Common Ground Crumbling

The Collapsing American Consensus in the 1990s


David Dinkins Became Mayor of New York City

January 1, 1990:

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The Democratization of Major College Football: Miami Defeats Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and Wins a National Championship

January 1, 1990:

Super Bowl XXIV: The San Francisco Forty-Niners Defeated the Denver Broncos, 55 to 10

January 28, 1990:

Above: Joe Montana on the cover of Sports Illustrated; San Francisco quarterback Joe Montana poised to pass against the Denver Broncos

Barack Obama Elected President of the Harvard Law Review

February 5, 1990:

Above: February 6, 1990 article from the New York Times

New York Times: Barack Obama Elected President of the Harvard Law Review (Feb 6, 1990 NYT Article)

Nelson Mandela Released From a South African Prison

February 11, 1990: After over 20 years of imprisonment, the government of South Africa (a white supremacist segregationist regime) released political dissident Nelson Mandela.

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Above: Nelson Mandela walks free

The release of Nelson Mandela signaled the coming demise of the Apartheid (segregationist) social order in the nation of South Africa.

The 1990 U.S. Census

April 1, 1990: The United States conducted its 1990 Census. Per the Census, the population of the United States of America was 248,709,873 in 1990, a population increase of 9.8% since 1980.

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Above: Time coverage of America's changing racial and ethnic demographics

"History suggests that sustaining a truly multiracial society is difficult, or at least unusual. Only a handful of great powers of the distant past -- Pharaonic Egypt and Imperial Rome, most notably -- managed to maintain a distinct national identity while embracing, and being ruled by, an ethnic melange. The most ethnically diverse contemporary power, the Soviet Union, is beset with secessionist demands and near tribal conflicts. But such comparisons are flawed, because those empires were launched by conquest and maintained through an aggressive military presence. The U.S. was created, and continues to be redefined, primarily by voluntary immigration. This process has been one of the country's great strengths, infusing it with talent and energy. The 'browning of America' offers tremendous opportunity for capitalizing anew on the merits of many peoples from many lands. Yet this fundamental change in the ethnic makeup of the U.S. also poses risks. The American character is resilient and thrives on change. But past periods of rapid evolution have also, alas, brought out deeper, more fearful aspects of the national soul."

---William A. Henry III, Time, April 9, 1990 Issue

Premiere of In Living Color on Fox

April 15, 1990:

STS-31: The Hubble Space Telescope Carried Into Orbit aboard Space Shuttle Discovery

April 24, 1990:

Above: Hubble Space Telescope being deployed; STS-31 Space Shuttle mission patch

Above: Hubble Space Telescope in orbit, unspecified dates


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Culture War: Roseanne Barr Botches The Star Spangled Banner and the American Right Reacts

July 25, 1990:

The Americans With Disabilities Act

July 26, 1990: President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law.

Above: President George H.W. Bush signs the Americans with Disabilities Act into law

Iraq Invaded Kuwait

August 2, 1990: Iraq, a nation under the rule of Saddam Hussein, invaded and conquered Kuwait.



The Bush Administration immediately declared its opposition to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. The United States responded by deploying troops to Saudi Arabia, an action known as Operation Desert Shield. In January 1991, the United States would lead a United Nations sanctioned international coalition against Saddam Hussein's forces in Kuwait, an effort known as Operation Desert Storm.

Release of Goodfellas

September 19, 1990: Martin Scorcese's Goodfellas was released into American theater's.

Above: Movie release poster of Goodfellas

The Re-Unification of Germany

October 3, 1990: After negotiations, East Germany acceded into West Germany and Germany was once more a single unified state and nation.

A Bush Appointment to the United States Supreme Court

October 9, 1990: After being nominated by President George H.W. Bush, and after being confirmed by the United States Senate, David Souter became an Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court.

Above: Supreme Court Justice David Souter

Despite his Lips, Bush Backs a Tax Increase

November 5, 1990: In a compromise deal on the federal budget, President George H.W. Bush agreed to a tax increase, in contradiction to his 1988 campaign promise in which he famously said, "Read my lips, no new taxes."

The Resignation of Prime Minister of Great Britain Margaret Thatcher

November 28, 1990:

Above: December 3, 1990 issue of Time featuring Margaret Thatcher on the cover

American Immigration Policy

November 29, 1990: President George H.W. Bush (Republican) signed the Immigration Act of 1990 into law.

Above: President George H.W. Bush


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Operation Desert Storm

January 17, 1991 to February 28, 1991: After having deployed troops in Saudi Arabia (Operation Desert Shield), American-led and UN-sanctioned coalition troops drove Iraqi military forces out of Kuwait.

Above: A map of the major movements of coalition forces in Operation Desert Storm

President George H.W. Bush decided not continue on to Baghdad, Iraq, Saddam Hussein's capital city. Saddam Hussein was able to suppress a revolt against his rule, and continued to remain in power.


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Operation Desert Storm: Kuwait is Declared to be Liberated

February 27, 1991:

Time-Cover-11MARCH1991-Issue-Kuwait-City-27FEB1991.jpg Brief Timeline of The Gulf War

LAPD and the Beating of Rodney King

March 3, 1991: In Lost Angeles, California, an African-American motorist named Rodney King led Los Angeles Police Department officers on a chase. LAPD officers had sought to pull over King for speeding. King did not comply When he pulled over, several LAPD officers beat Rodney King quite harshly. The incident was caught on video tape, and time, became a cause celebre.

