A vision of America in the 1980s (1979)

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A vision of America in the 1980s

America in the ’80s

Predicting the future is a dicey business, a little like betting the horses. But if history is somewhat linear and the past is indeed prologue, we may have a better indication of where we’re going by taking a brief glance at where we’ve been.

The ’70s defy easy description. They arrived tumultuously with Cambodia and Kent State, and any notions that these events might simply be residual of ’60s turbulence were dispelled as the decade unfolded with violence, tragedy and scandal of its own — Attica, Watergate, hijackings and kidnappings, recession and inflation, attempted assassinations, Jonestown, Iran.

It was also a time, many said, of personal self-absorption, of looking out for number one. Social change shook the very foundation of the home. Women took off their aprons, marched for equal rights and became firefighters, astronauts and West Point cadets. Just about everyone put on sneakers and jumped into the fitness craze. There was also a growing concern for the environment, a spectacular bicentennial celebration and the eradication of smallpox.

Today, on the threshold of a new decade, Americans feel uncertain and a little scared. According to a recent Gallup poll, 77 percent are dissatisfied with the way things are going in this country. But 79 percent say they are satisfied with their own personal lives.

What’s in store for the next 10 years? Well, one sure thing is that Halley’s comet will streak across the sky in ’86. To shed further light on the future, Family Weekly invited leaders from all walks of life to gaze into their crystal balls and report what they see. Welcome to the ’80s.

Stronger marriages

Gay Talese, author of the forthcoming Thy Neighbor’s Wife, a study of sexual attitudes in America

The 1980s will be a time when women become increasingly aggressive; they will begin to rely less on men for a sense of self-worth, for approval, for confirmation on their desirability. They will become more equal partners in pleasurable and profitable pursuits and will become more able to appreciate themselves and to be alone. As a result, a man will find the same woman interesting for a long period of time. Marriages will be stronger.

Smaller government

Howard Jarvis, advocate of California’s tax-reducing Proposition 13 and author of I’m Mad as Hell

I think the people will finally get control of the Government again in the ’80s. They’ll kick the clowns out, reduce Government’s size, reduce taxes. A whole new breed of politicians will appear — younger, inexperienced, sincere — to take the place of the old-school crooks that are there now. And when they do, we can start to save this country and make it what it should be.

A struggle for ‘silver rights’

The Rev Jesse Jackson, National President of Operation PUSH (an international human rights group)

There will be a shift in power in the 1980s, in which the Third World will emerge in an even greater degree. America will lose its monopoly on power and will have to learn to live more interdependently than it has in recent years. As a result, there will be something of a renaissance of human rights.

For black people, the lateral struggle of the past two decades will become a vertical one: to move up, to share power in this country. Instead of fighting for civil rights, it will now be a struggle for silver rights — to share equally in this country’s resources. And it will be an active struggle, involving direct action: if rewards aren’t won, it could mean going back to the streets.

A battle over basic rights

Alan Dershowitz, Professor of Law, Harvard University

A legal system is like an insurance policy — you pay your premiums during the good times so that you can be insured against the bad times. The post-World War II period has been relatively good times for our legal institutions: We have experienced expansion in our rights and liberties. But we must be prepared for dangerous times in the 80s: economic uncertainties bring legal uncertainties, and we will see calls for a contraction of our basic rights. Our legal system must be prepared to resist them.

Tougher choices

Betty Friedan, feminist leader and author of The Feminine Mystique

The choices women have sought in the ’70s are not as simple as they once seemed. The measure of equality we have already achieved is not secure until we face the unanticipated conflicts between the demands of the workplace and professional success on one hand, and the demands of the family on the other. In the 80s there must be a restructuring of the institutions of home and work. The US is one of the few advanced nations with no national policy of leaves for maternity or paternity, no national policy encouraging flexible working arrangements and no policy to provide child care for those who need it. We spend less on child care than we did 10 years ago.

The more women enter the workplace and share the breadwinning, the more their family bonds will strengthen.

Jobs at stake

Lane Kirkland, President, AFL-CIO

Workers, like all Americans, face many problems in the 80s. The most important is the need for an adequate, uninterrupted supply of energy. Full employment and full production depend on energy. Our jobs, our homes and our futures are all at stake. Workers are confident that America, which has faced and solved many problems in its history, will solve the energy problem and become an even greater, more secure, nation.

The children’s hour

Ray Bradbury, writer, author of Fahrenheit 451

The 1980s will be better because we are beginning to pay attention to our problems. We’re not neglecting them. We’re willing to take responsibility. We’re willing to do something about the energy crisis. We’re considering alternatives to the automobile, and if we keep moving in that direction, we can correct them (our problems) and we’ll be better off.

We seem to be in a hole as far as space travel goes… It’s not a matter of money; it’s a matter of imagination and will. We’ve got plenty of money. We’ve got plenty of inventiveness. It’s just a matter of we should be doing it (exploring space) to find out more about our environment. After all, we’ve already had so much benefit from space travel — on just a purely physical level as well as an idealistic level.

There’s already a great public interest in science. Two of the most popular films in history of the world are Star Wars and Close Encounters. They’re about science, aren’t they? They’re about science fiction. And many of our most popular TV shows through the years have been science fiction. So if we pay attention to our kids we can learn something…

The sexual arena

Director, The Institute for Sex Research Bloomington, Ind.

The 1980s will witness the continuation and intensification of a struggle begun in the 1960s and 1970s. On one hand, the trend toward greater sexual liberalism will continue: More states will pass legislation decriminalizing sexual acts done by consenting adults in private; premarital sexual intercourse will continue to increase, and the number of women with such experience will come close to equaling that of men.

The number of unmarried couples living together will also increase, and society will probably begin to consider such cohabitation as common law marriage. While censorship has been virtually eliminated in films, published materials and plays, it still remains fairly powerful in TV and radio. But in the 1980s, we shall see increasingly explicit sexual themes and behavior in both these media.

Photos, Row 1: Jesse Jackson, Betty Friedan, Gay Talese, Alan Dershowitz, Row 2: Lane Kirkland, Ray Bradbury, Howard Jarvis, Paul Gebhard

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