It has been said that caring about feelings is not what facts do. People who like to say this like to prove this by showing the inverse. Their feelings on matters tend to not care about facts.
With the rise of “alternate facts” in politics, conspiracy theories, and pseudo science, many people are asking, how have we strayed from the path of scientific fact and reason? An objective examination of economic forces that have shaped our contemporary world will show a pattern of influence that would inevitably lead to a society drowning in information but which is still suffering from a thirst that is often slaked by social media sources that sell “the truth”.
The post war era was a time of unparalleled economic growth, prosperity, and consumerism. With many of the markets reaching saturation points, manufacturers and advertising companies had to find new ways to get Americans to spend money to maintain economic growth. Individuals such as Alfred P. Sloan, Bernard London, Brooks Stevens, and Edward Bernays pioneered the concepts of planned and perceived obsolescence and the advertising and public relation strategies that infected American culture with a feeling of inadequacy that could only be satiated by the purchasing of new products. Advertising has trained us to be unhappy. This constant feeling that we are not complete and we need to find that which completes us, has made a anxiety riddled society that is always searching and vulnerable to individuals with ideas that promise answers and explanations to the feeling that “something is not right”.
The technological age has allowed instantaneous communication and access to information. This has enabled more people to be aware of the forces that influence our daily lives and how much they are the foundation upon which our contemporary society is built. The result of these revelations have empowered some, created healthy skeptics of others, and made some feel powerless and distrustful of mainstream information sources.
Combine a society that has been trained to be constantly dissatisfied and that only the acquisition of the “the new” can complete it with technology that provides unparalleled ease of access to alternate sources of information, and you get a society that questions and believes everything.
Inspiration for Murika the Beautiful Series
Amadeo, K. (2018, January 9). What is Reaganomics? Did It Work? Retrieved from the balance: https://www.thebalance.com/reaganomics-did-it-work-would-it-today-3305569
Amaed, K. (2018, February 16). U.S. Deficit by President. Retrieved from the balance: https://www.thebalance.com/deficit-by-president-what-budget-deficits-hide-3306151
Art, B. C. (2000). Brutal Beauty Paintings by Walton Ford. Brunswick: Bowdin College Museum of Art.
Art, N. G. (n.d.). Kerry James Marshall. Retrieved from nga.gov: https://www.nga.gov/collection/artist-info.35534.html
Bartlett, B. (2012, February 3). Why the GOP should stop invoking Reaganomics. Retrieved from The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-the-gop-should-stop-invoking-reaganomics/2012/01/31/gIQAQRb6mQ_story.html?utm_term=.302cd78f5d9c
Benton, T. H. (n.d.). Corn and Winter Wheat. artstor. National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.
Blumenfeld, S. (2011, February 8). The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America. Retrieved from The New American: https://www.thenewamerican.com/reviews/books/item/6443-the-deliberate-dumbing-down-of-america
Blumin, G. A. (2009). The GI Bill: The New Deal for Veterans. Oxford University Press.
Boaz, D. (1982, August 10). The Reagan Budget: The Deficit that Didn't Have to Be. Retrieved from Cato Institute: https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/reagan-budget-deficit-didnt-have-be
Chappell, B. (2017, June 22). Census Finds A More Diverse America, As Whites Lag Growth. Retrieved from NPR: https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/06/22/533926978/census-finds-a-more-diverse-america-as-whites-lag-growth
Cox, J. K. (2016, November 22). It Wasn't Rural 'Hicks' Who Elected Trump: The Suburbs Were--ANd Will Remain--The Real Battleground. Retrieved from Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/joelkotkin/2016/11/22/donald-trump-clinton-rural-suburbs/#c5fbac538b54
Crawford, R. (n.d.). Vertical Building. artstor. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco.
Culbertson, J. M. (1986, September). The Folly of Free Trade. Retrieved from Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/1986/09/the-folly-of-free-trade
Dallek, M. (1995, December). The Conservative 1960s. Retrieved from The Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1995/12/the-conservative-1960s/376506/
Debord, G. (1970). Society of the Spectacle. Black and Red.
Demuth, C. (n.d.). Chimney and Water Tower. artstor. Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth.
