USA. According to
Countryaah.com, political life in the United States in 1996 was
dominated by the November 5 elections. In addition to the
president and vice-president, one-third of the Senate, the
entire House of Representatives and a wide range of state
and local officials were elected.
In the presidential election, on the Democratic side,
Bill Clinton as incumbent president was the self-signed
candidate, while a number of candidates signed up among
Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole of Kansas, who
was now seeking his party's nomination for presidential
candidate for the third time, was the leader, but he was
challenged from the right by Pat Buchanan, who won the
primary in New Hampshire Feb. 20, and by multimillionaire
Steve Forbes, who won primary election in Arizona February
27. Other Republican candidates were former Tennessee
Governor Lamar Alexander and Texas Senator Phil Gramm. By
the end of March, however, it was clear that Dole had won
the nomination, following a series of clear victories in the
primary elections across the United States, and all
challengers except Buchanan withdrew their names.
Throughout the spring, summer, and fall, opinion polls
gave President Clinton a secure lead over his challengers,
often by more than ten percentage points. In June, Dole
resigned as senator and majority leader to devote himself
entirely to his candidacy, which did not seem to help his
cause, and the entire campaign became quite paralyzed.
Instead, much of the interest came from whether Democrats
could regain control of one or both chambers of Congress.
When the votes were counted, Clinton had won safely with
379 electoral votes against Doles 159. Of voters, Clinton
got 49%, Dole 41%, and Perot 8%.
In the congressional elections, however, Republicans
retained control in both the Senate (55 vs. 45, a two-seat
increase) and in the House of Representatives (227 vs.
207.1, a three-seat reduction). Voter turnout in the
presidential elections was the lowest in decades, just under
The end of the election shows Clinton's skill as a
politician, as his chances for reelection were considered
very small after the 1994 midterm elections when Republicans
took control in Congress. The relatively good US economy,
the fact that Republicans succeeded in dominating Newt
Gingrich's right wing and the inherent advantage that a
presidential office provides are other important
explanations for Clinton's victory.
The US economy performed well in 1996. Inflation remained
at a low level - below 3% - and unemployment was just over
5%. In October, the Dow Jones index on the New York Stock
Exchange also reached an "all time high" and for the first
time exceeded 6,000.
The protracted budget battle between the president and
Congress, which meant layoffs of federal employees at the
end of 1995, were finally finalized in January. It is also
clear that the question of how pensions and healthcare
should be financed in the future is among the most important
economic-political issues in the United States today.
The indigenous people
The first immigration to North America was from Asia
across the Bering Strait over 20,000 years ago. The
immigrants - ancestors of the indigenous population of the
American continent - were scattered throughout most of the
continent, and were divided into many different peoples or
tribes. Researchers today work with a division of the people
into six to ten major cultural areas, among them the
northern forest Indians (Canada-Alaska), prairie Indians in
the Midwest - who followed the great buffalo flocks, the
Pueblo Indians in the southwest - lived in small villages -
and the East Coast Indians - who had various forms of
farming as a food route, and who also lived in small
villages. But they also developed some larger communities.
Among other things. had the city of Cahokia near the present
St. Louis about 40,000 residents in the year 1000 AD.
Each of the cultural areas was divided into a number of
smaller communities. Only in North America did at least 200
distinctly different languages exist. The most important
of the people were: apache, arapaho, cherokee, cheyenne,
chipewa, crow, comanche, hopi, irokes, lakota, navajo, nez
perce, sioux, pawnee, pueblo, seminole, shawnee, shoshone
and ute. However, the dividing lines between the
different life forms, cultures and languages were not always
coincidental. Strains with the same life form could e.g.
have completely different languages. This is one of the
reasons why some researchers believe that the original
immigration took place over a period of time and that the
groups originated from a number of different language and
cultural groups in Asia.
The religious beliefs of the indigenous peoples were
based on a cosmic conception in which the earth did not
belong to any human but the universe, which was
conceived as a being with material and spiritual powers. The
leaders of the indigenous peoples - the shamans -
could summon the powers of this sacred universe to prophesy
about the future, lead the people, and cure diseases.
The Norwegian Vikings' short colonization period on the
east coast around the year 1000 left no lasting traces. On
the other hand, so did the arrival of the Spanish invaders
in 1492, and the subsequent extensive immigration from other
European countries. The Spaniards founded, inter alia, the
cities of San Agustín in Florida and Santa Fe in New Mexico
and reached Texas and California. In 1540, Hernando De Soto
described how the Cherokeethe people had developed
an advanced agricultural culture, and had established
contact with other peoples - i.a. Aztecs. At that time,
there were still about 1.5 million natives in the current
United States, but the whites introduced the firearm and the
native's new concept to kill its opponent. The white
conquered piece by piece of land. Hundreds of thousands of
Indians were killed, tribe after tribe fought, displaced,
and partially deported west. In 1830, the young North
American federal state passed a law requiring all Native
Americans to reside west of the Mississippi River. At the
same time, immigration from Europe continued.
In 1848-50, gold was found in California and Colorado.
The whites flocked west again. Agreements were broken and
laws were forgotten. The Indians were still persecuted and
systematically banished to ever smaller reserves -
especially in areas where the whites did not yet see any
significant opportunity for profitable mining or farming.
Over the last few centuries, between 300 and 400
agreements - formal treaties - have been made between
various indigenous peoples and the state of the United
States. The agreements have been broken by the colonizers
one by one - mostly because the white economic expansion
made it desirable to take over Native American protected
This conflict continues to exist in our day with the
discovery of uranium, oil shale, important lignite deposits
and a number of other minerals in a number of Native
American reserves. The modern Native American organizations
- created by the new activism and the Red Power movement in
the 1960's and 70's - have today as one of their most
important tasks to prevent these resources from being taken
over by the authorities and consumed without the Indians
themselves having the crucial influence on the management of