The election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 signaled the closing of the chapter on the post-war era, and the emergence of a decidedly more conservative political era.
Overview: The decline of faith in the federal government's ability to solve social and economic problems, the championing of unregulated markets by American corporations and the growth of religious fundamentalism combined to give conservatism new life. The demographic growth of the Sunbelt and the shift of Southern white conservative voters to the Republican Party also helped create an electoral majority. Conservatives achieved some of their goals, but the enduring popularity of government programs, such as Social Security and Medicare limited the amount of actual change.
The Reagan administration pursued an aggressive anti-communist foreign policy, but the end of the Cold War took away the forty-five-year focus of U.S. foreign policy. After the terrorists' attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States quickly became involved in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq with a new focus on homeland security.
The Great Recession of 2008 and demographic and cultures changes deepened the political divide in the nation, between an older white population who dominated the Tea Party movement and a younger multicultural society who represented the new emerging majority.
Alternate View: Analysis of the last six presidential elections suggests that the conservative resurgence on the national level was short-lived, and if the disputed election of 2000 had gone the other way, the narrative of the period would have been considerably different.
Email: Patenl@nv.ccsd.net AP/Honors United States History Senior Class Advisor
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