Affirmative Action Lives

St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), October 30, 1995 | Go to article overview

Affirmative Action Lives


Affirmative action programs were supposed to be among the first Democratic-sponsored government policies that would be overturned by the so-called Republican revolution.

For very good reasons, Congress has refrained from wholesale elimination of these programs. The continued survival of most of them is due in part to intense lobbying by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.

Its efforts have helped to shift the debate away from bigoted and anti-black rhetoric toward a more rational discussion of how affirmative action works, why it's needed and who has benefited the most. It's no accident, for example, that the Leadership Conference has spread the word that women of all races, and white women in particular, have reaped most of the rewards of affirmative action in the workplace.

Still, the issue clearly is certain to be a big topic in next year's presidential campaign. GOP candidate Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas has all but made sure of that. Last spring, he promised to add an anti-affirmative action rider to all appropriations bills. Wisely, the Senate has spurned this backdoor effort to pass legislation to suit the views of one misguided individual.

The unsubstantiated notion among whites is that affirmative action is giving minorities unfair advantage - as if the absence of such programs hadn't given whites unfair advantage for decades.

At any rate, Congress eventually may draft new rules for determining who deserves special help. …

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