Hartman/ Frank Draft 1

Teagan Boda

April 19th, 2016

Dr. Rees

History 304: United States 1945 – Present

The American Culture Wars: Changing American Perspective

The culture wars created an America that has no true middle ground, as shown by historian Andrew Hartman in his book, A History of the Culture Wars: A War for the Soul of America.  People are either liberal or conservative leaving the country in an extremely difficult situation.  Making an overall culture that works for both groups has been almost impossible.  The culture wars covered issues such as abortion, women’s rights, and religious freedom that changed American culture for the foreseeable future.  Decisions made as a result of this culture war are still in effect in modern America, causing the culture wars to be one of the most significant aspects of American history in the late twentieth century.  The culture wars created a new American identity that people are still trying to fully discover in the twenty-first century.

Before digging further into the significance of the culture war, one must understand that not everyone agrees with Hartman’s position.  Thomas Frank, author of What’s the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America, argues that the culture wars were significant to recent American history because they changed the political landscape into one that is highly illogical.  The political ideals held by many Americans are actually hurting them economically.  In this case, Americans are voting against their own interests because they want to change the results of the culture war.  Frank argues that voting because of the need to change social norms means people are supporting those who are “responsible for making their economic lives so precarious,” otherwise known as the top one percent (Hartman, 2).  While Frank makes a compelling argument, the evidence used by Hartman shows that the culture wars are significant for more than just the political backlash.

The culture war divided America based upon what the ideal American society should consist of. These two groups became known as the New Left and the Neoconservatives, but this would eventually change into liberals and conservatives. The New Left consisted of “those who defied normative conceptions of Americanism” (Hartman, 10).  At the beginning of the cultural wars, the New Left was just getting off the ground.  By the end, the New Left had developed its own counterculture to the normal American culture.  Liberals wanted “to discover new types of community, new family patterns, new sexual mores, new kinds of livelihood, new aesthetic forms, new personal identities on the far side of power politics, the bourgeois home, and the Protestant work ethic” (Hartman, 10).  They would accomplish this goal throughout the second half of the twentieth century, thus changing America forever.

Liberals were met by fierce competition on their reformation of America. On the other side of the culture wars, neoconservatives were “those who opposed such challenges” (Hartman, 10).  The status quo that was created by the New Left was fought by these conservatives.  Journalist Irving Kristol explained “If there is any one thing that neoconservatives are unanimous about, it is their dislike of the ‘counterculture’ that has played so remarkable a role in American life” (Hartman, 50).  Alliances were made with other groups outside of the main two in the effort to ensure that whatever changes were put into effect stayed in effect.  These two main sides would change the course of the entire country.

The religious freedom question that spread throughout the United States was one of the most obvious effects of the culture war.  John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic president, was elected in 1960 and that was the beginning of what many evangelical Christians considered to be a major problem.  The 1962 Engel v. Vitale Supreme Court decision made prayer illegal in school systems, leading to a mass movement called the Christian Right, another form of the conservative movement (Hartman, 72).  This group did everything in their power to ensure that the Christian law remained the law of the land.  Worries about family units, public education, and government secularism reached the forefront of American concerns (Hartman, 72).  As this worry rose in importance, government officials took notice.  Christian ideals became a campaign front for politicians including Ronald Reagan during his 1980 campaign (Hartman, 72).  However, this was not always a good thing.  Frank states that when “the state’s lawmakers combine this flamboyant public piety with a political agenda that only makes the state’s material problems worse” (Frank, 71).  Capitalism does not always go well with other beliefs, no matter the religion.  In the United States, this led to a new cycle.  The harder life became for the Christian Right, the more they campaigned for the conservative movement.  Eventually, the conservative movement used the Christian Right to fight against other aspects of American culture.

