Cold War Presidents

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The 1950s in America are remembered as a sort of golden age in our history, not just because the economy was thriving, people could move out of the busy city to the quiet suburbs, and Humphrey Bogart and Frank Sinatra was still alive, but because things were simple. True, we entered into an arms race that would hang like a sword over the heads of the American people for the next thirty years, but other than that, people were comforted with the fact that they knew that America was the indisputable hero out to beat the malevolent villain. We were a country of Spaghetti Westerns and Superman, and were too comfortable portraying ourselves as the lawful good. However, by the time we get involved with Vietnam, more and more Americans began to become skeptical of the administration, and many began to suspect their own government was an enemy as well. With the wave of the civil rights movement and the Women’s movement, the government attempted to reprimand the flaws in the system, but there was nothing they could do fast enough to satisfy the people. As the Cold War era heated up, Presidents began to become more and more nervous in the hot seat, and this is where we see the trend of seemingly bungling, clandestine presidencies with leaders who didn’t know how to spread themselves effectually across the issues at home and overseas.
Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy all had fairly similar policies aimed to promote racial integration, expand Social Security, contain the Soviet threat to the Eastern Bloc, and rebuild postwar Europe under an American democratic influence.1 Truman’s actions are more so admirable than anything when one considers the immense stress and disapproval he was under for the majority of his two terms; none the less, he s...

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