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POLSC301: American Political Thought

Unit 10: Contemporary American Thought   The turmoil of the 1960s created a shift in American society and in the general political discourse.  This shift continues to greatly impact the political scene today.  Contemporary American thought is not only influenced by the changes in the 1960s, but also the various traditional philosophy of American politics in general.  In this unit you will learn about the immediate fall-out and impact of the 1960s and then explore how the current political climate relates to the political discourse of the past.  By the end of this unit, it will be clear that although times may change, many of the original American political philosophies shape the contemporary political world.  

Unit 10 Time Advisory
This unit should take you approximately 18.5 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 10.1: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 10.1.1: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 10.1.2: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 10.2: 4 hours

☐    Subunit 10.2.1:1 hour

☐    Subunit 10.2.2 .5 hours

☐    Subunit 10.2.3: .5 hours

☐    Subunit 10.2.4: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 10.2.5: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 10.3: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 10.3.1: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 10.3.2: .5 hours

☐    Subunit 10.3.3: .5 hours

☐    Subunit 10.4: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 10.4.1: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 10.4.2: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 10.4.3: .5 hours

☐    Subunit 10.4.4: .5 hours

☐    Subunit 10.5: 6.5 hours

☐    Subunit 10.5.1: .5 hours

☐    Subunit 10.5.2: 2.5 hours

☐    Subunit 10.5.3: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 10.5.4: .5 hours

☐    Subunit 10.5.5: 1 hour

Unit10 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Assess the legacy of Vietnam and Watergate in relation to 1970s political discourse.
  • Discuss the impact of conservatism, the “New Right,” and the Christian Coalition on 1970s and 1980s political discourse.
  • Describe the ongoing political debate over women’s reproductive rights, same-sex marriage, and the rights of gays and lesbians.
  • Describe the factors leading up to the end of the Cold War.
  • Analyze how the War on Terrorism transformed American domestic and foreign policy.  
  • Examine the evolving nature of race and racial politics with the election of Barack Obama.
  • Evaluate the current political discourse as represented in the 2008 and 2010 elections.

10.1 Vietnam, Nixon, and Watergate: The Decline of Public Trust in Government   10.1.1 The Legacy of Vietnam   - Reading: Public Broadcasting Service (PBS): The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, “Online Focus: Vietnam’s Legacy” (April 5, 2000) Link: Public Broadcasting Service (PBS): The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, “Online Focus: Vietnam’s Legacy”(April 5, 2000) (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the transcript of the segment with Glen Ifill from the NewsHourtranscript of the show that aired April 5, 2000.
 
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10.1.2 Richard Nixon and Watergate   - Web Media: University of Virginia: The Miller Center for Public Affairs’ version of Richard M. Nixon’s “Address to the Nation on Presidential Tape Recordings” (April 29, 1974) Link: University of Virginia: The Miller Center for Public Affairs’ version of Richard M. Nixon’s “Address to the Nation on Presidential Tape Recordings” (April 29, 1974) (Adobe Flash or HTML)
 
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[MP3](http://web2.millercenter.org/speeches/audio/spe_1974_0429_nixon.mp3)  
    
 Instructions: Watch this video or read the text of President
Nixon’s 1974 address to the American public.  
    
 Note on the Web Media: Nixon’s speech describes the Watergate
Scandal and his involvement therein.  The speech sparked debate
about “executive privilege” and the president’s right to keep White
House tapes private.  This issue would ultimately be decided by the
Supreme Court (see the additional assigned reading below) after a
lengthy investigation and the eventual resign of Nixon from the
presidency.  
    
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  • Reading: Oyez U.S. Supreme Court Media’s version of United States v. Nixon (1974) Link: Oyez U.S. Supreme Court Media’s version of United States v. Nixon (1974) (HTML)
     
    Instructions: First, please read the “Facts of the Case,” “Question,” and “Conclusion” summaries at the top of the page, then click on the link under “Opinion” on the right side of the page.
     
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10.2 The Rise of Conservatism   10.2.1 The New Right   - Reading: University of Virginia: “The Sixties Project” version of Paul Lyons’s “Another Sixties: The New Right” (1994) Link: University of Virginia: “The Sixties Project” version of Paul Lyons’s “Another Sixties: The New Right” (1994) (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the text of Lyon’s essay, part I and part II.  Note that this reading will cover the material you need to know for subunits 10.2.2-10.2.4.
 
