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The decade of the 1970s is largely considered a time when Conservatism prevailed in...

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hartmann1 | eNoter

Posted May 11, 2013 at 6:19 AM via web

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The decade of the 1970s is largely considered a time when Conservatism prevailed in American politics. Briefly explain how this decade is largely an extension of the reminders, provided by Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon, of the conservative tides and vestiges of the 1960s. Be sure to include the failing economy and foreign policy of Jimmy Carter in your analysis. This decade also harkened the call for a new Conservatism led by Ronald Reagan. Briefly explain how these issues helped shape the 1970s.

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akannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 11, 2013 at 1:16 PM (Answer #1)

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I think that the Conservativism which was such a part of the 1970s arose out of resigned and perceived failure of liberal optimism of the 1960s.  Given the amount of social discord and rise of social dissent that was present at the end of the 1960s, Conservative leaders like Nixon were able to present a vision to the American people of "the Silent Majority."  Being able to encapsulate the discord of the end of the decade as a logical extension of liberalism, the American public was fatigued and accepted a reductive vision as almost a shortcut to pain and suffering.  

In accepting Nixon's vision, the 1970s started as a call to Conservativism.  Yet, in seeing the disgrace with which the leader of this new vision of Conservativism resigned, a malaise, something to which Carter fatefully alluded, became evident.  Americans were not really embracing Conservativism with the rise of Reagan, but were once again, seduced with the vision of harmony, unity, and symmetry that he offered.  Like Nixon, Reagan's message resonated with a group of people who were exhausted and tapped out with rising gas prices, a bad economy, and the presence all over the world that reflected weakness and vulnerability.  The 1970s political landscape demonstrated the ends to which charismatic leaders were able to use the vision of Conservativism to persuade a weary public in embracing their ideology and notion of the political good.

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