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"A People's History" Chapter 21:
Transcript of "A People's History" Chapter 21:
Carter-Reagan-Bush: The Bipartisan Consensus
"Why do only 40% of us vote?"
What are your thoughts on this issue?
Has this issue become more severe in recent years? If so what age group is responsible?
Election of Carter
During Jimmy Carter presidency (1977-1980) he tried recapture the disillusioned citizenry. He made a few gestures toward black people and the poor, and the talk of "human rights."
Carter remained within the political boundaries of the American system; protecting corporate wealth and power, maintaining huge military machines and allying the United States with right wing tyrannies abroad.
Carter used appointees to his advantage, appointing black civil rights veteran Andrew Young to build up good will for the U.S. among the black African nations & urged that South Africa liberalize its policies toward blacks
U.S. needed a peaceful settlement in South Africa for strategic reasons, particularly tracking systems.
U.S. wanted a stable government in South Africa; because the oppression of blacks may create a civil war.
Rise of Reagan - Public still Struggles
Reagan's election ultimately a result of overall feeling of economic distress
Roe vs Wade: Declared death penalty unconstitutional, supported the right of women to choose abortions, approved of affirmative action
After Chief Justice William Rehnquist appointed, Roe vs. Wade weakened: the death penalty was reinstated, detainee rights were reduced against police powers, barred doctors from giving information on abortions
Almost the entire Supreme Court had been replaced by conservatives, despite striking claims of law breaking and harassment done by justices.
After the Watergate scandal the public did not feel that they needed a president. The number of voters had dropped significantly in 1960 (63% of eligible voters voted and by 1976 the figure had dropped to 53%).
In the 1970’s people had the mindset that no president could make a difference in the country regardless if they were a Republican or a Democrat. Both parties promised actions that were not satisfied by the people.
“The president of the United States isn’t going to solve our problems. The problems are too big.”
Do you as people feel that the president can't fix ongoing problems?
Political Media Frenzy
People felt they were being distanced from the government, & distance was reflected by culture.
Public media was supposed to be uncontrolled by corporate interest, but public was invisible. The public was never invited onto public TV -- acted as spectators.
Citizen's were very disappointed with politics & how their "intelligent discussions" were focused more on gossip, schemes of self help & entertainment.
People living in poverty became violent, & were trying to be scapegoats within their groups, as far as poor black with poor black violence, or against other races, demonized foreigners, welfare mothers, minor criminals
Throughout the country, part of the public was still unmentioned by media & ignored by political leaders. These people became activists around the country for environmental protection, women's rights, decent health care, housing for the homeless, or military spending.
Do you think certain public groups are still ignored by the media? If yes, why do you think that and does it happen to all these groups or just certain ones?
In terms of the rise of conservative powers, what ways do different ethical approaches collide when it comes to Roe vs. Wade?
How can an ethical approach like with the issue of abortion be used to manipulate a conversation?
The concern for corporate profit overtook any concerns for the working class
Reagan worked to replace enforcement of environmental laws - OSHA appointed leader who disapproved of its primary aims, thus causing the order of burning 100,000 booklets warning textile workers of the dangers of cotton dust
Unemployment stood at 30 million without steady jobs in 1982 (10.9%), and the infant mortality rate began to rise in 1981
The Era of Bush
The U.S. military budget continues to be huge throughout the years.
Chief of Staff, Colin Powell: "I want to scare the hell out of the rest of the world. I don’t say that in a bellicose way.”
Military budget continues to be at a huge number not because U.S. needs weapons, but to show how tough we are to other countries.
Ex: Building of Trident submarine cost $1.5 billion-this money could've gone toward medicine around the world to fight against diseases and prevent death, also help people who are suffering from unemployment
Despite 12 million people being in poverty and families being on welfare, the government was able to spin it so it looked as if the nation was spending too much on welfare & needed to cut down, launching an attack on welfare & claiming it was the cause of high taxes when in actuality military spending was to blame
Bush Era (Cont'd)
“George Bush presented himself as the ‘environmental president,’ and pointed with pride to his signing of the Clean Air Act of 1990″ right when the first reports of a phenomenon called “global warming” were coming out (p.576).
Ironically, “armed forces of the world were responsible for two-thirds of the gases that depleted the ozone layer”(p.577).
He needed something to boost his popularity among American Voters, and so chose war
“Bush abandoned sanctions and chose war because his time frame was a political one set by the approaching 1992 presidential elections.”
States: In January 1991, Bush, feeling the need for support, asks Congress to give him authority to make war. This was not a declaration of war, as called for by the constitution;
This debate was lively in Congress, and it was likely that Bush was sure to believe having enough votes, but would’ve launched the invasion without Congressional approval.
Senate voted for military action by only a few votes, and The House supported the resolution by a large majority.
January ‘91 after Saddam Hussein defied an ultimatum to leave Kuwait, the U.S. launched its air war against Iraq, known as “Desert Storm”
40% of the laser-guided bombs dropped in the Operation Desert Storm missed their targets. The human consequences of the war became shockingly clear after its end.
Bombing of Iraq caused: Starvation, disease, and deaths of tens of thousands of children.
Zbigniew Brzezinski gave positives and negatives after the end of the Gulf War
A blatant act of aggression was rebuffed and punished.
U.S. military power is henceforth likely to be taken more seriously
The Middle East and Persian Gulf region is now clearly an American Sphere of preponderance.
The very intensity of the air assault on Iraq gives rise to concern that the conduct of the war may come to be seen as evidence that Americans view Arab lives as worthless.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you think that post Gulf War and 9/11 there was a change in how Americans viewed Arab culture?
Environment and Working Class Strains
War: Operation Desert Storm