Why were the presidents of the 1970s failures in regard to domestic issues?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There are a number of reasons why these presidents all had troubles domestically.  These reasons include:

  • Watergate.  This scandal made it very difficult for Presidents Nixon and Ford to have domestic success.  Once the scandal broke, it took up much of Nixon's energy and robbed him of support.  When Ford came into office, he was tainted by association with Nixon and by the fact that he had not been elected.
  • Social turmoil within the country that led to very divergent demands on the government.  Different factions in the country wanted very different things from government.  Because of this, anything that government did or did not do was going to anger a large group of people.  This breakdown of consensus in the US made it much harder for any president to be popular and successful.
  • Foreign policy issues that spilled over into domestic politics.  The best example of this is the Iran hostage crisis.  The fact that this crisis was looming over the country made it very hard for Carter to lead on domestic issues.
  • Oil embargoes.  These led to serious economic problems for the country, problems that were very difficult to solve.
  • Personality.  Carter, in particular, had problems because he was unable to project the sort of forceful and positive leadership image that Americans wanted.

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