The officers who administered the beating were eventually indicted and put on trial. The Rodney King Beating Case put the issues of White-Black race relations and police treatment of minorities on a national stage. When the officers were eventually acquitted, Los Angeles erupted in riots in April 1992.

Above: The LAPD beating of Rodney King

Unbeknownst to the LAPD police officers who beat Rodney King, the even was captured on video tape by George Holliday.

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Bull Market: For the First Time Ever, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (The Dow) Closes Above 3000

April 17, 1991:


Boyz N the Hood

July 12, 1991: Boyz N the Hood, a film about young African-American life in South-Central Los Angeles, debuted in American movie theaters.

Above: Theatrical release poster for Boyz N the Hood

The Coup Against Mikhail Gorbachev

August 19-21, 1991: In a reaction against Mikhail Gorbachev's liberalizing reforms in the Soviet Union, Communist hard-liners staged a coup against the Soviet head of state. For a time, Gorbachev was held captive. The coup d'etat was not popular with the Soviet public, and Boris Yeltsin denounced the coup. Ultimately, the coup failed and Gorbachev was released.

Above: Boris Yeltsin (holding papers) speaks from atop a tank

Alternative Rock and Seattle Grunge: Release of Ten, a Signature 90s Album by Pearl Jam

August 27, 1991:

Above: Album cover for Ten by Pearl Jam

At home
Drawing pictures
Of mountain tops
With him on top
Lemon yellow sun
Arms raised in a V
The dead lay in pools of maroon below

Daddy didn't give attention
To the fact that mommy didn't care
King Jeremy the wicked
Ruled his world

Jeremy spoke in class today
Jeremy spoke in class today

----Jeremy, by Pearl Jam

Alternative Rock and Seattle Grunge: Release of Nevermind, a Signature 90s Album by Nirvana

September 24, 1991:

50th Anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbor

December 7, 1991:


The Gore Bill and the Democratization of the Internet

December 9, 1991: Republican President George H.W. Bush signed the High Performance Computing Act of 1991 into law. Sponsored by Democratic Senator Al Gore, Jr. of Tennessee, the so-called Gore Bill helped to create a more accessible internet, or Information Superhighway.

Several months later, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Bill Clinton chose Al Gore to be his vice presidential running mate. The Clinton-Gore presidential ticket defeated the Bush-Quayle Republican ticket in November 1992. Four years after that, the Clinton-Gore ticket defeated the 1996 Dole-Kemp Republican ticket.

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Above: Senator Al Gore, Jr. of Tennessee, Democrat

Bush's Comments on the Gore Bill The Internet Hall of Fame and Al Gore

Conservative Columnist Pat Buchanan takes on President Bush for the 1992 Republican Nomination

December 10, 1991: Patrick J. Buchanan, a Republican operative and conservative writer, announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for the Presidency of the United States. In doing so, Buchanan took on incumbent President George H.W. Bush.


Above: Buchanan campaign buttons from 1992

"When we say we will put America first, we mean also that our Judeo-Christian values are going to be preserved, and our Western heritage is going to be handed down to future generations, not dumped onto some landfill called multiculturalism."
------Pat Buchanan, December 10, 1991.

Premiere of Oliver Stone's JFK

December 20, 1991:

Above: JFK movie poster

The End of the Soviet Union

December 25-31, 1991: Mikhail Gorbachev resigned his office, and ceded his powers to Boris Yeltsin. In the wake of the now-dissolved Soviet Union, the Russian Federation arose. In short, the Soviet Union was over.


After years of economic decline and unsuccessful attempts at reform, the Soviet Union dissolved, and was replaced by the Russian Federation. The Cold War was over as Communism largely disappeared in Europe and Russia. As of 2012, however, Communist parties still hold power in China, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, and Cuba.


Super Bowl XXVI: The Washington Redskins Defeated the Buffalo Bills

January 26, 1992:

Bill and Hillary Clinton Address Marital Problems on 60 Minutes

January 26, 1992:

The Creation of the European Union: The Treaty of Maastricht Signed

February 7, 1992:

The Treaty of Maastricht

The Rise of the Fab Five: Michigan Starts Five Freshmen in a Basketball Game Versus Notre Dame

February 9, 1992:

The Los Angeles Riots of 1992

April 29, 1992 to May 4, 1992: In the wake of the acquittals of several Los Angeles police officers who had been indicted for the assault on motorist Rodney King, parts of Los Angeles erupted in riots.

Rodney King, an African American, had led Los Angeles police officers on a low-speed chase. When stopped, King perceived resistance to arrest led to repeated beatings from the police officers, all of whom were white. All of the police officers were acquitted. The verdicts shocked many, and many interpreted the jury's actions through a racial lens. The subsequent riots were some of the worst in U.S. history.


The American Culture War: Dan Quayle, Single Mothers, and Murphy Brown

May 19, 1992: At the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, California, in the wake of the Los Angeles Riots, Vice President Dan Quayle made an infamous speech about family structure in urban America, a speech pertaining--in part--to the rise of single motherhood and the absence of fathers.

