What were the most important lasting results of the Reagan years?
3) As late as the mid-1970s, Ronald Reagan was seen as a right-wing extremist by many
Americans (including most Republicans). Yet in 1980 he soundly defeated the incumbent
Jimmy Carter in that year’s presidential election, and went on to serve two terms as a fairly
popular president. Explain the shift toward political conservatism in America from the late
1960s through the late 1980s that allowed someone as conservative as Ronald Reagan to be
elected. What were the important tenets of modern conservatism? Why were Americans ready
to elect a conservative by 1980? How did Reagan’s policies in office shift America further to the
right? What were the most important lasting results of the Reagan years?
There are at least two things that can be seen as the most lasting results of the Reagan years.
First, in the area of foreign policy, the lasting result of these years is the end of the Cold War. This is not to say that Reagan was solely responsible for ending the Cold War, but most of the changes that occurred in the Soviet Union that led to the end of the Cold War happened while Reagan was president. This was a tremendously important change that affected American foreign policy as well as politics in the world as a whole.
Second, in the area of domestic policy, the lasting result has been a move towards conservatism for the US population as a whole. Of course, liberalism is still alive and Democratic presidential candidates have won more elections than Republicans since Reagan. But the country is more conservative in many ways than it was in 1979. We are much more concerned about government spending and much more interested in having lower taxes than we once were. The consensus has become much more conservative with regard to issues like welfare and crime.
The Reagan years have left us with a more conservative country and a new world order that is more confused and complicated than the Cold War era was.