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