The speech might have gone largely unnoticed but for his attack on Murphy Brown, a fictional TV character on a contemporary CBS series bearing the same name as the character.

A situation comedy, the series was centered on characters Murphy Brown--a female TV news anchor--and her eccentric co-workers in a network news station. Episodes often dealt with prominent issues of the late 80s and early 90s. Around the time of the real-life Los Angeles riots, the fictional middle aged Murphy Brown experiences an unplanned pregnancy. Ultimately, Murphy decides to have the baby.

The more specific context of Quayle's attack was that, on Murphy Brown, Candice Bergen's character was "mocking the importance of fathers by bearing a child alone and calling just another lifestyle choice.",

The portion of Quayle's Murphy Brown reference is quoted in full below:

"Bearing babies irresponsibly is simply wrong. Failing to support children one has fathered is wrong and we must be unequivocal about this. It doesn’t help matters when primetime TV has Murphy Brown, a character who supposedly epitomizes today’s intelligent, highly paid professional woman, mocking the importance of fathers by bearing a child alone and calling it just another lifestyle choice."---Vice President J. Danforth Quayle, May 19, 1992

TV character Murphy Brown (played by Candice Bergen) holding her son Avery; Vice President Dan Quayle; Time coverage of the Murphy Brown controversy

1992 Democratic Convention

July 13-16, 1992: In New York City, the Democratic Party held its national convention, choosing Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton as its 1992 presidential nominee, and U.S. Senator Al J. Gore, Jr. of Tennessee as its 1992 vice presidential nominee.

Above: The cover of Time featuring the 1992 Clinton-Gore Democratic Ticket

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The 1992 Republican National Convention and the American Culture War

August 17, 1992: In Houston, Texas, on the first night of the Republican Convention, conservative commentator addressed the delegates and a national television audience and declared that the United States was in the midst of a great culture war,with conservatives being on one side, and liberals on the other.


HIs insurgent candidacy against Bush did not get the Buchanan the nomination, but it did secure him a prominent speaking slot at the Republican National Convention in Houston, Texas. Buchanan made the most of it. His speech became the most remembered event of the convention, far outshining Bush's acceptance speech.

1992 Presidential Debate in St. Louis, Missouri

October 11, 1992:


1992 World Series: The Toronto Blue Jays Defeated the Atlanta Braves

October 24, 1992:

Above: The 1992 World Series Program

The Presidential Election of 1992

November 3, 1992: Governor Bill Clinton (Democrat) won the Presidential Election of 1992.

Above: From left to right, Democrat Bill Clinton, Republican George H.W. Bush, and Independent Ross Perot

Above: 1992 presidential electoral map; President-Elect William Jefferson Clinton

Seinfeld rules American television

November 18, 1992: On yet another Thursday night, Seinfeld provided pathbreaking comedy

Above: Scenes from various Seinfeld episodes

The Rise of Gangsta Rap: The Premiere of Dr. Dre's The Chronic

December 15, 1992:

Above: Album cover for Dr. Dre's The Chronic, an album released on December 15, 1992; Death Row Records logo

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The Dow at the End of 1992

December 31, 1992: On the last trading day of 1992, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 3301.

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The Presidency of Bill Clinton

January 20, 1993: Bill Clinton became President of the United States

William Jefferson Clinton (Democrat), 42nd American President.
Years in Office: 1993-2001

Above: President William Jefferson Clinton

In November 1992, Governor Bill Clinton (Democrat) of Arkansas won the 1992 U.S. Presidential Election.

In November 1996, President Clinton was re-elected for a second term, thus becoming the last American president of the twentieth century and the first of the twenty-first century. Clinton served as president from January 20, 1993 to January 20, 2001.


The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993

February 5, 1993: President Bill Clinton signed the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 into law. The Family Medical Leave Act allowed employees to take job-protected unpaid leave from a job in order to provide health-oriented care for family members.

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Above: President Bill Clinton signing the Family and Medical Leave Act into law

The Atlantic: The FMLA at 20

David Koresh, The Branch Davidians, and the Waco Siege

February 28, 1993:

Above: A wounded ATF Agent during the raid on the Branch Davidian Compound near Waco, Texas

The Siege of the Branch Davidians

The Dawn of Beavis and Butthead

March 8, 1993: Season One of Beavis and Butthead debuted on MTV.

Above: Beavis (at right) and Butthead (at left) sit on the couch and watch television.

Above: Beavis and Butthead on the covers of Rolling Stone

Abortion and the American Culture War

March 10, 1993: Dr. David Gunn, an abortion provider in Pensacola, Florida, was shot and killed by Michael Griffin, a fundamentalist Protestant.

Above: Dr. David Gunn; Michael Griffin

New York Times article on the killing of Dr. David Gunn

History Channel: The Murder of Dr. David Gunn

1993 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Final: Michigan's Fab Five Loses to North Carolina

North Carolina 77, Michigan 71

David Koresh and the Branch Davidians of Waco, Texas

April 19, 1993:

Above: The Branch Davidian Compound on fire; Branch Davidian sect leader, David Koresh

The Siege of the Branch Davidians

The "Motor Voter" National Voter Registration Act of 1993

May 20, 1993: President Bill Clinton signed the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 into law. The National Voter Registration Act is also known as the "Motor Voter Act."

