ERIC Number: ED224728
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-Sep
Reference Count: 0
Citizen Attitudes toward Government, Race, Policy: The Liberal Tradition and Racial Inequality.
Merriman, W. Richard
Classical liberalism shapes white Americans' attitudes toward government policies concerning blacks. Classical liberalism views society as competitive; government serves as a guarantor of fair competition. The rules of fairness in a competitive marketplace require no arbitrary exclusion from competition and no arbitrary denial of the fruits of success. Thus, an individual's identity is determined by his demonstration of discipline and responsibility in order to succeed. Public policies which threaten this identity through "market alternatives," such as affirmative action, busing, and programs aiding blacks, are rejected by market liberals. Data from 1972 and 1976 national election studies suggest that white Americans justify their rejection of market-threatening policies by downplaying the market disabilities inflicted on victims of past discrimination, defending the basic fairness of contemporary competition, and asserting the potency of the skilled, marketable competitor. While classical liberals perceive the exclusion of blacks from the marketplace as indefensible and support government activity to ensure fairness of competition, they reject policy directly influencing the outcomes of competition. The basis of policy evaluation, then, should be the intent of the policy concerning rules of competition rather than the beneficiaries (blacks) or the vehicle (government). (Author/KC)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Free Enterprise System; Liberalism
Note: Support for this project provided by Indiana Univ. Graduate School. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association (Denver, CO, September 2-5, 1982).