The Christian Right and the Feminist Movement brought the fight for women’s rights to the forefront of the average American household.  Part of the reason for this was that traditional norms were changing and it scared people.  The traditional idea that “men should earn wages while women cared for children” was being challenged as more women entered the workforce (Hartman, 135).  People were concerned that the family structure would deteriorate if women left the home.  Even as the Christian Right began to challenge the feminist movement, the feminists still made victories for equal rights.  Two of the largest successes were that Americans became “less hospitable to men who abused women” and it became easier “to prosecute and convict rapists, since they rendered inadmissible a victim’s sexual history” (Hartman, 137).  These successes have lasted into the twenty first century, and are a major reason why the culture wars are significant for understanding modern America.  While American culture had already changed due to the Christian Right versus Feminism battle, there was still more to come.

 

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Segrue/Cowie Most Recent Draft

Teagan Boda

April 5th, 2016

Dr. Rees

History 304: United States 1945-Present

Race: The Creator of Modern America

Racial tensions due to the fall of the industrialization created post-war America.  White Americans may have felt the economic hardships caused by deindustrialization, but they ensured that the African-American communities felt it harder.  White industrial workers, often known as the middle class, often believed that blacks were responsible for their problems.  As the deindustrialization process continued throughout the late twentieth century, blacks were treated as inferior while whites attempted to re-create their white identity.

The second half of the twentieth century was the beginning of a new chapter in both racial histories due to the rapid deindustrialization across the country.    Hundreds of thousands of industrial employees were laid off as factories “replaced workers with new automated technology, and constructed new facilities” in either other parts of the city or in other countries (Sugrue, 128).  Unfortunately, African American workers “bore the brunt” of this new problem (155).  Blacks were the ones most likely to be in “unskilled occupations, were most susceptible to layoffs, and most vulnerable to replacement when plants automated,” due to racial discrimination by the white bosses (100).  As a result of these practices, the African American community was economically destroyed when deindustrialization occurred.  Once proud cities, such as Detroit, were faced with “rotting hulks of factory buildings, closed and abandoned, surrounded by blocks of boarded up-stores and restaurants” in the African American communities (Sugrue, 147).  Blacks wanted the same right as whites, to flee their economic hardship.  Unfortunately, this did not occur and blacks “bore the brunt of economic change, their options limited by discrimination, and their tenuous hold on factory jobs threatened by discrimination” (155).  Their attempts at escaping these economic hardships, and the white attempts at stopping the blacks, created a racially divided United States and changed late twentieth century history.

The American city divided itself along racial lines in an endeavor to secure white superiority.  Take inner-city highway construction as an example.  Highways were not built in white neighborhoods.  Instead, they were built in the inner-city where African Americans lived, as “a handy device for razing slums” (47).  In Detroit, these highways wiped out black businesses including many clubs and the YMCA (47).  A white neighborhood would never have allowed this, but city planners doing this to a black neighborhood was not seen as a problem.  The American city was developed upon a standard of racism throughout the late twentieth century.  While whites were destroying what they considered to be the black ghetto, they would also not allow blacks to move into their neighborhoods.  Those blacks that could move out of the so-called ghetto were forced to pay more for housing that was still not as nice as those in the white neighborhoods.  Blacks, overall, had the “poorest-paying, most insecure jobs” and as such could not afford to move into better housing (34).  An unfortunate part of American history was how “the process of housing segregation set into motion a chain reaction that reinforced patterns of racial inequality” (34).  Tensions in American cities were rising due to the need of the white man to keep the black man down.

The tensions in America may have seemed economically based to some, but they were clearly racially charged.  The white effort to maintain their economic status makes the situation seem class based.  However, a look at black society proves that this was not the case.  As blacks ran into hardships improving their living conditions, they “began the process of sifting and subdividing” as the white middle-class had been doing for years (188).  African American society created its own middle class.  Those who were stuck in the poorer class “remained confined in the decaying inner city neighborhoods” (188).  Meanwhile, the upper class of African American society was able to create their own suburbs.  It is important to note that a majority of these middle-class blacks were unable to move into white suburbs due to housing discrimination (198).  If tensions throughout America would have been based upon the class system, then more tensions would have arisen between the class system of the blacks and the class system of the whites.  Instead, the tensions were created by the need of one race to be better than the other which eventually led to acts of violence.