Essentially the Motor Voter Act requires states to provide for easier voter registration, particularly allowing potential voters to register to vote in such government agency venues as motor vehicle departments and social service departments. The intent of the law was to increase the pool of registered voters by expanding the scope of places where a potential voter might register.

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Above: C-SPAN screen shot of President Bill Clinton signing the Motor Voter Act into law

Premiere of Menace II Society

May 26, 1993:

Above: Movie Poster for Menace II Society

The City of Spanish Fort, Alabama

July 19, 1993: In Baldwin County, Alabama, the Spanish Fort community incorporated into a city.

Above: The City Seal of Spanish Fort, Alabama

The Suicide of White House Counsel Vince Foster

July 20, 1993:

A Clinton Appointee to the United States Supreme Court

August 10, 1993: After being nominated by President Bill Clinton, and after confirmation by the U.S. Senate, Ruth Bader Ginsburg became an Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court. Ginsburg replaced Byron White, a Kennedy appointee.

Above: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ginsburg was the second woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Premiere of Dazed and Confused

September 24, 1993:

Above: Movie poster for Dazed and Confused

Release Dates for Dazed and Confused

1993 World Series: The Toronto Blue Jays Defeated the Philadelphia Phillies

October 23, 1993:


Above: 1993 World Series Program

The Creation of the European Union: Treaty of Maastricht Went Into Effect

November 1, 1993:

Treaty of Maastricht

STS-61: The Space Shuttle Mission to Repair the Hubble Space Telescope

December 2-13, 1993: Space Shuttle Mission STS-61 was a mission to repair the malfunctioning Hubble Space Telescope. The repair mission was successful. After STS-61, Hubble began capturing unprecedented images of the universe.

STS-61 crew member Kathryn Thornton, a graduate of Auburn University, played a key role in making repairs to the space-based telescope.

Above: Crew of STS-61; Before (pre-repairs) and after (post-repairs) photos taken from Hubble Space Telescope

Above: American Space Shuttle astronaut Kathryn Thornton (an Alabama native and Auburn University graduate) helped to repair the Hubble Space Telescope, a space-based device that has given humanity an unprecedented view of the universe. The insignia for STS-61

NASA: STS-61 Astronaut Kathy Thornton Info on STS-61

President Clinton Signed the NAFTA Agreement into Law

December 8, 1993:


NAFTA Went Into Effect

January 1, 1994: The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect

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Republican Rudy Giuliani Became Mayor of New York City

January 1, 1994:

Culture War: The Rise of the Neo-Confederates

March 31, 1994: The South Was Right! by Neo-Confederates James Ronald Kennedy and Walter Donald Kennedy was published by Pelican Press.

Above: Cover of The South Was Right! by James R. Kennedy and Walter D. Kennedy

The Death of Rock Icon Kurt Cobain

April 8, 1994: The body of Kurt Cobain--the lead singer of the alternative rock band Nirvana--was found at his house in Seattle, Washington. Authorities determined that Cobain, a chronic drug abuser, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, an event that probably occurred on April 5, 1994.

Above: Kurt Cobain, 1967-1994

The Death of Richard M. Nixon

April 22, 1994: After suffering a stroke a few days before, former President Richard M. Nixon died.

Above: Richard Milhous Nixon, 1913-1994

Richard M. Nixon, 1913-1994

Nelson Mandela, President of South Africa

May 10, 1994: Former political prisoner Nelson Mandela became President of South Africa, ending 300 years of white rule in South Africa. Mandela served as South Africa's president for 5 years, until June 14, 1999.


Nelson Mandela's epic struggle for Black equality in South Africa earned him a respected international status on par with Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Murder of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman

June 12, 1994: In the Brentwood area of Los Angeles, California, Nicole Brown Simpson (the ex-wife of football legend O.J. Simpson) and her friend Ronald Goldman were stabbed to death. Their bodies were discovered a little after midnight on June 13, 1994.

Above: Nicole Brown Simpson; Ronald Goldman

O.J. Simpson and the White Ford Bronco

June 17, 1994:

Above: Scenes from the low-speed white Ford Bronco chase

Above: Booking photo of O.J. Simpson, June 17, 1994

Forrest Gump

July 6, 1994: Forrest Gump, a fictional movie about a mentally-challenged man from Alabama becomes a box office sensation.

The Oscar-winning film was based on the novel by Winston Groom who grew up in Mobile, Alabama and graduated of the University of Alabama. Mr. Groom has also been a resident of Baldwin County, Alabama. He is pictured below-right.
Above: Movie poster for Forrest Gump; Winston Groom

Comet Impact with Planet Jupiter

July 16, 1994:

Above: Jupiter impacted by a Comet

Slate: Impact with Jupiter

Abortion and the American Culture War

July 29, 1994: Paul J. Hill, a conservative seminary-trained former Presbyterian former clergyman, took a shotgun and shot an abortion provider Dr. John Britton and his bodyguard, Lt. Col. James H. Barrett, USAF, Retired, outside of a Pensacola, Florida abortion clinic.

Hill awaited arrest after killing Britton and Barrett. He also wounded a third person. In essence, Hill maintained that he was defending the unborn, and thus was justified in his actions.

