On March 30, 1981, Reagan was shot underneath his arm by a man outside the Washington Hilton Hotel. The would-be assassin was John Hinckley, a mentally disturbed young man from Colorado. Ironically, Hinckley hadn't shot Reagan for political reasons or even for personal ones. Rather, he tried to assassinate Reagan in order to impress actress Jodie Foster, who had recently starred in the popular film Taxi Driver. Reagan was rushed to the hospital where he managed to meekly tell the surgeons on duty, "Please tell me you're Republicans" before being put under the knife. He managed to pull through quickly and returned to the Oval Office even more popular than ever.
Shortly after the assassination attempt, Reagan faced another crisis, albeit one not so personal in nature. In August 1981, 13,000 air-traffic controllers went on strike. Although these workers were members of their own employment union to protect their rights, they were also highly skilled workers in high demand on the payroll of the US Government. Because these workers were so badly needed, President Reagan ordered the air-traffic controllers to end the strike and return to work. When they refused, Reagan fired all of them, hired scabs to replace them, and "busted" their union. For a time, the airline industry faced severe economic hardships.
Reagan's conservative agenda was not particularly helpful to black Americans and women. The Reagan administration opposed abortion and, as mentioned previously, cut many programs to assist mothers, children, and minorities. Reagan's own administration and a large majority of those he appointed to other government positions were primarily white males. Reagan did appoint Sandra Day O'Connor to the Supreme Court during his tenure in office in an attempt to increase his popularity with female voters, but this single act hardly made up for his previous years of neglect.
Many Americans were also displeased with Reagan's denial of the drug abuse problems in the...