the mid-1970s, which only worsened poverty in the inner city where rents and the cost of living were already high due to the high land values in inner cities. In the 19th and early 20th Centuries cities could expand their tax base to fund social services for the poor and others by annexing nearby suburbs, but court rulings, the rise of special service districts, and other factors made this more difficult (except in the Sunbelt) after 1930.
Blockbusting, like redlining and federal neglect, only worsened the urban crisis and helped ignite riots in the 1960s in Detroit, Watts, Harlem, Atlanta, and elsewhere. The assassination of Martin Luther King in April 1968 and civil rights violence in Birmingham and elsewhere only worsened the problem which Great Society programs still tried to combat. Zoning ordinances to keep minorities out legally were adopted, and suburbs within city borders successfully opposed scatter-site housing. Only Cincinnati had some.
The Rise of the Sunbelt attracted many corporations to the South and West where taxes were less. Many Frostbelt cities like New York lost white middle- and upper-class residents to places like Phoenix, Tucson, and Las Vegas where they could move their business or even retire. The reasons for the Sunbelt’s rise after 1930 are covered in lecture.
But poverty is not really such a large problem if one looks at it from a megalopolitan perspective rather than from a city standpoint. Watts, South Central, and other pockets of poverty are merely a small part of the southern California megalopolis. But there was and is no voter willingness to regard poverty as a regional problem like highways and flood control. As a result, the City of Los Angeles, and here Las Vegas and North Las Vegas, are saddled with funding social services that could more easily be financed by the entire metropolitan area. But the Reagan Revolution of the 1980s, with its emphasis on small government and large cuts in social programs, has only kept the poverty problem at the urban (and, to a lesser extent and state levels.
“The Closing Circle: America’s Ecological Crisis”
The American conservation movement began in the 1800s. in 1862, George Perkins Marsh published the first book that described how tree-cutting and deforestation (and other disruptions of ecosystems) led to unwanted environmental changes. In 1865, the federal government gave Yosemite Valley to California to preserve as a state park, and created Yellowstone National Park in 1872. John Muir founded the Sierra Club in the 1890s and advised Teddy Roosevelt about the need to conserve forests and water in the West.
But the modern science of ecology began in the 1960s. Its origins lay in the growing 1950s concern over the implications of atmospheric nuclear testing, which left dangerous levels of Strontium 90 in the earth’s atmosphere. College students protested atmospheric nuclear testing shortly after 1960, and eventually the Russians proposed a ban on it while everyone studied the feasibility of only-underground nuclear testing (which began in the US in 1962). The first “Earth Day” (pushed by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson) was April 22, 1970. Also helping the movement was the publication of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring, which discussed the implications of using DDT as a pesticide and how it passed through the food chain to humans. In his book, The Population Bomb, Dr. Paul Ehrlich argued that the recent increase in world pollution resulted from population growth doubling the world’s people every 35 years. But other writers laid the blame more on population growth in industrialized nations like the US and Japan.
However, Barry Commoner in his book, The Closing Circle…, laid the blame on the shift from old to new technologies. For example, he argued that increasing the power of car engines forced the use of tetraethyl lead as a gasoline additive to reduce engine knock caused by the rise in horsepower. This lead and other gases caused dangerous pollution. Plastic bags and aluminum cans that were not easy for nature to break down also worsened pollution as did rayon clothes, which required much more energy to produce than cotton clothes.
In the 1970s, industry responded by switching to biodegradable detergents and more natural fertilizers. The creation of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1969 helped to police the transition and provide funds for more environmental research. The EPA worked to clean up Lake Erie by discouraging phosphate detergents and also by tracking the sources of acid rain which were killing trees in New York and elsewhere in the Northeast. Ultimately, the EPA required automakers to install catalytic converters in cars to reduce noxious emissions. The agency even threatened Clark County with court action and suits if the county did not build a wastewater treatment plant to keep Lake Mead water unpolluted by sewage. Still, there was much opposition to federal restrictions. In the 1990s, Clark County financed the Bruce Woodbury Beltway with its own money rather than face a delay in getting federal money caused by the lengthy “environmental impact studies” the EPA would have first required.
“Henry Kissinger and the Politics of Détente”
In 1968, Nixon and his vice president Spiro Agnew defeated Vice President Hubert Humphrey and his VP nominee Senator Edward Muskie (D-Maine).
Nixon’s Foreign Policy-Nixon appointed as his main adviser (and later Secretary of State) Henry Kissinger. Gradually, they moved the US away from Containment and toward a new policy of Détente with China and the Soviet Union. Détente recognized that both nations had spheres of interest they would defend and put less emphasis on aggressive Containment at all costs. This helped to ease international tensions somewhat, avoid direct military confrontations, open up channels of communication, and keep the Cold War “cold.”