Ultimately, Hill was found guilty of capital murder. Governor Jeb Bush (a Republican and brother of President George W. Bush signed Hill's death warrant). The State of Florida executed Hill by lethal injection in 2003.

Above: Paul Hill under arrest; Paul Hill prior to his 2003 execution by the State of Florida

New York Times: A Decade of Anti-Abortion Fanaticism in Pensacola, Florida

A Clinton Appointment to the United States Supreme Court

August 3, 1994: After being appointed by President Bill Clinton, and after being confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Stephen Breyer became an Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court.

Above: Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer

The Premiere the Sitcom Friends on NBC

September 22, 1994:

Release of Pulp Fiction

October 14, 1994: Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction was released in the United States.

Above: Movie Release Poster for Pulp Fiction; Vincent (John Travolta) and Jules (Samuel L. Jackson)

The Release of Clerks

October 19, 1994: Kevin Smith's Clerks was released in American movie theaters.

Above: Movie release poster for Clerks; Randal and Dante, the main characters

The Congressional Elections of 1994

November 8, 1994: In the 1994 Congressional Elections, the Republican Party won majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The Republican victories in the House of Representative ended 40 years of rule by the Democratic Party.

The Republican victories in the Senate ended 8 years of rule by the Democratic Party

Above: Representative Newt Gingrich of Georgia, who became Speaker of the House as a result of the 1994 Congressional Elections

In the mid-term elections of 1994, Representative Newt Gingrich of Georgia led his fellow Republicans in a takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives, a chamber that the Democratic Party had controlled for forty years. The Republicans also took control of the U.S. Senate. In 1995, Newt Gingrich became Speaker of the House promising to launch a Conservative Revolution in American governmental policy.

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The Culture War and Immigration: California's Voters Pass Proposition 187

November 8, 1994: On the same day that the Republican Party swept the midterm Congressional elections, winning majorities in both chambers of the U.S. Congress, voters in California approved Proposition 187, a ballot measure (referendum) which, upon approval, required the denial to certain state-provided benefits to illegal immigrants by the State of California.

"Prop 187" enjoyed a great deal of support by conservative Republicans, but not by all of them. Democrats, in turn, tended to oppose the measure. California Latinos overwhelmingly opposed Prop 187.

The original sponsor of Prop 187 was Richard Mountjoy, a conservative Republican in the California State Legislature. Prop 187 received enthusiastic support from Republican Governor Pete Wilson who was seeking re-election, a strategy that seemingly did help carry him to victory in 1994. In contrast President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, opposed Prop 187.

California voters approved Prop 187 with 59% of the vote.

The approval of Prop 187 was a pyrrhic victory for the Republican Party, however.

For one, the new law hardly went into effect, due to litigation and court orders. The law was eventually declared unconstitutional in 1997 by a California Court. Eventual Democratic Governor Gray Davis, in 1999, chose not to appeal the Court's decision, so Prop 187 became effectively dead.

Secondly, the passage of Prop 187 alienated many Latinos (a growing demographic in the California electorate) from the Republican Party.

In 1996, for example, President Bill Clinton easily won California during his successful re-election campaign. Democratic presidential candidates also easily won California in the 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012 elections.

Other that Arnold Schwarzenegger, a movie star who became governor via a special gubernatorial re-call election in 2003, no other Republican, as of 2013, has won election to governor or U.S. Senator since the approval of Prop 187.

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Above: Conservative Republican Richard Mountjoy, legislative sponsor of Prop 187; Republican Governor Pete Wilson, a staunch supporter of Prop 187.

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Above: An Anti-Prop 187 Protest; a Spanish language poster denouncing Proposition 187

"In 1994, California Republican Gov. Pete Wilson mobilized his base by promoting Proposition 187, a ballot initiative to deny services to illegal immigrants. He won reelection that year—and then lost the war as Hispanics stampeded from the GOP and helped turn the state lastingly Democratic."---Ronald Brownstein, National Journal, March 2013
Article on the Effects of Prop 187


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Hubble's Eye on the Universe

April 1, 1995: The Pillars of Creation, a Deep Space Photograph, was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.

Above: Pillars of Creation

Bill Clinton Claims Presidential Relevancy During Press Conference

April 18, 1995:

Above: President Bill Clinton

Rightwing Terrorism: The Oklahoma City Bombing

April 19, 1995: American rightwing terrorist, Timothy McVeigh, destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building with a truck bomb, killing over 100 people, including many children.

Above: The bombed Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Timothy McVeigh, in custody

Timothy McVeigh, detonated a truck-filled fertilizer-and-petroleum bomb in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, killing many of the people inside. McVeigh was a Gulf War veteran who had, over the years, developed a fanatical hatred of the federal government. McVeigh particularly opposed gun control, and had developed the belief that only a violent revolution could defeat the U.S. government.




The Premiere of Friday

April 26, 1995:


Release of Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morrisette

June 13, 1995:


The Atlantic: Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill at 20

Space Shuttle Atlantis Docks with Russian Space Station Mir

June 29, 1995:

New York Times: Atlantis Docks with Mir, June 29, 1995

The Normalization of Diplomatic Relations between the U.S. and Vietnam

July 11, 1995: President Bill Clinton granted full diplomatic recognition of Vietnam

Above: Clinton in Vietnam in November 2000, five years after normalization of American-Vietnamese relations.

