the People's Republic of China under Richard M. Nixon's presidency
represented the beginning of a new era of global political change,
the long term consequences of which remain unclear today. Although
the collapse of the Soviet Union and the overthrow of communist
governments in Eastern Europe ended decades of Cold War, peace and
a "new world order" have remained elusive for the United States.
The nation has been pulled into one international crisis after another,
from Iran to Iraq to the Balkans.
On the domestic front, the political and constitutional system of
checks and balances established by the revolutionary generation
were strained by the Watergate and Iran-Contra affairs. This period
also saw a jockeying for political power by Democrats and Republicans
offering competing solutions for the nation's persistent economic
and social problems. Social and cultural change has continued. The
nation's gates were reopened to immigrants from Asia and Central
America, and renewed reform movements were launched to carry out
the environmental, feminist, and civil rights agendas that lost
steam in the 1970s. The nation experienced a resurgence of religious
evangelicalism, and technological innovation and corporate reorganization
massively altered the character of work.