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Political Climate Of The 1950s Essay

1016 words - 4 pages

The political, social, and economic landscape of the United States of America underwent dramatic changes during the 1950s. During this era, figures and events such as the likes of: Sen. McCarthy and his crusade to "root out" communism in America, President Eisenhower's administration and his theory of dynamic conservatism, the government's belief of looking out for big business, and the Civil Rights movement helped to usher in a new ideas, attitudes, and beliefs.
The focus of America's obsession with containing the spread of communism during the 1950s was in a large part fueled by Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy. One could argue that for a period of time in the 1950s the megalomaniacal senator was the largest personality in American politics. Senator McCarthy "waged" war against a significant number of people that he purported to have connection to the communist ideology or communist party. While history shows that most of the allegations that senator McCarthy leveled where without merit it appeared to have little effect on the campaigning "cause" of protecting Americans from "the queers and commie liberals that were attempting to take over the United States and the world". (Davidson, 2002, pg. 809) While the senator secured temporary power by playing off of public fears; this would be short lived as the list of the accused grew longer and the evidence did not exist. The senator and his witch hunt however were responsible for the implementation of several "loyalty" acts that were implemented to ensure that public and civil servants were "loyal" to America.
President Eisenhower and his policy of "dynamic conservatism" which was in reality a theory that there were functions that the federal government was doing that were the responsibility of the state and local governments, and that the federal government should be small and run efficiently without deficit spending. President Eisenhower believed in budget cutting and federal support for big business; however programs like "social security and unemployment insurance coverage were both expanded under his presidency". (Schultz & Tishler, 1999) While President Eisenhower was for cutting federal spending which did lead to higher unemployment in some areas he was able to implement one of the largest domestic projects in American history with the Highway Act. One of the true ironies of the Eisenhower administration was the fact that even though the president desired to have a balanced budget due to several factors the United States actually saw the "greatest peace time deficit to its time during the period of 1953 until 1959" with the deficit growing $20 billion dollars from $266 billion to $286 billion. (Schultz & Tishler)
American consumerism changed during the Eisenhower Administration, and with it so did the cultural landscape of America. With the introduction of both the highway system and the television Americans were given almost endless options on where, how, and what they spent their...

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