The Politics of Disappointment: American Elections, 1976-94

By Wilson Carey McWilliams | Go to book overview

4
Old Virtues, New Magic:
The Election of 1984

I am giddy, expectation whirls me round. The imaginary relish is so sweet That it enchants my sense.

-- Troilus and Cressida ( III, ii)

The election of 1984 was not a season for heroes; it was won by summer soldiers and sunshine patriots. Mr. Reagan was pleased to have it so; repeatedly, his campaign assured Americans that the long night of crisis was over, giving way to a new morning. Reagan proclaimed that America is "back," the Republic of our fonder memories, affluent and powerful, a "shining city" and an Opportunity Society, built of alabaster and free from tears.

American voters recognized the hyperbole in the president's rhetoric. They knew that some Americans are poor--in fact, there are more poor people in every section of the country than there were when Ronald Reagan took office--and a good many Americans worried, fitfully, about the "fairness" of the president's policies, but the great majority did not allow such concerns to be decisive. Unemployment, the great Democratic issue, worried voters more than inflation, but relatively few Americans were disturbed about either. Ronald Reagan was credited with curing inflation and restoring a modest economic confidence, al-

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The Politics of Disappointment: American Elections, 1976-94
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • Notes 12
  • 2 - South Wind, Warning: The Election of 1976 15
  • Notes 34
  • 3 - Presidential Leadership and Changing Parties: The Election of 1980 37
  • Notes 60
  • 4 - Old Virtues, New Magic: The Election of 1984 63
  • Notes 97
  • 5 - Enchantment's Ending: The Election of 1988 101
  • Notes 136
  • 6 - Thinking About Tomorrow Worriedly: The Election of 1992 143
  • Notes 173
  • 7 - Slouching Toward the Millennium: The Election of 1994 183
  • Notes 200
  • Index 203
  • About the Author 211
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