Research Experience for High School and Undergraduate Students (REH/REU)

Research Experience for High School and Undergraduate Students (REH/REU)
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Ronald Goodwin
On January 20, 1981, Ronald Reagan was sworn in as the 40th president of the United States. He
defeated Democrat Jimmy Carter in a landslide victory that not only saw the Republican Party gain
control of the US Senate for the first time in 28 years, but also ushered in a new wave of
neoconservative policies. While much of the literature on the neoconservatives center on the rejection
of the New Left movement of the 1960s, the political implications for the 1980s extended beyond
curtailing counterculture revolutionaries. The limited success of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society moved
African Americans closer to full citizenship than any time in this country’s history. It is the contention of
this project that the neoconservative movement began as a result of the perceived advances of the New
Left in the 1950s and 1960s, especially those involving legislations beneficial to women and minorities.
This project involves 1) the identification of legislations passed by the 87th Congress of the US (19611963) through those initiated by the 97th Congress (1981-1983) and 2) the development of a database
indicating how congressional members voted during pertinent legislative issues involving women and
minorities. These databases will serve as primary data in the analysis of this country’s political
movement from the liberal policies of the New Deal and Great Society to the neoconservativism of the
Reagan era. Furthermore, it is anticipated that such a database will indicate the political shifts in the
former Confederate states from Democratic to Republican political affiliation. Historical literature
illustrates the movement of white supremacists away from the Democratic Party beginning with the
1936 presidential campaign. It is anticipated that this project will illustrate that the white supremacist
element in American society eventually landed in the Republican Party by 1968 and reached a political
apex with the neoconservative victory of Ronald Reagan in 1980.