Choose two aspects to discuss and contrast the 1980s and the 1990s. How do these examples provide a different picture of American society, how does comparing these two decades help us understand the recent past?

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Two ways you could compare the 1980s and the 1990s would be examining each decade's technological advancements and political climate.

Technology was advancing quickly in the 1980s, but it was still a long way from what it is today. Personal computers were becoming more common but were still too expensive...

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Two ways you could compare the 1980s and the 1990s would be examining each decade's technological advancements and political climate.

Technology was advancing quickly in the 1980s, but it was still a long way from what it is today. Personal computers were becoming more common but were still too expensive for many homes to have them. Many teenagers carried Walkmans to play their cassette tapes via attached headphones. VCRs emerged, and families visited rental stores to borrow a few tapes to enjoy on the weekends. Answering machines became common in many homes, typically featuring a tape that had to be manually rewound. Microwaves were just beginning to be affordable for the average American household, which greatly reduced cooking times for meals.

Things had changed drastically by the end of the 1990s. Not only did most homes have personal computers, but many had laptops. Dial-up internet was becoming increasingly common in American homes. Beepers were common devices people used for keeping in touch, since most people couldn't afford cell phones—or afford the high prices of more than very limited talking time. Amazon and eBay were both launched in 1995, forever transforming shopping options. DVDs become popular during this decade as well.

Politics in the 1980s were marked by a growing sense of conservatism. President Reagan was the voice of this movement, and his promises of tax cuts for citizens coupled with the idea of cutting the size of the federal government was appealing to many. Reagan also strongly opposed communism, seeing it as a threat to freedom all over the world. On June 12, 1987, he stood at Brandenburg Gate and famously ordered, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" "Reaganomics" gained popularity, and the middle class felt confident with the president's economic agenda, despite the fact that the federal government accumulated more debt during Reagan's presidency than it ever had.

The 1990s were marked by greater political unrest. Saddam Hussein became a growing threat in the Middle East, and President George H. W. Bush believed that he threatened the US position in the Persian Gulf. After tensions between Iraq and the United States ran high for about a year, Operation Desert Strom began in early 1991. The United States emerged as the world's superpower following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the United Nations often looked to the US as a worldwide policing force. President Bill Clinton was plagued by scandals during his terms in office, and he was impeached in 1998, becoming only the second president in US history to be impeached by the House of Representatives. This created deep political divisions in America.

Comparing these two decades demonstrates that American society often changes quickly and that those changes often impact facets of society that were previously unimaginable. Americans have both benefitted from rapid changes, finding ways to make their lives easier, and have suffered as unrest and divisions became a central part of American culture during these decades. Nonetheless, Americans have proven a resilient group, overcoming challenges and finding ways to strengthen their nation despite the ever-changing political landscape.

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