The concluding thought in the previous post was very well stated. There was a fundamental elation in the end of the Cold War. Millions of Americans had been reared with the idea that the Soviet Union was the "evil empire," and one that threatened their daily existence. The end to the Cold War symbolized this victory for Americans, confirmed with the tearing down of the Berlin Wall and the entrance of American influence into former Soviet Bloc nations. To this end, the business community's reaction was one of opportunity in that new markets were seen to have emerged. Their reaction was one of seeking to take advantage of what was present. On another level, Americans were uncertain of what lay ahead. Being told for years and decades that an enemy was present and endangered your existence, and then waking to find that enemy gone was a challenging paradigm. It was in this light that Americans began to start examining their own domestic challenges that might have been neglected in light of the Cold War. This led to some fairly shocking discoveries in terms of the plight of the inner cities, the rising costs of health care, as well as the fact that the economy had been driven to new heights by the presence of an expanded military. As the "peace dividend" argument from the last post took flight, a "peace contraction" of the economy was in place for the Cold War economic and military machinery was being dismantled.
The main reaction that the US public had to the collapse of the Soviet Bloc was relief. We had been worried for so long about the possibility of nuclear war coming out of the Cold War. The collapse of the Soviet Bloc made it seem as if all the real danger in the world was gone. That was a huge change in our outlook.
A second reaction was the idea of the "peace dividend." What many people thought was that government spending on defense would be greatly reduced. We thought that the government would not need to keep up with the Soviets anymore and could either lower our taxes or spend the money on something more constructive than nuclear weapons.
Finally, there was certainly an element of triumph. It felt good because our way of life, which we thought was superior to the communist way of life, had won the war. It made us feel vindicated because it proved that we were better than the Soviets.