Sources of Freedom Exercises

This chapter concentrates on the history of the Nixon through the Reagan years, when conservatism prevailed in American politics and society. Opening with the 1964 presidential campaign of Barry Goldwater, the chapter illustrates the growing tide of conservatism in the 1960s. Similarly, looking at libertarians, "new conservatives," and the Young Americans for Freedom, one sees that there were conservative forces at work in the 1960s, along with the more liberal forces discussed in the previous chapter. Highlighting this is the Sharon Statement from the YAF in Voices of Freedom.

Richard Nixon’s domestic policies were not reflective of a staunch conservative agenda. His expansion of the welfare state and commitment to the environment surprised many conservatives. Likewise, Nixon approached the Cold War in a new way, reducing tensions between the United States and the communist world through a policy of détente. However, in the Third World American foreign policy remained committed to supporting pro-American dictatorships. The end of the Vietnam War came in 1973, but the Watergate scandal tarnished Nixon’s foreign policy successes. Unable to withstand the spending of the 1960s, the increasing inflation, and the oil embargoes, the American economy stagnated in the 1970s while inflation soared. Neither Nixon, nor Gerald Ford, nor Jimmy Carter proved adequate at recovering the economy.

Jimmy Carter’s administration is examined next, highlighting his commitment to human rights in foreign policy. However, with a failing economy and a foreign policy that seemed to many Americans as weak, Carter lost the 1980 election to Ronald Reagan. Reagan’s election came on the rising tide of conservatism as seen through the Moral Majority, debates over the ERA, and the tax revolts. Reagan’s economic policies, reductions in social programs and his foreign policy conclude the chapter.

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