Affirmative Action


George W. Bush (r), (Incumbent, Will not Run in ’08)

During his 2000 Presidential campaign, G. Bush described his endorsement of a concept he called “affirmative access.” While his opponent Al Gore dismissed this initially as another so-called Bush-ism, it turns out Bush really did have a distinction in mind between affirmative access and affirmative action.

As Michael Dorf of Columbia University says, “Traditional affirmative action gives some preference to minority applicants for jobs and educational opportunities. In contrast, “affirmative access” aims to increase minority participation without relying on racial or other suspect criteria.”

In the state of Texas, all undergraduate institutions are required by law to accept the top 10% of graduating high school seniors; this leads to another interesting conundrum however.

In essence, it is a form of segregation in itself; parents of minority students in Texas would be more likely to send their children to a segregated school rather than an integrated school where rank in the top 10 percent would be much more difficult to achieve.

The Bottom Line__

What he says: “Color-blind,” no quotas or preferences, but for alternatively helping minorities through affirmative access

What his actions say: What he says

Hillary Clinton (d), (Candidate, ’08)

In 2003, H. Clinton supported the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision to uphold affirmative action; thus one could consider her one of its advocates.

However, during her statement the same day of the decision, Clinton also emphasized the Court’s words that in 25 years, the United States should have racially-neutral admissions policies in universities.

The organization N.O.W. has endorsed Clinton as a candidate for the 2008 Presidential election. Thus, unlike Bush, she is in favor of keeping current staples of affirmative action- namely quotas and preferences- until the time comes that there is no longer a need for it.

When that time will come, though, is anyone’s guess.

The Bottom Line__

What she says: For affirmative action, believes it is necessary in the status quo.

What her actions say: For affirmative action, believes it is necessary in the status quo.

John McCain (r), (Candidate, ’08)

A frequent critic of numerous Bush administration policies, McCain’s views converge quite a bit with those of our 43rd President.

Though not quite as strongly against traditional affirmative action forms, McCain has supported bans on quotas, declaring that affirmative action is okay for some programs. He has also advocated setting aside 10% of highway funds exclusively for minorities and women.

Primarily, McCain has supported all affirmative action programs which do not include quotas, or if ordered by courts.

The Bottom Line__

What he says: Against certain types of affirmative action, somewhat along the lines of affirmative access

What his actions say: Against certain types of affirmative action, somewhat along the lines of affirmative access

Barack Obama (d), (Candidate, ’08)

B. Obama has championed the inclusion of affirmative action in college and university admissions, public employment, as well as state contracting. As with many other issues, he has made his stance explicitly clear.

What could be disturbing for his campaign, though, is the amount of negative attention his own skin color has gotten. Media Matters for America somewhat ironically questioned if Obama “would get affirmative action.” Fox News had a particularly caustic section run on its show January 18th, 2007- host John Gibson described Obama’s well-documented smoking habit as a “dirty little secret,” implying he tries to hide it. Guest John McWhorter asserted that Obama’s success is “considered such a big deal simply because he’s black.” McWhorter even went on to call Obama to a “mammy,” a caricature of blacks from slave times.

The Bottom Line__

What he says: Pro- aff. action

What his actions say: Pro- aff. Action

Also, a little food for thought: exhaustive studies by private companies and the federal government show that Caucasian women benefit more from affirmative action than any other demographic.

Rudy Giuliani (r), (Candidate, ’08)

While R. Giuliani is oft described as “pro-affirmative action,” some doubt this stance because of his actions during his New York mayoral days. In 1997, he dismantled the affirmative action program for New York City contracts. He’s opposed lowering standards for minorities.

In accordance with this last view, he ended open enrollment at the City University of New York; this was a policy established in the 70’s primarily trying to increase the minority population of the university. Interestingly enough, by ending open enrollment, CUNY’s rankings shot up- SAT scores increased by an average of 168 points.

What does all that prove? Well, that he may still have a few anti-affirmative action plans up his sleeve.

The Bottom Line__

What he says: Pro- affirmative action

What his actions say: Perhaps pro-affirmative action, but definitely not a steady stance

John Edwards (d), (Candidate, ’08)

Back in 2003, upon the Supreme Court’s critical upholding of the University of Michigan’s partially race-based graduate admission policy, J. Edwards applauded them for making the “right” decision to back civil rights.

Edwards supports affirmative action policies; In 2003, Edwards also declared that affirmative action is just as necessary today as it was 40 years ago.

While that may be true, it brings up the important question: will there ever come a time when affirmative action won’t be necessary at all? H. Clinton has set a 25 year goal to accomplish it, but Edwards hasn’t made any explicit remarks upon that subject.

The Bottom Line__

What he says: Pro- affirmative action

What his actions say: Pro- affirmative action

Mitt Romney (r), (Candidate, ’08)

M. Romney is considered an advocate of affirmative action. In a January podcast in which he was asked about his stance on affirmative action, Romney declined to go into any specifics as to policies of affirmative action he liked or disliked.

Instead, he mentioned that he hires people to his association without regard for their gender, race, or orientation. He finished the rest of his answer describing how he would not like to see discrimination and racism in the country- basically standard sound-bites for the talks show.

The interesting thing will be watching if and how Romney further aligns himself with G.O.P. voters with whom he has been steadily growing in popularity.

The Bottom Line__

What he says: Pro- affirmative action

What his actions say: Pro- affirmative action

2 Responses to “Affirmative Action”

  1. 1 jb1125

    See this article on Obama’s views:,pubID.25605/pub_detail.asp

  1. 1 Issues « Mango Ice Cream

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: