1970s

decade (1970-1979)

The 1970s (pronounced "nineteen-seventies"; shortened to "the '70s") was a decade of the Gregorian calendar that began on 1 January 1970, and ended on 31 December 1979.

Quotes

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  • Who ever decided that Americans were so bad off in the seventies anyway? From the right-wing revisionist propaganda that has become accepted as fact, you'd think that Americans under President Carter were suffering through something like the worst of the Weimar Republic combined with the Siege of Leningrad. The truth is that on a macroeconomic level, the difference between the Carter era and the Reagan era was minimal. For instance, economic growth during the Carter Administration averaged 2.8 percent annually, while under Reagan, from 1982 to 1989, growth averaged 3.2 percent. Was it really worth killing ourselves over that extra .4 percent of growth? For a lucky few, yes. On the other key economic gauge, unemployment, the Carter years were actually better than Reagan's, averaging 6.7 percent annually during his "malaise-stricken" term as compared to an average 7.3 percent unemployment rate during the glorious eight-year reign of Ronald Reagan. Under Carter, people worked less, got far more benefits, and the country grew almost the same average annual rate as Reagan. On the other hand, according to the Statistical Abstract of the United States for 1996, under Reagan life got worse for those who had it worse: the number of people below the poverty line increased in almost every year from 1981 (31.8 million) to 1992 (39.3 million). And yet, we are told America was in decline until Reagan came to power and that the country was gripped by this ethereal malaise. Where was this malaise? Whose America was in decline? The problem with the 1970s wasn't that America was in decline, it was that the plutocracy felt itself declining. And in the plutocrats' eyes, their fortunes are synonymous with America's.
    • Mark Ames, Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion, From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond (2005), p. 99
  • Since the mid-1970s, neoliberal economic policies have increasingly pervaded rich democracies. A list of such policies would include the following: enacting international trade agreements that strongly favor capital interests and constrain democratic policy making; deregulating markets (especially in the financial sector); tightening bankruptcy regulations and imposing harsher policies toward individual and state debtors; enhancing intellectual property protections; cutting taxes (especially on top incomes, capital income, and inheritance); retrenching the welfare state (especially replacing cash benefits with benefits conditioned on work); weakening antitrust enforcement; assaulting labor unions and laws protecting workers; reducing workers' pensions; delegating labor and trade disputes to private arbitrators; outsourcing public functions to private enterprise; and replacing Keynesian economic policies oriented to full employment with fiscal austerity. Taken together, these policies have had three principal effects. First, they have increased economic inequality and shifted the distribution of income from labor to capital, leading to stagnant wages for lower-tier workers, even as productivity has grown. Second, these policies have also constrained and undermined democracy, reducing its ability to respond to the needs and interests of ordinary people . . . Third, neoliberal policies have shifted economic and political power to private businesses, executives, and the very rich. More and more, these organizations and individuals govern everyone else.
  • Did it have to come to this? The paradox is that when Europe was less united, it was in many ways more independent. The leaders who ruled in the early stages of integration had all been formed in a world before the global hegemony of the United States, when the major European states were themselves imperial powers, whose foreign policies were self-determined. These were people who had lived through the disasters of the Second World War, but were not crushed by them. This was true not just of a figure like De Gaulle, but of Adenauer and Mollet, of Eden and Heath, all of whom were quite prepared to ignore or defy America if their ambitions demanded it. Monnet, who did not accept their national assumptions, and never clashed with the US, still shared their sense of a future in which Europeans could settle their own affairs, in another fashion. Down into the 1970s, something of this spirit lived on even in Giscard and Schmidt, as Carter discovered. But with the neo-liberal turn of the 1980s, and the arrival in power in the 1990s of a postwar generation, it faded. The new economic doctrines cast doubt on the state as a political agent, and the new leaders had never known anything except the Pax Americana. The traditional springs of autonomy were gone.
    • Perry Anderson, "Depicting Europe", London Review of Books (20 September 2007)
  • Then came the seventies, and the major new musical trends were (1) disco, which consisted of one single song approximately 14,000 minutes long; and (2) heavy metal, which consisted of skinny, hostile, pockmarked men wearing outfits that looked as though they had smeared toxic waste on their bodies, playing what sounded like amplified jackhammers and shrieking unintelligibly at auditoriums full of whooping, sweating, hyperactive, boot-wearing, tattooed people who indicated their approval by giving each other head injuries with chairs. We old-time rock 'n' rollers looked at this scene, and we said, "Nah." We were sure it would pass. So we played our Buffalo Springfield albums and our Motown dance tapes, and we waited for the day when good music, hip music, would become popular again.
