In 1992, President Clinton and Vice President Gore were elected as our first leaders born after World War II. It was nothing less than a generational shift in our nation's political leadership, reaffirmed four years later in 1996.
With this change came a new approach to international affairs. The world has changed dramatically since the onset of the computer age, and we must take note of and respond to the new realities we face in the twenty-first century. For example, the United States is now an information-based economy, where political and economic relationships are changing at every level. On the one hand, citizens have greater access to the world than ever before. Capital markets are fully integrated. Transportation and telecommunication links are opening new horizons to untold numbers across the globe, as I saw for myself with President Clinton during an Internet demonstration at a favela school in Brazil. On the other hand, changing technology and a changing polity mean that individuals are becoming, in some ways, more isolated, the so-called "bowling alone" phenomenon. In addition, the line between foreign and domestic policy has increasingly blurred--from trade and investment to narcotics, to the environment, to immigration, to labor rights and other non-traditional issues--and, as a result, the very conceptualization of U.S. national security continues to evolve. The world is changing from the one we once knew. That's why in 1992 we immediately positioned ourselves to take full advantage of the world we now face, while minimizing its downside, by strengthening our economy and putting people first.
We took a hard look at the budget deficit, passing the historic deficit reduction plan in 1993, and now, for the first time since man first walked on the moon, our budget is in surplus. We addressed the loss of U.S. competitive leadership and saw our nation once