Nixon partially won the 1968 election because he claimed to have “a secret plan” to end the [Vietnam] war. His plan was to gradually withdraw US troops and have the South Vietnamese army do all the fighting. And he did reduce US troop strength throughout his first term as president. In 1969, he reformed the old 18-26 draft and made it a lottery for 19-year-olds only, so that every male by the age of 19 knew whether he was draft eligible and how likely he was likely to be drafted. Both policies tended to reduce student protests in 1969.
Ho Chi Minh died in 1969, but Nixon resented his successors’ use of neutral Cambodia as a staging site for attacks against South Vietnam. So, in 1972, Nixon began B-52 attacks in Cambodia. He sent troops in April 1970 and the campus protests immediate erupted nationwide. (Earlier in October 1969 during the students’ March on Washington to protest the war, Nixon and Agnew had called the protesters “bums” (which did little to ease tensions.) In May 1970, Ohio National guardsmen shot and killed four students at Kent State. Further complicating Nixon’s problem was publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971. These contained State Department files that trusted employee Daniel Ellsberg had photocopied. They showed that Presidents Kennedy and Johnson had deliberately lied to the country about casualties and the “progress” of the war effort. The 1971 trial and acquittal of Lt. William Calley for his actions in the My Lai Massacre of 1969 (when he shot a 1-year-old baby in the head, among other atrocities) further angered the students and war resisters.
In spring 1972 Nixon ordered the bombing of non-military—civilian—targets in North Vietnam and the mining of Haiphong harbor to bring the communist regime in Hanoi to the bargaining table. It failed to do so. In the spirit of Détente, Nixon went to Moscow and later to China (meeting Mao Tse-Tung in Beijing) to ask President Brezhnev and the Chinese to pressure Hanoi to negotiate. But Hanoi did not budge. Nixon was desperate to be re-elected and, at this time, he was authorizing the Watergate break-ins at the Democratic Party’s headquarters in Washington. On the eve of the 1972 election against Senator George McGovern (D-South Dakota) and Sargent Shriver, Kissinger announced to the nation that “peace was at hand” in Vietnam; McGovern responded by calling this statement a “cruel hoax.” But it helped Nixon carry 49 states. With the election safely won, Nixon began the saturation bombing of North Vietnam with B-52s during Christmas week in 1972. After a few weeks, Hanoi agreed to negotiate. There was a ceasefire by all sides and the US agreed to withdraw by 1974. Following this, the so-called “Cease Fire War” between South and North Vietnam began and raged until 1975 when North Vietnam finally won and reunified the country (as it should been in 1956 according to the Geneva Accords), and re-named Saigon Ho Chi Minh City.
The effects of the war are covered in lecture as is Nixon’s Middle East policy in the wake of the Six Day War (1967) and the Yom Kippur War (1973) fought between Israel, Egypt, and its Arab allies. The 1973 OPEC oil embargo against nations that supported Israel was finally ended by Kissinger’s shuttle diplomacy. Concerned that the US was becoming too dependent on foreign oil, Nixon built the Alaskan pipeline to Prudhoe Bay.
However, in other areas Nixon worked to protect America’s capitalist empire abroad. For example, he supported Southern Rhodesia’s racist white government because the nation was a major source of chrome to the US. He did the same thing in South Africa, and in Chile he used the CIA to oust democratically elected President Salvatore Allende, who was a communist. The lecture notes also cover the Nixon Doctrine, the SALT I agreement, the Russian Grain Deal, and other policies—be sure you know them. The same is true for President Jimmy Carter’s (elected in1976-80) “moral foreign policy,” SALT II, the Camp David Accords, the Panama Canal Treaties, Carter’s official recognition of Red China, and the Iran Hostage crisis. Also recognize how President Gerald Ford’s (1974-76) Helsinki Agreement (which conceded that Eastern Europe was a Soviet sphere of influence) and Ronald Reagan’s (1980-88) efforts to bring peace to Beirut (by sending in US marines) were all part of America’s Détente policy. The same was true of the Reagan-Gorbachev summit conferences on nuclear arms control and President George Bush’s (1988-92) meetings with Boris Yeltsin. The same détente policy guided President Bill Clinton’s (1992-2000) meetings with PLO leader Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin to mediate a PLO-Israeli Peace (Camp avid Accords) and his (and President Bush’s)efforts to bring peace to Somalia by sending US troops there (1992-93). One might also argue that GATT and NAFTA were also part of the US effort to bring more peace to the world by encouraging cooperation and trade between nations. The general idea was that China would be more of a neighbor and less of an enemy if we imported lots of Chinese goods and if US industry could outsource work and jobs to China and to other nations in the Third World.
