American Civil Rights Policy from Truman to Clinton: The Role of Presidential Leadership

American Civil Rights Policy from Truman to Clinton: The Role of Presidential Leadership

American Civil Rights Policy from Truman to Clinton: The Role of Presidential Leadership

American Civil Rights Policy from Truman to Clinton: The Role of Presidential Leadership

Synopsis

The President is the key actor in civil rights policy -- its advance, reversal, or neglect. This book documents the critical role presidents have played in setting the agenda, framing the terms of the debate, and formulating specific policy goals with respect to civil rights. By identifying the limits of presidential influence as well as the impact of presidential leadership vis-a-vis the Congress and federal agencies, Shull is able to compare presidents in terms of rhetoric, performance, and effectiveness in this most controversial policy arena.

Expanding upon his work in A Kinder, Gentler Racism? Shull here incorporates the Clinton years, including case studies of the 1996 same-sex marriage controversy and the nominations of Lani Guinier and William Lee for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.

Excerpt

President Ronald Reagan returned civil rights to a place of prominence on the national agenda, but did so by attempting to cut back on federal protections that had been expanded under previous administrations. He made many statements and initiated many actions that had long-lasting policy results. His successor, George Bush, proclaimed an intention to pursue the "kinder and gentler" policies of earlier presidents. But in the end Bush continued--and arguably extended--the Reagan retrenchment. During the next two terms, President Bill Clinton endeavored to pursue policies that were kinder and gentler and very different from those of his Republican predecessors. In short, civil rights policy has undergone substantial change under the last three presidents. This book compares these three with other modern presidents in the area of civil rights. Its primary theme is that presidential influence leads to policy change.

The book is organized according to a stimulus-response model not unlike the process of making public policy itself. Chapter 1 lays out the conceptual framework, while chapter 2 provides a historical overview of civil rights policy in the United States. This study covers the full range of statements and actions (stimuli), and results (responses). Presidents make statements through public communications that may be symbolic or substantive (chapter 3). They take actions legislatively and administratively and seek other avenues to assert their policy preferences in the area of civil rights (chapters 4-5). How do others react to . . .

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