How did the rising conservatism of the 1970s affect the social and economic issues in the U.S.? 

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jameadows's profile pic

jameadows | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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During the 1970s, a backlash against 1960s liberalism and radicalism resulted in the growth of several conservative movements. For example, the Religious Right was composed of people who wanted to restore Judeo-Christian values in American culture. The Religious Right were also responding to Communism's attack on organized religion. The movement began to organize to overturn Supreme Court cases such as Roe v. Wade of 1973, which protected a woman's right to have an abortion in the first two trimesters of pregnancy. Another of their causes was school prayer. The Religious Right thought of advancements in women's freedom and other societal freedoms in the 1960s and 1970s, such as women's greater sexual freedom and the gay rights movement, as an assault on traditional religious values that had to be stopped.

In addition, the 1970s saw the rise of Neoconservatives, who were generally former leftist intellectuals such as Irving Kristol who became conservative after what they thought was the failure of liberalism. They were also reacting to the economic downturns of the 1970s. They endorsed a hawkish foreign policy and supply-side economics, and many of them were represented in Ronald Reagan's cabinets in the 1980s. They believed that social welfare programs were broken, and turned against the use of the government to solve social problems. The 1970s marked a turn against the role of the government in solving social ills--ideas that would be put into practice during Reagan's administration in the 1980s.

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The biggest issues in the 1970s were economic. Economic conservatism led to economic meltdown. Trickle-down economics was a theory that in practice did nothing to improve fhe eonomcy. Rising gas prices, greedy businesses and high unemployment were the man results. Kind of familiar?
pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The rise of conservatism put a different set of social and economic issues on the political agenda.  Before this, social issues were mostly about the expansion of rights for people like minorities and women.  After this, social issues revolved around issues of morality such as abortion and gay marriage.  Before this, alleviating poverty was a major economic issue.  After this, the focus moved more towards issues of deficits and deficit reduction.