Modern America Quiz

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Question 1
What was President Nixon’s overall approach in handling the Cold War?

A
Nixon believed that the only way to end the Cold War was to build a nuclear arsenal five times stronger than that of the Soviet Union.
B
Nixon supported a policy of détente that focused on negotiating terms beneficial to national interests rather than further escalating the military standoff.
C
Nixon was content to maintain the status quo in American foreign policy.
D
Nixon was incredibly inconsistent in his approach to the Cold War and, as a result, opened the United States up to global criticism.
Question 1 Explanation: 
President Nixon and national security advisor Henry Kissinger executed their foreign policy agenda according to the philosophy of realpolitik. This meant that relations with other nations would focus, first and foremost, on national interests rather than politics. Nixon’s détente plan built upon these ideals and sought to create a new era of relations with the communist world based upon open diplomatic conversation rather than confrontation.
Question 2
What was the result of the “Ping-Pong diplomacy” carried out between American and the Chinese in the early 1970s?

A
America and China used the table tennis matches as an opportunity to hatch a plan to re-enter Korea.
B
America and China used the table tennis team competitions as a competitive outlet for the rising militaristic tensions between the two nations.
C
America and China used the table tennis matches as leverage to force the Soviet Union to negotiate new regulations on nuclear weapons.
D
America and China used the table tennis trips as cover for the secret talks that opened up bilateral trade and set the stage for formal visits between the leaders of the two nations.
Question 2 Explanation: 
The meetings between President Nixon and Chinese premier Zhou Enlai embodied America’s new détente approach to foreign policy. The two nations coyly used a Chinese table tennis challenge as cover for the leaders’ initial conversations. Prior to the “ping-pong diplomacy” trips, relations between America and China had been frozen ever since China’s conversion to a communist state in 1949. Regardless, Nixon recognized the positive potential of being able to trade goods and research with the largest population on the planet and successfully began the process of restoring relations between the two nations.
Question 3
What was the main cause of the 1973 oil crisis?

A
Arab members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) embargoed oil shipments to the US in response to US support for Israel during the Yom Kippur War.
B
America's oil fields were fully depleted, so there was a sudden need to depend on imports for all of their oil.
C
America was using the majority of their fuel reserves to supply nuclear research efforts.
D
The American power grid was stretched too thin to supply enough power to satisfy the growing demands of homes and industries.
Question 3 Explanation: 
Arab members of OPEC banned the sale of their Middle Eastern oil to America as punishment for what they saw as American meddling in the Israeli-Arab conflict. Price controls exacerbated the crisis and led to long lines at gas stations for nearly a year.
Question 4
What was the ultimate result of the Watergate scandal?

A
Nixon was impeached and forced to resign the Presidency for his involvement in Watergate scandal and its cover-up.
B
Nixon was convicted in a federal court for obstruction of justice. He was forcibly removed from the White House and had to serve time on house arrest for his crime.
C
Nixon was impeached but the House Judiciary Committee, but served his full second term as president.
D
Nixon was found to have no involvement in the Watergate scandal, but he resigned the presidency anyway citing the fact that the accusations alone were enough to irreparably damage his credibility and authority.
Question 4 Explanation: 
The break-in at the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters at the Watergate would spark a two-year scandal that ultimately resulted in Nixon’s impeachment and resignation. Nixon’s secret oval office taping system ended up proving to be his undoing as there was recorded evidence of Nixon ordering a cover-up.
Question 5
What was President Carter’s response to the nuclear disaster at Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in 1979?

A
Carter responded to the rising fear of nuclear power by ordering America’s nuclear power plants to be shut down until the Three Mile Island incident could be properly investigated.
B
Carter continued his support for nuclear power despite protests and growing concern among Americans over the safety of nuclear power.
C
Carter suspected Russian interference and sent undercover operatives to destabilize Soviet nuclear reactors as retaliation.
D
All of the above.
Question 5 Explanation: 
America was still deep in an energy crisis and a growing trade deficit when Jimmy Carter was sworn in in 1977. Nuclear power represented a crucial part of the newly-founded Department of Energy’s plan to boost American energy independence. Even though the disaster at Three Mile Island was both tragic and alarming, President Carter remained committed to American nuclear power.
Question 6
What was the significance of the Camp David Accords signed in March on 1979?

