Political Science Module 12 Reagan Revolution & Impact on Modern Politics Discussion
This assignment pivots from the presidency of Carter to that of Ronald Reagan, former actor, president of the Screen Actors’ Guild, and governor of California in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In this assignment, we’ll try to understand Reagan’s political rise to the presidency in the context of a socially turbulent and economically miserable 1970s decade. Consider the ways in which Reagan’s ascendency related to the Civil Rights Movement and Rights Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, the Cold War with the Soviet Union, the anti-war and other college campus movements, the morphing iterations of conservatism since President Eisenhower, the failure and embarrassment of the Republican Party during President Nixon’s downfall, Hollywood and the media, Carter’s ineffective leadership, etc.
Step 1: Assess the sources below.
- Ronald Reagan letter to SFSU chancellor Glenn Dumke about the student unrest on college campuses (transcript of the letter on the last page of this link)
- A primary source excerpt from televangelist Jerry Falwell’s 1980 book Listen America
- in The New York Times Magazine titled “The President and the Press,” by Steven R. Weisman
- A video and primary source excerpts on this webpage (Links to an external site.) by the University of Virginia’s Miller Center about President Reagan’s policy on the air traffic controllers strike and union in 1981
- Excerpt from President Reagan’s speech on the Soviets’ “Evil Empire (Links to an external site.),” given to the National Association of Evangelicals in 1981
Step 2: Reply to Prompt
Using any of this week’s sources and at least one of the primary sources above, respond to the prompt below in a 200- to 300-word discussion post. No formal citations necessary, but do reference the sources to support your ideas. You don’t have to answer all the questions, just the ones that get you writing.
Prompt: Explain the political rise of Ronald Reagan leading up to his election in 1980, the so-called “Reagan Revolution.” How did a Republican win the 1980 election less than a decade after the dramatic downfall and resignation of Nixon and the unpopular administration of President Ford? What social forces were at work in the 1970s to reinvent and reinvigorate conservatism and the Republican Party? Define and discuss President Reagan’s tenure from 1981 to 1989. In what ways did Reagan revolutionize politics in the 1980s? Optional: in what ways has Reagan impacted American politics in the long-term? Asked another way, what was his legacy and can we see glimpses of it today?