In what ways were the policies of Richard Nixon different from those of his Democratic predecessors John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson? How were Jimmy Carter’s policies different from those of Nixon?

Richard Nixon's policies while President differed from his predecessors primarily in that he attempted to devolve some powers of the federal government to the states. He also attempted to slow down some of the gains made in the movement for civil rights.

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Though a Republican, Richard Nixon was not a small-government conservative in the way that Ronald Reagan would later be. In fact, he took drastic steps to attack the problem of inflation, including implementing federally-mandated wage freezes and price ceilings. He also expanded the regulatory powers of the federal government, creating,...

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Though a Republican, Richard Nixon was not a small-government conservative in the way that Ronald Reagan would later be. In fact, he took drastic steps to attack the problem of inflation, including implementing federally-mandated wage freezes and price ceilings. He also expanded the regulatory powers of the federal government, creating, for example, the Environmental Protection Agency.

Nixon consciously departed from the approach to governing that was at the heart of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society when he ran for reelection. In what was called "New Federalism," Nixon championed measures that placed a greater share of funding requirements for many programs on the states. Nixon entered office with a moderate record on civil rights. He had supported civil rights legislation while a member of the House of Representatives.

This changed when he took presidential office. As President, he courted the votes of southerners and working-class whites by opposing some civil rights measures. For example, he vetoed bills that would have renewed some Great Society programs, and he declined to support measures like affirmative action that were aimed at establishing racial equality. He also publicly opposed school busing measures to fully integrate public schools. In this way, he broke from the Johnson Administration's approach—itself quite limited—to racial justice.

President Jimmy Carter attempted to continue some of the measures Nixon put in place in response to inflation, but he differed primarily with Nixon in the tone of his presidency. He attempted to project an image of honesty and integrity, which was not unfounded in his actual personality. In many ways, though, Carter's inability to work with Congress and perceived incompetence in the face of a series of crises was fatal to his presidency.

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