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Ronald Reagan

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EARLY LIFE & RADIOAs a teenage lifeguard, he alluded to his future success as the president of the nation by saving 77 people from drowning. Straight out of graduation from Eureka College, Reagan landed himself a job at the Davenport, Iowa radio station WOC. He told his future boss at WOC that he “wanted to get a job in radio because eventually I wanted to become a sports announcer” (Reagan 64). His career in radio was just a stepping-stone to his illustrious career as an actor.

HOLLYWOODIn his first film, Love is in the Air, Reagan played a role he was familiar with – a radio announcer. After a string of B movies, Reagan finally scored the role that boosted him to fame as George “The Gipper” Gipp in Knute Rockne – All American. Throughout his career, “Reagan starred in about seventy-five productions that included major movies, documentaries, war propaganda presentations, and TV serials” (Diggins 72). As a member of the Screen Actors Guild, he became active in ousting actors who were suspected to be communist sympathizers during the Red Scare of the late 1940s. Reagan was elected president of the SAG in 1947.

POLITICS & PRESIDENCYIn 1967, Ronald Reagan was elected the 33rd governor of California. This was his first achievement in politics, which he had delved into with his excellent speaking skills and uncanny ability of persuasion. Formerly a democrat, he used his republican conservatism to fix the financial crisis that had been brewing in the state since before his term. He promised that “we are going to squeeze and cut and trim until we reduce the cost of government” (Reagan 158). His tenure as the 40th president of the United States began in 1981 with George H.W. Bush as his vice president. He implemented “Reaganomics” in an attempt to repair the faltering economy and also was behind the “Reagan Doctrine,” “a signal that the United States intended to support people fighting for their freedom against Communism” (Reagan 552). He formed strengthened the United States’ relationship with Great Britain, since Prime Minister “Margaret Thatcher worked well with Reagan and was a forceful advocate for a revitalized Atlantic alliance” (McKay 1008). During his second term as president in the late 1980s, Reagan helped facilitate the end of the Cold War with his famous 1987 Brandenburg Gate speech urging Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall. During his presidency, Reagan also intensified the War on Drugs and appointed the first female Supreme Court justice, Sandra Day O’Connor.

Ronald Reagan was a visionary leader who had his beginnings in the entertainment industry and made his way up to the highest office in the United States of America. His path to presidency was unorthodox; he worked successfully in radio and film prior to entering the office. As the United States’ president for two terms, he was instrumental in the end of the Cold War and made positive changes in the economy. His administration became known as the Reagan Revolution with its influence revitalizing the American spirit.

BACKGROUND

1980 Official Presidential Campaign Portrait

SOCIAL

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

1) The African-American Civil Rights movement of 1955 to 1968 was a campaign that came to be led by Martin Luther King Jr. that resulted in the outlawing of racial discrimination. African-American suffrage was granted with "the Voting Rights Act of 1964 [that] guaranteed all blacks the right to vote" (McKay 994). The movement ended the Jim Crow Laws and 'separate but equal' regulations.2) The Second Wave Feminist movement of the 1960s to the 1970s was the movement by women to fight for equal rights. Having already achieved female suffrage in the 1920s, women were now fighting for equality in the workplace. It did not result in much new changes in laws concerning women, as the women argued more for domestic issues and reproductive rights. (McKay 1002 - 1003)3) Big Science was becoming prevalent both during and after the second World War. It involved the scientific community collaborating with government agencies and large corporations to develop new technologies meant to benefit the state or society as a whole. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States were fierce competitors under Big Science with their famous race to space. (McKay 999 - 1000)4) Youth counterculture was coming into the fore by the 1950s, with adolescents from the United States in the lead. Younger people were taking part in everything from "radical politics, unbridled personal experimentation, and new artistic styles" (McKay 1004). A major event brought by this counterculture was Woodstock. Hippies were a large part of the new youth culture with their blend of anti-war attitudes and harmony with the natural world.5) Environmentalism was born in the 1970s, with the first Earth Day being celebrated in April 22, 1970. Care for the environment was a topic that was becoming popular as people began to saw the effects that rapid industrialization had on the Earth.

1) World War II started in 1939 and ended in 1945 and was central to the defeat of Nazi Germany. While a war with many casualties, its start marked the end of the Great Depression and its end liberated those terrorized during the Holocaust. (McKay 966 - 975)2) The Second Red Scare was a period of strong anti-communism in the United States in 1947 to 1957, following WWII. This occurred after people thought to be communist were taking leadership positions in everything from politics to the arts all over the country, such as the "Hollywood Independent Citizens' Committee of the Arts, Sciences, and Professions ... represented a tenuous fusion of liberals and communists" (Diggins 100).3) The Cold War was a period of time extending from 1945 to 1991 that showcased tensions between the Western powers and the Eastern bloc. Much of these tensions hinted at the possibility of an actual and possibly nuclear war. These tensions were especially prominent in the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (McKay 982 - 984)4) A military struggle known as The Vietnam War was fought primarily in South Vietnam from 1959 to 1975, and began as an attempt by Communist guerrillas in the South backed by Communist North Vietnam, to overthrow the government of South Vietnam. South Vietnam was supported by the United States and 40 other countries by supplying troops and munitions. Everyone "felt that the Vietnam War had turned into such a tragedy because military action had been undertaken without sufficient assurances that the American people were behind it" (Reagan 466). 5) In the early morning hours of June 17, 1972, five people broke into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, located in the Watergate apartment and office, in an attempt to wiretap the committee's phones. The five men were caught and were linked to Nixon's Committee to re-elect the President. Due to this scandal, Nixon became the first U.S. president ever to resign from the office.

POLITICAL

1) During World War II, the United States' economy wasn't damaged, so it enjoyed unprecedented economic power. The American industry came to life with the a lot of help from scientists and engineers, who produced aerospace and electronics. Our scientists and engineers "were making great progress and becoming more optimistic each day that it would be possible to solve the enormously difficult problems of pinpoing missiles rising..." (Reagan 628).2) During the 1960s, housing and computer industries overpowered automobiles and electrically powered consumer goods, which were the leading sectors in the 1950s. Also, America's overseas investment increased to $49.2 billion and big businesses dominated the domestic economy.3) By the 1970s, the United States faced its first trade deficit in 80 years, and foreign competition had begun to seize large areas of the U.S. domestic market. President Johnson also attempted to finance the Vietnam War creating large governmental deficits and runaway inflation. Farmers had to deal with "rapid inflation, high interest rates, depressed prices related to the Soviet grain embargo, then rapid disninflation" (Reagan 344).4) In January 1980, a six-month business recession began and lasted until July 1980, during which several indicators hit highs that month, including the total industrial production and retail sales in constant dollars. The cause of this recession was because "unemployment, inflation, and interest rates were climbing" (Reagan 205). 5) The U.S Government responded to the oil crisis of 1978-1980 by removing price and distributing controls on the oil industry. For the first time since the 1970s, market forces replaced regulatory programs and domestic crude oil prices were allowed to rise to a market-clearing level. Reagan helped when he "signed an executive order removing price controls on oils and gasoline..." This helped in liberating the economy from excess government regulation (Reagan 227).

ECONOMIC

Ronald Reagan. 1980. AP Images. Web. 22 Feb. 2010.

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 1980

Edited by Helena Christine and Inshirah

Ronald Reagan. 1980. AP Images. Web. 8 Mar. 2010.


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