    • Dave Barry, Dave Barry Turns 40 (1990). New York: Crown Publishers, p. 58
  • In the 1930s, the crisis of the capitalist model had helped produce a new authoritarianism, notably in Germany, but also elsewhere, an authoritarianism characterised by autarky, populism and corporatism. In contrast, in the 1970s and 1980s, widespread fiscal and economic difficulties, many linked to globalist pressures, led either to the panacea of social welfare or to democratic conservative governments, especially in the USA and Britain, that sought to ‘roll back the state’ and that pursued liberal economic policies. These governments opened their markets and freed currency movements and credit from most restrictions. The economic crises in the West in the 1980s did not lead either to authoritarian regimes or to governmental direction of national resources on the Soviet model, even if the Left, notably in Britain in 1974–9 and in France in 1981–3, increased such direction. Economic difficulties encouraged the rise of far-Right political parties, as in France, West Germany, Belgium, Italy and Austria, but neither they, nor the radical Left, were able to seize power, nor even to exercise much influence on political or economic policies in West Germany and France. However, in Italy, the far-Right came into coalition government and it also became a key political player in Austria.
  • For a period of roughly 35 years, Keynesian theory provided a central paradigm for macroeconomists, and considerable progress was made on several empirical fronts. It was widely recognized that some of the ingredients of Keynesian economics (e.g. money illusion and/or nominal wage rigidity) rested on slender to non-existent microtheoretic foundations; and there were always dissenters. But, thought of as a collection of empirical regularities that fit together into a coherent whole, the theory worked tolerably well. In the 1970s, however, the Keynesian paradigm was rejected by a great many academic economists, especially in the United States, in favour of what we now call new classical economics. By about 1980, it was hard to find an American academic macroeconomist under the age of 40 who professed to be a Keynesian. That was an astonishing intellectual turnabout in less than a decade, an intellectual revolution for sure.
    • Alan S. Blinder, "The fall and rise of Keynesian economics", Economic Record (1988).
  • The symptoms of this crisis of the American spirit are all around us. For the first time in the history of our country a majority of our people believe that the next five years will be worse than the past five years. Two-thirds of our people do not even vote. The productivity of American workers is actually dropping, and the willingness of Americans to save for the future has fallen below that of all other people in the Western world. As you know, there is a growing disrespect for government and for churches and for schools, the news media, and other institutions. This is not a message of happiness or reassurance, but it is the truth and it is a warning. These changes did not happen overnight. They’ve come upon us gradually over the last generation, years that were filled with shocks and tragedy. We were sure that ours was a nation of the ballot, not the bullet, until the murders of John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. We were taught that our armies were always invincible and our causes were always just, only to suffer the agony of Vietnam. We respected the Presidency as a place of honor until the shock of Watergate. We remember when the phrase “sound as a dollar” was an expression of absolute dependability, until ten years of inflation began to shrink our dollar and our savings. We believed that our nation’s resources were limitless until 1973 when we had to face a growing dependence on foreign oil. These wounds are still very deep. They have never been healed.
  • the free-lovin'
    seventies, when reading and travels
    opened our imagination
  • Neoliberalism designates a particular strategy of class domination that uses the state to promote certain competitive dynamics for the benefit of the very rich. In Duménil's and Lévy's words, "Neoliberalism is a new stage of capitalism that emerged in the wake of the structural crisis of the 1970s. It expresses the strategy of the capitalist classes in alliance with upper management, specifically financial managers, intending to strengthen their hegemony and expand it globally." Less a strategy for production than for the transfer of wealth to the very rich, neoliberalism places the "need of money . . . over those of production." Pursued through policies of privatization, deregulation, and financialization, and buttressed by an ideology of private property, free markets, and free trade, neoliberalism has entailed cuts in taxes for the rich and cuts in protections and benefits for workers and the poor, resulting in an exponential increase in inequality.