Edwards, L. (2003, November 21). The Origins of the Modern American Conservative Movement. Retrieved from The Heritage Foundation: https://www.heritage.org/political-process/report/the-origins-the-modern-american-conservative-movement
Elkins, J. (2000). What Painitng Is. New York: Routledge.
Ford, W. (n.d.). Fallen Mias. artstor. Larry Qualls Archieve.
Freeburg, D. (1991). The Power of Images: Studies in the History and Theory of Response. CHicago: University of CHicago Press.
Frum, D. (2014, December 24). The Real Stroy of How America Became an Economic Superpower. Retrieved from theatlantic.com: https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/12/the-real-story-of-how-america-became-an-economic-superpower/384034/
Galyean, C. (n.d.). Levittown The Imperfect Rise of the American Suburbs. Retrieved from U.S. History Scene: http://ushistoryscene.com/article/levittown/
Gawande, A. (2016, June 10). THE MISTRUST OF SCIENCE. Retrieved from THE NEW YORKER: https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-mistrust-of-science
Giroux, G. (2013). Business Scandals. Corruption, and Reform: An Encyclopedia. Greenwood.
Goodwin, D. (1992). The Way We Won: America's Economic Breakthrough During World War II. Retrieved from The American Prospect: http://prospect.org/article/way-we-won-americas-economic-breakthrough-during-world-war-ii
Gregory D. Squires, R. D. (1979). Urban Decline or Disinvestment: Uneven Development, Redlinig and the Role of the Insurance Industry. Society for the Study of Social Problems, 79-95.
Gunitsky, S. (2017, August 12). These are the three reasons fascism spread in 1930s America-and might spread again today. Retrieved from The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/
Hackett, R. (2017, November 1). Apple CEO Tim Cook: Social Media SPreads Division, Manipulation, and Lies. Retrieved from Fortune: http://fortune.com/2017/11/01/apple-facebook-google-twitter-tim-cook-fake-news-tax-reform/
Hartman, T. (2014, April 19). Reaganomics killed America's middle class. Retrieved from salon: https://www.salon.com/2014/04/19/reaganomics_killed_americas_middle_class_partner/
Hayden, D. (2003). Building Suburbia. Vintage Books.
Hine, T. (1986). Populuxe. New York: Random House.
Hine, T. (1986). Populuxe. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Hopper, E. (n.d.). Gas. artstor. The Museum of Modern Art: Painting and Sculpture, New York.
Houck, A. K. (1991). A Shining City on a Hill: Ronald Reagan's Economic Rhetoric, 1951-1989. Greenwood Publishing Group.
Income Inequality in the United States. (n.d.). Retrieved from Inequality.org: https://inequality.org/facts/income-inequality/
Jacoby, S. (2008). The Age of American Unreason. New York: Pantheon Books.
Jenkins, V. S. (1994). The Lawn A History of an American Obsession. Smithsonian Institution Press.
Johanna Kristin, C. D. (2016, December 16). Is diversity inherently dangerous? Retrieved from The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/12/16/is-diversity-inherently-dangerous/?utm_term=.c5ec68194246
Karlgaard, R. (2004, June 7). The 20th Century's Greatest President. Retrieved from Forbes.com: https://www.forbes.com/2004/06/07/cz_rk_0607reagan.html#77206d05be3c
Katz, A. (n.d.). His Behind the Back Pass. artstor. Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville.
Kelly, L. (2016). The Memory Code. Allen & Unwin.
Kerry James Marshall, T. S. (2000). Kerry James Marshall. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Incorporated.
Krall, L. (2002). Thomas Jefferson's Agrarian VIsion and the Changing Nature of property. Journal of Economic Issues, 131-150.
Kunst, J. (2016, June 1). Why Politics Are So Hard: A Psychoanalyst's Perspective. Retrieved from Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/headshrinkers-guide-the-galaxy/201606/why-politics-are-so-hard-psychoanalyst-s-perspective
Kushner, D. (2009). Review: When the Niggers Moved into Levittown. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, 80-81.
Lach, A. (2012, July 9). 5 Factors About Overseas Outsourcing. Retrieved from Center for American Progress: https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/economy/news/2012/07/09/11898/5-facts-about-overseas-outsourcing/
Levin, Y. (2016). The Fractured Republic. New York: Basic Books.