A
They formally ended the cold war.
B
They were the first peace treaties signed between Israel and an Arab country.
C
They ensured China and America would remain long-term trade partners.
D
They created an agreement between Democrats and Republicans to overhaul the American tax system.
Question 6 Explanation: 
The Camp David Accords were the end result of extensive peace negotiations between President Jimmy Carter, Egyptian president Anwar el-Sadat, and Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin. The peace treaty between Egypt and Israel would be the first agreement ever formalized between the Israelis and an Arab government.
Question 7
What effect did the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis have on Jimmy Carter’s presidency?

A
Carter’s successful negotiation to return the American hostages from Iran was a key part of his reelection campaign and the trademark success of his presidential legacy.
B
Carter used the Iranian hostage crisis as grounds to abandon his sweeping foreign policy platforms in favor of a more isolationist, America-first tone.
C
Carter was forced push for a massive increase in American military spending despite his personal political goal to focus on American domestic issues.
D
Carter’s failure to solve the hostage crisis before the 1980 election dealt a crippling blow to his popularity amongst the American people and would be a key factor in his reelection loss.
Question 7 Explanation: 
While Carter would successfully negotiate an end to the Iran hostage crisis in 1981, it came months after a landslide loss to Ronald Reagan and mere weeks before Carter’s presidential term ended.
Question 8
What was true of President Ronald Reagan’s economic policies?

A
His policies led to a reduction in the national debt
B
His policies increased inflation and lowered economic growth
C
He sought to stimulate the economy with a large, across-the-board tax cut
D
All of the above
Question 8 Explanation: 
Reagan’s economics policies were commonly referred to as Reaganomics, though his critics called his policies “voodoo economics” or “trickle-down economics." Reagan believed in the theory of supply-side economics, which favors lower marginal tax rates and less government regulation. He passed a large tax cut in 1981 and during his term the economy experienced robust growth and lower levels of inflation. Federal spending also increased, especially military spending, and the national debt increased dramatically.
Question 9
What was the reaction to Reagan administration’s deal to end the Iran-Contra affair?

A
Despite successfully freeing the American prisoners in Lebanon, there was widespread outrage over Reagan’s decision to sell American weapons to Iran and fund the Nicaraguan contras.
B
Reagan was put on trial by the House Judiciary Committee and found guilty of interfering with Congress’s responsibility to negotiate foreign policy.
C
Reagan was lauded as a hero for his creative solution to the foreign policy calamity that was the Iran-Contra scandal.
D
The Reagan administration plan to trade weapons to the Iranians for the American hostages held in Lebanon was blocked by Congress. Instead, Congress opted to arm Nicaraguan contras to launch hostage recuse efforts.
Question 9 Explanation: 
Members of Reagan’s White House National Security Council struck a secret deal whereby America would sell weapons to Iran in order to persuade them to help free the American hostages being held in Lebanon. Then, profits from the arms deal were used to fund Nicaraguan contras who were fighting against the communist Sandinistas. Congress was unable to find President Reagan guilty of any wrongdoing, although the public along with many in the government remained suspicious.
Question 10
How did Mikhail Gorbachev’s ascent to power in the Soviet Union affect relations with the United States?

A
America was forced to take a defensive posture as Gorbachev discarded the SALT II treaty and immediately began ramping up the production of nuclear arms.
B
Gorbachev remained largely non-communicative with the United States which led to an overall sense of distrust and confusion between the two superpowers.
C
Gorbachev dismissed the idea of diplomatic relations with the United States and, instead, focused the Soviet Union’s efforts on forming tighter bonds with the communist People’s Republic of China.
D
Gorbachev advocated policies known as glasnost and perestroika which opened the Soviet Union up to more democratic policies and an overall warming of relations with the United States.
Question 10 Explanation: 
Gorbachev’s policies had a tremendous impact on lowering the looming threat of thermonuclear war. Furthermore, his vision of the “new world order” recognized the growing tide of “independence, democracy, and social justice” taking place across the globe. Gorbachev and American Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush would work together to lay the groundwork for revolutionary change in the region. Ultimately, following an unsuccessful communist coup in 1991, Gorbachev and fellow reformer Boris Yeltsin would bring an end to the communist Soviet Union.
Question 11
On what grounds did President Bush invade Panama and overthrow General Manual Noriega?

