How were the 1980's politically?

ForYourEyesOnlyForYourEyesOnly In the untained cradle of the heavens
in General Discussion Posts: 1,984
A bit bored, so I decided to make a political thread. In retrospect, how were the 80's as a political decade? A lot of long-lasting leaders (or at least, longer-lasting than their predecessors) came to power in or right before the 80's, with the UK's Margaret Thatcher and the US's Ronald Reagan being the most famous examples. Mikhail Gorbachev, Deng Xiaoping, Pope John Paul II and Helmut Kohl were also highly respected world leaders. Here in Australia, Bob Hawke became Prime Minister in '83 (two months after I was born) and became one of our most widely-respected leaders.

So what do we think about these people, or the events they were involved in? You can discuss your country's politics specifically, or international politics. You might even want to discuss another country's politics.
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Comments

  • ForYourEyesOnlyForYourEyesOnly In the untained cradle of the heavens
    edited May 2016 Posts: 1,984
    @Birdleson - Forgive my curiosity (I am a bit bored), but would you care to expand on that? I know Reagan's a controversial figure - he's either beloved or hated, and I believe he was strongly Conservative (as was Thatcher), but other than things like "he tripled State debt!' and "the Iran-Contra affair was humiliating!" I never quite heard reasons for why his reign was so bad. But I was too young to know anything at the time, so I'm open to anything.

    Who did you vote for in '80 and '84?
  • ForYourEyesOnlyForYourEyesOnly In the untained cradle of the heavens
    Posts: 1,984
    @Birdleson - That's interesting. I predicted that you would've gone for Carter and Mondale, since your hatred for Reagan came up on these boards before and I noticed it in some other thread.

    What did you think of H.W. Bush and Thatcher?
  • ForYourEyesOnlyForYourEyesOnly In the untained cradle of the heavens
    Posts: 1,984
    @Birdleson - The finger to Reagan or Bush? I'm assuming the former. You voted for Clinton, didn't you?

    Well, you seem to hate Conservatives, so I don't imagine you would've liked Thatcher either, especially given her relationship with Reagan.
  • ForYourEyesOnlyForYourEyesOnly In the untained cradle of the heavens
    edited May 2016 Posts: 1,984
    Any Aussies here? I want to see what people thought of Hawke. Apparently, Fraser was utterly reviled and people cheered when he was voted out of office. I think he was alright given the circumstances.
  • I'd have LIKED to have given the finger to any & all of them.
  • ForYourEyesOnlyForYourEyesOnly In the untained cradle of the heavens
    Posts: 1,984
    I'd have LIKED to have given the finger to any & all of them.

    Huh. Doesn't seem like anybody here is a Conservative fan. Doesn't matter - I'm not, either.
  • I have a pretty darned perfect voting record too: Voted against Nxion in 1972, against Ford in 1976, against Reagan in 1980 & 1984, against GHW Bush in 1988 and 1992, and against the Shrub (Bush the smaller) in 2000 and 2004.
  • edited May 2016 Posts: 3,400
    And finally, I'll happily vote against whoever the 'Pubes send up in 2016 (presumably Drumf but I'll happily vote against Rafael Cruz if he manages to steal the nomination.)
  • ForYourEyesOnlyForYourEyesOnly In the untained cradle of the heavens
    Posts: 1,984
    @BeatlesSansEarmuffs - I thought Nixon was loved until the Watergate scandal, but I suppose some would've hated him all the same. Ford came off as a major klutz to me, but I found H.W. Bush decent. I was only ten when he was kicked out of office, but in retrospect, I found his handling of Panama and the Gulf War and the end of the Soviet Union quite effective. Of course, he was done in by the economy.