Littman, M. S. (1989, June). Poverty in the 1980's: are the poor getting poorer? Retrieved from bls.gov: https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/1989/06/art3full.pdf
Long, H. (2017, April 7). Reality check: U.S. manufacturing jobs at 1940s levels. Retrieved from CNN: http://money.cnn.com/2017/04/07/news/economy/us-manufacturing-jobs/index.html
Lynch, C. (2017, October 14). America may be more divided now than at any time since the Civil War. Retrieved from Salon: https://www.salon.com/2017/10/14/america-may-be-more-divided-now-than-at-any-time-since-the-civil-war/
M., T. (1982, January 14). The Case for Tax Cuts Now. Retrieved from The Heritage Foundation: https://www.heritage.org/taxes/report/the-case-tax-cuts-now
Madrigal, A. C. (2014, May 22). The Racisct Housing Policy That Made Your Neighborhood. Retrieved from The Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/05/the-racist-housing-policy-that-made-your-neighborhood/371439/
Mahoney, J. (2008, May 29). The Meaning of the Sermon on the Mount. Retrieved from www.thinkingfaith.org: http://www.thinkingfaith.org/articles/20080529_1.htm
Marshall, K. J. (n.d.). Better Homes Better Gardens. atstor. Larry Qualls Archieve.
Massachusetts Bay- "The City Upon a Hill". (n.d.). Retrieved from U.S. History: http://www.ushistory.org/us/3c.asp
Matthews, C. (2016, July 13). The Death of the Middle Class Is Worse Than You. Retrieved from fortune: http://fortune.com/2016/07/13/middle-class-death/
McElroy, W. (2010, December 1). The Physiocrats. Retrieved from The Future of Freedom Foundation: https://www.fff.org/explore-freedom/article/physiocrats/
McGuigan, C. (2009, August). Alex Katz Is Cooler Than Ever. Retrieved from smithsonianmag.com: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/alex-katz-is-cooler-than-ever-34462293/
Meek, R. L. (1962). The Economics of Physiocracy. Cambridge University Press.
Messey, D. S. (1990). American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of Underclass. American Journal of Sociology, 329-357.
Meyer, J. (2017, March 22). The Economy Is Changign And So Is The American Dream. Retrieved from Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jaredmeyer/2017/03/22/the-economy-is-changing-and-so-is-the-american-dream/#18daef603cc3
MoMA. (n.d.). Charles White. Retrieved from moma.org: https://www.moma.org/artists/6339?=undefined&page=1&direction=
moma. (n.d.). Pop Art: A Brief History. Retrieved from moma.org: https://www.moma.org/learn/moma_learning/themes/pop-art
Muro, M. (2016, November 18). Manufacturing Jobs Aren't Coming Back. Retrieved from MIT Technology Review: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602869/manufacturing-jobs-arent-coming-back/
Murphy, J. (2007, June). Precisionism. Retrieved from metmuseum.org: https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/prec/hd_prec.htm
Niemuth, N. (2017, December 15). World's Richest One Percent Capture Twice as Much Income Growth as the Bottom Half. Retrieved from Global Research: https://www.globalresearch.ca/worlds-richest-one-percent-capture-twice-as-much-income-growth-as-the-bottom-half/5622867
Nivola, P. S. (1996, November 1). Inside Outsourcing: More Bad News from Business Regulation? Retrieved from Brookings: https://www.brookings.edu/research/inside-outsourcing-more-bad-news-from-business-regulation/
O'Reilly, A. (2017, August 15). Hate crimes in US on the rise. Retrieved from Fox News: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/08/15/hate-crimes-in-us-on-rise.html
Parry, R. (2011, September 20). The Dark Legacy of Reaganomics. Retrieved from Consortiumnews.com: https://consortiumnews.com/2011/09/20/the-dark-legacy-of-reaganomics/
Paul, S. (2004, October). Abstract Expressionism. Retrieved from metmuseum.org: https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/abex/hd_abex.htm
Phillips, K. W. (2014, October 1). How Diversity Makes Us Smarter. Retrieved from Scientific American: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-diversity-makes-us-smarter/
Pollock, J. (n.d.). Untitled. artstor. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.
