Inside America: The Rise and Fall of An Empire

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The American political system during the twentieth century revolved around two major parties. The Republican and Democratic parties. The first was seen as more conservative and the second as more liberal, but at the start of the Nineties many Americans began to see both parties as catering to big business. During the 1992 election a third candidate competed for power. A billionaire, by the name of Ross Perot. While Perot ultimately lost, many Americans voted for him because they saw him as a fresh alternative to the two party system. Perot warned about the mounting debt crisis even though as the owner of a computer company he had made most of his fortune off government contracts.

The American people were in a furious mood. In 1994, the Republicans took control of both houses of congress for the first time since 1954. President Clinton had raised taxes during an economic slow-down and had also attempted to create a national health plan for all Americans. Many conservatives and the medical industry opposed the plan. But what proved fatal to President Clinton was a growing anger among conservative white males, especially in the southern parts of America over job insecurities and the promotion of ever more rights for women and minorities.

For the rest of the decade President Clinton and the Republican congress fought perpetual battles over what the federal government could do or not do. The end result was a complete stalemate. Twice Republicans partially shut down the federal government in battles over the budget. President Clinton also became caught up in a sexual scandal and Republicans almost ousted him from power. Yet, many Americans supported President Clinton because economic times were relatively good despite the growing problems underneath the economy.

President Clinton like President Reagan was elected to two full terms. The first Democrat since Franklin Delano Roosevelt to do so. President Clinton's wife, Hillary Clinton also became the most influential First Lady in American history. Hillary Clinton helped shape government policy with her husband; and would ultimately become elected to the U.S. Senate at the end of the decade.

More women also were elected to congress and state offices during the Nineties than at any other time in American history. Women were now working outside the home in ever greater numbers. Sixty percent of all women whether married or not. More women completed college than men also during the Nineties. So the need for day-care became an urgent priority for both state and federal governments in America. More children needed supervision while their mothers worked and working mothers also now needed more compensation while on maternity leave.

African Americans continued to demand more rights. One million African Americans marched on Washington D.C. in 1996 to protest against further social welfare cuts. The march was five times larger than the march led by Martin Luther King in 1963. Yet, American corporations continued to receive government assistance while more Americans received less aid in the form of food-stamps and welfare checks. Americans were no longer in a generous mood. Politeness and civility continued to decline in America, at all social levels, on a daily basis.

Americans were working harder and longer hours for more and more material goods while having less and less time for rest and leisure. Take-out food became a popular item for Americans who no longer had time to cook. Family life was becoming more and more fragmented. Generation X was the first American generation to become used to starting life with bigger and bigger debts.

Generation Y which was born between 1980-95, like Generation X became used to growing up with computers. Virtual reality games were becoming more sophisticated with each new generation of computer software. The growth of the internet made possible a whole new way of producing and distributing music, as well as listening to it. With the internet, it became possible for anyone to become an independent music producer. A musician could put his or her own music on the web, and anyone with access to the internet could download it. By the end of the decade a new kind of software called Napster allowed music listeners to share their music files without the need of paying royalties to anyone. Record companies decried this new kind of music piracy. By the time Napster was forced off the web, 20 million Americans were using Napster.


January, 1993. A young hacker by the name of Marc Andreessen along with a friend began coding a 9000-line program called Mosaic while employed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois' Urbana-Champaign campus. This computer program was a web browser. A web browser could retrieve and translate documents on the web with simple icon clicks from any mouse. This was a new application of an earlier concept previously developed by Douglas Englebart in the late Sixties. Marc Andreessen had made it easy for anyone to view pictures, listen to audio and see videos on the World Wide Web. Mosaic was released for free on the internet and millions of people all over the world down-loaded it immediately. No piece of software had ever gotten into so many hands so quickly.

Cyberspace became a new reality for millions of computer users. Physical geography was no longer a limitation when it came to finding information anywhere in the world. Marc Andreessen later went on to found Netscape. One of the first browser companies to emerge in Silicon Valley. The stock offering for Netscape started the huge internet gold-rush of the Nineties. In less than a day, Netscape was worth more than three billion dollars.

The money chase was on. It would ultimately turn into a bubble that would dramatically pop. But before then the internet boom would change things in America and the rest of the world in a radical way. It would make the concept of a global brain more and more of a reality. But how this global brain would develop and for what purpose still remained to be seen. The world was now changing too quickly for most Americans.

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All contents of this site copyright by Michael Arthur Finberg