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What was the Moral Majority?

The Moral Majority was a Southern-oriented organization headed by Jerry Falwell, a Baptist preacher, and it appealed to evangelical Christians. The Moral Majority provided electoral support to Ronald Reagan and conservative candidates in the 1980s.

Many credit the Moral Majority with shaping the Republican Party’s campaign stances on school prayer and abortion.


During his 1980 campaign, Ronald Reagan called for tax breaks and tax cuts for wealthier Americans. How did Reagan justify these measures?

Reagan's policy was known as "trickle-down economics." He argued that tax breaks and cuts for the wealthy would improve the economy as a whole because the benefits would "trickle down" to poorer members of society.

Trickle-down economics is part of a larger economic theory, supply-side economics.


During the 1980 election, President Carter advocated for demand-side economics (as had all Presidents since 1932), while Ronald Reagan supported supply-side economics. How do these two systems view the role of the government in the economy?

Demand-side advocates argue that economic growth comes from increased demand (total spending in the economy), and that in times of recession demand should be increased by government spending to restart economic growth.

Supporters of supply-side economics contend that economic growth results from reduced barriers for people to supply goods and services, such as lowering tax rates and reducing regulation. Consumers then benefit because more goods and services are available at lower prices. 


Ronald Reagan, former Governor of California, received the Republican presidential nomination in 1980, running with the campaign slogan "Make America Great Again." What did Reagan mean?

Reagan and his supporters were deeply concerned with what they viewed as the decline of America; economically, militarily, and morally. Reagan promised a national renaissance.

Reagan's other 1980 slogan, "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" also proved appealing to voters, many of whom were worse off.


Although he fended off a primary challenge from Edward Kennedy, Jimmy Carter still faced two significant liabilities in the 1980 election. What were they?

First, although the economy had begun a tepid recovery, many voters were frustrated with Carter's attempts to solve the problem of stagflation. Second, Carter's seeming inability to solve the Iranian hostage crisis made him (and the United States) appear weak and vacillating.


What were the results of the 1980 presidential election?

In the 1980 election, Reagan gained 91% of the electoral vote. Republicans also gained control of the Senate, the first time the Republicans controlled one of the houses of Congress since 1954.

Further, shortly before Reagan's inauguration, the Iranian hostages were released after 444 days in captivity.


Although President Reagan cut some government spending as he had promised, these cuts were offset by spending on what type of items?

During the Reagan Presidency, military spending skyrocketed. Reagan believed that military spending would spur job creation. He also saw it as advancing towards victory in the Cold War, as the Soviet Union's weak economy could not afford to match American military production. 


How did President Reagan respond to a 1981 labor strike by air traffic controllers, who demanded a 32-hour work week?

Reagan ordered the controllers to return to work, pursuant to the Taft-Hartley Act. When most refused, he fired them, then broke the strike by hiring replacements or borrowing them from the military.

Inspired by Reagan's example, many private companies began to refuse union demands and discourage union membership.


In 1981, President Reagan appointed _____ _____ _____ to the Supreme Court, the first woman to serve on the Court.

Sandra Day O'Connor

Reagan also appointed Justices Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy to the Court.


Although the inflation rate had been 13% in 1980 (basically meaning prices rose 13% per year), by 1984 it had been reduced to 4%. How did Reagan accomplish this feat?

Reagan (and Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker) engineered a recession by keeping interest rates high for two years. This forced companies and individuals to retrench, slowing outsized price and wage increases. 

Once inflation ended, the economy entered a period of high growth for much of the remainder of Reagan's Presidency.


What was the Reagan Doctrine?

As part of the Reagan Administration's hard-line stance against communism, under the Reagan Doctrine the U.S. provided aid to anti-communist resistance movements in an effort to supplant Soviet-backed communist governments in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.


In contrast to his predecessors' focus on détente, President Reagan took a hard-line on the Soviet Union. What term did he apply to the U.S.S.R. in 1983?

Reagan called the Soviet Union the "Evil Empire," while making the case for deploying U.S. nuclear missiles to NATO countries, after the U.S.S.R. had done the same in Eastern Europe. Reagan's rhetoric and actions marked an intention to match aggressive Soviet behavior.

Arguing that the Soviet Union would shortly fall, Reagan stated "I believe that communism is another sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages even now are being written."


What was the Boland Amendment (1982)?

The Boland Amendment forbade President Reagan from providing assistance to Nicaraguan Contras, a rebel group attempting to overthrow Nicaragua's left-wing government.

Aid had flowed to the Contras as part of the Reagan Doctrine.


A 1983 bombing by an Islamic suicide bomber in _____ killed 241 American servicemen.


U.S. and French forces were attacked by truck-driving suicide bombers. Both countries had troops in Lebanon as part of a multinational force sent by the United Nations.


