The Emergence of the New Right: Election of 1980
Lesson Plan Reference
Grade Level 9-12
Difficulty Level 2 (Reinforcing / Developing)
Type of Assignment Individual or Group
In this activity, students will use a T-Chart storyboard to illustrate the candidates of both the Democratic and Republican parties in the 1980 Presidential Election. By highlighting each candidate, their positions, ideas, and ideologies, as well as the principles of their parties, students will be able to analyze and explain how and why each candidate fared the way they did. The ideas and ideologies, along with the principles of each candidate, will give insight to future actions taken by the eventual winner, Ronald Reagan.
1980 Presidential Election Candidates
|Ronald Reagan||Jimmy Carter|
|Political Ideology||Ronald Reagan ran as the Republican candidate in the 1980 Presidential election. He led an increasing conservative population dubbed the "New Right". Reagan and his supporters believed in smaller government influence, cutting federal programs and spending, and incorporating more Christian values into society. They wanted to reverse much of the emphasis on federal social support from previous decades.||Jimmy Carter entered the 1980 Presidential election as the Democratic incumbent. His popularity, however, waned under the midst of the Iranian hostage crisis and rising energy costs. Carter's democratic ideologies coincided with his belief in liberalism, social welfare, and his economic policy of "stagflation". In essence, due to Carter's poor decisions and lack of initiative, liberalism was seriously waning in popularity.|
|Domestic Policy||Ronald Reagan's domestic policy platform lay in protecting the United States at all costs. He pledged to build up military defenses as well as change the economy. Reagan wanted to return to more "traditional" economics, letting capitalism run itself. Furthermore, he wanted to reduce income taxes and reduce federal spending on welfare programs, leaving those decisions to the states.||Carter's domestic policy lay in deregulating control over industry and transportation. Furthermore, Carter made strides in attempting to solve the energy crisis, which proved to be a complex problem. It would come to hurt him, as energy prices skyrocketed and no solutions seemed to be in sight. In addition, Carter struggled to work with Congress, further hurting his domestic initiatives.|
|Foreign Policy||In regards to foreign policy, Reagan pledged to continue to protect the United States from Soviet influence, as the Cold War was still in full swing at the time of the 1980 election. Reagan pledged to protect the ideas and ideals of democracy and basic human freedoms, while also reducing Soviet influence. In addition, Reagan pledged to protect American interests in the Middle East and the Americas.||Carter had an even tougher time with his foreign policy initiatives. The Iranian hostage crisis dominated airwaves, and Carter seemed weak in his stance to bring the hostages home. He did, however, achieve success in his Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt, as well as his initiatives on human rights.|
Have students create a grid storyboard to detail what principles and ideas define major terms like liberalism and conservatism. This will allow students to gain a better understanding of what exactly constitute the core ideas of each ideology and political position, and how these principles factored into the 1980 election.