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What race tells us about anti-government attitudes

Larry Jacobs discusses his research on Americans' beliefs versus their actual actions related to policies concerning race.

Political scientists Larry Jacobs and Ben Page describe Americans' contradictory beliefs as "philosophically conservative, operationally liberal." That is, when asked in the abstract about it, Americans (whites in particular) tend to be especially skeptical of the federal government. Yet when asked about specific policies or spending that fosters economic opportunity or security, majorities are supportive--what Jacobs and Page call "conservative egalitarians." The exception is policies targeting racial inequality, leading to huge differences in support between whites, who have always been hostile to such efforts, and blacks, who have long supported race-targeted policies.

The Nation
March 21, 2012

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Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs