The 2000 Election

"I don't care who wins anymore, I just want to stop counting."

The 2000 election was definitely a shocking one. There has not been such a close election since 1876 and the outcome of the election was simply stunning. Bush had won the state of Florida by a shocking 537 votes. Although the 2000 election could easily be explained and covered with no difficulty, it is interesting to imagine what could have happened. If only Gore’s request for a hand recount was able to be finished before the dead line of December 12th (safe harbor deadline),the 2000 election may have had a completely different result. For all we know, the United States would have had Al Gore as president from the time of 2000-2008. Imagine the different policies and approaches he would have approved while he is in office.

The 2000 election could have easily been Al Gore’s as it could have been Bush’s. As Foner had mentioned, 960,000 ex felons were unable to vote in the election. Excluding nearly one million people from election could have been the changing factor. Another factor being the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to declare a hand recount unconstitutional.


Modern History

Rather than just focusing on one topic in particular that Foner discussed in chapter 27, I think that it would be very interesting to spend a nice amount of time talking about the progression of the world over the past 20 years or so.


I believe it was Confucius that cursed his enemies saying, “may you live in interesting times”, and while the times we are living now may not be the ‘worst’ that we’ve discussed over the course of the semester, there is no doubt that they have been some of the most faced-paced, constantly changing years in the history of our world and certainly the brief history of our country. From the fall of the communist Soviet Union and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, to the Persian Gulf War and September 11th, to the bursting of the Internet Bubble in 2001 and the Crash in the housing market that led to the recession we read about everyday – we are certainly living in quite interesting times.


-C. Salama


The Disabilities Act

One important aspect of the chapter Foner did not elaborated on Chapter 27 is the American with Disabilities Act in 1990.  As early as the 1960s, people with disabilities formed a Civil Right movement to protest against their discrimination by the society. They argued that their isolation and segregation was not a natural result of disability, but rather of physical and attitude barriers. The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act was the first wide-ranging civil rights law that outlawed disability discrimination in public and private areas in the nation. This means that students with disabilities have an equal right to be in your class, to participate, and to learn just like you and me.

SECTION 2 of the American with Disabilities Act in 1990 mentions that, “physical or mental disabilities in no way diminish a person’s right to fully participate in all aspects of society, yet many people with physical or mental disabilities have been precluded from doing so because of discrimination; others who have a record of a disability or are regarded as having a disability also have been subjected to discrimination.” This shows that how cruel others can be to others that are a little different than them. This primarily purpose of the law was to eliminate discrimination against individuals with disabilities, then later on it developed into more detailed and  beneficial warfare for those who are in need.


The Birth of a New Generation

During the 1990s, the family values of an ideal traditional household were changing. According to the census of 2000, Foner concludes “half of all marriages ended in divorce, and a third of all births were to unmarried women. Two-thirds of all married women worked outside their home, and less than one-fourth of all households consisted of a traditional family – a wife, husband, and children.”  Not only were women claiming rights to their own body, but they were also striving for an education. “At the turn of the century, women received over 60 percent of all college degrees and over 40 percent of advanced law, medical, and business degrees.”

These changes, also cause the beginning of a new generation. Aside from the traditional families, the new generation are raised under single-parent families, or families with step-parents.  According to Wilkerson, “This new generation struggles with trust and has a tendency to disbelieve authority. These offspring are being raised by the most bona fide group of hypocrites in American history. Because authority is so hypocritical, it is viewed by these young people as threatening.” Yet because of advanced technologies, according to many youth experts, it is also this generation who have the greatest potential to attain greatness.

The image below, is the covered of an issue from Newsweek in the 1990s, where they attempt to explore and understand who exactly is this new generation; by asking questions such as, “What makes them different?, Who are their heroes? and What problems do they face?”


Racial Discrimination


After many decades of fighting for civil right, many black still suffered from discrimination.  I believe that Foner did not discuss the issue of racial discrimination enough. As many of my classmates stated blacks still suffered with unequal pay, and job opportunities, but it is important to know that in 1991 congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1991, this protected individual od intentional discrimination at work.

Brenda Patterson an African American woman was laid off from a bank that she worked at as a teller.  She sued the bank because they refused to promote her because of her race.  Taking this to trial sparked a change in the US… yes I know that Foner discussed black struggle a lot but this Act plays a role to all minorities.



Nafta Logo

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is an agreement signed by Canada, Mexico, and the United States, on New Years Day 1944 that thus created a trilateral trade bloc in North America. What the NAFTA aggreement was designed to do was lift trade and investment deterents between the three countries. The first thing it did towards this goal was phase out any tarrifs that existed between the countries. It also is supposed to eliminate non-tarrif trade restrictions.

One of the hinderences of the NAFTA aggreement was the environmental concerns. The American people thought that the US freely trading with these countries would promote harmful environmental activities. Present Clinton accordingly got Canada and Mexico to agree to and sign the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC). The Commission for Environmental Cooperation was established to monitor the environmental effects of NAFTA. NAFTA is still an issue of concern now, as can be seen by this exchange at the Presidental Debate:

    Tim Russert:: Senator Obama . . . Simple question: Will you, as president, say to Canada and Mexico, “This has not worked for us; we are out”? 

    Obama: “I will make sure that we renegotiate, in the same way that Senator Clinton talked about. And I think actually Senator Clinton’s answer on this one is right. I think we should use the hammer of a potential opt-out as leverage to ensure that we actually get labor and environmental standards that are enforced. And that is not what has been happening so far.” February 23, 2008


Cultural Wars of 1990’s

During the 1990’s one of the most upcoming events was the cultural war. There was a struggle to define America and there were a huge polarization fro American politics and culture. Some “hot” issues that came up and were heatedly debated were abortion. gun policies, separation of church and state, privacy, recreational drugs, censorship and homosexuality.

The views on these issues usually weren’t even divided by origin, race, ethnicity, social class or political view, but rather it was more of the individual world view. This was a defining change as America evolves. People took sides for their views and often argued or protest their position of some of these issues.


US in 1990s

The 1990s were revolutionary decade for digital technology. Cell phones of the early 1990s were used by only a few percent of the population of even the wealthiest nations. Only a few million people used online services in 1990, and the World Wide Web had only just been invented. By 2001, more than 50% of some Western countries had Internet access, and more than 25% had cell phone access.
E-mail becomes popular; as a result Microsoft acquires the popular Hotmail webmail service. Advancements in computer modems, cable modems, and DSL lead to faster connection to the Internet.

The 1990s began with recession that dampened car sales. General Motors continued to suffer huge losses thanks to an inefficient structure and stale designs. Sales improved with the economy by the mid-’90s, but GM’s US market share gradually declined to less than 40%. Cars in the 1990s had a rounder shape than those of the 1970s and 1980s


African Americans evolve..

According to Foner, African Americans lives changed dramatically. The absence of legal segregation and their presence in areas of American life from which they were entirely excluded. African Americans now worked in large numbers alongside whites in corporate board rooms, offices, and factories. The economic boom of the late 1990’s aided African Americans enormously and their average income rose more rapidly than that of whites.
However, on the other side of things, African immigration rose and they settled in urban areas. Among these immigrants were refugees and many more were professionals fleeing to find a better opportunity. While some prospered, others found it difficult to transfer their credentials to the United States and found themselves driving taxi cabs and selling African crafts.the black unemployment rate remained doubled, half of black children lived in poverty and two thirds out of wedlock.


Exceptional America, or not?

The idea of American exceptionalism is that the US is different from every other country in the world because we are a “New nation”. We were formed in a unique way during a unique type of revolution, in a unique time with unique situations that came about. The way we have grown as a country since 1776 is now referred to as our state of exceptionalism. Towards the very end of the chapter there is a section entitled “Exceptional America” which describes how America has changed over the last 65 years. It describes the socioeconomic change, the rise in overall education and the rise of the expected life time of Americans. This gives the impression of the general rise in the standard of living among Americans, it doesn’t however give a reason why, other than indoor plumbing was mandated by law. I wonder what happened in American society that suddenly caused the majority of people to attend college, was it the job market getting tougher or was it something else, such as social norms changing. The book gives a startling statistic that in the year 2000 14+ million students attended college, 3 times the amount that did in 1960.

What I feel really needs to be elaborated on is the next section, which is only given 3 sentences. This talks about the “dark side” of what has become known as “exceptionalism”. It simply says that however advanced we have become we still have by FAR the most murders “caused by guns” of any advanced country in the world; with 11,789 in 1998. As a point of comparison the second highest was Germany with 373 and rounding out the top 3 was Canada with 151. Why is our number so ludicrously higher than the rest? I can understand that our population is exponentially larger and that when the percentage is taken of the total population of country/murders that occurred we would probably be lower than the rest; but that’s still nearly 12,000 people dead.


The Decline in Manufacturing Employment

Manufacturing Employment

Foner pointed out that in the 1990s Walmart emerged as the nation’s largest employer, whereas it had been General Motors in the 1970s. The shift which took place in 1990s, symbolizes the way the whole economy was shifting toward a service economy, a retail economy, and de-industrialization, as well as the continuing decline of manufacturing in the United States due to globalization, the shifting of jobs overseas in search of cheap labor, and the increasing importation of manufactured goods into United States. The problem with that was that the manufacturing jobs were very well paid and had strong union protections, pensions, and health benefits, and many of the jobs in this newer area were low-paying and offered very few benefits, so this became a problem for the American standard of living.


Globalization And Its effect On The Wealth of Nations

Foner commenced the chapter by describing the WTO meeting in 1999 and how it symbolized the growth of globalization and its mass acceptance since 135 countries were represented in the meeting. Foner mentions that Globalization is called “the concept of the 1990s” when the media proclaimed a coming of an age of borderless economy, where cultures would be submerged to create a “global civilization” and the interest of the state would be subordinate to the global interest. Such as labor shifting from one country to a cheaper country, these losing nations would allow such shift since it makes sense economically, and it would mean more profits for its citizens (capitalists/investors to be specific).

I think the effect of globalization is far reaching and deserves more attention. Millions of jobs were lost and gained by nations because of the access to global markets for businesses and reduced barriers to trading. Consumers also got the taste of products from all over the world at lower costs, most of the things we use and wear are made off shore. There are two sides to Globalization, one is the incontrovertible effect that globalization had on the lives of most denizens of this planet (whether economically or socially). And the other is the creation of  entities (multinational-corporations) that has accumulated huge power and influence on a global scale. These corporations, with billions in revenue and hundreds of thousands of employees, can practice political influence (special interest, campaign donation and the fact that it provides jobs to constituents) to tip the scale toward higher advantage for them, leaving small business with no chance to compete, and creating an oligarchical environment in which a few large corporations really run the show within a given industry, leading to higher income inequality (gap) where rich get really rich and the poor remains roughly the same, if not worse. The top 1 percent of the global population owns 40% of the wealth according to a study conducted in 2000. The image below renders the wealth distribution in the US.


Multiculturalism in the U.S.

According to Foner’s book,in the 1990s,there was a new term called “multiculturalism” appearing in American society. It means the equal value of all cultures and people with different color skin, different values, different languages, different traditions and different ways of interacting interpersonally.

Foner mentions one sign of multiculturalism is “the spread of academic programs”,as college students,we get the chances to choose study in many different cultural study programs. In additional,multiculturalism exists in another field as well,which is the diversity in work place,there were an increasingly diverse work forces in American society,especially Hispanics and immigrants from various Asian countries, and more and more women entered traditionally male-dominated jobs.


What has changed?

Foner devotes a measly 2 paragraphs to “Human Rights.” During Clinton’s presidency human rights organizations gained influence throughout the world. Governments were now beginning to respond to crises in foreign nations both judicially and militarily. The idea that you were not to interfere in a sovereign nation’s internal affairs began to change with the growing Amnesty International organization, as well as the hundreds of other nongovernmental agencies that sought to protect human rights.

In modern day, we hear of reports of infractions upon human rights (although not frequently enough as news of Trump’s new escapades overshadow the suffering of peoples) in Syria, Lybia, Egypt, China, Sudan, and countless others. One begins to wonder, why do we get involved in conflicts so petty when, sadly, hundreds upon hundreds of undeniably justifiable reasons exist for aiding other countries in protecting humans. It seems that the influence of Human Rights organizations on foreign and even domestic policy has weakened unforgivably.

Below is a video regarding the UN conviction in the Rwandan Genocide case:


Below is a video on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:





the crisis of communism

Based on Foner’s description, the crisis of communism started on Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. During the event about one million Chinese students, workers, and teachers joined together to demonstrated in Tiananmen Square, and demanded democracy in China. Unfortunately, the Chinese government sent troop to stop the protest and kill thousand people. In the fall of the year, the pro-democracy demonstration had spread to Eastern Europe. On November East Germany’s people crossed the Berlin wall. This means communism was collapsed in Eastern Europe.
In 1990, Gorbachev tried to start economic reform and an open policy in the Soviet Union. However, the conservatism group seized power to overturn Gorbachev government. Later, Russian president Boris Yeltsin mobilized crowds, restored Gorbachev to office and declared Russian was independent from the Soviet Union. And then the Soviet Union collapsed and fifteen independent countries created in its place in 1991.