    I understand Clinton was very popular, but I thought Carter was hated by a fair few for not being able to do anything? I have some friends in the US who thought he was basically politically impotent.
  • ForYourEyesOnlyForYourEyesOnly In the untained cradle of the heavens
    Posts: 1,984
    @Birdleson - I believe Nixon's reign was also the most tumultuous period of Australian-US relations, with Nixon threatening to cut those relations off altogether. Didn't exactly get resuscitated until Reagan came to power, which is part of why I'm not really anti-Reagan (and the fact that I always heard great stories about him over here).
  • ForYourEyesOnlyForYourEyesOnly In the untained cradle of the heavens
    edited May 2016 Posts: 1,984
    On the other hand, it seemed like Reagan was the first President to be really beloved since Nixon's Watergate scandal, and he's widely credited with re-injecting pride and what not into America and the role of President. We have to give him that much, at least.

    I always heard about how much he contributed to the end of the Cold War and his discussions with Gorbachev. But upon a bit of investigation, it seems to me like Reagan was somewhat paranoid of the nuclear arms race and couldn't fully devote himself to ending it, and it seems like it was Gorbachev's moderateness that contributed more to the end of the Cold War than Reagan's "tear down this wall!" speech or anything of the sort.

    I also heard the about the other side of the story, though - that Reagan and Thatcher were widely criticized in their final two years, apparently because they were showing an onset of Alzheimer's (and in her final two years, Thatcher seemed to be less powerful without Reagan).

    Regardless of how effective or ineffective Reagan's Presidency was, he seemed like a nice bloke. Similarly, whatever controversiality Thatcher stirred up in her Prime Ministership, she should be credited for her unwavering strength of character and uncompromising politics. I mean, at least they wouldn't stand for the overwhelming political correctness of today.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 17,004
    80's- good time for film, bad for politics.... Reagan the puppet boy deregulated so the rich dudes could begin the decimation of unions & the middle class. Nicaragua? Oliver North? Drugs? We got fucked, and Reagan was Teflon. Drugs? Just say no. War on drugs? Just say yes in a big way. That's so money could be made by the (you guessed it) corporations.
    So yeah, Robocop ended up being more or less a visionary documentary. 8-|
  • 4EverBonded4EverBonded Riding a white swan to Matera
    edited May 2016 Posts: 12,409
    Finally checking back on the forum today. 80's politics? What did/do I think of Nixon? Reagan?

    Basically, I agree with @Birdleson and @BeatlesSansEarmuffs. Yes.

    My first election I could vote in was 1976, now that I think back. I voted for Carter.
    But my friends and I were following Nixon early on, when I was quite young. Not one of us that I can recall (neighborhood of about 15 kids) felt comfortable with him, to put it politely. Many issues. Same with Reagan as an adult; many issues. Did I have Republican friends at that point? Yes, but politics was not the center of our friendship.
  • 4EverBonded4EverBonded Riding a white swan to Matera
    edited May 2016 Posts: 12,409
    I had not followed closely or studied Britain's politics. I still am not very knowledgeable about that; I would like to learn more, to be honest.

    In my world, we cheered when Nixon resigned. My mom was sad (she came from lifelong Republic voters).

    So as for Reagan being really beloved - that was in the press, yes, but it was not true in my world.

    Nice point, @chrisisall.

    I just remembered Jessica Lange saying (on her Actors Studio interview years ago) that she had left the U.S. as a very young adult and was living and working in Europe. She came back to the U.S. just to see Nixon resign and leave the White House. That made me smile. :)
  • TripAcesTripAces Universal Exports
    Posts: 4,365
    Reagan ushered in the horror of "Supply Side" economics, which has changed the course of American culture/history. It has become so ingrained in right-wing economic theory that it is accepted as a science; and for forty years, now, the wealthy have become so accustomed to low taxes--and have come to think of themselves as a privileged class--that any discussion of raising taxes on them is rejected as an unjust and unfair "punishment." There is no changing this, now. The wealthy believe they make the world spin; Keynesian economists, whose theories have much more solid footing, are widely rejected.
  • ForYourEyesOnlyForYourEyesOnly In the untained cradle of the heavens
    Posts: 1,984
    Complaints for Reagan seem to be fairly common in terms of social and economic policy. What did you guys think of his foreign policy?
    I had not followed closely or studied Britain's politics. I still am not very knowledgeable about that; I would like to learn more, to be honest.

