Affirmative Action Public Policy Vs Public Opinion

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Affirmative Action: Public Policy Vs Public Opinion Essay, Research Paper AFFIRMATIVE ACTION: PUBLIC OPINION VS. POLICY When Justin Ketcham, a white college student from the suburbs, thinks about affirmative action, he thinks about what happened when he sent out letters seeking scholarships so he could attend Stanford University after being accepted during his senior year of high school.The organizations that wrote back told him their money was reserved for women or minorities. To Americans like Ketcham, it s a matter of fairness. The average white male will claim that it s not fair to attempt to rebalance scales by balancing them the other way. Students like Ketcham are also more likely to claim that affirmative action is a program geared towards curtailing workplace

prejudices that really don t exist anymore.But when Hillary Williams, a black insurance company manager from the inner-city, thinks about affirmative action, she thinks about the time she had to train three consecutive white male bosses for a job that no one even approached her about filling. To her, it s also a question of fairness. African-Americans like Hillary feel that there is just no other was besides affirmative action to level the playing field in certain businesses.And so the disparity in public opinion begins. A racially-divided America creates separate groups, which “Affirmative Action issue taps a fundamental cleavage in American Society” (Gamson and Modigliani 170)–each with their own view of affirmative action on different sides of the line. Government

attempts to create policy based upon the voice of the people but affirmative action seems to present an almost un-solvable dilemma. Traditionally, it had been a policy that was greatly scrutinized for its quotas and alleged unfairness towards Blacks, but at the same time it had also been praised for its inherent ability to help minorities gets jobs they deserve but could not obtain otherwise. So how do we reach a “happy medium” so-to-speak? In American political culture, it appears as though individualism and egalitarianism are values that find themselves on opposite ends of the political battlefield. In a complex world of political ideology and political culture are sets of values and principles that are widely endorsed by politicians, educators, the media and other opinion

leaders that make up the definition of what is to be American (Feldman and Zaller). Some favor the values of individual freedom, especially individual economic freedom, over other values, especially equality and popular sovereignty (egalitarianism). These people are labeled Conservatives. The other side of the spectrum consider themselves as Liberals (Feldman and Zaller).Because we live in a meritocracy created by the strong forces of capitalism, there is a tendency for people to fall behind either in the economy or in the academic community. During the Civil Rights movement of 1960 s, affirmative action was implemented with the idea and hope that America would finally become truly equal. The tension of the 1960s civil rights movement had made it very clear that the nations

minority and female population was not receiving equal social and economic opportunity. The implementation of affirmative action was America s first honest attempt at solving a problem it had previously chose to ignore.The Philadelphia Plan was one of the first major vehicles for affirmative action named for the first city in which a labor department agreement with federal contractors had been reached. “The plan set specific numerical goals for each of the minority employment and the availability pool.” Labor Department officials announced that “because of the deplorably low rate of employment among minority groups” in the industry, they would set up similar plans in other major cities (Gamson and Modigliani 139). Today, without a college degree will definitely decrease