New Nebraska Network: Affirmative Action: Real Leaders Reveal Heineman’s Cowardice & Calculation

New Nebraska Network

Affirmative Action: Real Leaders Reveal Heineman’s Cowardice & Calculation

A debate last week between the candidates for the Nebraska Legislature in LD 37 offered some hope in the ongoing affirmative action debate as both Republican candidates spoke up in defense of opportunity and diversity.  The Kearney Hub reports:

Responding to a question from a Mexican-American student attending the forum, both [Jim] George and [Galen] Hadley said they oppose the initiative to end affirmative action in Nebraska. If approved on Nov. 4, the initiative would end race- and gender-based preference and strip many ethnic students of the scholarships they need to attend college in Nebraska. “Affirmative action still has a place,” George said. “You want to be fair and give everyone an opportunity.”

Hadley said he worked hard as a college administrator to ensure the applicant pools he assembled for vacancies were a cross sampling of the population. Referring to Lexington, which has more than a 50-percent minority population, Hadley said ending Affirmative Action would deny many youths in that community of 10,000 the opportunity for higher education.

“It means that people have a chance. We need to help so legal immigrants have a shot at higher education,” Hadley said.

There’s nothing simple about the issue of affirmative action.  As its future in the state is put to voters, the very least they should expect is their leaders being honest and forthcoming about where they stand.  Congressional representatives probably have a lesser responsibility because this isn’t a federal issue. But, an amendment to the state constitution is definitely in the Governor’s domain – especially when it promises to severely tie the hands of state and local governments, public programs and public institutions.

I don’t buy into the demagoguery that has too often surrounded affirmative action from both sides of the debate.  To me, much more important than the position taken on this issue is how one actually comes to that final determination.  What factors are considered?  How does one communicate his or her decision to voters? It’s in these questions that a leader’s true value can be measured.  Here, Heineman proves himself practically worthless by his avoidance of the issue.  His refusal to answer so simple a question – even if it required a more complicated answer – is outrageous, insulting and downright irresponsible.

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