As long as humanity has been thriving on the earth, inequalities have separated men. From the “haves” and “have nots” of the hunter and gatherer societies, to the Caste System of India, to the American Democracy. Is this fundamental inequality natural, or is it a problem that man should set out to remedy? Would society actually be able to exist with no inequality? These are the types of questions that were taken into consideration when perhaps the most anti-democrat bill ever to be entertained by the American Congress cam up for debate; enter Affirmative Action.
The roots for Affirmative Action stem all the way back into the era before the Civil War. With slavery an option as cheap labor, many people bought into the idea of it, both those in the North (mainly factories) and those in the South (mainly plantations). But there was one ripple in this ideal, those words in the Declaration of Independence “.. That all men are created equal.. ” With these simple words, the changing of a nation was to follow. In 1857 a key event in the history of Affirmative Action took place, the Dred Scott decision.
In this decision the Supreme Court ruled that slaves were “subordinate and inferior being,” this is where the initial differences began. After this decision, Abraham Lincoln pushes for reconciliation with the Emancipation Proclamations, which on January 1, 1863, freed the slaves living in the South. After this monuments step, Congress pushed forward with the Thirteenth Amendment. Ratified on December 6, 1865, this permanently abolished slavery, but this did not end the dispute. The South rebuttled with the passage of the Black Codes and the Slave Codes.
Regardless, the Congress pressed on with new legislation, namely the Fourteenth amendment. This legislation pushed for equal rights and protection under the law for slaves, under the Bill of Rights; it too passed in Congress and was ratified on July 9, 1868. Finally, this rush of legislation was capped by the Fifteenth Amendment, which guaranteed voting rights to slaves. As anyone can see, the majority of the step that were take were done so by the legislative process of the Congress. The intense debating of each bill, was refined down into these amendments to the Constitution.
But with each bill and the passage of time, strong factions began to develop. The first faction that pops into mind when Affirmative Action is mentioned is the NAACP. For many years now the NAACP has pushed for legislation that favored the minorities in areas such as employment and benefits. Legislation continued to be passed that heavily benefited the minorities to the point that it was quite detrimental to the majority. Here is where Affirmative Action steps in.
So, what is Affirmative Action exactly? Effectively, Affirmative Action is the brain child of the Civil Rights Movement, which stems from the legislation passed years ago ; it was created to give special consideration to women and minorities, but has grossly deformed into what it is today. Through the pressures of the NAACP, legislation was passed through Congress that setup quotas in employment; this ensured that businesses would have to employ a certain number of people of different backgrounds and sexes, regardless of who was most qualified for the position.
Seeing that the situation was growing out of hand, Congress passes legislation that limits the reaches of Affirmative Action, much to the despair of the NAACP. They cry that a great injustice has been done, but a greater question arises; is the basis for Affirmative Action an injustice? In a Democratic society, yes it is. “If you don’t work, you don’t eat,”(John Smith). You get what you work for, and in a Democratic society you have to make your own way. Obviously, in the beginning, slavery was unfair, but for how many generations should reconciliation be made?
Ultimately, the minorities are given an unfair advantage; simply for the reason stated, they are a minority. But what about the people that are more qualified? When they are put out of jobs, will legislation be produced to protect them. This is one of the arguments that Congress faced when debating Affirmative Action, reverse discrimination. Regardless, American law-makers feel that it is still necessary to create an uneven playing field. Affirmative Action raises serious ethical questions.
Is it acceptable for the government to step so far into the live of people as to tell them who they may or may not hire, even in their personal business? As long as you are on the receiving end of the deal, yes. It seems like a necessity to have the government intercede on your behalf. But what about in the eyes of what this country was founded on? This country was not founded on inequality, or on the backs of slaves. In the early days of the American frontier the land was given away to anyone that could get to it first. That is the rudimentary foundation of America, you make your own way.
So why should the legislation for this country contradict this ideal? Again, such groups as the NAACP, that pushes for the assistance of the government, break down this fundamental belief that our country was founded on. Although a great injustice was done to the slave at the time of the Civil War I personally, can see no justification for such favoritism by the government. For example, if statistics showed that Southern Baptist men were less employed around the nation, do you honestly think new legislation would be passed for them?
It is not likely. Therefore, the actual attempt of Affirmative Action to “level the playing field” actually does little more than create potholes. But what can be done? There are several groups that are anti-AA, but they do little to dispel the injustice of it. For example these groups do much the same thing as the NAACP, they cry injustice and demand that it be changed but do little more than blame the Congress for creating the problem. As long as this strong conflict remains, no resolution can be reached.
This is exactly why the House of Representatives exists. Large, strong groups that disagree will likely never reach an agreement on their own, so in the House of Representatives, each group is represented and in a civil manner a resolution is reached, usually in the form of new legislation. Unfortunately, with situations as touchy as Affirmative Action, it is extremely difficult to create a resolution that both are pleased with. So, what is to become of Affirmative Action?
Affirmative Action is mainly a partisan issue, meaning that for and against are divided along party lines. With the past years of democratic majorities, Affirmative Action has not seen much change. But I would be so bold as to suspect that with a Republican majority and a Republican President, Affirmative Action would be severely hampered, if not dissolved. This is not very likely though, and although a honest playing field is the most ethical, it is not likely that people will drop there reservations about the bill and agree with its rejection.
So, unfortunately, American is forced to divert from its Democratic nature in order to make an easier way for the few. This bill does have its good points; it is a good example of the power that can be exercised through Congress. Although not necessarily within the Congress’s normal hue of authority, through legislation the Congress has permitted the United States Government to dip their fingers into the personal and corporate businesses. Will legislation be needed to ensure that the government is not allowed any further intrusion into citizen’s personal lives?
Affirmative Action simply opens the door for a Socialist State, government control of the people. Legislation, what a powerful process. Through legislation, American ideals were changed, and through inequality, those changes where set into motion. Affirmative Action is the pentacle of the attempt of legislation to force equality, but is forced equality really that? Inequality has always existed, and has even been a driving force for many, so if it truly did work and total equality was reached, would we be faced with a greater dilemma?