A
Bush wanted to protect the American-built Panama Canal from being used by the corrupt military leader’s troops.
B
Bush used America’s “war on drugs” as justification for overthrowing the corrupt Panamanian General for his prominent role in American drug trafficking.
C
Bush sent military support into Panama at the request of the United Nations in order to address rampant human rights violations in the country.
D
All of the above.
Question 11 Explanation: 
Noriega was a top target in the American “war on drugs” for his efforts in both the supply and distribution of illegal drugs in the United States. When Noriega refused to cede his authority to his democratically-elected successor Guillermo Endara, Bush sent in American troops to overthrow the general and help Endara ascend to the Panamanian presidency.
Question 12
What was President George Bush’s response to China’s 1989 massacre of protestors in Tiananmen Square?

A
Bush immediately condemned the action and imposed strict sanctions on Chinese trade.
B
Bush mobilized U.S. troops to protect democratic protestors in other regions of China in an attempt to prevent similar tragedies.
C
Bush was measured in his response to the tragedy as he was focused on preserving diplomatic and trade relations with China.
D
The Bush administration sided with the Chinese and offered military support to prevent future protests.
Question 12 Explanation: 
Despite widespread public outcry, President Bush was careful in his response to Tiananmen Square. He did not want to upset the growing trade relations between the U.S. and China. As a result, there was little formal response from the United States on the matter.
Question 13
How did the United States government solve the savings and loan crisis in the late 1980s?

A
Congress voted to make savings and loan institutions illegal in the Unites States.
B
The federal government used taxpayer funds to bail out failing and struggling savings and loan institutions at a cost of nearly $500 billion.
C
President Bush opted to let the institutions fail and refused to agree to bailouts for the companies or their customers.
D
Customers who were negatively affected by the failing savings and loan institutions were offered substantial tax breaks for five years.
Question 13 Explanation: 
The savings and loan collapse of the late 1980s was partially the result of the widespread deregulation during the Reagan era. Savings and loan institutions were optimistic given the growing strength of the American economy and took larger risks. When the economy began to level out and home values started to fall, these savings and loan businesses were left with tremendous amounts of debts they could not afford to pay. The federal government issued a nearly $500 billion bailout to help contain the crisis.
Question 14
What led to the American intervention in the Persian Gulf War?

A
America launched an assault on Iraqi military targets after Saddam Hussein refused to withdraw from Kuwait.
B
America entered the Persian Gulf War to put an end to the repeated hostage crises involving Americans in the Middle East.
C
America sent troops to the Middle East to end the Saudi Arabian naval blockade in the Persian Gulf.
D
President Bush ordered troops into the Persian Gulf strictly to reinforce defenses at American embassies in the Middle East.
Question 14 Explanation: 
Following the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s invasion and occupation of neighboring Kuwait, the United Nations gave an ultimatum: either Hussein would withdraw his forces from Kuwait or there would be a military response. Hussein did not retreat. In response, American carriers, bombers and troops entered the region in January of 1991. By the end of February, Kuwait had been liberated. Domestically, President Bush’s approval ratings soared.
Question 15
What was the historical significance of Ross Perot’s presidential bid in the 1992 election?

A
Perot became the first candidate to run for president four separate times.
B
Perot was the oldest candidate to ever run for president.
C
Perot gained the largest percentage of popular votes for a third party candidate since Teddy Roosevelt’s run 80 years earlier.
D
Perot was the first third party candidate to ever appear in a televised presidential debate.
Question 15 Explanation: 
Perot gained 19% of the popular vote thanks to a campaign that resonated with Americans hungry for fiscal change. Perot’s main message focused on correcting America’s economic woes by ending American deficit spending and defeating NAFTA.

The first third party candidate to ever appear in a televised presidential debate was John Anderson in 1980. Anderson debated Ronald Reagan, but Jimmy Carter refused to attend the debate due to Anderson's inclusion.
Question 16
What caused the federal government shutdowns during the winter of 1995–1996?

A
President Bill Clinton was under investigation on impeachment charges.
B
The Republican-controlled Congress voted to shut down the government until Bill Clinton agreed to roll back progressive reforms he had passed like the Brady Bill and the Family and Medical Leave Act.
C
President Bill Clinton refused to approve any federal spending until Newt Gingrich resigned as Speaker of the House.
D
President Bill Clinton and the Republican-controlled Congress were in a standoff over the 1996 federal budget.
Question 16 Explanation: 
The federal government had to suspend all non-essential services twice during the winter of 1995–1996 due to budget impasses between Democratic President Bill Clinton and the Republican-controlled Congress. Republicans proposed spending cuts in order to balance the budget over seven years. Clinton vetoed their bill, saying that it failed to protect Medicare, Medicaid, education, the environment, and tax fairness. Eventually a compromise would be reached, but Republicans and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich were ultimately weakened politically by the conflict.
Question 17
What were the crimes President Bill Clinton was accused of that resulted in his eventual impeachment by the House of Representatives?

