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History As It Happens

Mar 4, 2024

Hey, 2024 is an election year! This is the first episode in an occasional series examining influential elections in U.S. history.

The moralistic incumbent expressed anguish over soulless materialism. The optimistic challenger promised Americans they could overcome any and all problems. The election of 1980 pitted Democrat Jimmy Carter against Republican Ronald Reagan as Americans struggled with stagflation at home and crises abroad. Reagan's victory marked a sea change in U.S. politics, tilting the political landscape to the right. Reagan crusaded against big government and Soviet Communism. If the incumbent looked impotent in the face of these vexing problems, Reagan projected strength -- a timeless lesson of campaigning. In this episode, historians Jeremi Suri and Jeffrey Engel discuss why this election still matters.