The social and political conditions of the last fifteen years have spawned many loosely connected conservative groups trying to limit or overturn the perceived liberal agendas that they claim have contributed to the moral degeneration of American society. Overlapping historical trends provoked a sense of crisis in dominant institutions in the late 1970s and early 1980s. By the end of the 1970s social and political forces were playing themselves out on the nightly news: high inflation, gradually worsening opportunities for mobility, chronically high unemployment, the permanent reality of poverty, the progressively deteriorating standard of living for much of the work force, and, of course, the distressing Iranian hostage crisis. In many quarters, indicators of the slowly eroding American value system (usually referring to some version of a middle-class value structure) were rampant. Drug abuse, pornography,
changing gender roles, abortion, homosexuality, and, increasingly, some brands of rock music were characterized as evidence of a generic decline of the moral commitments of Americans. The social and political climate was shifting from moderate tolerance to an oftentimes reactionary conservatism.