Argues that minority interests are not fully represented by the democratic system, and suggests practical reforms.
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The nominee for assistant attorney general for civil rights who was dumped by President Clinton in the face of right-wing pressure offers the academic writings that were distorted into soundbites and led to her being labeled a ``quota queen'' by the Wall Street Journal and others. Guinier (Law/Univ. of Pennsylvania) proclaims herself a ``democratic idealist,'' and in her introductory chapter she claims credibly that her ideas are not out of the mainstream. Unfortunately, as Yale law professor Stephen Carter (The Culture of Disbelief, 1993) states in a savvy preface, the withdrawal of Guinier's nomination deprived us of a chance at a ``national seminar'' on race and politics. Guinier's footnote-laden essays, aimed at academics, are heavy going, but her points are challenging. The Voting Rights Act, she argues, has been more successful in achieving the election of black officials than in altering the conditions of their constituents. She cogently suggests that winner-take-all voting systems that consistently exclude minorities are undemocratic. But she argues against remedy by gerrymandering, calling attention, in an example, to the status of blacks and Asians in New York City's new, geographically distorted ``Latino'' congressional district. Instead, she advocates cumulative voting, which is used in corporate elections. Thus, in at-large races for several seats, a minority voter can wield influence by clustering his or her several ballots for a preferred candidate. Yes, Guinier's view of the ideological homogeneity of African-Americans calls for debate, but her much-lambasted critique of who is an ``authentic'' black leader is actually fairly subtle, if murkily expressed. More an artifact than a full exposition of the issues involved, but a primary source response to a craven episode in nomination history. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Booklist:
Here they are--the law-review articles that last year cost Guinier her chance to become the government's top civil rights enforcer. In their unexpurgated plenitude (the footnotes constitute one-third of their bulk, though), these sources of the quotations that the media echo chamber amplified into the "quota queen" charge afford a two-step entry into Guinier's world of voting theory. The first, pronounced in "The Triumph of Tokenism," is Guinier's attack on the huge increase in the number of elected minority officials since the Voting Rights Act passed as a specious advance (within this critique comes her position on the celebrated question of an official's "authenticity"). The second step is made up of the remedies--especially cumulative voting (in which each voter casts more than one vote) and multiple-seat districts--that she argues will better represent minority interests. Unfortunately, Guinier nowhere defines those interests, which will probably lose her many a general reader. Still, everyone knows, or thinks they know, what racism, Guinier's raw main subject, is. It is repeatedly implicated in such crash-and-burn spectacles as Guinier's failed nomination, and the visceral feelings that nomination evoked guarantee considerable interest in these articles. Gilbert Taylor
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Book Description Free Press, 1994. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0029131723
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Book Description Free Press, 1994. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110029131723
Book Description Free Press. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 0029131723 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW6.1014414