In November 2000 President Bill Clinton became the first U.S. president to visit Vietnam since the end of the war. The visit came five years after he normalized relations with Vietnam on July 11, 1995.

Diplomatic Recognition of Vietnam

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The Debut of Microsoft Windows 95

August 24, 1995: Microsoft launched Windows 95, a user-friendly operating system for Personal Computers.

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Above: A Desktop screenshot using Windows 95

August 24, 1995: Hello Windows 95 Windows 95 Impact Microsoft Windows Through the Years

O.J. Simpson Acquitted of Murder Charge

October 3, 1995: A Los Angeles, California jury found O.J. Simpson "not guilty" in the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson (his ex-wife) and Ronald Goldman (Nicole's friend).

O.J. Simpson Acquitted of Murder Charges

The Assassination of Prime Minister of Israel Yitzhak Rabin

November 4, 1995:

Above: Prime Minister of Israel Yitzhak Rabin, assassinated, November 4, 1995

The Government Shutdowns of 1995-1996

November 14, 1995 to January 6, 1996: During a protracted dispute over federal spending, the federal government went through shutdowns. The government shutdown(s) proved to be a political disaster for Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and a political boon for President Bill Clinton, in terms of how public opinion sorted out.

In many respects, perceived extremism of Newt Gingrich and the House Republicans, along with a steadily improving economy, paved the way for President Clinton's re-election in 1996.



President Bill Clinton's 1996 State of the Union Address: "The Era of Big Government is Over."

January 23, 1996:

Bill Clinton's 1996 State of the Union Address

"We must answer here three fundamental questions: First, how do we make the American dream of opportunity for all a reality for all Americans who are willing to work for it? Second, how do we preserve our old and enduring values as we move into the future? And third, how do we meet these challenges together, as one America?

We know big Government does not have all the answers. We know there's not a program for every problem. We know, and we have worked to give the American people a smaller, less bureaucratic Government in Washington. And we have to give the American people one that lives within its means. The era of big Government is over. But we cannot go back to the time when our citizens were left to fend for themselves.

Instead, we must go forward as one America, one nation working together to meet the challenges we face together. Self-reliance and teamwork are not opposing virtues; we must have both. I believe our new, smaller Government must work in an old-fashioned American way, together with all of our citizens through State and local governments, in the workplace, in religious, charitable, and civic associations. Our goal must be to enable all our people to make the most of their own lives, with stronger families, more educational opportunity, economic security, safer streets, a cleaner environment in a safer world."

---President Bill Clinton, January 23, 1996

Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot by Al Franken hits #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List

February 25, 1996: Al Franken's Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot reached #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List.

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Above: The cover of Al Franken's Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot

The Capture of the Unabomber, a leftwing terrorist

April 3, 1996: Authorities captured Ted Kaczynski, the so-called Unabomber in Lincoln, Montana.

Above: A police sketch of the "Unabomber;" The booking photo of Ted Kaczynski

The Explosion and Crash of TWA Flight 800

July 17, 1996: TWA Flight 800, a jetliner that had flown out of New York City (en route to Europe) just minutes before, exploded and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, just a few miles off-shore. All passengers and crew died.

The investigation of the crash was a long and complicated process, but American authorities ultimately determined that the explosion was not caused by foul play or terrorism.

Above: Time cover in the wake of the TWA Flight 800 disaster

1996 Olympic Bombing in Atlanta, Georgia

July 27, 1996: In Centennial Park in Atlanta, Georgia, the site of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, a bomb exploded, killing two and wounding over 100.

There was much confusion about who was responsible. At one juncture, a security guard named Richard Jewell was falsely accused of planting the bomb.

The actual terrorist was Eric R. Rudolph, a rightwing survivalist and anti-abortion activist. After the 1996 Olympics bombing, Rudolph committed other terrorist acts, including the bombing of a Birmingham, Alabama abortion clinic. Rudolph was captured and arrested in 2003.

In 2005 Rudolph pled guilty to these crimes, and is now serving a life sentence in a federal prison.

Above: Time cover in the wake of the Centennial Park Olympic Bombing; Eric Rudolph, Rightwing Terrorist

"In the summer of 1996, the world converged upon Atlanta for the Olympic Games. Under the protection and auspices of the regime in Washington millions of people came out celebrate the ideals of global socialism. Multinational corporations spent billions of dollars, and Washington organized an army of security to protect these best of all games. Even though the conception and purpose of the so-called Olympic movement is to promote the values of global socialism, as perfectly expressed in the song 'Imagine' by John Lennon, which was the theme of the 1996 games — even though the purpose of the Olympics is to promote these despicable ideals, the purpose of the attack on July 27th was to confound, anger and embarrass the Washington government in the eyes of the word for its abominable sanctioning of abortion on demand."

---------Eric Rudolph, excerpt from his 2005 Confession

The Full Text of Eric Rudolph's 2005 Confession

Increase of the Federal Minimum Wage

August 20, 1996: President Bill Clinton signed legislation into law that raised the federal minimum wage.

Clinton, Remarks on Minimum Wage Act, August 20, 1996

Clinton, Statement, August 20, 1996

Clinton's Remarks on the Minimum Wage Increase, August 20, 1996

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996

August 21, 1996: President Bill Clinton signed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act into law.