“The Imperial Presidency Dethroned: Richard Nixon’s Last Crisis”
The most immediate economic problem that Nixon faced was inflation brought on by Great Society and Vietnam War spending. The traditional Republican policy was to let market forces, including high interest rates, slow down the economy. But in the 1970s, “Stagflation,” resulted in high unemployment and, unlike the 1930s, inflation continued.
In 1971, Nixon announced that he had become a Keynesian and implemented a multi-phased program to set wage and price controls. It failed, as price controls (just as in WWII) were hard to enforce while employers eagerly enforced wage controls. Unfortunately, prices and interest rates for loans continued to rise until the 1980s. On other fronts, Nixon pushed the “New Federalism” to give more functions to state and local government and implemented Revenue Sharing to accomplish it. “No Strings” revenue sharing gave suburbs and rural governments millions of dollars in marked contrast to the Great Society’s block grants, which sent money to America’s inner cities, Appalachia, and other pockets of poverty. But suburbs and rural areas were Republican strongholds and helped Nixon get re-elected.
Nixon was quite innovative regarding welfare. He and future New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (a famous sociologist) proposed the Family Assistance Plan (FAP), which offered families a small but guaranteed national income—money they could spend any way they chose. Nixon’s FAP was an income strategy rather than the traditional services strategy of the Great Society, which had required an expensive bureaucracy to operate. Republicans opposed the whole concept of a guaranteed national income while Democrats opposed the meager income level.
At first, Nixon pushed civil rights, as his Attorney General John Mitchell filed lawsuits against Georgia’s “dual school” system. But he changed his position after the Pontiac, Mich. bus bombing in 1971. Nixon then eased off enforcement of busing mandates, although his Administration did push some other civil rights initiatives (but nothing major). Nixon also pushed the Education for All Children Act.
Regarding the environment, Nixon supported creation of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1969, but eventually fired his Secretary of the Interior (former Alaska governor) Walter Hickel for a variety of reasons covered in lecture.
The Imperial Presidency was a term coined by historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. to describe the presidents from Teddy Roosevelt to Richard Nixon who began to expand the powers of the presidency until they exceeded those of Congress and the courts. For Schlesinger, Nixon was the worst, and the Watergate scandal (covered in lecture) epitomized Nixon’s contributions to the trend. Because of that scandal, Congress forced Nixon to resign in 1974, and his appointed Vice President Gerald Ford (VP Spiro Agnew had resigned earlier because of an unrelated scandal) took over. In the congressional proceedings, Democrats and some Republicans focused on Nixon’s various “abuses” of presidential power. Impoundment, executive privilege, the enemies list, the lack of cabinet meetings, and the creation of an elite group of loyal advisers (Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Kissinger) to make virtually all domestic and foreign public policy in the White House, etc. rather than in each federal department, all contributed to Nixon’s demise. As the lecture explained, Gerald ford 1974-76) dismantled the “imperial presidency.”
In the early 1970s, Nixon also ended all public housing by executive order and tried to appoint conservative (anti-busing) judges to the US Supreme Court. These included G. Harold Carswell and Clement Haynsworth. This did little to help the president in his later Watergate fight with liberals in Congress.
“Curtain Call for Liberalism?: Carter and Reagan to the Present” and “Cold War into Terrorist War: 1975-Present”
Gerald Ford—As noted, Ford dismantled the imperial; presidency through a series of actions that you should know. In foreign policy, he boosted his popularity by rescuing the crew of the US naval ship Mayaguez. While communists off the Cambodian coast were trying to tow the ship into port, Ford authorized a military rescue mission, which was successful. This was in marked contrast to the earlier failure to rescue the USS Pueblo in 1968 when the North Korean Navy captured an entire US naval crew and held them for months. But Ford was hurt in his 1976 election contest with Jimmy Carter when Ford agreed at Helsinki, Finland that Eastern Europe was a Soviet sphere of influence (essentially Stalin’s position at Yalta). This was a move that angered Americans of Eastern European descent in Chicago, Milwaukee, and other cities who now supported Carter for President or did not vote at all.
