The Election of 1976

” A onetime Navy officer who ran a family peanut business, he  [Carter] had limited political experience and none in Washington to tar him with a public fed up with their national leaders”     Pg. 326


In the post-Watergate America, the general population had grown very untrusting and unsatisfied with their government. They saw that their leaders had grown corrupt and the idea that the government should be made up of representatives speaking for their incumbents and leaders who worked for the people was all but forgotten. The people made it clear that they wanted a change during the election of 1976. They were presented with two options. The first was Ford the incumbent, who was most associated with pardoning the disgraced Nixon and being stonewalled by Congress. The second was Carter, a no-name military man whose lack of experience was seen as a positive rather than a negative. The fact that Carter was the one that was chosen showed how the American population would no longer stand for stagnant government.

Increased Prison Population

” The combination of more crime,more arrest,and longer sentences swelled the prison population. After a half century during which the incarceration rate had fluctuated only moderately, in the mid-1970s it began to rise steeply”(pg. 338-339).

The rate of violent offence more than doubled between 1965 and 1975. Liberal’s solution was to limit access to firearms with gun control laws, but conservatives and gun owners saw gun control as an unconstitutional limit on the rights of law-abiding citizens. More incarceration became  a popular solution to control crime. Conservatives rejected the ideas of liberals of using therapeutic approaches to dealing with lawbreakers,and promoted incarceration as means of punishment,retribution,and prevention to keep dangerous people of the street. Incarceration and longer sentences became the solution to control crime.  Prison population swelled due to the incarceration approach and it as rising steeply since 1970s , and keep rising today with lower crime rates. Prison population consist of nonviolent offenders and most are blacks. Tougher drug laws has also helped increased prison population.

The Transfer of The Responsibility of Inflation Rate from The White House to The Federal Reserve System

“Paul Volcker, whom Carter appointed chairman of the Fed, made stopping inflation his main goal, even if it took inducing a recession to achieve it. Rather than slowing the economy the usual way, by jacking up interest rates, Volcker used a different approach, having the Federal Reserve System tightly control the growth in the money supply, largely through increases in the requirements for bank reserves.” (Pg 329)

The 1970’s was the most difficult age to control the political affairs. Many political scandals, such as the Watergate, were revealed in the beginning of the 1970’s, and people disappointed the government and lost their interest in the politics. The voting percentage gradually decreased; 60 percent of the electorate during the 1950’s and 1960’s, but it dropped to 55 percent in 1972 and 54 percent in 1976. Thus, the presidents, Gerald Ford and James Carter, tried to restore political trust. However, its economy was in the recession, too. The unemployment rate and the inflation rate raised together, called “stagflation”. President Carter straggled to stop lowering the inflation rate to promote deregulation, but it was not so successful. Thus he entrust this control to the Fed chairman, Paul Volcker, whom approach to lower the inflation rate was unusual. Moreover, diplomacy between the Soviet Union wasn’t healthy due to the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.

Anita Bryant

“As with the anti-ERA movement, the anti-gay rights movements gained national attention through its embrace by an effective leader, in this case pop singer and former beauty pageant contestant Anita Bryant, who was the national spokesperson for the Florida orange juice industry.” p. 341


The author mentions Anita Bryant as one example of a prominent anti-equal rights movement figure. In response to Equal Rights Amendment, conservative women like Bryant and Phyllis Schlafly rallied people around them to thwart any attempts of expanding gay and women’s rights. The efforts were largely the consequences of futile activism in the political arena, yet they gained much momentum as “anti-movement” leaders were succeeding at scaring people with unsupported claims. The transformation of American society in the late 70s and early 80s spawned a multitude of social issues that people like Anita Bryant were still unprepared to deal with. Preserving the old way of life and maintaining certain gender roles was the only way for them to slow down the inevitable progress.



President Gerald Ford

A political and economic conservative, he had never liked the expansion of state function that came with the Great Society, as a congressman opposing medicare, federal aid to education, and housing subsities.  As a president, he tried to trim federal expenditures. – Pg. 322
President Gerald Ford represented a generation that strongly fought against government expansion and held closely to conservative ideals. With massive uprisings and support from college youth generation in the 1960’s for the Democratic party, he opposed much of the laws that were being instituted. During the 1970’s, stagflation became a large problem in our country, with many citizens looked for supportive ways to help the country recover. President Ford’s response was to reduce federal intervention and introduce the WIN program, which relied on citizens to change their habits by a slight margin. Though unfortunately his ideas were largely ignored by Congress and the public, Freeman likely believed that President Ford’s character as the anti-democratic leader was still important in the formation of domestic policies and the future of the country.

Public Disenchantment with Politics

After World War II, changes in the political system allowed a democratization of American life. More people were allowed to vote than ever before, and were given additional opportunities provide their own input in political decision making. Although the role of government in the lives of private citizens grew tremendously, it was not appreciated by a large part of the population. People felt disgusted by the government, especially after the revelations of the Watergate scandal, the attitude of the American population “reflected a blanket rejection of politicians and a growing belief that elections had little to do with daily reality.” (319) This lack of trust and unconcern in politics was clearly seen in the massive decrease of participation in national elections. During the 50’s and 60’s, sixty percent of the electorate population voted, whereas in the 1978 election, only 38 percent of the voting population casted a ballot. The public became interested in the immoral behavior of politicians, which was aided by the press. A law was passed in 1978 to set up a system appointing prosecutors in cases specific to the misdeeds of government officials. Trust in the federal government declined by 40 percent between the decade of 1964 to 1974. This crisis of authority did not only apply in the sphere of government, but society also began to lose trust in the medical and legal profession as well. When Gerald Ford came into the political spotlight it seemed as though he had the ability to restore the public’s trust in government with his modest, straightforward personality and normal suburban background. Confidence in Ford shattered soon after his pardoning of Nixon’s crimes during his presidency. The result of this act caused a slump in his approval ratings since people believed that the two had secret dealings, restoring the suspicions of government.


David Dinkins

“Black Manhattan Borough Pesiudent David Dinkins emerged as a popular mayoral favorite to reduce tenstions and heal divisions. A Tribe Called Quest’s Phife Dawg pleaded on “Can I Kick It”: “Mr. Dinkins, will you please be our mayor? You’d be doing us a really big favor.”” p. 293

David Dinkins was the city’s first Black mayor, beating out Koch in the Democratic primary and Rudy Giuliani. The hope was that the racial divide would become less prevalent and slowly subside. Black were hoping that change would come because they finally had someone who had their best interest at heart holding important political office. To the chagrin of many, the divide was too great to be bridged in that amount of time. He was in office for one term.