The advent of the 20th century saw major remarkable improvements in the art culture. The rapid increase in technological innovation facilitated this departure from the long-held traditional art forms. This was the onset of the age of modernism. The idea of pluralism denies the existence of absolute truth. It depicts that truth is relative and that there is no real absolute truth. The word ‘modern’, in art history, depicts the period dating from the 1860s through the 1970s and it illustrates the styles and ideology of art made during that time (Witcombe, 1997, para 2). The age of modernism and pluralism indicates the enlightenment period when the fight for people’s respect, rights, and liberty is evident. Evidence of failing modernism was seen in the global tragedy of the first and the Second World War. The thousands of people slaughtered during the wars showed the incapability of modernism in leading the path to a better world. Prominent artists participated actively in giving support to the political revolution. An atmosphere of freedom and the fall from traditional imperialism characterized the social and the political aspects of mid 20th century. Mahatma Gandhi was one of the prominent advocates in upholding human rights and improvement of the quality of life for people. The different aspects of human life produced publications that were motivated by these social issues. Throughout his life, Bill Clinton fostered the ideals of modernism and pluralism in the fight for social and civil reforms and democratic principles throughout the world.
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Bill Clinton’s life and times
William Jefferson Blythe was born on August 19, 1946, in Hope, Arkansas (“William J. Clinton”, 2009). His father died in an automobile accident three months before his mother delivered. His mother remarried Roger Clinton, of Hot Springs, Arkansas, when he was four years of age. At age fourteen, he took his stepfather’s name, Clinton.
Clinton had a liking for his grandfather who had a grocery shop in Arkansas; therefore, he spent most of his free time helping him. His pluralistic ideals were injected into him at this tender age by his grandfather who instructed him on issues of racial tolerance and pluralism. In his autobiography, he says that his violent stepfather could at times abuse his mother, and he regularly intervened to calm the situation (Bill, 2004).
His skills in mediating disputes are rooted in these early incidences of his life as he eventually assisted his mother in getting a legal divorce from her abusive husband.
Clinton’s genius ability was enhanced during his life in high school. He got appraisals from the teachers as he often achieved above-average grades. He has been actively involved in school extra-curricular activities, an opportunity that made him go places. He was a brilliant saxophone player and he participated in the Boy’s Nation Club. In 1963, when he was sent as a representative of the Boy’s Nation training program in Washington, he paid a visit to President Kennedy and shook hands with him. Dr. Martin Luther King’s, “I have a dream”, speech reiterated to him the need of standing out in defending human rights. These two experiences motivated him to make a career in politics (“William Jefferson Clinton”, n.d).
Georgetown University opened its doors to the young achiever once he finished high school. The proximity of the institution to Washington City played a pivotal role in exposing him to the life of politics. His leadership skills were demonstrated when he was elected the person in charge of the freshmen. He volunteered his time to work with Senator Fulbright of Arkansas, who nurtured him in his dream pursuit of engaging in politics. Upon successful completion of his undergraduate studies in Foreign Service, Clinton applied and was marveled when he received the esteemed Rhodes scholarship to learn at Oxford University in London. On completion of the scholarship program, he entered Yale University Law School and graduated in 1973 with a degree in law. Hillary Rodham, the current United States Secretary of State, met with her would-be husband while at Yale and married in 1975. His outstanding academic achievements substantiate the claim of him being a genius.
Upon graduating from Yale, he became a professor at the University of Arkansas where he took part in fighting for students’ rights. At 28 years of age, he unsuccessfully ran for the position of Congressman. He became a state general in 1976 after a successful bid, and later in 1979, he managed to be the nation’s youngest governor since 1938 on clinching the post of Arkansas governor (“William Jefferson Clinton”, n.d).
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He later lost the position but regained it in 1986 with a promise to enact major reforms in education and the welfare of the people. The education system in Arkansas became one of the best in the country due to its good governance. The teachers’ needs were addressed, and the students received equal treatment regardless of their status and race. These remarkable achievements of Bill Clinton illustrate without a doubt that he values the ideals of modernism.
He broke twelve years of Republican domination of the White House when he became the president in 1992, beating the incumbent president, George W. Bush, and the Independent candidate, Ross Perot. He was re-elected in 1996 on a promise to bridge up the gap to the new century.
