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No Direction HomeThe American Family and the Fear of National Decline, 1968-1980$
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Natasha Zaretsky

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780807830949

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807867808_zaretsky

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Conclusion

Conclusion

The Familial Roots of Republican Domination

Chapter:
(p.223) Conclusion
Source:
No Direction Home
Author(s):

Zaretsky Natasha

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/9780807867808_zaretsky.10

This conclusion examines the political realignment of the 1970s by looking at Ronald Reagan's campaign for the presidency in 1980 and his eventual victory over Jimmy Carter that represented an extraordinary achievement for the Republicans not only politically but also culturally and symbolically. Whereas scholars emphasized Reagan's opposition to the era and abortion rights, the chapter focuses on the ways that he effectively invoked the family in his presidential campaign as a site of national injury and vulnerability after the Vietnam War. It argues that this invocation contributed to Reagan's victory in 1980, as well as to the inroads he made with traditionally Democratic constituencies. It also explains how Reagan capitalized on the “politics of the family” initiated by the social movements of the Left—women's liberation, black liberation, and gay liberation—by integrating it into a narrative of American rebirth and regeneration. Finally, it looks at Reagan's new hegemonic synthesis in which he attacked the New Deal welfare state while restoring American military authority after the Vietnam debacle.

Keywords:   family, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Republicans, presidential campaign, Vietnam War, gay liberation, social movements, New Deal, welfare state

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