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Trends in Recent American History

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Lyndon Johnson’s efforts in promoting the great society programs were geared towards creating a positive environment for the poor and the minority in America. He wished to build a country free of disease, racial discrimination, poverty, uneven distribution of resources among others. This program also aimed at creating more job opportunities for the youths in America, who were at the verge of unemployment, at that time. For these programs to achieve their purpose, Johnson utilized his Presidential position to employ a number of strategies following the assassination of President Kennedy.

First, he created a Declaration of War on Poverty by pushing for enactment of Economic Opportunity Act in early 1964. Actually, this Act availed funding for Job Corps, which guaranteed employments for the youths, residing in the inner city. It also established Head Start Program that provided early education opportunity for the disadvantaged preschoolers, as well as setting up a domestic version for the sake of Peace Corps, which were referred to as VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America). He also initiated Civil Rights Act to counter racial discrimination by bringing to end segregation in public facilities, creating Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged with investigating channeled complaints of discrimination in job areas, and authorizing the attorney General to be able to file suits with the main aim of desegregating schools.

How did the Vietnam War transform American politics and culture?

The US’s involvement in the Vietnam War was meant to contain any kind of spread of communism, especially in Southeast Asia. Therefore, the Unites States of America chose to give their full support to the anti-community regime, referred to as South Vietnam, in its bid to counter communist take-over. This involvement had a massive impact on American politics. First it became a stepping stone for Lyndon Johnson, to win election after serving 14 months, following the death of President Kennedy. His ability to continue working in Kennedy’s shoes (more so involvement in Vietnam) became a potential ground for his leadership quality to become inevitable; thus, the majority supported him at the time of election. Moreover, American involvement in Vietnam also raised a controversy over draft age, thus, lowering the minimum age required for an American voter to be 18, via the 26th Amendment. In addition, soldiers were also excluded from the political life, so that they could selflessly fight to the extent of losing their lives, but did not have any say or influence on American politics.

American culture was no exception, as it was infiltrated by the differing cultural perspectives. Certainly, the antiwar movement sparked a transformation in perception of the government by the American citizens, as well as questioning of their authority. These changes were also characterized by change in hair styles, genres of music, types of clothing, and types of films being acted in the country.

What were the sources and significance of the rights revolution of the late 1960s?

The Rights Revolution, experienced in late 1960s, in America, mainly originated from the African Americans. The American Civil Movement became the largest counter culture movement. This movement struggled to assure equal rights under the U.S. Constitution for all citizens of the United States of America. The African-American Civil Rights Movement championed outlawing of racial discrimination of the African Americans, and for the restoration of their voting rights. The enlarged goals of these movements were to enhance racial dignity, political and economic sufficiency and freedom from the yokes of oppression from the White Americans.

These movements were of great significance in the history of United States of America, as well as to the welfare of the African Americans. The pressure surmounted by these movements led to abatement of racial segregation laws that have set a division of government services and public facilities into the separate colored and white domains. Surprisingly, the ones for the colored were in a poor state and were never funded. Disfranchisement was also outlawed opposite to the law that had disfranchised thousands of the African Americans, denying them of voting rolls, so that they could not even elect their representatives. The rate of exploitation was also put in its rightful place, as a result of these movements. Actually, these movements fought increased oppression along economic boundaries on Latinos, Asians and Blacks, as well as denial of economic opportunities and employment opportunities. In addition, the massive racial violence by organizations and police also reduced as a result of pressure from these movements.

What were the major policies of the Nixon administration on social and economic issues?

The policies in Nixon’s administration were aimed at aiding parochial schools, supporting conducting prayers in schools, and opposing abortion, mainly, to appease the Roman Catholics, and partly, the Republican constituencies. Legal Segregation was declared to be inadmissible in this administration, leading to merging of the Black southern schools into unitary schools. In matters of economy, the administration provided employment openings and training for the minority groups in construction projects funded by the federal government. Besides, the Labor Department began using numerical goals and racial classifications, to implement desegregation programs, as an affirmative action. The Administration also proposed a program of family allowance and did away with nationalization of welfare programs, which instituted a minimum income through a system of negative tax income.

What were the roots of the rise of conservatism in the 1970s?

The roots of the rise of conservatism after 1970 are traced to have been a primary response to the 1960’s excesses. As depicted in this chapter, they include changing roles of women characterized by a decline in nuclear families and rising of the US population to 205 million, mobilization of Evangelical Protestants characterized by a rise of mega churches, TV ministers and radio, evangelical ministers joining politics and pushing for conservative reforms. Others include; economic changes of 1970s, characterized by Inflation & Rising price of oil turn taxpayers against welfare programs, deindustrialization, and auto factories close, oil crisis of 1970s due to the Arab oil embargo, reaganomics characterized by Less Government regulations of business and opening wilderness to oil, gas, and timber industries, revival and end of the Cold War when Reagan turned his anti-communism toward El Salvador and Nicaragua, and then supplied weapons & training to death squad.

How did the Reagan presidency affect Americans both at home and abroad?

Reagan presidency brought a great peace of mind to the Americans, whose country was engaged in the Cold War, whereby those abroad felt a huge sense of insecurity. Reagan through his symbiotic relationships managed to forge with Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet Union leader, at that time, leading to a peaceful resolution of the Cold War. Reagan declared this a world victory; therefore, enabling Americans feel a real sense of freedom and liberty.

What were the major international initiatives of the Clinton administration in the aftermath of the Cold War?

The main initiative taken by Clinton after the end of the Cold War, outlined in this chapter, is confronting problems that he considered to be complex, transnational, and diffuse making international environment, just as dangerous as the Cold War was. In respect to this, Clinton’s Administration resort to military intervention after defining their enemy in Somalia and Haiti, thus, resorting to constructing the primitive savage in Somalia, and defining modern savage in Haiti.

What forces drove the economic resurgence of the 1990s?

According to Eric Foner, the forces that drove economic resurgence in 1990s are the technological forces, whereby information technology relating to computer software, hardware and communication led to productivity growth. Political forces can also be credited to have enabled this resurgence. This is based on the fact that many people, in the government, and citizens, as well, became more enlightened at such a time, and they were able to understand the economy, thus initiating enactment of laws and legislations that enabled economic growth and productivity in the country.

What cultural conflicts emerged in the 1990s?

Foner depicts that a number of cultural conflicts emerged pertaining to varying moral coding among different groups in America. This included; reproductive rights/ abortion, politic identity, feminism, animal rights, legal drinking ages, homosexuality (gay rights and gay marriages), gun politics, family values, such as spanking (child discipline), and corporal punishment. Other forms of cultural conflicts related to prostitution, media bias, sexual revolution (abstinence only and sexual education), transhumanism, stem-cell research, secularization and secularism, moral relativism versus moral absolutism, multiculturalism, church separation, xenophobia and racism, recreational drug use, euthanasia and movement on right to die. 

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