Where Do We Go from Here
Where Do We Go From Here? Debbie Ebersole HIS/135 11/27/2011 Brian D. Blodgett, Ph. , D Where Do We Go From Here? History repeats itself; a phrase I have heard many times over the course of my life. I have also been told “if you want to look into the future, look to the past. ” If there is truth to either phrase, perhaps we are the brink of change; a time of prosperity much like after WWII. Starting with the 1950’s and going forward let us look back on events that have helped define where we do we go from here. Little White Houses – The 1950’s
The end of WWII signified many changes in the United States. For almost twenty years leading up to the 1950’s economic stagnation plagued the United States, thanks to the Depression and WWII. The war had come to an end, veterans returned home to their loved ones, and it was time for Americans to begin enjoying life. Veterans with assistance from the GI Bill purchased homes in the suburbs. There was a car in the driveway and a television in the living room. In the years following the war the United States and the Soviet Union emerged as “superpowers,” and mortal enemies (Davidson, 2005).
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The spread of communism and the “cold war” had an impact on the American domestic life. Bomb shelters were built in backyards. Each country had the capability to annihilate one another and the rest of the world (“Cold War”. 1996 – 2011). It was during this time the struggle against racism and segregation penetrated the American way of life. In 1954 the landmark case, Brown v. Board of Education the Supreme Court ruled that “separate educational facilities” for black children were “inherently unequal” (“The 1950’S, 1996 – 2011). In December of 1955, after years of sitting at the back of the bus, Ms.
Rosa Parks took a seat in the front. All was fine until a white male entered the bus. Ms. Parks was told to give up her seat on an already crowded bus. Not only was Ms. Parks African American, she was a woman. She defied the law. Her action prompted the organization of the Montgomery Improvement Association, led by Martin Luther King, Jr. This was an act of civil disobedience that led to the November 23rd, 1956, Supreme Court ruling, bus segregation was illegal. Ms. Parks is known as the “mother of the civil rights movement” (“Rosa Parks”, 1996 – 2011).
These events and others that followed contributed to redefining Americans and the right to equality. The Age of Youth – The 1960’s Baby boomers born after the war’s end became teenagers and the youth of America. Movement away from the conservative 1950’s was well on its way. Young people wanted change; it was time to question authority. As the Vietnam War continued to intensify, college campuses became centers of debate and scenes of protest (Goodwin & Bradley, 1999). The impact of the Vietnam War struck the baby boom generation. They were coming of age and would be drafted into the armed services (Davidson, 2005).
By 1966 more than 400,000 troops were deployed to Vietnam (“Vietnam 1945 to 1975 Timeline”, n. d. ). It was a time whether you were for or against the war that Americans had to take a stand on Vietnam. The cost of the war continued to rise to more than $50 billion a year as did inflation. Programs to assist those in need (Medicare, housing and education) raised the domestic budget. Recession and inflation brought an end to the affluence that Americans enjoyed. The Vietnam War had destroyed the promise of prosperity. Who Can We Trust? – The 1970’s The war in Vietnam continued on.
Inflation and unemployment continued to escalate. Women, African Americans, Native Americans, gays and lesbians sought equality and most Americans joined in the protest against the war (“The 1970’S”, 1996 – 2011). President Richard M. Nixon was in office, elected for a second term. It was during this term the country realized how much power the President of the United States had and what he could do with it. President Nixon was re-elected by a landslide. He resented those who challenged his authority and approved attempts to discredit whoever opposed him.
In June of 1972 authorities found 5 burglars in the office of the Democratic Committee located in the Watergate building. The five men had been a part of President Nixon’s Committee to Re-elect the President. Over the course of the next two years, the events that unfolded would lead to the first resignation of a United States President. It was President Nixon who announced after a thorough investigation; “no one from the White House staff was involved in the incident” (Davidson, 2005). In President Nixon’s words “What really hurts is if you try to cover it up. During trials for the 5 burglars and former White House staff members the truth began to unfold. Recorded conversations with his aid H. R. Alderman were proof President Nixon was aware of the burglars and their connection to the White House staff. It was also disclosed he had knowledge his attorney general acted to curb the FBI investigation. The House Judiciary Committee adopted three articles of impeachment against President Nixon. To avoid impeachment, President Nixon resigned from office on August 8th, 1974. The Reagan Years – The 1980’s President Ronald Reagan is elected to office.