  • The growing distance between Americans and the military has even changed the way we think and talk about the armed services, argues “The Atlantic” author James Fallows. In January, Fallows discussed his cover story, “Why Do the Best Soldiers in the World Keep Losing?: The Tragic Decline of the American Military,” with Margaret Warner on the NewsHour: When I was a kid in the ’50s and ’60s and then older in the ’70s, American pop culture reflected a country familiar enough with its military to make fun of it at times. You had shows like “Gomer Pyle,” or “Hogan’s Heroes,” or “”McHale’s Navy.” You had works of art like “South Pacific” or novels like “Catch 22″ and even movies like “MASH,” respected the importance of the military and the important things it did that were heroic in the large scale, like World War II, but it was still made of real people with their real foibles. But we — now we have started to have this artificially reverent view of the military that’s also distant and disengaged.
  • There was something so extraordinary about 1979, with its cascade of events from the ayatollah in Tehran to the fake messiah in Mecca, from massacres in Aleppo to executions in Islamabad, that to some it felt as if the sky were falling to earth. Bizarrely, in a way, it did. That summer marked the demise of NASA’s Skylab space station, in orbit since 1973. On the afternoon on July 12, the 77-ton station crashed through the atmosphere, disintegrating in a blaze of fireworks and scattering its debris over the remote Australian desert. Meanwhile, on earth, whole systems of thought were being altered: in the UK, in May 1979, Margaret Thatcher, leader of the Conservative Party, became the first woman to serve as prime minister. In China, Deng Xiaoping was consolidating his rule and opening up Communist China. They introduced a market revolution on opposite sides of the planet. In the United States, Republican Ronald Reagan would become president in 1981, ushering in a decade of social conservatism in the United States and marking the end of America’s own era of leftist revolutionary fervor. Big events, like the Zia coup and the Bhutto hanging, obscured the smaller ways in which life was being transformed. Over time, imperceptibly, people’s memories of their own culture and history would be altered. Looking back, they would struggle to pinpoint the exact moment when everything had changed.
    • Kim Ghattas, Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Forty-Year Rivalry That Unraveled Culture, Religion, and Collective Memory in the Middle East (2020)
  • What neoliberalism has done since the 1970s is it has created such economic misery, it has so accentuated levels of inequality, it has created such suffering, it has dismantled entire towns, it has concentrated wealth in the hands of the financial elite, and it has legitimated an enormous culture of cruelty. And it operates off the assumption that the market can solve all problems — not simply in the economy, but in all of social life — so it becomes a template and a model for all social relations. In doing so, it is at odds with any notion of the welfare state, any notion of labor unions, any notion of workers’ rights, and any notion of economic rights. It privatizes, deregulates, and commodifies everything. It sets up a series of competitive attitudes that degrades collaboration. It highlights self-interest at the expense of modes of solidarity. It so accentuates matters of inequitable relations in wealth and power that you have an enormous concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the financial elite, and this is enacted by all kinds of policies that undermine the foundations of a democracy — all of its basic institutions, from the press, to public goods such as schools and media, to politics itself.
  • From the late 1940s until the early 1960s, events seemed to prove the Keynesians correct. Then, beginning in the 1960s, several distinguished economists began to challenge Keynesian ideas. Their counterrevolutionary views, which in many ways mirrored those of the classical economists, were strengthened by events in the 1970s, when the economy’s behavior began to contradict some Keynesian ideas. But in 2008 and 2009, as the economy sank into the most serious worldwide recession since the Great Depression, Keynesian ideas were once again at the center of a heated debate about the causes of the problem and the appropriate remedies.
  • [W]e must recognise a new threat to the peace of the nations, indeed to the very fabric of society. We have seen in the last few years the growth of a cult of political violence, preached and practised not so much between states as within them. It is a sombre thought but it may be that in the 1970s civil war, not war between nations, will be the main danger we will face.
  • Amerika faces no meaningful threat to its security except from those who live within its own territorial borders. The domestic upheavals of the 1960’s and 70’s taught empire some valuable lessons on just how dangerous an informed and discontent population can be. As a result, and through a steady application of misinformation, carrots, and sticks, empire has worked steadily to drain the focus, resolve, and militancy of the informed and discontented. From that point to this, empire has manufactured a discontinuity in popular struggle, while maintaining continuity in its own growth and consolidation. One of the empire’s principal tools and weapons has been its prisons.
