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Governing Race: Politics, Process and the Politics of Race by Nina M. Moore. Specifically, it will contain a detailed book report on the book. "Governing Race" is an important and viable book for any Black Studies student, especially if they are interested in why race relations came to a head in the 1960s. "Governing Race" gives a unique viewpoint on the "politics of race," and is valuable reading for this alone. However, there is much more for the reader to discover as they move through the pages of this book.
The author's thesis is quite clear from the very beginning of this book. She asserts, "race presents a challenge too difficult for American governing institutions to meet" (Moore xiv) in the Introduction of the book, and further asserts, "true socioeconomic and political race reform will remain a laudable, but elusive, goal of government policymakers" (Moore xv). Therefore, her book concentrates on both the successes and failures of racial politics in the country, zeroing in on the reforms that have not worked the politics of them, and why they have not worked. The author backs up her thesis with research, analysis, appendixes, a bibliography, and a clear knowledge of the subject and her research. The author notes, "Census Bureau reports as well as National Election Studies, the General Social Survey, Gallup Poll surveys, and other quantitative sources are used to buttress the regional and partisan focus" (Moore xxiv). The book includes six chapters and five appendixes, and covers Civil Rights from the "early years" to current trends in the political process.
The chapters of the book are organized in chronological order from before the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s to the present time. Each chapter investigates policies and procedures of the time, along with frank discussions of legislation and why government has failed ethnic minorities in America. Chapter 1 discusses "Process, Policy, and Issue Politics," delving into what makes up normal and abnormal legislation. At the beginning of the chapter the author notes, "The politics of a given issue determine whether, and when, normal or abnormal policymaking prevails" (Moore 1), and sets her theme early. The politics of race, she maintains, lend themselves to abnormal policymaking simply because the politics of race are always contentious and emotional. This chapter details the process legislation must follow to be enacted, and how this applies most specifically to the U.S. Senate, where many of these policies begin and end. This formal process is detailed and consistent. However, there is also an abnormal process that does not often appear, but does appear in contentious and emotional issues, such as race relations. This abnormal process can greatly inhibit the effectiveness of certain legislation. The author follows the various stages of legislation through the bill-making process in the Senate. She indicates how every successful bill must pass through various committees, and must have the support of at least one Senator and staff for success. She shows how the normal legislative process is straightforward and orderly, and usually not very complicated, just time consuming. The author also notes there are several parliamentary procedures that govern the legislative process to help ensure it moves smoothly through every step to completion and passage of the specific bill. They also provide opponents of the bill several ways to question and impede the bill's progress through the steps. She also notes that "norms and traditions" also ensure normalcy throughout this process (Moore 6).
The author then outlines the specifics of the abnormal legislative process, including two procedures that are usually absent in the abnormal process, "norms and unanimous consent procedures" (Moore 7). This process also tends to put more demands on Senate sponsors and bill enthusiasts, and it allows certain ways and means to defeat bills from passage. The author discusses the Senate processes in depth, and asserts they are representative of lawmaking procedures at all levels of government, even though there are some unique processes in the Senate. She also discusses bargaining and compromise in the process, and how important they can be to the passage or defeat of a specific bill. Basically, when policymakers generally agree on an issue, it is easier for them to make decisions about it, while more contentious issues often make lawmaking much more difficult, and race is one of the more contentious issues, so it is quite difficult to govern and legislate.
The next chapter looks at race from after the Civil War to the fight for Civil Rights in the mid-20th century. Titled "Governing Race in the Early Years," it is a treatise on the great divide facing America on race, and how it translates into governmental policy on race relations. The author believes Civil Rights activists hoped to create more opportunities for ethnic minorities in a wide area, such as education, housing, and employment by first getting legislation passed on voting and protesting (Moore 29). While gains were made, blacks found some of their desires simply too volatile for legislative support, no matter how worthy the cause. Moore indicates how racial beliefs helped divide North and South, Republican and Democrat. She writes, "The political salience of the divisions engendered by race was evident in the South's preoccupation with maintaining its racial caste system and in the increased amount of attention devoted by the two major parties to the race problem and the black vote" (Moore 50). She blames ethnicity squarely for divides and derision before she moves on to the all-important turbulent years of the 1960s.
In, "The Peak Years of Civil Rights Legislative Reform," the third chapter, the author maintains, "The explosiveness of racial issues during the sixties surpassed that of every other period in modern American history" (Moore 51). If this was such an important time in history, then it also should have contained some of the most important legislation of the time that empowered the races, and in many ways it did, however, the legislation was far less fruitful than many had hoped, and did not fully ensure total equality between the races. The author shows how the predominately conservative Republican South fought mightily against racial reform, and how much of the Civil Rights movement targeted southern laws and prejudice. She notes John F. Kennedy's importance to the Civil Rights movement, and the gradual shift in the country from Democratic liberalism to conservative Republicanism. The author contends, "Racial dissension was of pivotal importance within the overall context of American politics during the sixties, and much more so than most other types of political dissension" (Moore 61). Eventually, this political shift created a conservative majority, who urged much of the Civil Rights legislation be reformulated to fit their conservative mentality. This illustrates the author's thesis that contentious issues such as race can ultimately change the face of politics and create abnormal legislative creation and passage.
After the major push in the 1960s, America entered a time of "Race and Civil Rights Policymaking in Transition," and this is the theme of Chapter 4. In the 1970s, much of the hatred and division that surrounded the racial divide in America began to disappear, but it took on an even larger role in party politics. The author maintains that much of the process grew a little more normal, but legislation was still incapable of ending racial divides (Moore 81). The author continues, "That race was no longer simply a matter of the South vs. The North was perhaps the most vivid aspect of the transition in racial politics that occurred in the years following the sixties" (Moore 82). However, ultimately legislation during the 70s failed to hit its' mark, and continued to indicate that racial issues still could not be effectively handled by the legislative process. Most bills simply were renegotiated until they pleased the most powerful Senate majority, and this still continued to reflect conservative values. The 70s marked a transition, but one that was not big enough to really affect the larger issue of race.
After the 70s, regional differences continued to play far less of a role in racial legislation than other factors, and this is pointed out in Chapter 5, "The Contemporary Politics of Racial Policymaking." However, the author still maintains, "What remains as an essential characteristic of racial politics, moreover, is its contentiousness. As a consequence, the procedural and policy outcomes engendered by the 'new' politics of race mirror in important ways those wrought by the historical politics of race" Moore 109). Perhaps most importantly, the race problem of the 60s has turned into a class and diversity problem in modern life, and this has expanded to include minorities such as women, gays, and handicapped individuals, meaning legislation has become even more convoluted and abnormal. The author notes, "Together, all of these things mean, at the very least, that the regional division that had previously dominated racial politics no longer pervades" (Moore 111). One of the most interesting statistics the author cites in this chapter is the great gap between other minorities…[continue]
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