To what extent were the presidency and Us politics Revitalized

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Presidential inolvement in legislation and the Ira

Presidential involvement in legislation

  • Reagan initial success with Congress was not repeated as some legislation he wanted to introduce,urged by the religious right, was blocked by congress like laws to cut back on busing 
  • Reagan was advised against some legislation and he was pragmatic and flexible about policy (he wanted to introduce prayers in schools but was advised not to)
  • Bush was less pragmatic.He had less support in Congress as he had 45 Republicans in the Senate and 175 in the house in his first term (Reagan had 54 and 189)
  • He promised to continue Reagans popular policies like keeping tax low and defence spending up but had to give in to the demands of Congress to raise taxes 

Public Image and Iran-Contra affair

  • White House officials had supplied arms to free US hostages, and they used the money from the arms sales and weapons to support Contra rebels fighting the existing government
  • This was done without agreement of Congress and went against policies of neutrality in the Iran and Iraq war
  • Reagan lied to Congress and pubic by saying this didn't happen and then that he didn't know about it. The officials involved destroyed documents and evidence
  • Reagans involvement damaged president but many people told themselves that he could have been confused or done it for the sake of the hostages
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New Right thinking

  • This rejected many assumptions made by the New Deal about how involved and liberal government should be 
  • Reagan united a number of Republicans & Democrats under a Conservative Coalition banner
  • The coalition was reacting to the political climate of the 70s and objected to the increase of the 'welfare dependent' and the support given by the government to issues e.g gay, women
  • There was split between support for general policies and Reagan's extreme ideas 
  • Polls showed that people thought that the welfare system was being exploited by also that the poor needed help 
  • Congress managed to block Reagans administration on social issues e.g moving funding for road building from federal control to state control
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Revitalized politicians?

  • Many political analysts claim that the problem with the Republican party is that they saw victory as a swing towards their way of thinking when it was a reaction to democrat mistake
  • More Americans cared about liberal ideas (even if they didn't call them that) and a fair society closer to the American Dream 
  • The democrats were divided on who should be their candidate. Jesse Jackson ran to become presidential candidate in both 1984 and 1988 and lost both times. The candidates that were chosen lost to Reagan and Bush 
  • The democrats formed the DLC in 1984 and tarnished Kennedy and Johnsons liberal ideas
  • A 'New Democrat' ideology was born witClinton as the chairman in 1990
  • The new ideology accepted the need for low taxes and low federal intervention which made it shift to conservative thinking 
  • They said they would abolish welfare and provide support. and Clinton offered a 'New Covenant' to the people
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Other changes to the political enviroment


  • Reagan brought business back into government. Sponsorship in sport to huge campaign contributions in politics meant that businesses made their mark on the USA 
  • This had knock-on effects when they supported particular political candidates and funding meant candidates can buy more air time and run more appealing campaigns 

The Christian Right

  • The Christian right become more outspoken and involved in political issue. 
  • It became more outspoken about issues such as abortion teenage pregnancy and what should be taught in school 
  • However, while Reagan was outspoken in his views that coincided with the Christian right he was advised against any actual legislation 
  • He was a successful president because of his willingness to adapt 
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Public interest and involvement

  • The first televised debate in 1960 drew 70 million viewers and viewing figures were around 60 million during the 70s 
  •  However,the Reagan-Carter debate drew 80.6 million viewers 
  • The 1984 debate drew 67.5 million and the 1988 debate drew 65.1 million 
  • In 1996, only 36.3 million tuned in- the lowest in debate history 
  • Reagan was a popular president and changed the view of the public, media, and political parties the role of government 
  • He made the presidency look as if it was a proper political role again, becoming the leader who could affect policy and guide the nation
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