    • Kevin Rashid Johnson, Defying the Tomb: Selected Prison Writings and Art of Kevin Rashid Johnson (2010)
  • Now we’re into the period of the ’70s, and we’re trying to think about how to go through—We go through a whole series of different maneuvers over a very considerable period of time. We’re trying to see how we can build a coalition and how we can expand the breadth of our support. One interesting phenomenon during this period of time is that Wilbur Mills, who was the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, an enormously powerful position, was interested in running for President. No one gave him much of a chance, but he thought that the way to do it was to be for national health insurance, and so this opened up—To have the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee being your ally on this was a very significant and important opportunity. He and I got along fine. I had never been all that close to him, but he respected my brother Jack, and they had some mutual friends. So we had this sort of dance, trying to get him into the program. He wouldn’t go for the single-payer program and through all of this period, we’re sort of adjusting and changing. The Republicans, even when they came our way later on, were always sort of holding back and always tipping the tide to the industry—and the industries that were most effective were the insurance industries and hospitals—during the series of debates. We suffered a very serious setback as we started to move ahead in the early ’70s, with the loss of—Walter Reuther was killed in an airplane crash. And also by the fact that Wilbur Mills got himself in trouble.
  • We had conversations with Mel Laird about how we were going to proceed. He had basically the concept of pay-or-play, which we would grab today if we had that opportunity, which meant that you either have an insurance program for your people or you pay into a fund. That concept is used in Europe in their industry, not only for health but also for training programs. They have training programs with the requirement that you either have to train a certain percentage of your workers in a continuing training program, or you have to pay into a fund that will continue to train them, and so you have an ongoing and continuing training program. That was what we called the school-to-work program, which we actually implemented here during the [William] Clinton Administration. But the only way we could get it passed was if we sunsetted it, and we sunsetted it, and the Republicans wouldn’t vote to continue it, which was a good program. Now we’re into the ’70s, where Nixon gets impeached, and so that whole effort collapses.
  • I'm sure you petroleum folks understand that solar power will solve all our problems. How much money have we blown on that? This is the hippies' program from the seventies and they're still pushing this stuff.
    • Trent Lott, On solar energy in a speech to the Independent Petroleum Association of America, as quoted in The Washington Post (23 May 1997).
  • But the most obscene American phenomenon of all is the growth of commercialized sex and hard- and soft-core pornography. In the last decade, hardcore film and print porn, which features perversion, sadism, and masochism, has become a billion dollar business. It is a business which is not only tolerated, but defended by the press in the sacred name of “freedom of the press.” One would find it easier to believe in this noble reason for defending the filth that is flooding the nation if the newspapers did not reap such handsome profits from advertising and reviewing porn. In my view, newspaper publishers who carry X-rated ads are no better than pimps for the porn merchants. Billy Graham may have been exaggerating when he said “America has a greater obsession with sex than Rome ever had.” But he was not exaggerating very much.
  • It could be that today's conservative movement remains in thrall to the same narrative that has defined its attitude toward film and the arts for decades. Inspired by feelings of exclusion after Hollywood and the popular culture turned leftward in the '60s and '70s, this narrative has defined the film industry as an irredeemably liberal institution toward which conservatives can only act in opposition—never engagement. Ironically, this narrative ignores the actual history of Hollywood, in which conservatives had a strong presence from the industry's founding in the early 20th century up through the '40s, '50s and into the mid-'60s. The conservative Hollywood community at that time included such leading directors as Howard Hawks, Frank Capra, and Cecil B. DeMille, and major stars like John Wayne, Clark Gable, and Charlton Heston. These talents often worked side by side with notable Hollywood liberals like directors Billy Wilder, William Wyler, and John Huston, and stars like Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, and Spencer Tracy. The richness of classic Hollywood cinema is widely regarded as a testament to the ability of these two communities to work together, regardless of political differences. As the younger, more left-leaning "New Hollywood" generation swept into the industry in the late '60s and '70s, this older group of Hollywood conservatives faded away, never to be replaced. Except for a brief period in the '80s when the Reagan Presidency led to a conservative reengagement with film—with popular stars like Clint Eastwood, Sylvester Stallone, and Arnold Schwarzenegger making macho, patriotic action films—conservatives appeared to abandon popular culture altogether. In the wake of this retreat, conservative failure to engage with Hollywood now appears to have been recast by today's East Coast conservative establishment into a generalized opposition toward film and popular culture itself. In the early '90s, conservative film critic Michael Medved codified this oppositional feeling toward Hollywood in his best-selling book Hollywood vs. America.