Press, A. (2007, February 17). Americans sending mixed signals on science. Retrieved from NBC News: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/17206139/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/americans-sending-mixed-signals-science/#.Wp371ejwaM8
Roberts, S. (2014, September 27). Object Lessons in History. Retrieved from The New Your Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/28/sunday-review/object-lessons-in-history.html
Rothko, M. (n.d.). Ochre and Red on Red. artstor. The Phillips Collection, Washington DC.
Rubin, J. (2017, June 27). The gay marriage debate has been won. Retrieved from The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2017/06/27/the-gay-marriage-debate-has-been-won/?utm_term=.19ed99b9fec3
Schall, J. V. (2018, January 4). The Death of civil discourse is the death of us. Retrieved from The Hill: http://thehill.com/opinion/civil-rights/367370-the-death-of-civil-discourse-is-the-death-of-us
Schlundt, D. (2014, September 20). The Impact of Agriculture in Early and COntemporary American History. Retrieved from IVN: https://ivn.us/2014/09/30/impact-agriculture-early-contemporary-american-history/
Schneider, W. (1992, July). The Suburban Century Begins. Retrieved from The Atlantic online: https://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/politics/ecbig/schnsub.htm
Schwartz, D. (2017, September 19). The U.S. Economy Is Changing, ANd That's Not A Bad Thing. Retrieved from FOrbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2017/09/19/the-u-s-economy-is-changing-and-thats-not-a-bad-thing/#790f5e29c74e
Strauss, V. (2014, September 16). Poll; Most Americans no longer think a college education is 'very important'. Retrieved from The Washington Post:
Sullivan, M. (2017, December 28). Polls show Americans distrust the media. But talk to them, and it's a very different story. Retrieved from The Washington POst: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/polls-show-americans-distrust-the-media-but-talk-to-them-and-its-a-very-different-story/2017/12/27/ed9bbabe-ce3b-11e7-81bc-c55a220c8cbe_story.html?utm_term=.123b9829af2d
Taylor, J. (2012, May 7). Personal Growth: Your Values, Your Life. Retrieved from Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-power-prime/201205/personal-growth-your-values-your-life
White, C. (n.d.). Untitled. artstor. Larry Qualls Archive.
White, D. W. (1997). The American Century: The Rise and Decline of the United States as a World Power. New Haven and London : Yale University Press.
Wiese, B. N. (2017, April). 1945 -1970: Era of Mass-Suburbanization. Retrieved from Oxford Research Encyclopedia: http://americanhistory.oxfordre.com/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780199329175.001.0001/acrefore-9780199329175-e-64
Wood, G. (n.d.). Birthplace of Herbert Hoover. artstor.org. ARTstor Slide Gallery, New York.
Wright, R. R. (1992). The Rise and Fall of American Technological Leadership: The Postwar Era in Historical Perspective. Journal of Economic Literature, 1931-1964.
Yana Jin, H. A. (2016, December 9). Air Pollution Control Policies in CHina: A Retrospective and Prospects. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
Yoshinaga, K. (2016, July 1). Babies Of Color Are Now The Majority, Census Says. Retrieved from NPR: https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/07/01/484325664/babies-of-color-are-now-the-majority-census-says
Zakaria, F. (2008). The Post-American World. W.W. Norton & Company.
Conclusion to Murika the Beautiful Series
The Suburbs have changed the physical and cultural landscape of our country. It is a symbol of success, prosperity, and hope. It is a symbol of intolerance and denial. It is America. We live in a time of tremendous opportunity for our society if we break the shackles of nostalgia and ignorance. We did not create the past and are not responsible for it but we must be honest with ourselves about it. Will we be able to accept our new realities and come together as a society?
African American artists made their own contributions to the culture of America. The daily struggle of minorities influenced the work of Charles White, who created “images of dignity” and believed that “art must be an integral part of the struggle. It can’t simply mirror what’s taking place. It must adapt itself to human needs. It must ally itself with the forces of liberation. The fact is, artists have always been propagandists. I have no use for artists who try to divorce themselves from the struggle.”
