PERIOD 9: 1980-Present Day

Last Period Before the AP Exam!

Section One: The 1980s, Conservative Decade

It is important to note that public confidence and trust in the government SHARPLY declined in the 1970s in the wake of economic challenges (the 1970s was a decade of Inflation), political scandals (Watergate), foreign policy failures, and a sense of social and moral decay.
Incidents such as the Iranian Hostage Crisis, the OPEC Oil Embargo did nothing to aid public confidence

Many Americans were tired of the "Liberalism" of the 60s and 70s

Religious Revival led to substantial growth of evangelical Christian churches (particularly in the SunBelt). This caused the emergence of Christian-based political organizations, such as the Moral Majority, one of the largest conservative lobby groups at the time. While this group dissolved by the 90s, other groups have remained through the 21st Century.

For example, Focus on the Family is still an active organization.

Focus on the Family (FOTF) is an American non-profit organization founded in 1977 by psychologist James Dobson. It is active in promoting an inter-denominational effort toward socially conservative views on public policy. Focus on the Family is one of a number of evangelical groups that rose to prominence in the 1980s. Focus on the Family's stated mission is "nurturing and defending the God-ordained institution of the family and promoting Biblical truths worldwide."

ASSIGNMENT ONE: Go the following Padlet and post a Response to the Discussion Question: Be sure to include your name in all Padlet Posts throughout the Unit to receive credit.

The Conservative Decade

Reaganomics: Reduced taxes, decreased government regulation of business, etc.

Known further as the "Reagan Revolution"

A major goal was to reduce the size of the federal government. Reagan and other conservatives believed that the nation's economy was suffering because of high taxes and unnecessary laws.
Government, he said, was not the solution to the problem. Government was the problem.

Unfortunately for Conservatives, though the Republican Party continued to denounce "Big Government," the size and scope of many programs continued to grow in the 1980s, such as the expansion of Medicare and Medicaid

Contrast to LBJ: Reagan also signed into law the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. What did this new law do? Answer:

  • required employers to attest to their employees' immigration status;
  • made it illegal to hire or recruit illegal immigrants knowingly;
  • legalized certain seasonal agricultural illegal immigrants, and;
  • legalized illegal immigrants who entered the United States before January 1, 1982 and had resided there continuously with the penalty of a fine, back taxes due, and admission of guilt; candidates were required to prove that they were not guilty of crimes, that they were in the country before January 1, 1982, and that they possessed minimal knowledge about U.S. history, government, and the English language.
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Section Two: Reagan and the Cold War

The Reagan administration pursued a reinvigorated anti-Communist and interventionist foreign policy that set the tone for later administrations.
The Star Wars missile defense system: On March 23, 1983, President Reagan proposed the creation of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), an ambitious project that would construct a space-based anti-missile system. This program was immediately dubbed "Star Wars." The SDI was intended to defend the United States from attack from Soviet ICBMs by intercepting the missiles at various phases of their flight. For the interception, the SDI would require extremely advanced technological systems, yet to be researched and developed. Among the potential components of the defense system were both space- and earth-based laser battle stations, which, by a combination of methods, would direct their killing beams toward moving Soviet targets.

This system would tip the nuclear balance toward the United States. The Soviets feared that SDI would enable the United States to launch a first-strike against them. Critics pointed to the vast technological uncertainties of the system, in addition to its enormous cost.

Although work was begun on the program, the technology proved to be too complex and much of the research was cancelled by later administrations.

Later, Reagan developed a friendlier relationship with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev (who had taken power in 1988 and would rule until the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991). Both sides would eventually reach the point of agreeing to significant Arms reductions.

START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) was a treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms. The treaty was signed on 31 July 1991 and entered into force on 5 December 1994. START negotiated the largest and most complex arms control treaty in history, and its final implementation in late 2001 resulted in the removal of about 80 percent of all strategic nuclear weapons then in existence. Proposed by Reagan originally, it was renamed START I after negotiations began on the second START treaty.

The START I treaty expired 5 December 2009. On 8 April 2010, the replacement treaty was signed by U.S. President Obama and Russian President Medvedev.

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Section Three: The Middle East

Iraq and Iran are at War

The chaos in Lebanon threatened
1. Our ally, Israel and
2. Our oil interests in the Persian Gulf

French, Italian and U.S. forces move in as “peacekeepers”

An Islamic suicide bomber drove a truck full of explosives into the U.S. Marine Headquarters 241 Americans dead

Regan pulls troops out

The Iran-Contra Affair

Ronald Reagan's efforts to eradicate Communism spanned the globe, but the insurgent Contras' cause in Nicaragua was particularly dear to him. Battling the Communist group, the Sandinistas, the Contras were, according to Reagan, "the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers." Under the so-called Reagan Doctrine, the CIA trained and assisted this and other anti-Communist insurgencies worldwide.

JUST TO BE CLEAR: Contras are Capitalist, we like that, we Support them. They are fighting to bring Capitalism to Nicaragua

Now at this point you might be asking, "What does Nicaragua have to do with Iran?"

The Answer: Providing Financial support to the Contras was a problem: the still Democrat-controlled Congress would not approve using significant funds for a CIA Operation like this one.
In other words, the Reagan Administration WANTS to support the Contras, but he needs money.
Where do we get the money?
In 1985, while Iran and Iraq were at war, Iran made a secret request to buy weapons from the United States. National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane sought Reagan's approval, in spite of the embargo against selling arms to Iran. McFarlane explained that the sale of arms would not only improve U.S. relations with Iran, but might in turn lead to improved relations with Lebanon, increasing U.S. influence in the troubled Middle East.