Jimmy Carter won the 1976 election, but inflation made many of his domestic programs (covered in lecture) too expensive to implement. Congress, however, did approve the Comprehensive Employment training ACT (CETA), but his so-called “Urban Bank” and national health insurance were rejected. Carter did create the Department of Energy to combat the rising cost of (and shortage of) oil following Iran’s boycott of the US (once the Shah of Iran died and Muslim militants—led by the Ayatollah Khomeini-- took over). Carter’s energy policy is covered in lecture. Carter’s feeble response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the deployment of powerful SS18 missiles and Iran’s imprisonment of US embassy staff in Tehran did little to help him against Ronald Reagan in the 1980 election.
Ronald Reagan (1980-1988) stressed the traditional values of strong defense, low taxes, a free market economy, and small government in his successful campaign against Carter. Reagan also favored closing “the window of vulnerability” with the Soviets in conventional weapons (as NSC 68 had recommended to Truman in the 1940s) and build more tanks, ships, and planes. Reagan also endorsed building the B-1 bomber and “star wars” research advocated by conservative scientist Edward Teller.
Domestically, Reagan paid for increased defense spending by cutting social programs. This was accomplished by reducing eligibility for food stamps, farm loans, and student loans, etc. He also cut the income tax by 25 percent to stimulate the economy, a move that was successful by 1983. Reagan’s more specific programs and foreign policy initiatives are covered in lecture, and you should know them.
The Cold War ended in 1991 during the presidency of George Bush (1988-92) thanks largely to the efforts of Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin and the helpful cooperation of Reagan and Bush. In 1992, Bush cut defense spending and ended nuclear testing in Nevada. As part of the so-called “New World Order,” the United Nations and the world’s super powers maintained world peace and in various trouble spots by, for example, sending US troops to Somalia. Bush also raised the tariff and funded the B-2 stealth bomber. He also fought the Persian Gulf War . But high budget and trade deficits, along with the Rodney king Riots of 1992, did little to help him in the 1992 presidential campaign against Arkansas governor Bill Clinton.
Clinton (1992-2000) revived the old Truman/Carter plan for national health insurance. He also supported a “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell” policy for gays in the military, which the Republicans blocked. Clinton raised taxes to restore Medicare and some older social programs’ cuts enacted by Reagan and Bush. But Republicans (led by House Speaker Newt Gingrich) in their 1994 “Contract with America” used their control of Congress to restore tax cuts and push the Welfare Reform Act of 1996 (the provisions of which are covered in lecture), which took millions off the nation’s welfare rolls without providing enough money to train them for better-paying jobs. As a result, these people and their families became part of “America’s working poor.” Indeed, subsequent statistical studies indicated that many of them, once off welfare, struggled to pay their bills with some of the lowest-paying jobs in the country.
Clinton foreign policy continued the “New World Order” concept of Reagan and Bush by sending drought aid to North Korea and helping to mediate a peaceful settlement to religious conflict in Northern Ireland as well as by encouraging free elections in South Africa that helped reinforce Nelson Mandela’s rise to power.
In a disputed, close election in 2000, George W. Bush (2000-08) and former Wyoming Congressman (and later Secretary of Defense) Dick Cheney defeated Al Gore and Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman (who won the popular vote). Bush’s foreign policy after the 9-11 attacks on New York’s World trade Center and the Pentagon was marked by a war on terrorism in Afghanistan (against the Taliban) and a later invasion of Iraq to oust Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein. The belief was that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) that had to be destroyed before he allied with Al-Qaeda. Opponents of the invasion (including leaders in France and other allied nations) felt there was no chance of Hussein allying with Osama Bin-Laden, and UN inspectors insisted that their investigations showed no WMDs in Iraq (a conclusion that later proved to be true). Bush’s largely go-it-along policy in Iraq did little to enhance his popularity nor did the invasion, which succeeded in toppling Hussein, but quickly became a protracted guerilla war with various terrorist factions including Al-Qaeda. Bush’s tax cuts, the very expensive war in Iraq, and a recession (triggered by high oil prices and a collapse of America’s largely unregulated mortgage industry) boosted the national debt beyond $11 trillion—a dangerous prospect for the future largely ignored by the candidates for president in the 2008 election.
On the domestic front, Bush spent more money than Republican conservatives would have liked (especially on education). But he also partially revived the Imperial residency by using the terrorist threat to support the Patriot Act, which threatened citizen’s rights. While he vetoed virtually no spending bills, he instead decided to disobey the provisions of some of the bills he did sign into law and not implement all the spending either. When oil rose to $4 a gallon in 2008, he offered no alternative energy policy except to remove the ban on offshore drilling and drill in new Alaskan fields. Unlike Carter, Bush and his Republican predecessors had done little to fund research into alternative energy sources. His environmental policies were also conservative and not in accord with the agreements signed by many nations to reduce the threat of global warming, etc.