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10.2.2 The “Silent Majority"   - Web Media: University of Virginia: The Miller Center for Public Affairs’ version of Richard M. Nixon’s “Address to the Nation on The War in Vietnam” (November 3, 1969) Link University of Virginia: The Miller Center for Public Affairs’ version of Richard M. Nixon’s “Address to the Nation on The War in Vietnam” (November 3, 1969) (Adobe Flash or HTML)
 
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[MP3](http://web2.millercenter.org/speeches/audio/spe_1969_1103_nixon.mp3)  
    
 Instructions: Watch this video or read the text of President
Nixon’s 1969 address to the American public.  
    
 Note on the Web Media: Although this speech is a speech about
Nixon’s plans for peace (and not the “withdrawal” of troops) in
Vietnam, it is famous for the line in which Nixon calls upon the
“silent majority” for support.  Nixon appeals to the more
conservative, sympathetic Americans who were not a part of the
liberal, radical, or anti-establishment turmoil of the 1960s.   
    
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10.2.3 The Legacy of the War on Poverty   - Web Media: National Public Radio (NPR): All Things Considered, “The Legacy of the War on Poverty” (January 8, 2004) Link National Public Radio (NPR): All Things Considered,The Legacy of the War on Poverty” (January 8, 2004) (Adobe Flash)
 
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[MP3](http://public.npr.org/anon.npr-mp3/npr/atc/2004/01/20040108_atc_04.mp3?dl=1)  
    
 Instructions: Click on the “Listen” icon at the top of the article
to hear Robert Siegel’s interview with University of Michigan
professor, Sheldon Danziger.  
    
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10.2.4 The Reagan Revolution   - Web Media: University of Virginia: The Miller Center for Public Affairs’ version of Ronald Reagan’s “A Time for Choosing” (October 27, 1964) Link: University of Virginia: The Miller Center for Public Affairs’ version of Ronald Reagan’s “A Time for Choosing” (October 27, 1964) (Adobe Flash or HTML)
 
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[MP3](http://web2.millercenter.org/speeches/audio/spe_1964_1027_reagan.mp3)  
    
 Instructions: Watch this video or read the text of Ronald Reagan’s
1964 speech at the Republican National Convention.  
    
 Note on the Web Media: Reagan delivered this speech at Barry
Goldwater’s nominating convention in 1964.  Although Goldwater was
not successful in his presidential bid, the convention was noted for
defining the conservative agenda for the future of the Republican
Party.  Reagan’s speech catapulted him into the national and
political spotlight.  
    
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  • Web Media: University of Virginia: The Miller Center for Public Affairs’ version of Ronald Reagan’s “Farewell Address” (January 11, 1989) Link: University of Virginia: The Miller Center for Public Affairs’ version of Ronald Reagan’s “Farewell Address” (January 11, 1989) (Adobe Flash or HTML)
     
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    Instructions: Watch this video or read the text of Ronald Reagan’s 1989 Farewell Address.
     
    Note on the Web Media: After eight years as president, Reagan reflects on his legacy in his farewell address.  Note the recurring themes from past political thought and rhetoric.  Reagan’s discussion of the deficit and balanced budgets underscore two of the conservative Republican coalition’s major talking points.  This coalition had come to power in the Reagan era.
     
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10.2.5 The Clinton Years and the Republican “Contract with America”   - Reading: “Republican Contract with America” (1994) Link: “Republican Contract with America” (1994) (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the text of the Republican “Contract with America” from the 1994 mid-term elections. 
 
Note on the Text: The “Contract with America” was drawn-up by Republicans in the House of Representatives in order to outline their conservative agenda to the American public.  The Contract underscored the Republican commitment to fiscal conservatism and high moral and ethical standards in government.  The Contract was successful in attracting voters to the Republican Party in the mid-term 1994 election; the Republicans won control of the House of Representatives for the first time in over 40 years.   
 
Terms of use: The material above is available for viewing in the Public Domain.

  • Reading: The American Prospect: Todd Gitlin’s “Straight From the Sixties: What Conservatives Owe the Decade They Hate” (May 1, 1996) Link: The American Prospect: Todd Gitlin’s “Straight From the Sixties: What Conservatives Owe the Decade They Hate” (May 1, 1996) (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read the text of Gitlin’s 1996 article in The American Prospect.
     
    Note on the Text: The American Prospect is a progressive political journal in the United States.  Its mission is to “strengthen the capacity of activists, engaged citizens, and public officials to pursue new possibilities for social justice” (The American Prospect website, “Our Mission”).   
     
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10.3 Women’s Rights, Religion, and Politics   10.3.1 Women’s Reproductive Rights   - Reading: Gale Cengage Learning: “Roe v. Wade: 1973” Link: Gale Cengage Learning: “Roe v. Wade: 1973” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the article on the background of the Roe case.
 