Global Economic problems

According to Eric, in the 1990s, countries all over the world have economic problem. In Western Europe, the unemployment rate was much higher than the United States. Russia had more economic problems then they could handle. The Russian President, Boris Yeltsin, asked for advice from the U.S. government and U.S. economists. As a result, “they imposed severe cuts in wages, and guaranteed jobs, health care, and housing Russians had become used to under communism.”(Erin: 1011).
Most of the countries had to borrow some major loans money from foreign banks, and had trouble paying back. Some foreign investors were able to pay back the loans, but most countries had to cut- back on their budgets to pay off some of their loans.


New Immigration


While America had been continuously growing more and more diverse, it was in the 1990s that the nation saw another large wave of immigrants come into the country. Whereas previously America’s immigrants had primarily from Europe, half of the immigrants coming into the country during this time came from Latin America and the Caribbean. The other half consisted of immigrants from Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Only 10% of the immigrants of this time came from Europe. Also, for the first time in history, women made up the majority of the immigrants coming into the country. This reflected the decline of factory jobs that previously attracted so many male immigrant workers to the country as well as the spread of employment opportunities in openings typically filled by females.

Immigration not only changed regarding the countries that immigrants came from, but also regarding the behavior once they moved to the United States. Previously, most immigrants became inhabitants of the more urban areas and cities. However around this time, immigrants rather moved into outer neighborhoods and suburbs.


Tough On Crime

According to Eric Foner, during the 1970’s, crime rates were rising, political parties of both sides decided to change the way they deal with crime. They wanted to be “tough on crime” and that criminals should be lock up in prison for a longer periods. The government started to increase the penalties for crime, like treating drug addiction as a violation of law instead of a disease. This tactic became very successful, and the number of Americans imprisoned rose dramatically.

Since the 1970’s to 1990’s, crime rate dropped dramatically after the new “tough on crime” attitude. In return the population at prison reached over 2million people, which was ten times that amount during 1970’s. Since there was an increase in prison population struggling communities took this as an opportunity. They saw prisons as a source of jobs and income, between 1990 and 1995 over 200 new prisons were built.


World Wide Welcome to the Information Age

In the globalization era, computers and the Internet became increasingly important. This shifted the focus from the production and sale of manufactured goods to information. The computers invented during World War I were bulky, pricey, and slow. The space program implemented during the 1960s, in attempt to beat the Soviet Union to be the first nation to send a man to the moon, sparked the further development of computers. As a result, the microchip was created, which led to the birth of many popular goods including video casette records, handheld video games, and cell phones.

Computers were a big hit in America. Renowned companies like Apple and IBM produced computers for business and personal use. These computers were designed to be relatively smaller, cheaper, and faster than its predecessors. Soon, computers became assimilating into offices and homes. The Internet was also made available for commercial and personal use. The Internet transformed the means of communication with the availability of electronic email. The Internet also broadcasted the beliefs and values of American culture to other parts of the world.


The Disputed Election of 2000- George W. Bush v Albert Arnold “Al” Gore, Jr.


I strongly believe that the section concerning the presidential election in 2000 deserve more elaboration to explore the different aspects. The presidential election in 2000 is perhaps the election with most suspicious and debatable results in American history. The outcome of the election ended with Bush’s victory by a tiny margin; however, it was not a solid victory for George Bush, as there was a widespread confusion at the votes in the decisive state, Florida. The disputes in the vote-counting administration in Florida was humiliating for the America, as the other countries jeered at the failure of our technological advanced nation.

Moreover, it was also suspicious that the outcome of the election was later left for the Supreme Court justices to decide. On December 12, 2000, the Supreme Court ruled that the recounting of Florida ballots was terminated, and the decision of the ballot was left for the Florida’s governor, Jeb Bush, who happen to be George W. Bush’s brother. With Jeb Bush declaring George W. Bush has won the state, the tie of the election was broken and the seat of president was given to the Republican candidate.

The presidential election of 2000 certainly has given rise to suspicion and even conspiracy theories in the public. Some has suspected that the mistake in the Florida ballot was carefully planned for Jeb Bush to declare his brother as the president. Due to the uncertainties and disputes in the election process, I believe Eric Foner should devote another page to explore the other aspects of the election process.