Presentation on theme: "PO 111: INTRODUCTION TO AMERICAN POLITICS Summer I (2014) Claire Leavitt Boston University."— Presentation transcript:
PO 111: INTRODUCTION TO AMERICAN POLITICS Summer I (2014) Claire Leavitt Boston University
TABLE OF CONTENTS Racial/Gender Hierarchies v. Liberalism –The Battles over Affirmative Action Race and Modern Political Life –The Southern Realignment –Coded Discourse and Stereotypes Gender and Modern Political Life –The Battle over the ERA –The “Gender Gap”
CRACKS IN THE LIBERAL TRADITION Racism is not just individual prejudice but structural disadvantages built into the political system Outcomes can be justified through principles: How does the majority justify the unequal power structures that favor their interests? –Appeals to “science” and “nature” to reconcile liberalism with racial/gender hierarchies –Dismissals of racism/sexism as aberrations over which liberalism will triumph
CRACKS IN THE LIBERAL TRADITION Justification of social inequalities: –Nature, science, a force beyond human control –Prejudice, a force well within individual control Both justifications allow liberalism to remain intact Power structures are omnipresent but difficult to see/define –Visible to the minority and invisible to the majority
CRACKS IN THE LIBERAL TRADITION The amorphous nature of power structures today makes it difficult to assess when the playing field has been leveled –Decisions made on a case-by-case basis –Current norms place burden of proof on the majority to prove a law is fair; not on minority to prove a law isn’t fair Affirmative action: Temporary solution or permanent part of admissions processes?
RACE AND MODERN POLITICAL LIFE Civil Rights Act (1964) –Changed the nature of Senate debate Voting Rights Act (1965) –Achieved its enfranchisement goals immediately –Black voters entered Democratic Party in the South –Southern Democrats stayed Democrats; new Southern voters went Republican –One of the causes of current party polarization
RACE AND MODERN POLITICAL LIFE Direct versus Indirect Racial Discourse –Norms changed from mass acceptance of inequality to mass acceptance of equality –Racist appeals must be coded and implicit to be effective (Willie Horton) –Explicit racial appeals fail because of current norms
RACE AND MODERN POLITICAL LIFE Coates: Black politicians get ahead by ignoring race, by embracing liberalism without the contradictions –Driven by awareness of below-the-surface racism Ford: Black politicians may get ahead by embracing race, by pointing out the contradictions in liberalism –Driven by awareness of current norms that reject racism in favor of equality
GENDER AND MODERN POLITICAL LIFE Text of the Equal Rights Amendment: –Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. –Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article. –Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.
GENDER AND MODERN POLITICAL LIFE ERA a largely symbolic amendment in light of the three pillars of the feminist movement Why did women lose the ERA? –Abstract principle vs. practical outcomes –ERA linked to abortion and “activist courts” –Organizational differences between pro- ERA and anti-ERA groups
GENDER AND MODERN POLITICAL LIFE What is the gender gap? –Why do more women vote for Democrats than for Republicans? –Most of the gap comes from unmarried women Implicit messaging on gender –Mixed results; women can be helped and hurt electorally by priming voters to consider gender