    Not a master of British politics myself, but I might be able to help. What were you interested in knowing?
  • 4EverBonded4EverBonded Riding a white swan to Matera
    edited May 2016 Posts: 12,409
    Can you point me to decent references for the entire Thatcher period? The miners strike, her foreign policy efforts, basically I need a good factual overview. Any book or magazine article, etc.
  • edited May 2016 Posts: 337
    Woke up early this morning, so I decided to do a brief check of this before I went to work. Not overly enthused about discussing politics at this hour, but I saw this thread and decided to contribute. From a foreign perspective, Ronald Reagan was widely renowned as a kindly, good-humoured person and for his attempts at ending the Cold War. I'm not American, so I can't speak about him from a domestic perspective.

    I can, however, speak for Margaret Thatcher, who definitely caused problems with some of her policies, but for her unwavering and uncompromising style of politics, and the ease with which she destroyed her opponents in parliamentary debates, I'd say she was an effective Prime Minister - perhaps one of the greatest in our history. She's as controversial now as she was back when she was in power, though.
  • ForYourEyesOnlyForYourEyesOnly In the untained cradle of the heavens
    edited May 2016 Posts: 1,984
    @4EverBonded - For the Miner's Strike, I recently found a Wikipedia source which I believe is a 400-page book written by a Frenchman called Pierre-Francois Gouiffres, and it's called Margaret Thatcher and the Miners: 13 Years That Changed Britain. Here's Wikipedia's download link to the PDF: pfgouiffes.net/uploads/files/091231%20Margaret%20Thatcher%20and%20the%20miners.pdf (you'll have to copy+paste it into another tab)

    I'm not done with it myself, but it's not bad and offers very comprehensive insights into Miner's Strike.

    For her foreign policy, I don't think you can get much better than Thatcher's War: The Iron Lady on the Falklands, which is an E-book extract of The Downing Street Years, which was written by Thatcher herself. Here's an article of a few years back which recalls how Thatcher shrugged off Reagan's attempts to pacify her and call for a ceasefire: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/29/world/europe/falklands-war-caused-rare-friction-for-thatcher-and-reagan.html?_r=0

    I'd also recommend reading Statecraft: Strategies for a Changing World, where she writes of the post-Cold War world, but draws her conclusions from "lessons learnt in the Cold War". She makes repeated references to the years that she was in power. If you found all of the above interesting, you should try your hand at The Downing Street Years, which is Thatcher's memoir of her premiership.

  • edited May 2016 Posts: 337
    Both The Downing Street Years and Statecraft: Strategies for a Changing World are excellent reads. On the subject of perceptions, I really think it depends on whose perspective you're taking into account. The middle class tends to despise both. Those who were disappointed in the political leaders of the 70's and found refreshing change in Reagan & Thatcher would obviously like them. I have friends in the US who utterly despise Reagan and think he's a lying piece of filth, but revere Thatcher. Then again, I also know people who think that Reagan was an idiot, but that Thatcher was downright evil.

    Here's my take on things. Thatcher is divisive like Reagan appears to be, and from my experience, divisiveness is usually indicative of effectiveness. Both Thatcher and Reagan were very effective in head office - Thatcher because of her unrivalled willpower, and Reagan because he managed to restore a sense of the American people's pride and faith in the President which was lacking ever since Watergate. Say what you will about their policies - even I admit Thatcher's policies were problematic and that she was too Conservative for me - but there's a reason that they're such important and divisive figures in political history.

    They were both flawed - Reagan for his inability to handle any sort of major crisis, Thatcher for being too headstrong for her own good - and they both made mistakes, such as Reagan's lamentable approach to problems in the Middle East (which, as I've heard, almost became his Watergate) and Thatcher sealing her own fate with the poll tax. Which reminds me - both are reviled for the taxes and unemployment that rose dramatically during their time in office. But at the end of the day, this level of polarization is really just because of the extremity of their politics/political alignment. They have to be praised for the circumstances they came to office in and the problems they encountered. They didn't handle everything perfectly, but then again, no politician did. That they remain praised by academics who could view their terms in a larger context and probably had less biases than most of us suggests to me that they really were effective in the top office.

