Post-WWII econ growth hurt conservatives, in 1970s growth halted, USA standard of living dropped, prices & unemployment rose, called stagflation. Unemployment ~9% by ~1975. Inflation ~13.5% by 1980. USA richest nation WWII-1960s, started falling behind western Europe + Japan, poverty grew, Ford & Carter promised little economic growth.

Energy crisis obvious in 1973. Occurred b/c: USA used ~70% world oil produced, domestic supply okay until ~1955, demand outstripped local supply, by 1973 USA imported 1/3 crude oil, on 1973 Oct 17 Arab members Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries placed embargo on USA + allies b/c USA’d supported Israel in Yom Kippur War, embargo ended 5mo later, production limited afterwards. In response Nixon appointed energy czar (Department of Energy created 1977), interstate speed limits lowered to 55mph, daylight-savings extended to winter, these did little (gas/oil/electric & other prices rose, USA continued to grow OPEC-dependent).

Econ downturn occurred not just b/c oil but also b/c other nations industrialized more & made cheaper&better products, US automakers outsourced portions of early-stage production, USA began to import more than they exported. AFL-CIO leader called USA a nation of hamburger stands … stripped of industrial capacity and meaningful work, lost 30% membership 1970-1982, only growth occurred w/public-sector unions.

By 1980 >50% married women worked outside home, women had earned 64% male average 1955, earned 59% male average 1980, this because low-wage service economy growth female-dominated. African-American women benefited from Civil Rights Act title 7 outlawing workplace discrimination, by 1980 earning 95% white woman average. However, Hispanic women restricted in occupation mostly to minimum-wage work (garment industry/agriculture/domestic work)

Silent Spring published 1962, Earth Day created 1970, pollution/climate change/ozone depletion became major political issues esp. through organizations (which often supported use & conservation of renewable resources). Campaigns entered conservative Deep South to warn about toxic waste/wetland destruction/overfishing, sometimes they blocked (con|de)struction, major campaign in Love Canal (NY) after high cancer/miscarriage/birth defect rate there found to be caused by Hooker Chemical Laboratory dumps, Lois Gibbs organized, health emergency declared 1978, NY state bought property from homeowners, fenced it off, relocated residents. Congress passed >20 new bills, amended Endangered Species Act, reduced car pollution, banned/limited some CFC & pesticide use, reduced strip-mining, created EPA.

Groups opposing this included business groups, city officials requesting extensions, AFL-CIO said it would hurt econ growth, United Auto Workers opposed new car mileage/emissions restrictions, Congress allowed Trans-Alaskan Pipeline, lead-free gas introduced.

Gerald Ford (replacing Nixon 1974 Aug) pardoned Nixon (increasing cynicism), annoyed conservatives by appointing liberal NY Gov Nelson Rockefeller as VP, Rockefeller annoyed by having to lead Whip Inflation Now lapel pin reminder campaign, Betty Ford supported gun control/ERA/abortion rights. Ford seemed like nice guy but inept leader, Congress created new oversight committees, Ford got new VP Robert Dole (Kansas senator), Reagan nearly got nominated, Ford relied on incumbency (bad plan). Carter southern politician, born-again Christian, didn’t call self a liberal, presented self as outsider, I will never lie to you (integrity-centered campaign). Moderate on domestic issues. Relied on support from normally-republican southern & conservative voters, defended existing entitlement prgms, opposed universal health care, Minnesota sen Walter Mondale VP, attacked Ford’s pardon. Black vote, record low turnout helped Carter win.

As president Carter deregulated airlines (lowering fares), reformed Social Security + Medicare, created Department of Education.

Inflation rose a lot, interest rates rose, rents doubled in many places, small businesses closed, tuition & unemployment skyrocketed, Carter as fiscal conservative couldn’t lower deficit or turn econ around, discredited liberal tradition of Democratic Party.

1975 Apr N Vietnamese captured Saigon, in weeks Vietnam reunited as 1 communist country.

Carter had promised US foreign policy would respect human rights, opposed US support of right-wing monarchs and military dictators, tried to oppose military regimes in Brazil/Argentina/Chile, spoke against apartheid, tried & failed to halt CIA covert ops. (Stabilized repressive regimes in SK, El Salvador, Phillipines, refused aid to Sandinista revolutionary government)

Hosted negotiations between Israel & Egypt, Camp David Accords (1978 Sep) had Egypt acknowledge Israel’s right to exist, established mutual diplomatic relations, Egypt regained control of Sinai Peninsula (w/oil & airfields). Carter also wanted statehood for Palestinians in now-Israeli-occupied regions, accords told Israel to return to ~1967 borders, however Israel did not and instead created more settlements.

Carter also allowed Panama to retake ownership/operation/defense of Panama Canal Zone, achieved full diplomatic relations w/PRC at irritating-to-conservatives cost of severing ties w/Taiwan.

Human rights campaigning irritated USSR, worsened détente prospects, Carter had to tone down criticism of USSR dissident response to get SALT II in 1979 Jun.

1979 Nov 4 Iranian militants seized USA Tehran embassy, took <70 hostages, USA policy had depended on friendly Iran for decades acter CIA overthrew reformist constitutional democratic government to install shah, shah was corrupt/cruel/unpopular, early 1979 revolution had Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini overthrow Shah. Carter let deposed shah enter USA for medical care, hostage-takers demanded Shah be extradited. Carter refused. After 444 days Carter attempted helicopter rescue, 8 Americans died, Iranians enraged.

In 1979 Dec USSR troops invaded Afghanistan to support the government they’d backed against Islamic insurgents, Carter called occupation a grave threat to the free movement of Middle East oil, halted exports of grain & tech to USSR, refused to participate in 1980 Moscow Olympics.