Practise essay history- source paper

Isabel O'Neill
Note by Isabel O'Neill, updated more than 1 year ago
Isabel O'Neill
Created by Isabel O'Neill about 5 years ago
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Practise essay on reagan and his presidency

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In the light of differing interpretations, how convincing do you find the view that the main achievement of Reagan's presidency was 'to alter the terms and nature of the debate about domestic issues'? To explain your answer, analyse and evaluate both extracts, using your own knowledge of the issues. Reagan managed to alter the nature of the presidency in a way which was more symbolic than actual physical change, however he did manage to pass notable legislation during his presidency, some of it due to change in the political atmosphere, resulting to change in debate about domestic issues. Although both Source 9 and 10 argue that the nature of Domestic policy had changed under Reagan, Source 10 has a more focused and detailed approach. Source 10 argues that this change in "terms and nature" of domestic policy was in fact the major achievement of Reagan, whereas Source 9 argues that while Reagan made changes which did impact domestic policy, his legacy was putting the USA on a new track- healing after the economic failures of the 1970's.'New Right' thinking was one significant change made to the political environment during Reagan's term. This new ideology went against the strong liberal ideas many had about the involvement of government in society, which stemmed from New Deal thinking. Many, both Republican and Democrat politicians, were brought together by Reagan under a 'Conservative Coalition banner' in support of these new ideas. Extract 9 describes this as "A popular conservative messenger with a popular conservative message", as Reagan was able to shift the opinion of the public on the words 'conservative' and 'liberal' by latching onto the belief that those who were poor were lazy and welfare-dependant, and rejecting the government support given to things such as gay rights and abortion. Extract 10 identifies this shift to conservatism and the new right, but explains the results of this shift. For example extract 10 notes that obligation to work in order to claim benefits was an example of NR attitude towards welfare. Reagan's administration did want to change to 'workfare' but due to lack of childcare and the extremely low pay of some (less than benefits) many families struggled. Dependancy on benefits such as this was seen as morally and socially evil by Reagan and NR thinkers, a completely opposite view to those who supported the new deal; a complete 360 degree turn on the liberal perspective of america a few decades before.Extract 9 argues that the main achievement of Reagan's presidency was the appearance of change; that the "illusion" of change was important. It states that he was seen as an "effective leader" because of this, and reforms such as tax cuts gave the appearance of change. This instilled trust within the government again, allowing for the population to feel like their government was doing something about the problems and baggage of the economic struggles over the 1970s, and Carter's presidency. Because of this, there was a change in the "nature" of debate; as trust grew within the president and government, the climate switched from Republicans reacting to liberal policy to Republicans setting their own policy and agenda. Extract 10 provides more insight into this shift, calling "Problem-solving the hallmark of the 1960s and 70s" before going on to say the consequences of this were the "welfare mess, rising crime and a permissive culture". This shows reason for the shift, not just what happened, which contributes to the explanation of the change in nature. Extract 10 then goes on to say that the "Reagan administration did not need to be told by professional or sectional interests what policies should be followed since new policies had already been determined by belief in the market and reduced role of the state". As extract 10 considers directly where policy is coming from and specifying that there was no input from sectional or business interest, it confirms that policy now came from 'New Right' thinking. Therefore it argues that Reagan changed both the terms and nature of domestic issues.There were many changes made by Reagan to the presidency, however most were a result of the change in approach to domestic policy. Although extract 9 presents a case for Reagan changing the Nature of debate, it does so without considering the depth of knock-on effects of this on policy, whereas extract 10 does.

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