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📲  Unit 9: 1980-Present

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9.0 Unit 9 Overview: Contextualization


⏱️  2 min read

written by

Caleb Lagerwey

caleb lagerwey

June 2, 2020

Political Changes

If the mid-20th century was defined by the New Deal and its liberal legacy, the end of the 20th century was defined by the Reagan Revolution and its conservative legacy, especially after 1980.

Economy & Demography

The US economy continued to be the world’s largest and advanced rapidly thanks to new technology, especially related to computing. This resulted in shifts within the US economy. Demographically, the US continued to see shifts in immigration, with immigrants still coming from Latin America and Asia, particularly Mexico and China, but in increasing numbers.

Foreign Policy Changes

The Cold War ended during this time period (from 1989 with the Fall of the Berlin Wall to 1991 with the fall of the Soviet Union). This was a huge deal since the Cold War and its threat of communism or nuclear war loomed over much of the 20th century—and all of Period 8! The US was thus left as the world’s only superpower.

The celebration over “winning” the Cold War was short-lived: the US discovered many more problems overseas, starting with what intervention responsibilities it had as the world’s only superpower and then ramping up with the 9-11 terrorist attacks that started the War on Terror that continues to this day.

Main Events

1980 – Reagan elected

1989 – Cold War ends

1991 – Persian Gulf War

1994 – Contract with America

1995 – Oklahoma City Bombing

2000 – Bush v. Gore

2001 – 9/11 Attacks

2008 – Great Recession

2008 – Obama elected

2011 – Affordable Care Act

(A brief note on chronology and APUSH: APUSH doesn’t explicitly require you to know much more specific content beyond about 2003 and the War on Terror, but your textbook and class may include content from beyond 2005 that illustrates the key concepts APUSH requires you to know. A bit of advice: stick to history rather than journalism, so avoid mentioning current events or really anything beyond about 2015 or so)

Major Trends Between 1980-Present

  • US politics got more polarized, and also more conservative [🐘]

  • The US economy became more high-tech and had less manufacturing

  • More people moved to the Sunbelt (south and west) and to suburbs and cities

  • The US gained power overseas thanks to the end of the Cold War, but it got bogged down in smaller wars overseas as it fought terrorism

  • The US continued to get more diverse and to attract immigrants from Latin America and Asia

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