    Anyway, take it from someone whose first two votes were for Thatcher and who mostly heard good things about Reagan all through his life (and probably not enough of the other side).
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 17,004
    Like Bush Jr. Reagan meant well, but again like Bush Jr. Reagan was of the none-too-bright variety, and was not the one actually making decisions. But then, ignorance of the law is no excuse.
  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    edited May 2016 Posts: 23,883
    I think it's important to note that the rise of the right (in the form of Thatcher & Reagan) was a direct result of the perceived failure of the left in the 70's. How much of this is fate and how much is poor management is unknown.

    To my knowledge, Britain was in an economic malaise during James Callahan's time, and Jimmy Carter also presided over a recession.

    Both were seen as weak and ineffective, with Britain in the throes of both unemployment & an inflationary spiral (stagflation) which Callahan chose to contain by imposing public sector wage caps. This resulted in widespread strikes during the 'Winter of Discontent' of 78/79. The public lost faith & this directly resulted in Maggie's election and platform during the following year as well as her mandate to 'break the unions'.

    In the US, Carter also presided over stagflation. Moreover, he was in office during some quite significant foreign affairs events which the US was seen as losers on, namely the Iranian Revolution and subsequent hostage crisis, the 2nd OPEC oil crisis, & the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Domestically, there was also the Three Mile Island Nuclear incident. The public was longing for American strength again & Reagan sold it. Sounds familiar, no?.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    edited May 2016 Posts: 17,004
    Speaking of Three Mile Island, nearby Hershey's was putting out low level radioactive chocolate for a brief time there. :-O
  • I don't generally come to this forum to discuss politics, but when I DO...

    As far as Carter & the Iranian hostage situation is concerned, let's not forget that Reagan meddled (quite illegally, immorally, and to my mind unforgivably) in that situation, essentially promising the Iranians arms for the hostages if he were to win the presidential election, i.e, "Just keep our guys until I take office & we'll both get what we want." How did he get away with it? Because he's Saint Ronnie and too many people can hear, see & speak no evil regarding him.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 17,004
    Birdleson wrote: »
    Should have gone to jail (Reagan).
    No way! He was the very definition of plausible deniability. Dump HIM in prison & SO many would follow.... ;)
  • 4EverBonded4EverBonded Riding a white swan to Matera
    edited May 2016 Posts: 12,409
    Thanks for the info, @ForYourEyesOnly and I will for sure read up on Thatcher.
    As for Reagan, I give Reagan very little or no breaks actually. "Nice guy" - maybe to an extent and certainly projected that publicly, but that does not in itself make a good leader or good president. His meddling with the hostage situation was horrible, I agree, @BeatlesSansEarmuffs and @Birdleson. I honestly cannot think of anything that I remember from his time as president that I considered to be a good thing. I'll give that more thought, but nothing is coming to mind. Breaking down the Berlin Wall ... ok, he had some impetus in that but I am not ready to give him full credit for that either. It does not matter to me that many Americans perhaps still applaud him. I don't.

    His disregard for people, especially lower income and poor, his attacks on welfare and drug policies (along with Nancy) ... I cannot say he was good for our country, no.

    Divisiveness as "... indicative of effectiveness" ~ I do very respectfully disagree with that.
  • ForYourEyesOnlyForYourEyesOnly In the untained cradle of the heavens
    Posts: 1,984
    I personally think Gorbachev had more to do with the end of the Cold War, the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the fall of the Berlin Wall etc. than Reagan did. I think Reagan really only turned up to the discussions, but frankly Gorbachev came off as the one who really put the brake down on the Cold War and everything related to it.

    Which reminds me - Gorbachev, Reagan and Thatcher were all very divisive figures, then and today. Domestically, they're reviled, but internationally, they're revered. I wonder why that is.
  • ForYourEyesOnlyForYourEyesOnly In the untained cradle of the heavens
    Posts: 1,984
    @4EverBonded - You're welcome. Be sure to tell me what you think of it.
  • 4EverBonded4EverBonded Riding a white swan to Matera
    Posts: 12,409
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