President Obama and American Civil Rights in the Twenty first Century
Civil rights liberties had been celebrated and established in the Untied States only in recent history.Barack Obama’s ascension to the presidency is the fruition of the long struggle of Black Americans for equal rights in all aspect of American society.From the days of Martin Luther King Jr.
, however, civil rights in the USA have taken on various other issues, including the rights of homosexuals, women and the overall issue of racism, which is tangentially connected to the contentions in immigration. Pres.
Obama’s leadership in guaranteeing and even expanding civil rights is done in the context of grave economic and political challenges to the United States. Voting Rights. The White House website (2010) states that “Civil Rights Division to ensure that voting rights are protected and Americans do not suffer from increased discrimination during a time of economic distress. President Obama… believes that our anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
He supports full civil unions and federal rights for LGBT couples and opposes a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage…. [and] that we must ensure adoption rights for all couples and individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation. ” The issue of equality is at the heart of civil rights. Equality, on the other hand, is at the heart of American democracy. While the United States’ practice of democracy may not be perfect, it is seen as one of the best working democratic systems in the world.
Hence, if any citizen (regardless of class, gender preference or race) fails to vote, their voices shall have been curtailed and their representation may be at stake. Donna Brazile (2010) wrote that the 15th Amendment to the US Constitution was enacted to give voting rights to minorities. But due to Jim Crow laws, various States managed to circumvent the Constitutional amendment in favor of their own prejudices against Blacks and other minorities.
Brazile (2010) went on to write that the voting rights of certain minorities are in danger in several states because of certain rules that make it difficult for these minorities to cast their votes. While the civil rights movement in the 1960s was mainly about the rights of Black Americans, the issue now includes other races, particularly Spanish-speaking peoples in the United States. Conservatives, Black Americans and Racism. The Tea Party is supposed to be an answer to the perceived failures of traditional parties in the United States.
Ironically, in defense of the Tea Party, even Black conservatives consider the issue of “race” as a phony category. This tirade was in response to the accusation hurled by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples (NAACP) that the Tea Party is slow to discipline the racist elements in their party, among them are conservative Tom Tancredo, whose assertion implied that those without enough English literacy are responsible for electing America’s enemy—Barack Obama.
Tancredo even criticized the “cult of multiculturalism” as the culprit for the problems of the United States (Travis, 2010, Berger, 2010). While some of elements from Tea Party may deny the category of race as an important issue in American politics, the historical record and events could not be denied. Race has been one of the most contentious issues in American politics and history. By bringing back the issue of literacy in voting, Tancredo is bringing back the Jim Crow laws days when literacy tests were used as a means to disenfranchise minorities and take away their right to vote.
Subsequently, this rule became the source of violence in various states. Race and Gender Issues. Another civil rights issue that may appear to have arisen only recently is the issue of same-sex marriages. The most recent controversial matter was California’s Proposition 8, which was meant to re-establish the traditional definition of marriage as union between a man and a woman. But the battle for the rights of same-sex is not over. Judge Vaughn Walker, however, declared that this Proposition is unconstitutional.
In his ruling, Walker said that “Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples” (CNN, 2010). The issue of same-sex marriage is complicated by tradition and religion. Historically, however, race relations had also been complicated by tradition and religion.
Hence, Judge Walker even stated that at some point, race restrictions on marriage were also implemented by many states in the past. Individual States and the Federal Government. There are a number of similarities in the civil rights issues of today and that previously faced by the United States. One such parallel that will resolve or further complicate the matter will be the relationship between and among the rules and policies of individual states and that of the federal government.
While the federal government is faced with so many challenges from different areas—economy, politics, international relations and immigration among others, individual states will try to circumvent some constitutional rules if the leaders of these states feel that the Federal government is too busy to take notice. Already, some voting rights in Georgia are being threatened and minority votes are being undermined. The issue of same-sex marriage will also be decided upon by individual states, at least at first, before the United States Supreme Court step in to resolve it finally.
The 1965 Voting Rights Act was enacted to guarantee equal voting rights. Failure to protect that will be tantamount to undermining America’s legacy of democracy. Reference Berger, J. (2010). Tea Party Launches Counter-Revolution. Fox News. Retrieved 8 August 2010 from http://liveshots. blogs. foxnews. com/2010/02/04/tea-party-launches-counter-revolution/. Brazile, D. (2010). Stay Vigilant to Protect Voting Rights. Cable News Network. Retrieved 8 August 2010 from http://edition. cnn. com/2010/OPINION/08/06/brazile. voting. rights. act/index. html. CNN (2010).
Opponents of Same-sex Marriage to File Appeal in California Case. Cable News Network. Retrieved 8 August 2010 from http://edition. cnn. com/2010/US/08/05/california. same. sex. ruling/index. html. Travis, S. (2010). Black Conservatives Join Hands to Deny Racism within the Tea Party Movement. CNN Political Ticker. Retrieved 8 August 2010 from http://politicalticker. blogs. cnn. com/2010/08/04/black-conservatives-join-hands-to-deny-racism-within-the-tea-party-movement/? iref=allsearch White House Website (2010). Civil Rights. Retrieved 8 August 2010 from http://www. whitehouse. gov/issues/civil-rights.