Niagara Gazette

Columns

October 26, 2013

HAMILTON: Affirmative action, vouchers and the Supreme Court

(Continued)

Aside from whatever decision that the Supreme Court may make, I am not sure if politicians on either side of the equation really want to see an end to affirmative action. Both Democrats and Republicans use this wedge issue to polarize their bases and harvest votes – Democrats claiming that they believe in it and Republicans claiming that they want to see an end to it.

I recall the televised debates between past presidential contenders Vice-President Al Gore and Texas Governor George W. Bush. Several times during that debate, Gore challenged Bush on Bush’s “belief” in affirmative action, and Bush responded that he believed in “affirmative opportunity.” Gore repeatedly pressed the point until Bush suggested that they move on; and for good reason.

While Bush’s Texas cabinet was as diverse as any state’s in America, Gore’s staff looked more like the planning committee for his Tennessee family reunion. Whereas one said that they believed in the end product of affirmative action, but was exempted from its implementation, the other did not believe in it, yet possessed all of its fruits.

While Republicans want to see the demise of tail-end affirmative action, they do support the best head-on affirmative action program in the nation — and that is school vouchers.

If parents can choose to send their own children to the primary and secondary schools that actually work best for them, then in our lifetime, as Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor suggested, affirmative action would collapsed under its own weight.

The chief fear of vouchers is two-fold, though. It is evident to many people that the administrators of inner-city schools maintain their budgets based upon the poor results and abundant grants that they get from under-achieving minority students; and many, if not most of their boards are Democrats. 

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