While probing the question of the arms-for-hostages deal, Attorney General Edwin Meese discovered that only $12 million of the $30 million the Iranians reportedly paid had reached government coffers. Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North of the National Security Council explained the discrepancy: he had been diverting funds from the arms sales to the Contras, with the unspoken blessing, he assumed, of President Reagan. North was fired, and Reagan's image suffered for such "loose management" of his Staff.

Fourteen people were charged with either operational or "cover-up" crimes. In the end, North's conviction was overturned on a technicality, and President Bush issued six pardons, including one to McFarlane, who had already been convicted.

ASSIGNMENT TWO: In a group of FOUR students, you will create an I-Movie where you debate ONE of the following two topics:

1. To what extent should the President be held responsible for the actions of his Administrative Staff?

2. Should the Presidential Pardon be ruled unconstitutional? Why or Why not?

Section Four: The Presidency of Bush Sr.

The Closing of the Cold War

1989 The decline of the Soviet Union, now led by Mikhail Gorbachev

1. Relaxed Imperialist Aggression

Communist Rule in Poland, Hungary, Romania and Czechoslovakia ended

2. The Berlin Wall is torn down and Germany is re-united (Be sure to watch the following News Clip)

The Soviet Union collapses by 1991

The Berlin Wall Falls 1989 NBC Coverage Pt1

The Persian Gulf War, Jan-April 1991

Dictator of Iraq, Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait in 1990

Why? Kuwait had increased it’s production of oil, which lowered prices and hurt Iraq’s oil revenue

The United States, Britain, and other U.N. nations send in forces


January 1991, an allied force of over thirty U.N. Nations storm the Iraq border from Saudi Arabia

Saddam Hussein had expected the attack directly on the Kuwait border

Thousands of Iraqi soldiers surrendered

Bush calls for a cease-fire; Hussein accepts

ASSIGNMENT THREE: Conduct more research on the circumstances behind the Persian Gulf War, and it's short term and long term impacts. Then go to this Padlet and answer the Discussion Question provided:

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Section Five: From Bush to Bill: The Clinton Presidency

The Republican 80s gives way to the Democratic 90s

Higher taxes on corporations COMPARED to Reagan or Bush. HOWEVER, it is important to note that Clinton was NOT anti-business. NAFTA was his corner-stone project on building up corporate productivity and free trade. Clinton recognized the necessity of a thriving free market.

In OTHER WORDS, regulate corporations yes, punish them for success with unreasonable taxes, no.

More social programs, though Clinton sometimes has received criticism that his tax cuts and other policies were geared too much towards the middle class, and not enough for the poor.

Lower budget for the military: Let's Review: Ok, at this point hopefully the term "Military-Industrial Complex" is familiar. A strong relationship between industrial production for the military on extremely high-paying contracts dominated the Truman years (1940s), to the Eisenhower years (1950s), all the way to the 80s with Bush Sr.

This changed under Clinton, military spending was significantly reduced in order to allocate more money for domestic programs.

NAFTA: North American Free Trade Agreement

Increased trade and lower tariffs between the United States, Canada and Mexico

ASSIGNMENT FOUR: Read the following article where Clinton defends his economic legacy and be prepared to contribute to a class discussion

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Social Developments and Rising Controversy: The Don't Ask, Don't Tell Debate

A strict ban on homosexual service in the military had been in place since WWII. Clinton's new policy of "service with secrecy" met with mixed responses from BOTH the Conservative and Liberal side. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was signed into law in 1993 and remained in effect until the Obama Administration.

ASSIGNMENT FIVE: Read the following article which goes into more detail about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and be prepared for class discussion

Clinton and the Middle East

Clinton facilitates peace talks between Israel and Palestine

Peace talk would collapse later in 2000, when 1.Palestinian suicide bombers attack the Israeli controlled Gaza Strip

2. The two nations fight over control of Jerusalem (a holy city to Muslims, Jews and Christians)

Election of 2000

George W. Bush (Jr.)

Bush v. Al Gore (Clinton’s VP)

Despite the fact that Floridians don’t know how to fill out a ballot sheet, Bush was declared the winner

His Presidency would be defined by one key event: September 11, 2001

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Section Six: The War on Terror

Within hours of the attack, the approximately nineteen terrorists involved were identified as members of the extremist Islamic group, Al Qaeda, and their ally group the Taliban (based in Afghanistan)

Al Qaeda was led by Osama Bin Laden, who had declared “Holy War” on the United States, Israel, and the Saudi Monarchy in the mid-1990s when Al Qaeda and the Taliban started growing

In the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the United States launched foreign policy and military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The war sought to improve security within the United States as well (such as stricter regulations for flight passengers), but also raised many questions about the protection of civil liberties and human rights.
President Bush signed the Patriot Act into law in the Fall of 2001.
Opponents of the law have criticized its authorization of indefinite detention of immigrants; the permission given law enforcement officers to search a home or business without the owner's or the occupant's consent or knowledge; the expanded use of national security rights, which allows the (FBI) to search telephone, e-mail, and financial records without a court order; and the expanded access of law enforcement agencies to business records, including library and financial records. Since its passage, several legal challenges have been brought against the act, and Federal courts have ruled that a number of provisions are unconstitutional.

On May 26, 2011, President Barack Obama signed the PATRIOT Sunsets Extension Act of 2011, a four-year extension of three key provisions in the USA PATRIOT ACT.
1. Wiretaps
2. Searching Business Records
3. Conducting surveillance of "lone wolves"—individuals suspected of terrorist-related activities not linked to terrorist groups

ASSIGNMENT SIX: Your assignment is to write a 1-2 page, typed double-spaced research paper, where you either 1. DEFEND or 2. CONDEMN the Patriot Act using legitimate facts and well-reasoned logic. You should plan to use at least 4 sources and they should be cited in MLA format.