The Reagan Revolution

A timeline shows important events of the era. In 1980, Ronald Reagan is elected president; a portrait of Reagan is shown. In 1981, President Reagan is wounded in an assassination attempt; a photograph of Reagan lying on the ground surrounded by people is shown. In 1982, the Equal Rights Amendment dies after not achieving the required ratification. In 1987, Reagan addresses the Iran-Contra scandal. In 1989, the Berlin Wall falls; a photograph of a part of the Berlin Wall is shown. In 1991, Operation Desert Storm begins in the Persian Gulf, and the Internet opens to commercial use; a photograph of George H. W. Bush greeting troops in the Persian Gulf is shown. In 1992, William J. Clinton is elected. In 1993, Congress approves the North American Free Trade Agreement. In 1994, Republicans draft the Contract with America. In 1995, Timothy McVeigh bombs a federal building in Oklahoma City; a photograph of the bombed building is shown. In 1998, the U.S. House of Representatives impeaches President Clinton; a photograph of the impeachment proceedings is shown.

Ronald Reagan entered the White House in 1981 with strongly conservative values but experience in moderate politics. He appealed to moderates and conservatives anxious about social change and the seeming loss of American power and influence on the world stage. Leading the so-called Reagan Revolution, he appealed to voters with the promise that the principles of conservatism could halt and revert the social and economic changes of the last generation. Reagan won the White House by citing big government and attempts at social reform as the problem, not the solution. He was able to capture the political capital of an unsettled national mood and, in the process, helped set an agenda and policies that would affect his successors and the political landscape of the nation.