HST210 – US History 1877 to Present
Lecture #17 – The Conservative Ascendency
Causes of the 1970s Recession
- people didn't trust the government
- Government deficits crippled the economy (1980 federal debt: 908 billion).
o government spent more money than it was taking in
o huge military spending
o large part of budget going to interest on the federal debt
o military spending diverted money from domestic programs that could have
strengthened the economy
o cheaper good from abroad flooding into the US market
- US’s declining share of the world market (exports) undermines postwar prosperity.
o by the seventies, countries like germany and japan are beginning to outproduce
the US, reducing their share of the world market
1955, merchandise exports form the US comprised 32 percent of the
by 1970, it had dropped to 18 percent
- Competition from cheap foreign imports undermines American manufacturing.
- With the 1973 oil embargo by OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries),
gas prices quadrupled.
o other prices rose with the price of oil
o it affected the cost of everything
- after egypt and syria attacked israel in 1973, opec announced an embargo on oil
shipments to israel's allies, including the US
o underlined how dependent the US was on foreign oil supplies (mostly owing form
the middle east)
- Decline in a region’s or country’s manufacturing base (which relocates to low-wage
regions or countries).
- Deindustrialization devastates the US Midwest and Northeast.
- Manufacturing jobs are replaced by service jobs, many of which are low-paying, non-
o workers wages are not keeping up with inflation, workers are earning less than
earlier generations by the 1980s
Rise of the Sunbelt
- Political and economic power shifts from the older industrial cities of the Northeast and
Midwest to the South and West (good for the GOP). - Some US and foreign employers relocate to the South where there are few unions and
- Some workers follow the jobs South.
- Retirees move South taking with them their retirement packages and Social Security
- Defense spending vitalizes the region (lots of federal money!).
o military bases in the south, they want to be close to them
- Massive immigration boosts the population of the South.
- Air conditioning; tourism; agribusiness and Silicon Valley.
- population in the south increases significantly = more political power
o more seats in the house of representatives
- since 1964, every US president has been born in the South or lived in the south for some
period of time (except for Obama)
o good news of the GOP
o white south voting republican bc the democrats supporting civil rights
- Jimmy Carter (Democrat), defeats Gerald Ford (Nixon’s successor)
o ford gave nixon a pardon
- Multilateralist committed to promoting human rights globally (Camp David Accords)
o wanted to work with other nations
o reduced US aid to dictatorships
o tried to defend tensions between Israel and arab neighbours
o helped broker a peace agreement between Israel and Egypt > prevent an Israeli-
- ran campaign as a washington outsider
- very little political experience
o served 1 term as georgia governor
- Soviets invade Afghanistan to prop up its Communist government against attacks from
Islamic fundamentalist and nationalist rebels (the Mujahideen)
- led to a 9 year war
- US viewed conflict as integral part of the Cold War
- Under Carter and his successors Ronald Reagan and George Bush Senior, the CIA
provided assistance to the anti-Soviet forces (the Mujahideen) through the Pakistani
- Mujahideen also get support from foreign Arab fighters, including Saudi Osama bin
- the communists' weak hold over the country led to the withdrawal of soviet troops,
ending the war and leaving the country in ruins o US decides not to stick around and help with reconstruction
- The Islamic Fundamentalist Taliban regime gains control of Afghanistan and engages in
gross human rights violations
o criminals publicly executed
o women's education banned
o western influences outlawed
o Taliban provided safe haven for Bin Laden
- Iran is ruled by the unpopular Shah Reza Pahlavi, an ally of the U.S.
o in power since the 1950s
o US helped install him
o suppressed opposition
o used money from Iran's oil fields to enrich himself/his family while the majority
of Iran lived in poverty
o unpopular for being an ally to the US
- 1979, a conservative Islamic movement, led by the (exiled) cleric Ayatollah Khomeini,
topples the Shah.
o the Shah comes to the US for cancer treatment
o Iranians enraged
o students seize American embassy and take 52 prisoners hostage
o Carter reaches an agreement for the release of the hostages after more than a
year (the Shah has died)
- Khomeini is installed as the leader of the newly-established Islamic Republic.
- six americans escaped and are taken in by the Canadian Embassy in Tehran
- Embassy officials hid the Americans for 3 months
- Tony Mendes gets them to pose as film officials
- Canadians did 90% of the work getting them out, but movie gives full credit to Americans
- Former “law-and-order”governor of California.
o got people off welfare
o cut government programs
o clamped down on student protestors
- Appealed to traditional patriotism and promised to restore traditional values and
America’s power abroad.
o promises to restore america's power abroad
- Reagan’s election ushers in a new era of conservative politics.
- in the 1980 elections, republicans pick up 12 senate seat
o defeated some of the best known liberal democrats in the country Conservative Movement Goals
- Limited government at home and aggressive, militaristic foreign policy abroad.
o low taxes
o little government regulation of business
- Believe the market should be allowed to operate unimpeded by government regulation.
- Want to eliminate or reduce social programs and policies of the New Deal while
increasing defense spending.
- Socially conservative Christians – stress the importance of conversion and Christian
o its your job to go out there an export your values
o its important to engage in outreach opportunities
- Evangelicals become politically active to achieve their goals for society (criminalization of
abortion, prayer in school etc.).
o abortion had be legalized in 1973
o tough laws against homosexuality & pornography
- Falwell’s Moral Majority raises money for and lobbies conservative pol