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  • Reading: Oyez U.S. Supreme Court Media’s version of Roe v. Wade (1973) Link: Oyez U.S. Supreme Court Media’s version of Roe v. Wade (1974) (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link under “Opinion” on the right side of the page to read the court’s majority opinion.
     
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10.3.2 The “New Right” and the Rise of the Christian Coalition   - Reading: W. W. Norton’s version of Jerry Falwell’s “Listen America” (1980) Link: W. W. Norton’s version of Jerry Falwell’s “Listen America” (1980) (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the short introduction and text of Falwell’s speech.
 
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10.3.3 Same-Sex Marriage and the Rights of Homosexuals   - Reading: The New York Times: Times Topics, “Same-Sex Marriage, Civil Unions, and Domestic Partnerships” (August 13, 2010) Link: The New York Times: Times Topics, “Same Sex-Marriage, Civil Unions, and Domestic Partnerships” (August 13, 2010) (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the “Times Topics” on same-sex marriage to gain a better understanding of the political climate surrounding the issue.
 
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  • Reading: The Washington Post: “Same-Sex Marriage Gains GOP Support” (August 27, 2010) Link: The Washington Post:Same-Sex Marriage Gains GOP Support” (August 27, 2010) (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read the article on the changing political dynamic of same-sex marriage in the American public.
     
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10.4 War Rhetoric: The Cold War and the War on Terrorism   10.4.1 Evil Empire and Star Wars   - Web Media: University of Virginia: The Miller Center for Public Affairs’ version of Ronald Reagan’s “Address to the British Parliament” (June 8, 1982) Link: University of Virginia: The Miller Center for Public Affairs’ version of Ronald Reagan’s “Address to the British Parliament” (June 8, 1982) (Adobe Flash or HTML)
 
Also available in:

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[RealMedia](http://web2.millercenter.org/speeches/video/rm/spe_1982_0608_reagan.rm)  

[MP3](http://web2.millercenter.org/speeches/audio/spe_1982_0608_reagan.mp3)  
    
 Instructions: Watch this video or read the text of Ronald Reagan’s
1982 so called “evil empire” speech to the British Parliament.  
    
 Terms of use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: Faulkner University’s “Ronald Reagan, Speech on Military Power, February 26, 1986” Link: Faulkner University’s “Ronald Reagan, Speech on Military Power, February 26, 1986” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read the speech in its entirety.
     
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10.4.2 An End to the Cold War   - Web Media: University of Virginia: The Miller Center for Public Affairs’ version of Ronald Reagan’s “Address at the Brandenburg Gate (Berlin Wall)” (June 12, 1987) Link: University of Virginia: The Miller Center for Public Affairs’ version of Ronald Reagan’s “Address at the Brandenburg Gate (Berlin Wall)” (June 12, 1987) (Adobe Flash or HTML)
 
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[MP3](http://web2.millercenter.org/speeches/audio/spe_1987_0612_reagan.mp3)  
    
 Instructions: Watch this video or read the text of Ronald Reagan’s
1987 speech at the Berlin Wall.  
    
 Note on the Web Media: Although Reagan’s speech was given
relatively little attention at the time, he expressed the American
political sentiment of the times and the need for the communist
collapse and the reunification of Germany.  After the eventual
opening of the wall and the fall of the Communist government in
1989, many looked back to Reagan’s speech as somewhat of a turning
point.  
    
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  • Web Media: YouTube: ABC News: World News Tonight, Peter Jennings’ “Celebration at the Berlin Wall” (November 10, 1989) Link: YouTube: ABC News: World News Tonight, Peter Jennings’ “Celebration at the Berlin Wall” (November 10, 1989) (YouTube)
     
    Instructions: Watch the 03:55 minute video from the November 10, 1989 newscast with Peter Jennings.
     
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10.4.3 September 11, 2001   - Web Media: YouTube: American Rhetoric, “George W. Bush-9/11 Bullhorn Speech” Link: YouTube: American Rhetoric, “George W. Bush-9/11 Bullhorn Speech
 
Instructions: Watch the 02:03 minute video of President Bush’s speech from Ground Zero.
 
Terms of use: The material above is available in the Public Domain.