Clinton did not relent on the philosophies he stood for during his well-spent two terms in office. Out of the many guiding principles he established, three are renowned to depict the ideals of modernism. These were The Hate Crimes Prevention Act, welfare reforms, and participation in international matters, such as the crisis in Kosovo.
Even though President Obama has signed the Hate crimes bill into law, it had its roots in the Clinton administration. He saw it as a positive step for bridging the gap into the 21st Century. In compelling for this direction during his April 6, 1999 address, he urged Congress to expand the list of hate crimes to consist of crimes of sexual orientation. He directed institutions to report hate crimes carried out within their premises (“Clinton urges expansion of hate crime law”).
Clinton enacted major welfare reforms during his tenure that reduced the poverty level of the populace and improved the quality of life. In 1995, he spearheaded the welfare reform initiative between him and the new Republican Congress, which sought to decentralize the delivery of welfare. He signed the bill into law. Clinton expanded the EITC from $15.9 to $21.2 billion. The reforms significantly reduced the rising of children out of wedlock, supported low-income families, and addressed homelessness (“Bill Clinton on Welfare & Poverty”).
Clinton signed a document on May 24, 1999, that gave the NATO forces the authority of quelling the violence in Kosovo. Thousands of people had been driven out of their homes, villages burnt, due to the ethnic dispute. Clinton fought for the locals’ racial equality according to the best of his capability (“News: President Clinton to Dedicate Statue in Kosovo.” para. 2).
Bill Clinton’s dedication as a public servant yielded much fruit. He skillfully used his genius to deliver reforms in many aspects of the government. He enacted civil rights reforms, fought against racism, and enforced transparency in the public service. The quality of living improved tremendously due to his education and welfare agenda. The policies of this diplomat reveal his strong belief in the principles of modernism and pluralism.
Clinton’s fervent support for human free will is rooted in the early age experience with art and culture. He was ready to learn the diverse cultures, art, and music, which empowered him to fight for human rights later in life. His love for music, in particular, shaped his dreams.
The National Endowment for the Arts in the United States is a largest annual sponsor of the arts programs in the country. It aims to bring arts to all Americans and offer sound leadership in arts education (“About Us”, n.d). During Clinton’s term in office, he facilitated in offering grants to support this organization in reaching its goals. This public agency was established in 1965 by congress as an independent organization of the federal government, but during Clinton’s second term in office, the agency was almost declared bankrupt. An intense battle between the President and Congress erupted. The President ultimately won in ensuring that NEA objectives were sustained.
Clinton managed to reduce the budget expenses during his Presidency. At the time he was leaving office on January 20, 2001, the federal budget recorded its first surplus for the first time in a generation. He was at the forefront of facilitating an increase in foreign aid to Russia and Baltic republics to assist in alleviating poverty. He was also lightly involved in mediating the peace process between The Israelis and The Palestinians (“William Jefferson Clinton”, n.d).
Bill Clinton’s modernism and Pluralism ideals are due to the exposure he had and the God-given genius that made him incorporate these values into the day-to-day lives of his fellow Americans. Right from his teen years, he demonstrated heroism in alleviating the suffering of his fellow compatriots. He protected his mother from an abusive husband and enabled her to get a legal divorce. He instituted educational and civil reforms during his work as a public servant. He actively participated in efforts of alleviating poverty and rights activism in foreign countries. His love for music demonstrated the impact art could do in transforming the community. Bill is a 20th-century figure whose artistic contributions in embracing the ideals of modernism and pluralism enabled him to stand out as a true genius of Western culture.
About Us. National Endowment for the Arts. 2004. Web.
Bill, C., (2004). My life. Washington: Knopf Publishing Group.
Bill Clinton on Welfare & Poverty. On the Issues. 2004. Web.
Clinton urges expansion of hate crime law (1999). CNN.com. 2004. Web.
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News: President Clinton to Dedicate Statue. Clinton Foundation. 2004. Web.
William J. Clinton (2009). The White House Presidents. Web.
William Jefferson Clinton. (n.d). Historycentral.com. 2004. Web.
Witcombe, C.L. (1997). Modernism. Web.