  • Reagan and Thatcher are not usually declared dead as part of an objective assumption about which way the winds are blowing. These declarations are formulated as if their era was some kind of ideological deviation, when wild theorists and radicals dragged politics in a dogmatic neoliberal direction, and as if now we can finally return to common, interventionist sense. That is not what the reform era was about. Although liberal economists inspired many of the changes associated with Reagan and Thatcher, their era was never an ideological experiment but a pragmatic attempt to deal with the fact that an earlier model of inflation and regulation, along with a constantly expanding government, was in free fall. One sign of this is that the ‘Reagan/Thatcher era’ started before Reagan and Thatcher. It was actually initiated by their political opponents. It was Reagan’s Democratic representative, Jimmy Carter, who in his first State of the Union speech in 1978 declared: ‘bit by bit we are chopping down the thicket of unnecessary federal regulations by which the government too often interferes in our personal lives and personal business.’ It was the Carter administration that deregulated aviation, railways, trucking and energy (and craft beer! Before him you would not have been allowed to drink a Samuel Adams). It was Carter who appointed Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, who declared war on inflation in October 1979. In Britain, Thatcher’s predecessor, Labour’s James Callaghan, explained to party members in 1976 that they used to believe recessions could be ended through higher spending and more inflation: ‘I tell you now, in all candour, that that option no longer exists,’ and in so far as it ever did exist, it was only by ‘injecting a bigger dose of inflation into the economy, followed by a higher level of unemployment as the next step.’ Thatcher’s fight against the unions to close 115 loss-making and environmentally damaging coal mines made her admired and hated, but did you know that the two previous Labour prime ministers, Callaghan and Harold Wilson, closed no less than 257 coal mines in total?
    • Johan Norberg, The Capitalist Manifesto: Why the Global Free Market Will Save the World (2023)
  • American society experienced a virtual explosion in government regulation during the past decade. Between 1970 and 1979, expenditures for the major regulatory agencies quadrupled. The number of pages published annually in the Federal Register nearly tripled, and the number of pages in the Code of Federal Regulations increased by nearly two-thirds. The result has been higher prices, higher unemployment, and lower productivity growth. Overregulation causes small and independent business men and women, as well as large businesses to defer or terminate plans for expansion. And since they're responsible for most of the new jobs, those new jobs just aren't created. Now, we have no intention of dismantling the regulatory agencies, especially those necessary to protect environment and assure the public health and safety. However, we must come to grips with inefficient and burdensome regulations, eliminate those we can and reform the others.
  • The earlier part of the twentieth century was defined by liberal democracy’s struggle against its rival ideologies of fascism on the right and communism on the left: to the point of hot and cold wars alike. Tocqueville’s “empire” of democracy, by which he meant its indisputable influence as an ideally, largely won those battles in the way that Western society was reassembled after the Second World War. The defining issue of our own era has therefore been something else entirely: more a full-throated struggle over democracy itself, a struggle to reconcile democratic equality with liberal freedom in an age of capitalist globalization. To tell the story properly we must discard the conventional narrative frame of the twentieth century: for its threads weave most meaningfully together not in 1945, nor even in 1989, buft in the early 1970s, at the very point in which fascism and communism, as state forms, also finally began to yield their grip. It is there that the changes giving shape to the political order we have all been living through first set in.  In the half-decade between 1968 and 1974 an entire era—the postwar era—came to an end and something else began: our present age. There was no single year of upheaval, though 1971, for reasons that will become clear, cusps this change. There was no singular break, either, between some uniformly experienced before and after. But amid a perfect storm of crises that befell both East and West alike, the very structure of democracy that had sustained the Western nations through the first half of the twentieth century appeared suddenly to have run its course. That wider constellation of crises included the most dramatic transformation of the world economy since the Great Depression, and a fracturing of territorial sovereignty which, for the best part of two centuries, had underpinned national and international politics alike. It included the upheaval of rapidly modernizing societies at home, whose citizens suddenly demanded of their governments what their governments could not provide. The response to those crises in the East, we know well, was more repression at home and more credit from abroad to shore up their failing regimes: a path that ultimately led to the collapse of the entire communist system. But what of the response tin the West. As historians are beginning to document, something more radical happened: the West underwent “regime change.” From around 1971, on the back of the social upheavals of the late 1960s, with the Nixon administration in America at its most reckless and radical groups rising across Europe; with people marching on the streets and a crisis in the international economy, the postwar consensus unraveled and the institutional arrangements of the liberal democratic order began to be reconfigured.
