While the United States Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR), anindependent, bipartisan group established by Congress in 1957,reports that President George W. Bush has made conscious efforts tohave a “commendably” diverse cabinet, it also statesthat “many of his nominees and appointees do not supportcivil rights protections,” and this may ultimately lead tothe “eventual weakening of civil rights laws.”
In late September, the commission issued anassessment of the civil rights record of the Bush administration,entitled “Redefining Rights in America-The Civil RightsRecord of the George W. Bush Administration, 2001-2004.”
Addressed in the brief are issues such as theHelp America Vote Act, the No Child Left Behind Act, AffirmativeAction, and others. The USCCR concludes that theadministration’s tactics have led to a failure to demonstrateleadership or define a focus, and thus has made the civil rights ofU.S. citizens less of a priority.
The commission’s report explores briefs,executive orders, scholarly papers, and other documents followingthe administration’s responses to civil rights issues. Althoughsimilar criteria have determined evaluations of previousadministrations, GOP leaders were outraged by the release of such adocument so close to last week’s election.
Due to this, public discussion of the reporthas been scheduled to occur later this month.
More specifically, on the Voting Rights actthe report states that the administration “did not provideleadership to ensure timely passage and swift implementation of theHelp America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002. As a result, Congress did notappropriate funds for election reform until almost two years intothe administration.”
In regards to the No Child Left Behind Act(NCLB), while it has been praised by many for the idea that itpromotes, it was found that it does not address “theachievement gap between minority and white students,” mainlythrough lack of funding.
On Affirmative Action, the USCCR stated,”Instead of promoting affirmative action in federalcontracting and education, the administration promotes ‘raceneutral alternatives,’ in many instances not applicable andin others not overly effective at maintaining diversity.”
Many feel that the report has been accurateassessment of the Bush Administration’s practices. FloridaAgricultural and Mechanical University sophomore and businessadministration major Mia Scott said, “Bush said there wouldbe a lot of changes but once you elect him, all bets areoff.”
Of the Voting Rights act, Brian Vickers,Howard University sophomore and vocal jazz music major said,”Bush doesn’t really care about voting, as long as he getsvotes. That’s why he waited so long to get that legislationin.”
Vickers also stated that Bush does not careabout the children of American.
“The No Child Left Behind act leaveskids behind because it doesn’t give children, or those responsiblefor their education, the funding needed for a child to get a goodeducation.”
On Affirmative Action Scott suggests that theadministration puts the money where their mouth is. “If Bushwants to implement affirmative action, he could start by allocatingmore federal funding for public Historically Black Colleges andUniversities because we are very poorly funded. We have no money,FSU has a lot, and FAMU, a mile away, is struggling.”
With the Bush campaign’s triumphantre-election last week, many are left wondering what the outcome ofthe USCCR’s 2008 report will be.