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Affirmative Action and Voting Rights

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American Government Research Paper

Conservatives and Liberals on Affirmative Action and Voting Rights

Affirmative action is an important issue inside as well as outside the courts. In general, affirmative action means minorities are preferably admitted to universities or employed in government and businesses. Emphasizing a particular attention on jobs and higher education, affirmative action policies require that proper actions must be taken to ensure that blacks and other minorities along with whites receive the same possibilities for promotions, salary increases, career advancement, school admissions, scholarships, and financial aid. The policies were also intended to decrease the level of discrimination among disadvantaged minorities. The programs of affirmative action had a success. But now there many debates about the reasonableness of the affirmative action policies and these policies cause more problems then they can decide.

In the USA affirmative action policies helped to increase possibilities for minorities to be hired and promoted, to be admitted to colleges and to be awarded by government contracts. "Minorities" means any underrepresented group defined by race, ethnicity, or gender. In general, affirmative action policies has been implemented by governments, businesses, or educational institutions to decrease the level of discrimination against a particular group by a specific entity, or by society in the whole.

Up to the middle of the 1960s for many blacks and other racial minorities it was illegal to get many jobs and to enter colleges. Although women were rarely legally forbidden to receive jobs or study in the universities, many educational institutions did not admit them and many employers did not hire them. The first modern legal act that prevents these barriers was the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited discrimination in public accommodations and employment. A part of this act known as Title VII banned discrimination in employment and it promoted the further development of affirmative action. Now affirmative action policy causes many positive and negative debate.

The term affirmative action was first declared by President John F. Kennedy in a 1961 executive order for federal contractors to unite the workforces on projects without regard to race, creed, color or national origin. It was the first step in creating "color-blind" laws. However, many people did not believe that simply ending a long-standing discrimination policy would work. They considered that affirmative actions must be taken to increase equality among people.

President Richard Nixon was the first to implement federal policies designed to guarantee minority hiring. Responding to continuing racial inequalities in the workforce, in 1969 the Nixon administration developed the Philadelphia Plan, requiring that contractors on federally assisted projects set specific goals for hiring minorities. Federal courts upheld this plan in 1970 and 1971.

So from the 1960s affirmative action in USA has been much controversial issue. Supporters argue that affirmative action policies are the only way to have an integrated society with equal opportunity in jobs, education, and other benefits for all segments of society. They believe that these policies will help to integrate many fields previously inaccessible for women and minorities because of discrimination policy. 
 Fueled by "angry white men," a backlash against affirmative action began to mount. To conservatives, the system was a game that opened the door for jobs, promotions, or education to minorities while it shut the door on whites. In a country that prized the values of self-reliance and pulling oneself up by one's bootstraps, conservatives resented the idea that some unqualified minorities were getting a free ride on the American system. "Preferential treatment" and "quotas" became expressions of contempt. Even more confusing was the accusation that some minorities enjoyed playing the role of professional victim. Why could some minorities who had also experienced terrible adversity and racism Jews and Asians, in particular manage to make the American way work for them without government handouts?

Today affirmative action is considered to be an attempt to achieve an equal treatment by treating people unequally.

Affirmative Action is a moral and political problem, which divides Americans more than it integrates them. On the one hand are those American who consider affirmative action as a program aimed to decrease racism and change the consequences of past and present discrimination; on the other hand are those American who simply see it as another form of discrimination, which gives some privileges to one group in dependence of the skin color.

Probably the most controversial question in this debate lies in the sphere of education and college's admission because it is right here people start their lives and careers. It is also another situation when you feel that you have been discriminated against when you are denied admission.

There are many arguments against affirmative action and the most important among them are the following. Affirmative Action deals with racial preference, which is discriminatory. Justice requires to treat people equally, without taking into account race, sex, or national origin.

1. Affirmative Action admits lower or even no standards of excellence. The only excellence standard under affirmative action is skin color, gender, and ethnicity.

2. Affirmative Action completely deals with quotas. Liberals argue that "minorities are under-represented group" in colleges, universities, and in other career fields. That is why the playing field should be leveled on the basis of racial or gender quotas. Affirmative



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