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MODERN DEMOCRACY WITH BILL CLINTON

The Democrats hadn't elected a two-term president since World War II, but they had a charming centrist in William Jefferson Clinton. Bill Clinton defeated Bush's reelection bid by emphasizing the paycheck of the average American, which had actually grown smaller during the Bush administration. A sign in Clinton's headquarters said, "It's the economy, stupid."

Clinton ran a positive campaign based on pro-growth, strong defense, and anti-crime platforms that almost sounded like the Republicans. He promised to overhaul the creaky welfare and health care systems. He admitted (as indirectly as possible) to "causing pain" in his marriage and smoking marijuana. He was the perfect candidate for the baby boom generation, which by then made up most of the U.S. voting population.

The new rainbow America

While Clinton won the presidency, the nation was undergoing a radical change in elected officials. The new House of Representatives in 1993 included 1 American Indian, 7 Asian Americans, 19 Hispanic Americans, and 39 African Americans; 48 of the representatives were women. That was more women and minorities than had ever been elected before, and their numbers continued to grow into the 21st century.

At the beginning of the Clinton administration, the nation wasn't willing to accept just how broad the rainbow was becoming; a bid by Clinton to allow homosexuals to serve openly in the armed forces was rejected for a don't-ask-don't-tell halfway measure.

Clinton appointed his wife Hillary to come up with a national health plan. Industries making big money off a piecemeal non-system that left one out of six Americans with no insurance managed to convince people that Hillary's reform proposals were scary. Health care reform took a back seat until the 21st century.

Although Republicans often accuse Democrats of being tax-and-spend crazies, Clinton managed to turn the huge budget deficits run up by 12 years of Republican administrations into modest budget surpluses. He passed anti-crime bills that also contained some gun control provisions.

 
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