At the end of the 1950s, the securities of the Eisenhower era went into crisis, also because the Soviet competition became technological (launch of Sputnik in 1957) and political in the international field, due to the role of referent of Moscow for the postcolonial countries. The crisis relating to racial segregation had been brewing internally for some time. The sensational Supreme Court ruling led by Judge E. Warren in the case of Brown versus the Board of Education which in 1954 declared segregation in schools (in force in the South and in fact elsewhere) unconstitutional, it strengthened the civil rights movement. In 1955 ML King jr took over the leadership of the non-violent movement inspired by the churches and theories of Gandhi and found the support of a growing number of whites, achieving positive results after bloody struggles in the 1960s and 1961. ● The 1960 elections represented a turning point. Republican candidate RM Nixon, vice president in office, was beaten by a few votes by Democrat JF Kennedy, a Catholic senator from Massachusetts who presented a new political style and a program to ‘get the New Frontier nation in motion’ against poverty and human rights, in which he collaborated with his brother RF Kennedy. The welfare state was strengthened and, following King’s Great March on Washington in 1963, a civil rights bill was proposed. In foreign policy Kennedy tried to attract the sympathies of Third World countries with concrete aid in competition with the USSR. However it collided with the Cuban crisis where the socialist and populist revolution of F. Castro was followed by the approach of these to the USSR. The failure of the invasion of CIA-armed anti-Castroists in April 1961 tarnished the image of Kennedy, who however in October 1962, having discovered the installation of Soviet medium-range missiles in Cuba, managed to force their withdrawal with the promise not to attack Castro. For a few days the world was on the verge of a nuclear war and the success gave Kennedy the stature of world leader and interlocutor with the USSR, with which in July 1963 he signed an agreement for the suspension of nuclear tests. Kennedy’s presidency ended on November 22, 1963 with the never definitively clarified attack in Dallas, which handed down the Kennedy age in the collective imagination as that of a promise of a better age.
Johnson and Nixon
His successor LB Johnson, a liberal from Texas, continued the fight against poverty and between 1964 and 1966 he passed the civil rights law prepared by Kennedy and regulations that changed the federal state by ensuring, for example, health coverage for the elderly and the destitute. (Medicare and Medicaid programs). However, social tensions rekindled. On the one hand, the ultra-conservative right found a representative in BM Goldwater. On the other hand, the revolts of the ghettos of African Americans, organized in the associations of black Muslims, and the new leaders (Malcom X, S. Carmichael) who had abandoned King’s pacifist positions (assassinated in April 1968) showed the failure of the integration policy. To this was added the student revolt, which presented instances of participatory democracy and, more generally, expressed a widespread pacifist counterculture that opposed the war in Vietnam., and a feminist movement that came to maturity. ● The fate of Johnson and American interventionism was at stake in foreign policy. In 1965 the US moved to avoid a second Cuba in the Dominican Republic, but it was on Vietnam that foreign policy and the war had an impact on politics and society in the country. Under Johnson, American support for South Vietnamese became direct with massive bombings and dispatch of soldiers, to which the North Vietnamese responded with the Tet offensive. In March 1968, faced with the unpopularity of the war, Johnson proposed peace talks and announced that he did not want to reapply. ● The assassination of RF Kennedy, a probable presidential candidate, increased the sense of bewilderment, so that the 1968 elections were won by the conservative Republican R. Nixon, whose appeal to the ‘silent majority’ met with success, also because he presented himself as moderate. In the international arena, Nixon intended to adopt a less ideological and more realistic approach, signing the first treaty on the limitation of nuclear weapons (SALT) and approaching China with the historic state visit of 1972. To force the North Vietnamese to an agreement and thus disengage militarily, he extended the conflict to Cambodia, intensifying the bombing. In the Middle East, its policy failed, because the oil-producing Arab states could play autonomously from the superpowers thanks to OPEC control and the possibility of embargoes. ● In the 1972 elections Nixon was also a great success among the Democrats of the South, but in 1973 spying attempts at the expense of the Democratic Party emerged that directly involved the president and led to his empeachment in 1974, which was followed by his resignation.
Carter and Reagan
Substitute Vice President GR Ford was not up to the task, so the Democrats were able to win back the White House with J. Carter, which failed to give substance to a new foreign policy based on North-South relations, clashing with an economic phase of worsening stagflation, as well as suffering the humiliation of the occupation of the American embassy in Tehran, following the Islamic revolution, and the failure of the attempt to free the hostages. With a frustrated country and a weakened president, led by new leaders and new ideas, they moved Republicans who had made a conservative twist to their politics by directing their program to dismantle the welfare state to defeat liberal progressive ideology to conquer the White House. of the Democrats. Thanks to the economic crisis of the democratic Northeast and the increased political weight of the individualistic Southwest, RW Reagan was elected in 1980, California governor and former film actor. Reagan was able to pursue an economic policy of cuts in taxes and public spending by reducing state intervention in the economy; it did not, however, carry out the social revolution in the conservative sense it had promised. The outcome of the two reaganomics mandates was brilliant in the medium term, but it left budget deficits and created a trade deficit. In foreign policy Reagan resumed the bipolar scheme of the clash with the communist ‘evil empire’, restarting interference in Central America and intervening directly in The outcome of the two reaganomics mandates was brilliant in the medium term, but it left budget deficits and created a trade deficit. In foreign policy Reagan resumed the bipolar scheme of the clash with the communist ‘evil empire’, restarting interference in Central America and intervening directly in Grenada in 1983. ● In 1985, with MS Gorbačëv coming to power in the USSR, Reagan’s strategy proved successful: the cold war ended with the signing of a treaty for the dismantling of medium range missiles (1987). Despite the unsuccessful intervention in the Lebanon war and the shadows raised by the accusations of having supplied arms to Iran in exchange for the freeing of the US hostages (Irangate case), Reagan concluded his two terms as a triumph, but left a diminished competitiveness of the economy and a clash between the so-called New Christian Right and movements (African Americans, Hispanics, natives, women and homosexuals) who wanted the ‘right to difference’ recognized. 6.4 Bush senior. The Republican successor GHW Iraq, 1991; start of a peace process in the Middle East, 1991), but was unable to raise the fortunes of the economy and manage the social tensions, which resulted in the racial revolt in Los Angeles (1992).