Table of Contents
I. The Sunbelt and its Politics
II. Religious Revivalism
III. Emergence of the New Right
IV. The Tax Revolt
V. The Campaign of 1980
VI. Sources



I. The Sunbelt and its Politics
The most widely discussed demographic phenomenon of the 1970s was the rise of what became known as the “Sunbelt”- a term coined by the political analyst Kevin Phillips to describe a collection of regions that emerged together in the postwar era to become the most dynamically growing parts of the country. By 1980, the population of the Sunbelt had risen to exceed that of the older industrial regions of the North and the East. White southerners
Sunbelt
Sunbelt
equated the federal government’s effort to change racial norms in the region with what they believed was tyranny of Reconstruction. In the 1970s and early 1980s, the boom mentality of some of these rapidly growing areas conflicted sharply with the concerns of the older industrial states of the Northeast and Midwest. The so-called Sagebrush Rebellion, which emerged in parts of the West in the late 1970s, mobilized conservative opposition to environmental laws and restrictions on development. Suburbanization also fueled the rise of the right.
II. Religious Revivalism
In the 1960s, many critics had predicted the virtual extinction of religious influence in American life. By early 1980s, more than 70 million Americans now described themselves as “born-again” Christians- men and women who had established a “direct personal relationship with Jesus”. For Jimmy Carter and for some others, evangelical Christianity had formed the basis for a commitment to racial and economic justice and to world peace. The Moral Majority, the Christian Coalition, and other organizations of similar inclination opposed federal interference in local affairs; denounced abortion, divorce, enterprise; and supported a strong American posture in the world.
III. Emergence of the new right
Evangelical Christians were an important part, but only a part, of what became known as the new right- a diverse but powerful movement that enjoyed rapid growth in the 1970s and early 1980s. Conservative campaigns had for many years been less well funded and organized than those of their rivals. By the late 1970s, there were right-wing think tanks, consulting forms, lobbyists, foundations, and scholarly centers. In the early 1950s Ronald Reagan became a corporate spokesman for General Electric and won wide support following on the right with his smooth, eloquent speeches in defense of individual freedom and private enterprise. In 1966, with the support of a group of a group of wealthy conservatives, he won the first of two terms as governor of California-which gave him a much more visible platform for promoting himself and his ideas.
IV. The Tax Revolt
At least equally important to the success of the new right was a new and potent conservative issue: the tax revolt. The biggest and most expensive programs-Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and others-had the broadest support. In Proposition 13 and similar initiatives, members of the right found a better way to discredit government than by attacking specific programs: attacking taxes.
V. The Campaign of 1980
Jimmy Carter's standing in popularity polls was lower than that of any president. On Election Day 1980, Reagan won 51% of the vote to 41% for Jimmy Carter and 7% for John Anderson; Electoral votes: Reagan 489, Carter 49. The Republican Party won control of the Senate for the first time since 1952.
VI. Sources
American History, Brinkley
http://www.4president.org/ocmi1980.htm
http://geography.about.com/od/specificplacesofinterest/a/sunbelt.htm