A
Perjury and obstruction of justice
B
Theft and assault
C
Treason and espionage
D
None of the above
Question 17 Explanation: 
President Bill Clinton was dealt two articles of impeachment, one for perjury (lying under oath) and another for obstruction of justice. The appointed independent counsel, Kenneth Starr, found sufficient evidence that the president had lied under oath about a relationship he had had with Monica Lewinsky, a White House intern. Despite the impeachment charges, the Senate vote did not produce the two-thirds majority required to remove Clinton from office.
Question 18
What change did the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) make to the way America traded with other North American nations?

A
NAFTA required all trade between Canada and Mexico to travel through American markets and be subject to American tariffs.
B
NAFTA protected some American businesses by increasing tariffs on products imported from Mexico and Canada.
C
NAFTA reduced the barriers to trade between Canada, Mexico, and the United States.
D
NAFTA had little to no effect on American trade relations.
Question 18 Explanation: 
NAFTA eased regulations and tariffs on trade between Canada, Mexico, and the United States. It also included regulations to help protect the intellectual property rights of American products and creative endeavors.
Question 19
What was the state of the American economy when Bill Clinton left office in 1998?

A
America was still struggling with the recession that Clinton had inherited from his predecessor, President Bush.
B
America was experiencing its largest budget surplus in decades.
C
America was on the verge of the largest economic depression since the Great Depression.
D
America’s gross-domestic product had remained flat for the entirety of Clinton’s second term.
Question 19 Explanation: 
With large increases in America’s gross-domestic product (GDP), Americans were experiencing one of the strongest economic booms in the nation’s history. By scaling back government spending at the same time American tax revenues were on the rise, the federal budget for 1998 ended with an $80 billion surplus.
Question 20
What was the outcome of the 2000 presidential election?

A
George W. Bush defeated Al Gore in both the popular vote and the Electoral College.
B
George W. Bush defeated Al Gore in the Electoral College despite losing the popular vote.
C
Al Gore defeated George W. Bush in both the popular vote and the Electoral College.
D
Al Gore defeated George W. Bush in the Electoral College despite losing the popular vote.
Question 20 Explanation: 
The results of the 2000 election produced a confusing legal mess. Initial results showed that George W. Bush led Al Gore in the Electoral College 271–266, despite Al Gore's lead in the popular vote of approximately 500,000 votes.

The results were extremely close in Florida. As permitted by state law, the Gore campaign requested a hand recount in four Florida counties. Some of these recounts were not completed within the statutory time limits, and this issue along with others ended up in the courts. Eventually the Florida Supreme Court ordered a statewide recount, but this was quickly ended by a 5–4 ruling in the United States Supreme Court.

The 2000 election marked the fourth time in US history that a candidate lost the popular vote but won in the Electoral College.
Question 21
What was the domestic American response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001?

A
There was a steep increase in American patriotism and solidarity.
B
The Department of Homeland Security was created to focus on counter-terrorism efforts at home and abroad.
C
The Patriot Act was signed giving federal agents unprecedented investigative powers to investigate potential terrorists.
D
All of the above.
Question 21 Explanation: 
Following the 9/11 attacks, patriotism was in full display as Americans came together both to mourn the loss of those killed in the New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C. attacks and to celebrate the heroes who risked their lives to help the victims. Meanwhile, new bureaucratic measures were put in place to both enhance the federal government’s counter-terrorism efforts as well as increase the ability of the government’s intelligence community to gather information on people suspected of terrorism.
Question 22
What was the American foreign policy response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001?

A
Rather than seeking a military response, America used diplomatic channels to find and capture those responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
B
America declared war on Afghanistan for their role in harboring terrorists related to the 9/11 attacks.
C
America declared war on terrorism. The “war on terror” would eventually lead to American invasions in both Afghanistan and Iraq, targeting anti-American leaders.
D
America quickly captured Taliban leader Osama Bin Laden and put him on trial for his role in the 9/11 attacks.
Question 22 Explanation: 
The “war on terror” initially targeted the terrorist group known as the Taliban for its role in coordinating and ordering the 9/11 attacks. In October, American forces launched attacks in Afghanistan specifically targeting the Taliban and its leaders. The following summer, George W. Bush would use the threat of terrorism to also launch an attack on Iraq. The mission targeted dictator Saddam Hussein for allegedly creating and stockpiling “weapons of mass destruction.”
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