At the end of the 20th century, painters started to reference historical influences in their depictions of the American spirit. Artists such as James Kerry Marshall, Walton Ford, and Alex Katz looked to American cultural history for inspiration. McGuigan wrote, “A maverick from the beginning, Katz came of age when Abstract Expressionism still reigned, yet he turned to painting landscapes and the human figure. Over time, his paintings got bigger”. “Appropriating the monumental scale, stark composition, and dramatic light of the Abstract Expressionists, he would beat the heroic generation at their own game,” the critic Carter Ratcliff wrote in a 2005 monograph on Katz. Alex Katz also used “flat, bright figures that had an everyday quality that linked them to commercial art and popular culture.” His compositions involving landscapes and people often
positioned figures in parklike environments close to or touching the border, giving the impression that the viewer is passing through the scene.
Kerry James Marshall’s work “is drawn from African American culture and rooted in the geography of his upbringing”. Charles White’s belief that artists should create works reflective of their culture’s struggle influenced Kerry James Marshall. His work is a blend of abstraction, realism, and collage addressing African American culture in American history. African American figures were depicted so darkly that they were almost completely blacked out. He elegantly addressed cultural stereotypes by removing any chance of the viewer seeing these figures as unique individuals. His work “Better Homes Better Gardens” juxtaposes suburban and urban cultures in the same composition, forcing the viewer to consider their connections.
Walton Ford’s work was inspired by early naturalist illustrators like American John James Audubon. Most of Ford’s works are large scale water color paintings. He created images that were meant to fill in the blank spots in history. His work lets us know that the idea of men like John James Audubon is better than the reality and that they were
only living within their own time. History is filled with characters that would not stand up to the tests of our contemporary culture. An honest judgement of them must be accompanied by an understanding of the times in which they lived. Walton Ford uses the depiction of animals in unnatural situations or behaving badly to illustrate our own shortcomings.
The shifting and hostile landscape of contemporary America has many longing for simpler and better times. The one constant in the past fifty years has been the suburban landscape. For most Americans, it has always been there. Half of all Americans live and work in the suburbs. Every American has been exposed to it.
Popular culture has widely spread the image. It is a symbol of both America’s promise and America’s shortcomings. If we are going to move forward together as a nation then we must be honest about all aspects of our past and how it has shaped our present.
Images are important to me as a painter because of their power to examine and transform beliefs. An image can invoke the same feelings in a person as if they were in the presence of the real thing. This is why religions throughout time have used idols and icons in their ceremonies.
Painting is a medium that matches the transformative influence images and the environment have on us. The use of paint to capture the spirit of the time has a long history in the United States. The early 20th century saw Precisionist artists like Charles Demuth and Ralston Crawford who “consistently reduced their compositions to simple shapes and underlying geometrical structures, with clear outlines, minimal detail, and smooth handling of surfaces” (Murphy, 2007) to capture urban and industrial landscapes. At that time America was just starting to emerge on the world stage. As the First World War raged on, the Allied forces turned to the United States for resources. The industrial outputs and agricultural abundance of the Midwest flowed through American port cities to the world.These artists provided the foundation for American painters of the 20th century and established how painters mirrored the cultural changes of the nation.
These cultural and aesthetic changes in America were reflected in the work of American painters. Abstract Expressionism came to prominence during this post war era. Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock represent American painters of this time who “made monumentally scaled works that stood as reflections of their individual psyches” and “valued spontaneity and improvisation … They accorded the highest importance to process”. Jackson Pollock particularly demonstrated the change in the aesthetic of American art when compared to the work of his teacher Thomas Hart Benton. “Even when depicting images based on visual realities, the Abstract Expressionists favored a highly abstracted mode.
Studies show that diverse societies like the United States are more creative. Despite this scientific evidence, many people have a negative view of the increased diversity in America and believe that some people are dangerous and should be banned. The fear of being marginalized has empowered white supremacist groups and contributed to a dramatic increase in hate crimes fueling tensions within the country.
The tension generated by an increasingly diverse country is compounded by a growing trend toward anti-intellectualism. There are several consequences of this anti-intellectualism. Civil discourse and open dialogue based on reasoned arguments have become the exception and not the norm. People are becoming increasingly mistrustful of established science. There is an increasing number of people who believe in pseudoscience and conspiracy theories. Our society is beginning to view education as an unnecessary luxury or simply a way to increase one’s earning potential. (Strauss, 2014) The educational system that helped establish America as a world leader has come under attack by those who promote alternate education policies. News sources are often viewed as being unreliable or as reporting biased opinions.
