America’s history is long, dynamic, rich and unique in all the aspects. From the Newfoundland status to the various dynamic experiences it underwent through leading to its eventual unification, the country sets it apart from the rest of the global arena. A continental Union of States, America is the contemporary arena’s biggest economy; with the military might and political ideology further enhancing the above. The contemporary American arena, shaped by different aspects, ideals, experiences and resultant effects, is truly a melting pot of all nations with their religion, creed, race, gender and sexual inclinations notwithstanding.
Accordingly, it is such aspects as America’s participation in the Second World War, the resultant Cold War and various effects, which were to shape its economic foundation. An increase in prosperity in the American economy led to the baby boomer age, also known as the Suburban era, which was characterized by revolutions and counter-revolutions as concerning different aspects as culture, religion, moral ideals/ sexuality and lifestyle transformation. Young Americans espoused a sense of rebellion to the dominant ideals and perspectives, as pertaining to the aforementioned aspects partly because of the new independence realized after the great economic growth, the advent of en masse television and music culturalization and disenfranchisement with that political arena.
A rise in Civil Rights movements, in addition to the uncivil liberties brought about an era of civil unrest, increased the violence and consequently a greater social divide amongst the various constituent parties of America’s Social arena. Cultural revolutions and counter-revolutions permeated throughout the different social entities at times peacefully, but mostly in a violent, distrustful, hateful and fearful manner. This at times was because of the counterculture activists dueling, in addition to students voicing their collective concerns. Catholicism, as a religion, tried to counter the influence of the Rock and Roll revolution, among other popular cultures to little success.
Revolutions occurred in the form of women taking up workplace jobs, shedding their homemaker roles for the office. This left the children under relative, daycare centre or employee care. Family roles were distorted, with the sanctity of marriage suffering majorly. The children were experimenting with drugs (this became a great menace), criminality, early sexuality, and a youthful rebellion towards America’s Suburbia. Juvenile delinquency and criminality cases increased in addition to sexual gratification levels, increasing in the youthful populations, as the Beat generation was fueled by Elvis Presley’s popularity (Davidson, et al. 789).
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Consequently, in my discussion, I will touch on the various aspects of American history, which almost brought a rift between the Great Depression era and World War II people and their descendants. This rift, growing larger as the decades crept by, was because of different, yet critical factors, which have shaped the contemporary American arena. The Pearl Harbor attacks, and the resultant American awakening, has and continues to shape the global political, economic and military arenas, as the US remains the global superpower.
The Cold War Era in America (1945-1954) is significant for a number of reasons. While racial tensions were on the rise during the 1940s, the Pearl Harbor Attack necessitated the American military reaction, which was critical to the Allies’ victory. Many of America’s young men and women were drafted to go and fight for America in the different European frontiers, as a means of tackling the combined expansionist aims of the German, Italian and Japanese forces/ armies. The resultant consequence was that while back at home (America), civil/ racial tensions were high, in the WWII American forces, all races and religions were expected to integrate and operate smoothly.
With the victorious end of the war, as many American soldiers and citizens celebrated being back to their home, the racial tensions and resultant negative effects continued to rear their ugly heads repeatedly. While many war veterans would not lead a normal life, the resultant rise of America as the global guard necessitated a shift from its former isolationist foreign policy to a more inclusive military backed global peace maintainer. A new opponent, in the name of Communism/ the USSR, propelled the America’s military-university industrial complex into the global manufacturer it is today, in addition to increasing the Federal Government’s powers and role-play (Davidson, et al. 755).
Fears permeated the American society towards the Soviet Union, almost resulting in a third global war as it was espoused by the Cuban Missile Crisis. This was worsened by Stalin’s expansionist moves, which created American fear and loathing for anything communist. Global power plays resulted in a fragmented global society affecting the internal order/ security as well. The Truman Doctrine aided in asserting America’s role as the peacemaker and police of global affairs. The Marshall Plan worked hand in hand with the above, aiding war-ruined Europe to its present recovery.
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Post-war prosperity, driven by the unbridled business venture and consumer spending, in addition to war wages, which had piled up in war bonds, and savings produced the Suburbian culture that was driven towards the attainment of better and luxurious lifestyles. Furtherance was the federal government’s increased expenditure, which bolstered the already prospering economy. Conversely so was the resentment of Black and Hispanic veterans who had returned to a still segregated society. Becoming more vocal as espoused through the American G. I. Forum, such groups championed universal civil rights and other organizations such as the CORE and NAACP.
The two principle American parties, Democrats and Republicans, have all played significant roles in America’s history. However, a majority of Americans still opt for Democrats the New Deal successes because they help in increasing wages, government role in job creation and increased the social welfare spending. Labor issues led to the introduction of the then hated Taft-Hartley Act (1947) pitting the government against the labor unions (Davidson, et al. 765).
As aforementioned, the Suburban Era (1945-63) coincided with the advent of the Cold War and its effects. It was spurred by the culture of mobility primarily aided by the creations of Harley Earl (GM motor vehicles). The above, leading to an expanding American middle class in an era of both peace and prosperity, resulted in ideals of a consensus of American culture. Baby boomers, the generational offspring of this era, however, were less affected by such ideals. President Eisenhower’s presidency, radiating a sense of stability and security, left such young generations with little to worry about other than personal issues.
Such an evolving suburban culture, espoused a reduction/ rebellion of young Americans from the existent cultures, as new ideals, driven by the perspectives of Liberalism and democracy, permeated and influenced them on a daily aspect. The movies and music industry grew, as it drew great numbers in viewership, further enriching the diversity of the popular culture as found within America. Lifestyles were influenced by the television screen, while the music industry was influenced by Jazz music (a favorite of African Americans), and Rock and Roll (more inclined towards the Caucasian Americans.)
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Different religions, clamored for numbers, evidently espoused by the deep religious divides in American society. The baby boomers, not quite religious opted and hence found different avenues of following as they were espoused by the Rock and Roll associated drug taking, Hip Hop’s association with violence and the movies industry’s role in portraying lavish and morally corrupt lifestyles. Though the above-remained true, anticommunist and patriotic themes continued to permeate through the preaching of various clergy via television, as televangelists Billy Graham, Dwight Moody and Charles Finney best espoused (Davidson, et al. 783).
In conclusion, the different aspects of American history were crucial in shaping the contemporary American social setting. By embracing the ideals of Liberalism, enhanced by the tenets of Capitalism and free trade, American society continues to thrive though on an unequal basis. Racial discrimination continues to pervade the smooth interconnectivity desired, with a lack of spiritual direction affecting most youthful populations. Drugs, music, movies and lifestyles of the elite continue to occupy the minds of many; with money being the primary motive/ aim in life. Different cultures, perspectives and ideals continue to play different roles in shaping America’s future.