Above: Clinton during the signing ceremony of the HIPAA

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, was a law designed to provide greater access and fairness in health insurance coverage.

Clinton, Remarks on HIPAA, August 21, 1996

Clinton, Statement on HIPAA, August 21, 1996

Clinton's Remarks on signing HIPAA into law

The Overhaul of the Welfare System

August 22, 1996:

Above: President Bill Clinton signs into law an overhaul of the federal welfare system

Clinton, Remarks on Welfare Reform, August 22, 1996

Clinton, Statement, August 22, 1996

Bill Clinton's thoughts on Welfare Reform, a 10 year retrospective

"On Aug. 22, 1996, after vetoing two earlier versions, I signed welfare reform into law. At the time, I was widely criticized by liberals who thought the work requirements too harsh and conservatives who thought the work incentives too generous. Three members of my administration ultimately resigned in protest. Thankfully, a majority of both Democrats and Republicans voted for the bill because they thought we shouldn't be satisfied with a system that had led to intergenerational dependency.
The last 10 years have shown that we did in fact end welfare as we knew it, creating a new beginning for millions of Americans.
In the past decade, welfare rolls have dropped substantially, from 12.2 million in 1996 to 4.5 million today. At the same time, caseloads declined by 54 percent. Sixty percent of mothers who left welfare found work, far surpassing predictions of experts. Through the Welfare to Work Partnership, which my administration started to speed the transition to employment, more than 20,000 businesses hired 1.1 million former welfare recipients. Welfare reform has proved a great success, and I am grateful to the Democrats and Republicans who had the courage to work together to take bold action."
---Former President Bill Clinton, August, 22, 2006, New York Times

Osama Bin Laden Issues Declaration of Jihad Against the United States of America

August 23, 1996:

Above: Osama Bin Laden, leader of Al Qaeda Osama Bin Laden's Declaration Against the United States, Published August 23, 1996

CNN: Timeline of the Life of Osama Bin Laden, 1957-2011

The Shooting of Gangster Rapper Tupac Shakur

September 7, 1996:

Above: Rapper Tupac Shakur (passenger) and Death Row Records Head Suge Knight (driver) shortly before the shooting

The Shooting of Tupac Shakur, September 7, 1996

The Debut of Fox News Channel and the Expansion of the American Culture War

October 7, 1996: Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch and conservative media operative Roger Ailes launched the Fox News Channel. In time, Fox News became a reliable purveyor of Republican and conservative-friendly news coverage and opinion. By the early 2000s, Fox News was a powerful force in the continuing American culture war.


The Presidential Election of 1996

November 5, 1996: President Bill Clinton (Democrat) won the Presidential Election of 1996.

Above: From left to right, Democrat Bill Clinton, Republican Bob Dole, and Ross Perot

Above: The 1996 presidential electoral map

Launch of the Mars Global Surveyor

November 7, 1996:

NASA: Mars Global Surveyor


President Bill Clinton's Second Term

January 20, 1997:

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Rapper Notorious B.I.G Gunned Down in Los Angeles, California

March 9, 1997:

Above: Rapper Christopher Wallace, aka Notorious B.I.G., 1972-1997

Notorious B.I.G. Killed in Los Angeles

A Victory for the Labour Party

May 1, 1997: Labour Party leader Tony Blair was elected Prime Minister of Great Britain. He took office the next day.

Above: Tony Blair

Hong Kong Transferred from British to Chinese Rule

July 1, 1997:

Unmanned U.S. Space Probe Lands on Mars

July 4, 1997:


The Premiere of South Park

August 13, 1997: South Park debuted on Comedy Central

Above: Cartman, Kyle, Stan, and Kenny; Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of South Park

The Death of Princess Diana

August 31, 1997:

Above: Time coverage of the death of Princess Diana

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The Promise Keepers Flock to Washington, D.C.

October 4, 1997:



The Clinton-Lewinsky Scandal and the Impeachment of a President, 1998-1999

January 21, 1998: The Clinton-Lewinsky sex scandal became public in the mainstream media.

Above: Monica Lewinsky and President Bill Clinton

The story of a sexual relationship between President Clinton and a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky, broke in early 1998. The Clinton-Lewinsky affair became a part of a larger investigation of President Clinton by Kenneth Starr, an appointed independent prosecutor.

Starr ultimately alleged that Clinton, in sworn testimony, committed perjury about the affair and encouraged perjury by others.

In December 1998, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives impeached Clinton along largely party-line voting.

In the U.S. Senate, Clinton was placed on trial, but the Republican-controlled body proved unable to get the two-thirds majority vote necessary to remove Clinton from office.

In fact they even failed to get a simple majority. As such, Clinton served the remainder of his second presidential term which ended in January 2001.

Osama Bin Laden Declares Jihad Against the United States of America

February 23, 1998:


The Premiere of The Big Lebowski

March 6, 1998:

Above: Movie poster for The Big Lebowski; Scene from The Big Lebowski

Above: The Dude Abides

Release Dates for The Big Lebowski

Primary Colors

March 20, 1998: Primary Colors, a thinly-veiled movie about the rise of Bill Clinton, debuted in American movie theaters. The movie was an adaptation of the novel written by political reporter Joe Klein.