Racial tensions erupted into race riots in major cities across the United States.  These riots created a violence in the home-front not often seen in American history.  One such riot was the Detroit riot of 1967.  As a large number of blacks were arrested at an illegal-saloon and were allegedly victimized by police brutality, tensions rose above what the economic crisis had already caused.  The morning after these arrests, thousands gathered in a protest against the “police brutality” (259).  Altogether 43 people died and 7,231 were arrested.  Thomas J. Sugrue, author of The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit, claims that this riot, and others of the era, were caused by the “bitter legacy” of an economic situation that blacks had already lost (260).  The younger generation of African-Americans were tired of being forced into the same economic situations “that their predecessors lived [in] during the 1930s” (257).  The people wanted equality, and were willing to fight for it.  This fight would change the social and political aspects of twentieth century American history.

During the fight for civil rights, race relations changed the outcome of many political decisions.  As Sugrue stated, “race was as much a political as a social construction” (9).  Race was an important part of regional and national politics especially in the years during and after the Civil Rights era.  Supreme Court decisions Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg (1971) stated that it was necessary to integrate school children “through mandatory busing” (Cowie, 4).  This busing was seen as a problem throughout the white community.  As one Detroit man explained, “I’m not going to pay big high school taxes and pay more for a home so that somebody can ship my son 30 miles away to get an inferior education” (4).  Many whites agreed with this sentiment, and decided to do something about the education of their children.  Fearful whites took the racial issue to the political stage.

Worried whites decided George Wallace, presidential candidate in 1972, was the man to fix their racial problem.  Wallace famously believed in segregation as the governor of Alabama and vowed not to be “’out niggered’ in politics” (4).  His opponent, George McGovern, believed that “busing is not even a real issue,” which angered many whites (99).  These two candidates show the two sides race had divided America into.  People who supported Wallace believed that “integration was taking place on their backs” and jumped to the “immediate defense of white identity, home, and school” (99).  On the other side of the issue, people believed that blacks should be integrated into white society.  Although George Wallace was a well-liked democrat the “Democratic South was crumbling” due to the Democratic commitment to racial equality (130).  More Southern voters, including Wallace, believed in Republican social ideals due to the idea that “’law and order’ beats ‘bread and butter’” (131).  The belief in a white racial superiority changed the political landscape of Post-War America.  Economics were no longer in control of the country.  Race relations were changing how late twentieth century America would be remembered.

Racial tensions were one of the reasons one of the most well-known presidents of the United States, Richard Nixon, was elected to office.  Nixon gained popularity by supporting the “working class” which at the time was a nice way of saying whites (236).  He formed a coalition of Catholics, Poles, Italians, and Irish along with other whites, while excluding Jewish people and blacks (126).  By doing this, he already was gaining the support of many members of the working class.  Nixon is also credited with shifting the white man’s political worries away from “his bread-and-butter material concerns” to the ideas of “social issues and patriotism” (126).  He focused his campaign along the idea of helping white America and excluding all others.  White Americans loved this idea and had seen it before, in the campaign of George Wallace.  Wallace had combined the “fears of blackness and fears of disorder” along with the “connection many white Americans made between blackness and criminality, blackness and poverty, blackness and cultural degradation” (129).  Nixon used this fear to ensure voters would support him throughout his presidency.  Nixon went as far as to use the race driven popular culture of the day to ensure that things were working his way.  As race relations in twentieth century America exploded, the culture of the United States did as well.

As with so many other aspects of Post-war America, race changed the popular culture.  Music, which had previously been apolitical, was now racially charged.  The rise of country music allowed for a “rebellious yet conservative political identity for America’s modern white working class” (170).  The music, which became most popular throughout the south, allowed for the white man to talk about his social troubles.  Country music had become extremely racially charged and politicians including Richard Nixon were quick to use this to their advantage, thus furthering the racial divide.  Nixon knew that country music would help “build a cross-class cultural alliance” and his goal worked (168).  The South was truly converting for the first time from Democratic to a more Republican area.  “Redneck” ideals, encouraged by Nixon and Country music, were returning Southern white communities to the spirit of white ‘culture’ which the South had not been seen since before World War II.  Race did not only influence the history of country music in the United States, but also influenced the disco and anti-disco movements.  Disco became a movement changed by race through the need to unite everyone no matter their race or gender (320).  During the 1970s, this idea seemed to be working.  However, by the end of the disco era this idea of racial inclusion once again exploded into problems and the anti-disco movement was born. White males had once again decided that those of a different skin color must be the reason for their problems.  The anti-disco movement “[destroyed] the last remaining musical scene that was in any meaningful sense racially mixed” (323).  No longer did the white man willingly mingle with the black.  As Jefferson Cowie, author of Stayin’ Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of The Working Class, explained “white America had rediscovered its sense of self” (323).  The need of the white male to segregate themselves from the black formed an America based on race relations.