Technology has inadvertently fueled the flames of ignorance through the way that Americans receive and consume information. The new technologies have enabled the delivery of specialized messages designed for a narrow subset of the population, further isolating Americans from any points of view that differs from those they hold as true. Instead of bringing people together, social media has been used to spread misinformation and spark conflict. Thanks to technology, we can frame the world however we want.
The promises of supply-side economics did not materialize for everyone. Americans living below the poverty line in the 1980s did not see any improvements in their standard of living compared to previous decades. There were fewer manufacturing jobs in 1989 than there were in 1979. Some economic scholars believe that Reagan’s economic policies killed a middle class that was already suffering from increased competition from foreign markets (Culbertson, 1986). Automation permanently eliminated some jobs. Technological advancements meant that more manufacturing work could be done by fewer Americans.
The national deficit increased by 142% during the Reagan administration. The deficit increase was due to increased military spending surpassing any cuts to government investments in domestic programs. Some economic analysts credit the economic improvements of the time to monetary policies of the Central Bank rather than Reagan’s fiscal policies. The Conservatives’ economic policies contributed to the growing economic inequality in America of the early 1980s. This trend continued as the top one percent of Americans accumulated more wealth at an exponentially increasing rate. A major tenet of the American Dream – the hope that the efforts of each generation would improve the lives of the next – began to erode.
America’s supremacy ended at the close of the 20th century as other countries emerged as political and economic forces. America was no longer the sole super power. The rise of other nations created new challenges, opportunities, and realities for the United States in the Post-American World. This gave rise to new definitions of the American Dream and what it means to be an American. Younger Americans no longer expect or want the lives of their parents and grandparents. The days of working for one company your whole life and then retiring are gone. Lifestyles that were once considered abnormal, immoral, or illegal are now being
accepted as mainstream. The majority of Americans accept and support the rights of same sex couples to marry. America, always a melting pot, is becoming more diverse. It is no longer a predominantly white country. The birth rate of minority groups is outpacing that of non-Hispanic whites. In the near future the demographics of America will be more evenly divided with no ethnic group dominating the population of America.
Residents of urban areas faced their own challenges with the practice of redlining. The term “redlining” was coined in the 1960’s by sociologist John McKnight. Redlining refers to the practice of red lines being drawn on maps to indicate where loans would be unavailable. Redlined areas were predominately black and inner city communities. “White flight” and a lack of investments led to the deterioration of urban infrastructure (Gregory D. Squires, 1979). These factors established a geographically and economically segregated society that walled off the American dream and had detrimental social and economic consequences that lasted generations.
The unjust class system established and fortified by social and economic policies was compounded by the rise of Conservatism in America. Before the 1960’s, Conservatism was not considered a serious movement that could provide any practical contributions to American society. As the American Century ended, Conservatism grew. Conservative leaders believed they were mandated to save America from Communism and itself by building a strong military and shrinking government through reduced taxation and spending on social and domestic programs. Conservatism rose to dominate the culture and politics of America at the end of the 20th century. This rise culminated in the Presidency of Ronald Reagan, which had even greater impacts on the
political, social, and economic culture of America. Ronald Reagan is viewed by many to be the greatest American President. He created a culture promoting Conservative Christian values and economic principles that viewed government intervention as un-American. Supply-sided economic policies promoted reduced government spending, a reduction in the capital gains tax, and tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy to promote revitalization of the economy through investments. Reagan cemented the idea of America being a militaristic and Christian nation.
This period had lasting effects on America. The post-war era brought cultural changes to the United States. People sought a reprieve from the noise, congestion, and pollution of the urban environment. Those who wanted to raise a family but still be near cultural institutions sought areas on the outskirts of cities to build their homes and realize their American dreams. The increased birth rate created a lack of housing in the country. The assembly line model of home and community construction perfected by the building firm Levitt & Sons became the model ofsuburban development in the United States. The Levittown model gave us the iconic image of winding streets lined with cookie cutter homes centered on a carpet of green grass (Jenkins, 1994). The prosperous lifestyle of suburban living was marketed to the American people as the new norm by popular culture which spurred the purchase of home goods (Hayden, 2003). The increased consumption of products to fill all the new homes in the suburbs created a consumer culture with its own unique lifestyle and aesthetic. American consumer culture then inspired the development of Pop Art.