Above: Movie Poster of Primary Colors

Primary Colors, 1998

The End of Seinfeld

May 14, 1998: The last episode of Seinfeld aired on NBC, thus ending a TV series that dominated much of the 1990s


France, 1998 World Cup Champions

July 12, 1998: In the championship match of the 1998 FIFA World Cup, France defeated Brazil, 3 goals to 0.

Above: World Cup Logo for 1998; Zinedine Zidane of France heads the ball against Brazil

Above: Composite of photos of the 1998 French national team

President Bill Clinton Admits to an Inappropriate Relationship with Monica Lewinsky

August 17, 1998:

Transcript of Bill Clinton's Confessional Speech, August 17, 1998

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Kenneth Starr Issues His Lurid Report on President Clinton

September 11, 1998:

CNN: Ken Starr Issues His Report, September 11, 1998

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The GOP-Dominated House of Representatives Impeaches President Clinton

December 19, 1998: The House of Representatives impeached President Bill Clinton.


In November 1998, days after the Republicans lost seats in the Midterm Congressional elections, Newt Gingrich announced that he would step down as Speaker of the House and resign from Congress. He left office in January 1999. The Gingrich Revolution was largely over, though the Republican Party still controlled both the House and Senate.

His replacement was going to be Rep. Bob Livingston of Louisiana. However, on the same day of Clinton's impeachment, Speaker-Elect Livingston announced on the House floor that, due to exposure of his own sex scandal, he would not accept the Speakership, and would later resign from Congress as well. Dennis Hastert of Illinois, in turn, became Speaker of the House and served in that position until January 2007.


The Debut of The Sopranos and the Golden Age of the Television Antihero

January 10, 1999: The cable television drama The Sopranos debuted on HBO.

Above: Tony Soprano (center) and four of his associates--Salvatore, Silvio, Christopher, and Paulie

Culture War: Jon Stewart takes over The Daily Show

January 11, 1999: Comedian Jon Stewart took over The Daily Show--a satirical mock news show on Comedy Central--and in time, turned the show into an important venue for comical social and political commentary. Stewart would prove particularly adept at lampooning contemporary American politics, often to the ire of political conservatives.

Above: Jon Stewart

Bill Clinton Acquitted by the U.S. Senate

February 12, 1999: President Bill Clinton, in the wake of being impeached by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives was acquitted by the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate. The Republicans fell well short of the two-thirds majority vote to render a guilty verdict. As such, Clinton survived the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and served out the remainder of his second term. In doing so, Clinton became the last U.S. President of the 20th century the the first of the 21st.

Above: The Impeachment Trial of Bill Clinton in the U.S. Senate Chamber

Office Space

February 19, 1999: Mike Judge's Office Space debuted in American movie theaters.

Above: Theatrical release poster of Office Space; Twentieth Century Fox photo of scene with Lumbergh and Peter Gibbons

Above: Peter Gibbons; Joanna (Jennifer Aniston) and restaurant manager confer about pieces of flair

Above: Bill Lumbergh; The Bobs

Above: Milton and his favorite stapler

NATO Bombing Campaign in Kosovo

March 24, 1999:


PBS: Kosovo Timeline Vladimir Putin's Revenge?

Bull Market: For the First Time Ever, the Dow Jones Industrial Average Closed Above 10,000

March 29, 1999:

Above: President Bill Clinton; Drawing of the New York Stock Exchange Building


April 20, 1999: At Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, two teenage boys walked into their high schools and began firing guns at students and faculty members. They killed around a 13 people and wounded 21.


The massacre at Columbine ignited a national debate about school safety and gun control.

Bull Market: For the First Time Ever, the Dow Closes above 11,000

May 3, 1999:

Above: President Bill Clinton; Drawing of the New York Stock Exchange Building

The Death of Pete Conrad, the Third Man to Walk on the Moon

July 8, 1999:

The Death of John F. Kennedy, Jr.

July 16, 1999: John F. Kennedy, Jr., along with his wife Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy and sister-in-law Lauren Bessette, died in a nighttime plane crash en route to his cousin's (a daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy) wedding at the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. Kennedy's plane was scheduled to land at an airport on Martha's Vineyard, an island near Hyannis Port.

JFK, Jr., a licensed pilot, was flying his private single-engine plane (a Piper Saratoga) when it crashed into the Atlantic, off the coast of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. The crash was ruled as a result of pilot error, possibly due to disorientation during a night flight. Kennedy was 39.

Above: John F. Kennedy, Jr. (1960-1999); JFK, Jr and Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy

Above: The main house of the Kennedy Family Compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts

The Resignation of Boris Yeltsin

December 31, 1999: Boris Yeltsin, President of the Russian Federation, resigned his office.

Above: Boris Yeltsin, President of Russia, 1991-1999; Vladimir Putin, named acting President on December 31, 1999

Control of the Panama Canal Turned Over to Panama

December 31, 1999

Above: Map of Panama

Panama Takes Over the Panama Canal

The Dow at the End of 1999

December 31, 1999: The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 11,497.

Above: President Bill Clinton; Drawing of the New York Stock Exchange Building

Dow Jones History

Time's 1999 Person of the Year: Jeff Bezos,

Time's Person of the Century: Albert Einstein


Time's Person of the Century: Albert Einstein

Chronicle of the Years 2000-2009