In 1983, President Reagan announced support for the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), which pundits dubbed "Star Wars." What was the SDI?

SDI called for using ground and space-based systems to protect the United States from nuclear attack. Underlying the concept was a break from the policy of mutual assured destruction, since the policy proposed to ensure that the United States could survive a nuclear attack. 

It also put pressure on the Soviet Union to match the U.S. effort, which the Soviet Union could ill afford.


In 1983, a bloody military coup in which island nation prompted U.S. intervention and the restoration of the democratically elected government?


Several American medical students were earning degrees on the island, which Reagan felt justified American involvement. Military action also had the support of the Organization of American States. The campaign resulted in 19 American military casualties.


In 1984, _____ _____ sought the Democratic Party's nomination for President; his 21% of the primary vote was the highest amount received by a black candidate up to that time.

Jesse Jackson

Jackson's historic candidacy was derailed when he used a racial slur to describe Jewish residents of New York City. 


In 1984, Walter Mondale broke with tradition by choosing what person as his Vice Presidential nominee?

Geraldine Ferraro

Ferraro, a member of the House of Representatives, was the first woman nominated to a major party ticket.


Ronald Reagan's 1984 campaign slogan, "Morning in America," emphasized the achievements of his first four years in office and asked voters for another term. How did he fare in the general election?

Voters recognized the many positive changes that had taken place, and Reagan won a resounding victory, gaining nearly 60% of the vote, and cementing Republican gains.

Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro won only a single state.


What was the Iran-Contra Affair?

Blocked from contributing funds to the Nicaraguan Contras, two Reagan officials (Oliver North and John Poindexter) raised cash by selling weapons and spare parts to Iran.

The secret circumvention of the Boland Amendment came to light in 1986, tarnishing Reagan's reputation and prompting a Congressional investigation. 


Shortly after Reagan began his second term, a new Soviet leader came to power in the U.S.S.R. Who was he?

Mikhail S. Gorbachev

In 1986, Gorbachev announced glasnost (greater political freedom) and perestroika (moderate economic freedoms).

To achieve these twin goals, Gorbachev had to severely curtail military spending and remove Soviet troops from Afghanistan.


Starting in 1986, Gorbachev began to offer significant concessions to the United States on nuclear weapons levels, conventional force size, and policy in Eastern Europe. Why?

The Soviet military had become an unsustainable burden on the Soviet economy, which was in a shambles. Gorbachev's policies of perestroika and glasnost required him to redirect Soviet resources from costly Cold War military commitments to more profitable areas in the civilian sector. 


In 1987, Reagan gave the most famous speech of his Presidency, stating "General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" 

Where was Reagan speaking?

In Berlin, where the Berlin Wall had divided the city for decades. Three years later, the Wall fell as the Warsaw Pact disintegrated. 


In 1987, President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. How did this treaty differ from previous nuclear arms agreements between the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.?

Rather than limit the number of nuclear weapons, the INF Treaty reduced the number of nuclear weapons by banning nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with intermediate-range nuclear warheads.


To what does the "Graying of America" refer?

The term "Graying of America" refers to the increasing age of the average American, an upward trend that began in the 1980s.

Federal programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, are tied to age. As Americans get older on average, fewer younger workers are available to support these programs, leading to deficits and increased costs for the young. 


In 1988, incumbent Vice President George Bush soundly defeated Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis. What famous promise did Bush make?

Bush promised "no new taxes," a promise he later violated.


How did many observers view the large student protest in Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 1989?

Coupled with events in Europe, it seemed as if worldwide Communism was on the decline. In China at least, rumors of Communism's decline were greatly exaggerated, and Communist forces crushed the protest.

The iconic image of the Tiananmen Square uprising is of a man standing alone, facing a long line of tanks rolling towards him.


In Eastern Europe, where did the collapse of Communism first begin?

Communism's collapse began in Poland, which broke free from the control of the Soviet Union in 1989. When the U.S.S.R. did nothing, the nations of Hungary, East Germany, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, and Romania followed.

In Berlin, it was not Gorbachev but Berliners themselves who tore down the Berlin Wall.


What was the effect of the 1989 Eastern European revolutions on the Soviet Union?

Several of the constitutient republics which made up the Soviet Union began advocating for independence. In March 1990, Lithuania declared independence, followed by Estonia and Latvia. 

By late 1991, the Soviet Union had dissolved into the Commonwealth of Independent States, comprised of the 15 former Soviet Republics, and Gorbachev had resigned.


Between 1989 and 1991, President George H.W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev negotiated START I. What did START stand for?

Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties

The Treaties continued the trend towards arms reduction begun during the Reagan Administration. A second treaty, START II, was signed by Bush and Boris Yeltsin, Gorbachev's successor.