10.4.4 The War on Terror Begins   - Web Media: University of Virginia: The Miller Center for Public Affairs’ version of George W. Bush’s “State of the Union Address” (January 29, 2002) Link: University of Virginia: The Miller Center for Public Affairs’ version of George W. Bush’s “State of the Union Address” (January 29, 2002) (Adobe Flash or HTML)
 
Also available in:

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[RealMedia](http://web2.millercenter.org/speeches/video/rm/spe_2002_0129_bush.rm)  

[MP3](http://web2.millercenter.org/speeches/audio/spe_2002_0129_bush.mp3)  
    
 Instructions: Watch this video or read the text of George Bush’s
2002 State of the Union.  
    
 Note on the Web Media: This speech was the first State of the Union
Address after September 11.  In it, Bush explains his doctrine for
preventing and combating terror around the world and against the
United States.  
    
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10.5 Barack Obama: Hope and Reality   10.5.1 The Rise of Obama: 2004 DNC Convention Speech   - Web Media: YouTube: “2004 DemConvention Speeches: Barack Obama.” Link: YouTube: “2004 DemConvention Speeches: Barack Obama.” (YouTube)
 
Instructions: Watch this video of Barack Obama’s 2004 DNC Convention speech. 
 
Note on the Web Media: Obama delivered this speech as a candidate for Senate in the state of Illinois.  He was relatively unknown before the speech, but his delivery and bi-partisan message catapulted him onto the national scene.
 
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10.5.2 Election 2008: “Outsiders” and “Mavericks”   - Web Media: Public Broadcasting Service: Frontline, “The Choice 2008” (October 14, 2008) Link: Public Broadcasting Service: Frontline,The Choice 2008” (October 14, 2008) (Adobe Flash)
 
Instructions: Watch this Frontline special on the historic 2008 Presidential Election (approx. 116 minutes).
 
Terms of use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage. 

  • Web Media: University of Virginia: The Miller Center for Public Affairs’ version of Barack Obama’s “Inaugural Address” (January 20, 2009) Link: University of Virginia: The Miller Center for Public Affairs’ version of Barack Obama’s “Inaugural Address” (January 20, 2009) (Adobe Flash or HTML)
     
    Also available in:
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    Instructions: Watch this video or read the text of Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address.
     
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10.5.3 Obama: Race and Religion   - Web Media: The New York Times’ video and transcript of Barack Obama’s “Speech on Race” (March 18, 2008) Link: The New York Times’ video and transcript of Barack Obama’s “Speech on Race” (March 18, 2008) (Adobe Flash and HTML)
 
Also available in:
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Instructions: Watch this video or read the transcript of Obama’s speech on race in Philadelphia on March 18, 2008.
 
Note on the Web Media: This speech was delivered after a series of race-related incidents in the 2008 Presidential race.  In particular, Obama was responding to the racially-charged remarks made by his pastor, Reverend Wright, and the response that many Americans had to them.  His speech underscores the progress that the U.S. has made on the issue of race relations, but indicates that the race question continues to be a part of the American social and political dialogue.
 
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  • Web Media: University of Virginia: The Miller Center for Public Affairs’ version of Barack Obama’s “Address at Cairo University” (January 20, 2009) Link: University of Virginia: The Miller Center for Public Affairs’ version of Barack Obama’s “Address at Cairo University” (January 20, 2009) (Adobe Flash or HTML)
     
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    Instructions: Watch this video or read the text of Barack Obama’s speech at Cairo University.
     
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10.5.4 Crisis and Governing: Economic Downturn and Health Care Reform   - Web Media: University of Virginia: The Miller Center for Public Affairs’ version of Barack Obama’s “Address to Congress on Health Care” (September 9, 2009) Link: University of Virginia: The Miller Center for Public Affairs’ version of Barack Obama’s “Address to Congress on Health Care” (September 9, 2009) (Adobe Flash or HTML)
 
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[MP3](http://web2.millercenter.org/speeches/audio/spe_2009_0909_obama.mp3)  
 [YouTube](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSJugLUsM58)  
    
 Instructions: Watch this video or read the text of Barack Obama’s
speech to Congress.  
    
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displayed on the webpage.

10.5.5 Election 2010: The Tea Party and the Current Political Discourse   - Reading: The New Yorker: Sean Wilentz’s “Confounding Fathers: The Tea Party’s Cold War Roots” (October 18, 2010) Link: The New Yorker: Sean Wilentz’s “Confounding Fathers: The Tea Party’s Cold War Roots” (October 18, 2010) (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the text of Sean Wilentz’s October 2010 article in the New Yorker.
 
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  • Web Media: YouTube: ABC News “The Election Aftermath” (November 3, 2010) Link: YouTube: ABC News “The Election Aftermath” (November 3, 2010) (YouTube)
     
    Instructions: Watch the 07:15 minute ABC News video to capture more about the current political discourse.
     
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