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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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Common Sense

(p.1) Introduction
The Reagan Era

Doug Rossinow

Columbia University Press

This introductory chapter provides an overview of Ronald Reagan and Reaganism in the 1980s. Reagan belongs to a select group of political leaders, which includes Thomas Jefferson and Woodrow Wilson, whose names became watchwords for political creeds and stances toward society, even toward the world. Reaganism was a particular variety of American conservatism that had its heyday in the 1980s. While none of its basic features were new in the 1980s, these elements came together in a specially cohesive and potent way in response to the era’s political and social circumstances, forming a political identity that was also fueled and shaped by Reagan’s success. Reaganism’s core components include an insistence that unfettered capitalism is both socially beneficial and morally good; a fierce patriotism that waves the flag, global military supremacy, and no criticism of the United States; and a vision of society as an arena where individuals win or lose because of their own talents and efforts.

Keywords:   Ronald Reagan, Reaganism, American conservatism, conservatives, political identity

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