Identify the groups and their agendas that combined to create the new conservative movement of the 1970’s and 1980’s. In what areas do you feel the movement was successful in achieving its goals?

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There were several groups that coalesced to form the "New Right," the name given to the resurgent conservative movement that emerged in 1964 before coming to dominate national politics in the 1980s with the ascendence of Ronald Reagan. One group was fairly familiar to conservatism—large businesses. Business leaders argued that...

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There were several groups that coalesced to form the "New Right," the name given to the resurgent conservative movement that emerged in 1964 before coming to dominate national politics in the 1980s with the ascendence of Ronald Reagan. One group was fairly familiar to conservatism—large businesses. Business leaders argued that liberal programs, and especially government regulations (many of which had met with the approval of some mainstream conservatives) made doing business in the United States more difficult. They argued for lower corporate taxes and lower marginal tax rates on the wealthy, claiming that these, combined with slashing regulations on business would lead to increased economic prosperity.

Another group were so-called foreign policy "hawks." Many of these politicians argued that the disaster in Vietnam had been the result of a lack of will on the part of American politicians. They argued against detente, the policy of seeking a rapprochement with the Soviet Union, and for aggressive measures, including supporting anti-communist fighters around the world, and boosting defense spending on conventional and especially nuclear weapons.

Another group that joined the conservative (Republican) coalition were Southerners and working-class Americans disillusioned with the civil rights movement and what they perceived as excessive radicalism on the part of various identity groups. White Southerners flocked to the party in the wake of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Finally, among the most influential groups in this new coalition was the "religious right." This group expanded in numbers and in influence in the early 1980s in particular. They were a backlash against what they saw as the erosion of traditional, Christian values. Among the issues that most mobilized them was the legalization of abortion in Roe v. Wade (1973) and especially the movement for women's equality. Men like Jerry Falwell, leader of the "Moral Majority," Pat Robertson, and Phyllis Schlafly, a committed opponent of the proposed Equal Rights Amendment for women, harangued against these developments in front of increasingly large audiences and became a powerful political force.

These forces, bolstered by the economic stagnation and general malaise of the 1970s, formed a new movement that argued for the dismantling of the liberal state that had endured since the New Deal and World War II.

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