20th Century Genius Award

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Considered a leader, a statesman, and a humanist, William Jefferson Clinton's genius exemplifies many characteristics of the Age of Modernism and Pluralism in Western culture. The Age of Modernism and Pluralism is said to be a culmination of the previous two major periods in human history. Modernism has the "quest for an authoritatively-rational aesthetics, ethics, and knowledge indicative of the Enlightened Period" ("PostModernism", 2005), and the higher ideals of respect for people's rights and liberty brought forth during the Romantic period. Former president Bill Clinton's contributions to social and civil reforms in the United States, his support of the spread of democracy throughout the world, and his previous and ongoing support for the humanities constitute this nomination for the 20th Century Genius Award. On the surface, the Age of Modernism, from 1890 through1950 appeared to follow on the heels of the ideals of the Romantic period: realism, liberty, and state nationalism. Instead, the times were characterized by the reevaluation of these ideas and a subsequent evolution of their interpretation. The two world wars marked this struggle poignantly. Early 20th century artists argued that the First World War, so brutal in nature that art could not be captured by the Romantic Period. Furthermore, social reforms like the Marshall Plan, introduced after the Second World War, were viewed as a critical element in the rebuilding of war torn countries, disbanding of irrational attachments to the state and thereby breaking the cycle of war ("Modernism, 2005) The political and social aspects of the second half of the 20th century were marked by a sense of freedom and the breaking away from traditional imperialism. Mahatma Gandhi's effort to free India was the first test these ideals. Other common themes of the times included racial equality, raising the standard of living in poor areas, and bringing about equality between the sexes. All aspects of humanities, art, music, dance, architecture, and philosophy produced works that either were influenced by or were an influence on these social issues. In the Modern and Pluralistic themes, Bill Clinton fought for these ideals throughout his life both personally and as a servant to the state. (Fiero, 2002) The Life and Times of a Genius

Bill Clinton, originally William Jefferson Blythe, was born on August 19, 1946. His father died in a car accident three months before he was born. When he was four years old his mother married Roger Clinton of Hot Springs, Arkansas. In high school Clinton took his stepfathers name ("William J. Clinton", n.d). Clinton owes much of his pluralistic beliefs to the influences he had early in his life. In particular, his grandfather, who owned a grocery store in a racially mixed neighborhood in Arkansas, imparted basic feelings of racial tolerance and pluralism at an early age. Young Bill loved to spend time there helping his grandfather with the store operations. (William Jefferson Clinton, n.d.) The skills he has as a mediator and defender of basic rights evolved during his early teenage years. When his stepfather, an alcoholic, occasionally became abusive, Clinton took the role of head of household where he defended his mother and mediated family disputes. He eventually helped his mother receive a divorce and leave her abusive husband. His initiative in defense of his mother, and able handling of legal matters exemplified the intelligence he had at such a young age. (Luqman, n.d) In high school, Clinton was the quintessential overachiever. His brilliant academic record and his participation in various activities not only influenced him in his life achievements but helped develop his genius ability. He consistently achieved honor roll grades and was such an excellent saxophone player that he even considered becoming a professional musician. He was also involved in numerous...
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