Race influenced post-war American history in ways that historians are still attempting to understand.  For years the 1970s were considered to be a lost decade whereas now historians are coming to understand that the history was only forgotten.  Much of the late twentieth century history was about racial tensions in the United States.  The American city became a fighting ground for the blacks who wanted a better quality of life, and the whites who were determined not to give this to them.  As a result, politics of the era relied upon who could help the white population stay economically and socially above the black communities.  Race, and its effect on day to day life, eventually bled into popular culture.  The rise and fall of country music, disco, and anti-disco were based upon people’s feelings on the matter of race.  If race was not a problem for Americans, the twentieth century might have looked vastly different.  Events throughout American history, such as the fall of major industrial cities, were influenced by race.  Deindustrialization hurt white America, but the black communities would feel it more.  From the economic workplace to the social environment, blacks were treated as second class citizens.  However, race was not the only important aspect of Post-War America.  A class system, heavily tied to race, would be created as a result of deindustrialization.  This system would then be relied upon by politicians and the economic system for the foreseeable future.  Race was extremely important to understanding post-war American history, but its problems may not have existed if a class struggle did not occur at the same time.

March Progress Report

I have begun going through my books and collecting evidence.  Based off of the evidence I have seen thus far, I believe my argument will be that when America is attacked by “outsiders”, Americans react with extreme prejudice using the attack on Pearl Harbor and 9.11 to explain my points.  My hope is within the next two weeks I will be able to begin my first draft.

Segrue/Cowie Paper Draft 2

Teagan Boda

March 31st, 2016

Dr. Rees

History 304: United States 1945-Present

Race versus Class: Understanding Post-War America

In the understanding of Post-War American history, race is more important than class due to its influence in political elections and in the evolution of popular culture. Racial tensions caused people to come together by culture in order to ensure the maintenance of their way of life.  The migration of millions of African Americans before 1945 set off a tidal-wave of problems that would last throughout the rest of the twentieth century and into the twenty first.  Race riots occurred in many major cities, including Detroit and Baltimore, leaving violence and discontent in their wake.  As a result of these riots, history of America since 1945 divided itself.  Race divided Post-War American history into a white history and black history, with smaller subsets such as Chicano history still being discovered.

The second half of the twentieth century was the beginning of a new chapter in both racial histories due to the rapid deindustrialization across the country.    Hundreds of thousands of industrial employees were laid off as factories “replaced workers with new automated technology, and constructed new facilities” in either other parts of the city or in other countries (Sugrue, 128).  Unfortunately, African American workers “bore the brunt” of this new problem (155).  Blacks were the ones most likely to be in “unskilled occupations, were most susceptible to layoffs, and most vulnerable to replacement when plants automated,” due to racial discrimination by the white bosses (100).  As a result of these practices, the African American community was economically destroyed when deindustrialization occurred.  Once proud cities, such as Detroit, were faced with “rotting hulks of factory buildings, closed and abandoned, surrounded by blocks of boarded up-stores and restaurants” in the African American communities (Sugrue, 147).  Blacks wanted the same right as whites, to flee their economic hardship.  Unfortunately, this did not occur and blacks “bore the brunt of economic change, their options limited by discrimination, and their tenuous hold on factory jobs threatened by discrimination” (155).  Their attempts at escaping these economic hardships, and the white attempts at stopping the blacks, created a racially divided United States and changed late twentieth century history.