    • Simon Reid-Henry, Empire of Democracy: The Remaking of the West Since the Cold War, 1971-2017 (2019), pp. 4-5
  • We are carrying into the next decade many unresolved problems raised by Vietnam. How can a democracy such as ours defend its interests at acceptable cost and continue to enjoy the freedom of speech and behavior to which we are accustomed in time of peace? To a Communist enemy the Cold War is a total, unending conflict with the United States and its allies- without formal military hostilities, to be sure- but conducted with the same discipline and determination as a formal war. Unless we can learn to exercise some degree of self-discipline, to accept and enforce some reasonable standard of responsible civic conduct, and to remove the many self-created obstacles to the use of our power, we will be unable to meet the hard competition waiting for us in the decade of the 1970s.
  • So the future depends not only on what we do but on what other powers do. Will they join in the nuclear arms race or save their resources for later, more renumerative uses? Will they increase their productivity while we succumb to inflation and its social and economic consequences? Will they live in harmony at home while we remain riven by factionalism and terrorized by crime? Most important of all, will they choose their goals wisely and pursue them relentlessly while we flounder in aimlessness or exhaust ourselves in internecine struggles? These matters are quite as important as the decline of absolute American power in determining the equilibrium of international relations in the 1970s. One thing is sure: the international challenge tends to merge more and more with the domestic challenge until the two become virtually indistinguishable. The threats from both sources are directed at the same sources of national power which provide strength both for our national security and for our domestic welfare. It is clear, I believe, that we cannot overcome abroad and fail at home, or succeed at home and succumb abroad. To progress toward the goals of our security and welfare we must advance concurrently on both foreign and domestic fronts by means of integrated national power responsive to a unified national will.
  • This response was surprising not only because of its scale but also because it contradicted the conventional narrative of economic history since the 1970s. The decades prior to the crisis had been dominated by the idea of a “market revolution” and the rollback of state interventionism. Government and regulation continued, of course, but they were delegated to “independent” agencies, emblematically the “independent central banks,” whose job was to ensure discipline, regularity and predictability. Politics and discretionary action were the enemies of good governance. The balance of power was hardwired into the normality of the new regime of deflationary globalization, what Ben Bernanke euphemistically referred to as the “great moderation.” The question that hung over the dispensation of “neoliberalism” was whether the same rules applied to everyone or whether the truth was that there were rules for some and discretion for others. The events of 2008 massively confirmed the suspicion raised by America’s selective interventions in the emerging market crises of the 1990s and following the dot-com crisis of the early 2000s. In fact, neoliberalism’s regime of restraint and discipline operated under a proviso. In the event of a major financial crisis that threatened “systemic” interests, it turned out that we lived in an age not of limited but of big government, of massive executive action, of interventionism that had more in common with military operations or emergency medicine than with law-bound governance. And this revealed an essential but disconcerting truth, the repression of which had shaped the entire development of economic policy since the 1970s. The foundations of the modern monetary system are irreducibly political.
    • Adam Tooze Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World (2018)
  • The impact of the age of Reagan is indicated even more strongly by the guiding assumptions and possibilities of American politics and government, and the hold they have on public opinion. Thirty years ago, the proposition that reducing taxes on the rich was the best solution for all economic problems inspired only a few on the right-wing fringe. Today, it drives the national domestic agenda and is so commonplace that it sometimes appears to have become the conventional wisdom. It is only one of many such notions—including proposals that public schools teach the pseudoscience of “intelligent design” as well as Darwin’s theory of evolution, the idea that wealthy business buccaneers should have a large say in formulating federal policy, and the so-called unitary executive theory of presidential power—that have moved from the political margins to the center of power. Buttressed by the mythical accounts of the past thirty-five years, as well as by changed standards of truth and objectivity in the news media, conservatives in the age of Reagan learned how to seize and keep control of the terms of public debate—skills that liberal Democrats once mastered but lost amid their political complacency in the 1970s and disarray in the 1980s.
    • Sean Wilentz, The Age of Reagan: A History 1974-2008 (2008), pp. 6-7
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