Explain Reagan’s brand of conservatism and why it garnered mass support.

President Reagan's brand of conservatism made the issues of lower taxes, balanced budgets, strong military, and smaller government the centerpiece of his presidency. President Reagan's calm demeanor, policies, and personal confidence restored the publics' faith in American government.

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To understand why President Reagan's popularity continues even into the present year, you have to look at the previous presidency and Congress. President Jimmy Carter, a moderate Democrat and former governor from Georgia, won the election over President Gerald Ford, a Republican. Recall that Ford replaced President Richard Nixon, who resigned over the Watergate scandal. The election between Ford and Carter was decided on the issue of integrity and honesty. Though no scandal occurred during the Ford administration and the public generally liked Ford, the electorate, tired of the ongoing scandals of the Nixon administration, chose Carter. He was seen as a profoundly religious and honest man.

Unfortunately for President Carter, a series of events doomed his presidency, and President Carter's public opinion dropped as the economy suffered a deep recession. As the recession began to take its toll, interest rates and inflation increased to nearly unprecedented levels. Compounding the economic problems was OPEC's raised oil prices and reduced production, creating a shortage of gasoline in the United States. During the last year of Carter's presidency, Iran took Americans as hostages. Carter ordered a rescue mission, but the military helicopters were not prepared for the terrain in Iran. Three of the eight helicopters failed. In the election between President Carter and former governor of California Ronald Reagan, the electorate looked for a strong leader that was capable of navigating the economy back to health and restoring America's international status.

President Reagan took office and, within a short time, ended the stalemate with Iran, getting all of the hostages returned. Reagan believed in small government, low taxes, and reducing the government's footprint in people's personal lives. President Reagan projected an air of confidence with leaders in Congress in which the Democrats had the majority. He was able to work several compromises with the Democrat controlled Congress, which helped to end the recession. President Reagan increased military spending and openly confronted communists in Europe as well as dictators in Latin America.

In short, President Reagan was and still is the model of presidential conservatism. His optimistic and upbeat tone while in office, even in the face of crises, calmed the American electorate who had felt betrayed by Nixon and lost confidence in government under Carter. Reagan was a fiscal conservative who believed in low taxes, less government, and smaller federal budgets. In the military, Reagan increased military spending and used the United States military as a tool in foreign policy. People supported Reagan because they had confidence in his ability.

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