Prior to Ronald Reagan’s election to President the country faced energy shortages, rising prices and low American productivity. Much of the demise of the country was put on the shoulders of Presidents Carter and Ford. During his presidency, Ronald Reagan’s main objectives were to cut taxes, build up military defense and limit/reduce government control. President Reagan knew how to play on the moral values that conservative Americans lived by; “I think there is a hunger in this land for a spiritual revival, a return to a belief in moral absolutes,” (Davidson, 2005)
President Reagan’s economic program was based on the supply-side theory; generate growth by stimulating a greater supply of goods and services, thereby increasing employment opportunities (“Ronald Reagan on Budget & Economy”, n. d. ). Although it was President Reagans goal to limit government spending by reducing programs to aid the poor; food stamps, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, Medicaid, school lunches and housing assistance, military spending saw no limit. By 1985 nearly $300 billion was spent on strategic nuclear weapons systems. During his presidency the wealthiest Americans (the top 1 percent) enjoyed the best of imes. Yes, 14. 5 million jobs had been created by they were unevenly dispersed by region, class and gender. Employment for the poor was restricted to minimum wage, part time jobs with no real room for advancement. Going Global – The 1990’s The first baby boomer, William Jefferson Clinton is elected President. The face of immigration changed throughout the 1990’s. Latinos from Mexico and Central America sought a new life in the United States. Asians from the Philippines, China, Korea and Southeast Asia now called the United States home. Arabs, Africans and Eastern Europeans migrated to the United States.
Changes in employment opportunities brought newcomers. The Industrial Revolution gave way to the service industry. As the Cold War came to an end; the crumbling of the Soviet Union brought a new awareness to regional conflicts. International economics joined the United States to countries around the globe. Economic troubles in Russia or Great Britain could have an adverse effect on our economy and vise a versa. The World Wide Web was born in 1992, forever changing how we communicate (email), how we spend money (online purchases) and how business is conducted (e-commerce).
As people, financial capital and information traveled across the globe the United States had to adapt to a global community (Davidson, 2005). Within this global community terrorism also plays a role. The World Trade Center faces its first attack on February 26th, 1993. Attacks on United States embassies in Africa are linked to Osama Bin Laden. Where Do We Go From Here? It appears that events happen in cycles. We have wars, recessions, times of peace and posterity. I would like to believe that the coming ten years will be those filled with peace and posterity as we are at war and staving off a recession today.
References Cold War. (1996 – 2011). Retrieved from http://www. history. com/topics/cold-war Davidson, . , Gienapp, . , & Heyrman, . (2005). Nation of Nations . : McGraw-Hill Companies. Goodwin, S. and Bradley, B . (1999). 1960-1969. American Cultural History. Lone Star College-Kingwood Library, Kingwood, TX. Retrieved from http://wwwappskc. lonestar. edu/popculture/decade60. html http://www. issues2000. org/celeb/Ronald_Reagan_Budget_+_Economy. htm Rosa Parks. (1996 – 2011). Retrieved from http://www. history. com/topics/rosa-parks The 1950’s. (1996 – 2011). Retrieved from http://www. istory. com/topics/1950s The 1970’s. (1996 – 2011). Retrieved from http://www. history. com/topics/1970s The 1990’s – Prosperity As The World Turns. (2009). Retrieved from http://americasbesthistory. com/abhtimeline1990. html Vietnam 1945 to 1975 Timeline. (n. d. ). Retrieved from http://news. bbc. co. uk/2/hi/special_report/1998/03/98/mylai/62755. stm Whitley, P. , Bradley, B. , Sutton, B. , and Goodwin, S. (2011). 1990-1999. American Cultural History. Lone Star College-Kingwood Library, Kingwood, TX. Retrieved from http://wwwappskc. lonestar. edu/popculture/decade90. html