Will Affirmative Action Survive?
Only a few months ago, it seemed to critics and supporters alike that federally mandated programs of race and gender preference were, if not doomed to total elimination, then in serious jeopardy.
Conservative Republicans, emboldened by their 1994 congressional landslide, had effectively ended a longstanding, bipartisan consensus that had prevented any full discussion of affirmative action at the level of national politics. Overt opposition to preferential policies was no longer limited to Senator Jesse Helms and a few like-minded colleagues. Instead, proposals to roll back preferences were being advanced by such mainstream figures as Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and Governor Pete Wilson of California. In what looked like a harbinger of things to come, Republicans had succeeded in eliminating a set-aside program for the communications industry, and another set-aside was dropped by the Federal Communications Commission because of the threat of litigation by white-owned businesses.
About the Author
Arch Puddington is director of research at Freedom House and the author, most recently, of Lane Kirkland: Champion of American Labor.