The American city divided itself among the racial line.  Take inner-city highway construction as an example.  Highways were not built in white neighborhoods.  Instead, they were built in the inner-city where African Americans lived, as “a handy device for razing slums” (47).  In Detroit, these highways wiped out black businesses including many clubs and the YMCA (47).  A white neighborhood would never have allowed this, but city planners doing this to a black neighborhood was not seen as a problem.  The American city was developed upon a standard of racism throughout the late twentieth century.  While whites were destroying what they considered to be the black ghetto, they would also not allow blacks to move into their neighborhoods.  Those blacks that could move out of the so-called ghetto were forced to pay more for housing that was still not as nice as those in the white neighborhoods (34).  Blacks, overall, had the “poorest-paying, most insecure jobs” and as such could not afford to move into better housing (34).  An unfortunate part of American history was how “the process of housing segregation set into motion a chain reaction that reinforced patterns of racial inequality” (34).  American cities were rising with tensions caused by these racially based economic disparities.

Racial tensions eventually led to race riots in major cities across the United States.  These riots created a violence in the home-front not often seen in American history.  One such riot was the Detroit riot of 1967.  As a large number of blacks were arrested at an illegal-saloon and were allegedly victimized by police brutality, tensions rose above what the economic crisis had already caused.  The morning after these arrests, thousands gathered in a protest against the “police brutality” (259).  Altogether 43 people died and 7,231 were arrested.  Thomas J. Sugrue, author of The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit, claims that this riot, and others of the era, were caused by the “bitter legacy” of an economic situation that blacks had already lost (260).  The younger generation of African-Americans were tired of being forced into the same economic situations “that their predecessors lived [in] during the 1930s” (257).  The people wanted equality, and were willing to fight for it.  This fight would change the social and political aspects of twentieth century American history.

During the fight for civil rights, race relations changed the outcome of many political decisions.  As Sugrue stated, “race was as much a political as a social construction” (9).  Race was an important part of regional and national politics especially in the years during and after the Civil Rights era.  Supreme Court decisions Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg (1971) stated that it was necessary to integrate school children “through mandatory busing” (Cowie, 4).  This busing was seen as a problem throughout the white community.  As one Detroit man explained, “I’m not going to pay big high school taxes and pay more for a home so that somebody can ship my son 30 miles away to get an inferior education” (4).  Many whites agreed with this sentiment, and decided to do something about the education of their children.  Fearful whites took the racial issue to the political stage.

Worried whites decided George Wallace, presidential candidate in 1972, was the man to fix their racial problem.  Wallace famously believed in segregation as the governor of Alabama and vowed not to be “’out niggered’ in politics” (4).  His opponent, George McGovern, believed that “busing is not even a real issue,” which angered many whites (99).  These two candidates show the two sides race had divided America into.  People who supported Wallace believed that “integration was taking place on their backs” and jumped to the “immediate defense of white identity, home, and school” (99).  On the other side of the issue, people believed that blacks should be integrated into white society.  Although George Wallace was a well-liked democrat the “Democratic South was crumbling” due to the Democratic commitment to racial equality (130).  More Southern voters, including Wallace, believed in Republican social ideals due to the idea that “’law and order’ beats ‘bread and butter’” (131).  The belief in a white racial superiority changed the political landscape of Post-War America.  Economics were no longer in control of the country.  Race relations were changing how late twentieth century America would be remembered.

One of the most well-known presidents of the United States, Richard Nixon, was elected to office thanks to the racial tensions.  Nixon gained popularity by supporting the “working class” which at the time was a nice way of saying whites (236).  He formed a coalition of Catholics, Poles, Italians, and Irish along with other whites, while excluding Jewish people and blacks (126).  By doing this, he already was gaining the support of many members of the working class.  Nixon is also credited with shifting the white man’s political worries away from “his bread-and-butter material concerns” to the ideas of “social issues and patriotism” (126).  He focused his campaign along the idea of helping white America and excluding all others.  White Americans loved this idea and had seen it before, in the campaign of George Wallace.  Wallace had combined the “fears of blackness and fears of disorder” along with the “connection many white Americans made between blackness and criminality, blackness and poverty, blackness and cultural degradation” (129).  Nixon used this fear to ensure voters would support him throughout his presidency.  Nixon went as far as to use the race driven popular culture of the day to ensure that things were working his way.  Race influenced popular culture due to its control of American politics in the twentieth century.

Race changed American popular culture, which is an important aspect of American history.  Music, which had previously been apolitical, was now racially charged.  The rise of country music             allowed for a “rebellious yet conservative political identity for America’s modern white working class” (170).  The music, which became most popular throughout the south, allowed for the white man to talk about his social troubles.  Songs, such as “Okie from Muskogee,” quickly became the political anthem of the white male (172).  Country music had become extremely racially charged and politicians including Richard Nixon were quick to use this to their advantage, thus furthering the racial divide.  President Nixon invited several different country artists to the White House in his efforts to continue the culture war.  He invited Merle Haggard, singer of “Okie from Muskogee,” and Johnny Cash to sing even though Nixon and his associates had no love for country music (168).  Nixon knew that country music would help “build a cross-class cultural alliance” and his goal worked (168).  The South was truly converting for the first time from Democratic to a more Republican area.  “Redneck” ideals, encouraged by Nixon and Country music, were returning Southern white communities to the spirit of white ‘culture’ which the South had not been seen since before World War II.  Race relations shown in country music changed the political atmosphere, thus changing the history of Post-War America.

Race did not only influence the history of country music in the United States, but also influenced the disco and anti-disco movements.  Disco itself became an economic rallying cry for all including women, gays, blacks, Latinos, and whites (320).  People went to the discotheques in the hope of forgetting their problems (317).   Eventually this idea of racial inclusion once again exploded into problems and the anti-disco movement was born.  The anti-disco movement was all about “region, race, economics, and sexuality” (323).  White males had once again decided that those of a different skin color must be the reason for their economic problems.  The anti-disco movement “[destroyed] the last remaining musical scene that was in any meaningful sense racially mixed” (323).  No longer did the white man willingly mingle with the black.  As Jefferson Cowie, author of Stayin’ Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of The Working Class, explained “white America had rediscovered its sense of self” (323).  Race had changed the popular culture of twentieth century America.  The need of the white male to segregate themselves from the black formed an America based on race relations.

            Race influenced post-war American history in ways that historians are still attempting to understand.  For years the 1970s were considered to be a “cultural void” whereas now historians are coming to understand that the history was only forgotten (319).  Much of the late twentieth century history was about racial tensions in the United States.  Politics depended upon who could help the white population stay economically and socially above the black communities.  Popular culture of the era was based around whether or not America should be racially inclusive or exclusive.  The rise and fall of country music, disco, and anti-disco were based upon people’s feelings on the matter of race.  If race was not a problem for Americans, the twentieth century might have looked vastly different.  Events throughout American history, such as the fall of major industrial cities, were influenced by race.  White Americans may have felt the economic hardships caused by deindustrialization, but they ensured that the African-American communities felt it harder.   While race was extremely important in the understanding the history of Post-War America it was not the only responsible party for the events that occurred.  As Cowie explained, “class and race are fundamentally intertwined social identities, mutually constructing each other, marbled together into a sociological whole, but a whole that has proven to be one of the most elusive identities in American history” (236).  Race was extremely important to understanding post-war American history, but its problems may not have existed if a class struggle did not occur at the same time.

Paper #2 Draft – Race or Class

Teagan Boda

March 17th, 2016

Dr. Rees

History 304: United States 1945-Present

Race versus Class: Understanding Post-War America

            The United States has been a racially charged climate since at least the Civil War.  Race riots have occurred in many major cities, including Detroit and Baltimore, leaving violence and discontent in their wake.  With all of this upset, many people forget that race is not the only aspect of American society that matters when studying history.  Class is extremely important to the understanding of American history since 1945.  Aspects of history from elections to war attitudes could be attributed to the economy and class system.  Class matters more than race in the understanding of American history in the post-war world.

