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The Reagan EraA History of the 1980s$
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Doug Rossinow

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231169882

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231169882.001.0001

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The Crisis

The Crisis

(p.201) Eleven The Crisis
The Reagan Era

Doug Rossinow

Columbia University Press

This chapter describes the manifold crisis that enveloped the “Reagan revolution” from late 1986 through 1988. This was not just a crisis of conservative governance but a crisis of legitimacy for conservatism as a philosophy and movement. The pillars of Reaganism included conservative Christianity and reverence of wealth, the latter often taking the form of cheerleading for financiers. Each of these pillars suffered major blows and showed signs of cracking during the crisis that commenced in late 1986. In November, Ivan Boesky, the high-flying Wall Street arbitrageur, pled guilty to extensive insider trading, and it was revealed that he had cooperated extensively with prosecutors, implicating other figures in American finance. Conservative evangelists were brought low by tawdry sex and corruption scandals. Just as damaging to the politicized version of conservative Christianity was the outcry over the government’s failure to respond to the exploding AIDS crisis. By 1988, a widespread public yearning to turn the page on Reaganite conservatism was palpable.

Keywords:   conservative governance, conservative Christianity, conservatives, conservatism, AIDS crisis

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