            World War II had created an industrial boom across the United States, allowing for a middle class to rise.  Take Detroit for example.  During the 1940s, employment in industrial work increased 40 percent (Sugrue, 19).  The city of Detroit seemed to have “boundless” opportunities for manufacturing jobs (19).  Cities across the country including Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York followed the same industrialization pattern.  World War II and an industrialization economy had also created the rise of the union.  At the end of World War II, “over one-third of non-agricultural workers” were union members (Cowie, 28).  Unions held “unparalleled political influence, a state tolerant of its activities, and a web of allies” that held “remarkable position(s) of power” (28).  As unions gained power, their members made considerable gains economically.  A powerful new industrial middle class was born (28).  From the 1940s until the early 1970s, this “middle class” had wage increases of 62 percent (28).  Those able to obtain an industrial job in the Post-War world were able to create an entirely new economic class in the United States.  Unfortunately for the new middle class, this success would not last.  The middle class, and their struggles, changed American history through the second half of the twentieth-century.

            By the 1970s, deindustrialization plagued the United States.  Once proud cities, such as Detroit, were faced with “rotting hulks of factory buildings, closed and abandoned, surrounded by blocks of boarded up-stores and restaurants” (Sugrue, 147).  The middle class was hurting from factors out of their control.  Industries were moving to other countries with less labor control, and as such removing the livelihoods that the middle class had once thought guaranteed.  As the 1970s began, those in the middle class began to take a stand.  As one worker stated in a fit of discontent, “I hate my job, I hate the people I work for … It’s kind of stupid to work so hard and achieve so little” (Cowie, 1).  The middle class was ready to revolt.  However, there ways of revolting were not always overt.  The American middle class created the new American sub-cultures and changed the political state of the country.

            The politics of late twentieth-century America can only be comprehended with the understanding that the working class was in control.  Politicians who wanted to win their election needed the votes of the middle class.  As such, political philosophies of the era needed to include a way to end the struggles the middle class was facing.   Richard Nixon was one politician who understood how important the middle class.  He “sought to recast the definition of ‘working class’ from economics to culture, from workplace and community to national pride” (Cowie, 165).  Nixon wanted to ensure that the average white worker was heard.  If the post-war class structure had never emerged, Nixon’s entire campaign strategy may have been different.  As it stands, a large portion of his political agenda was based around reaching the industrial worker who felt they were “slipping through the widening cracks of the New Deal coalition” (165).   Nixon was able to rise to the presidential office because the working class thought that he fought for them.  Class changed the political arena of the United States throughout the late twentieth-century.

            While the political arena was an extremely important aspect of the way class changed history, it was not the only way.  Because of class, the United States became further divided into two sections: the conservative and liberal.  While not a very overt change to the American history at first, signs of the change can be seen in the music of the era.  On the conservative end of the political spectrum, country music came into play.  Before the class divisions of the United States became so extreme in the 1970s, country music was “apolitical” (170).  Country music had no political agenda, in other words, but instead was based around a culture.  As discontent spread throughout the working class, the message of country music changed.  The rednecks associated with country and the Southern working class, believed that “the state is his enemy-the nation his mystical identity” (171).  From this point onwards, the United States would have a far right caused by class struggles.  Men, mainly in the South, who believed that the new racial and gender equality believed in a need to go back to the “good old days” (173).  Country music helped forge the idea in one portion of the country that the class structure was being harmed, but needed to be changed through cultural ideals rather than economic.

            On the other side of the political spectrum, disco evolved to explain the fight of the working class left.  Disco was the working class’s way of “kicking against the pricks the only way they knew how” (320).  Instead of going in the direction of country music idealized returning America to the past, disco listeners believed in forgetting the economic troubles.  If the economy did not improve, the disco movement did not see a way their lives would improve either.  As one scholar suggested, disco “attempted to suggest answers to questions posed by a society in the process of abandoning a universalist communitarian model for a vision based on cutthroat individualism” (320).  The middle class was waking up during the 1970s.  No longer did they believe that no class struggle would occur.  With deindustrialization throughout the country, middle class workers were forced to rise up.  This rising of the working class changed the history of America after 1945, whether they realized it at the time or not.