The California Legislature, with a Democratic supermajority, reconvened in the state Capitol May 4. Their second day back in office, with a pandemic raging around them, Democrats introduced a bill to bring back race preferences.
Bill ACA-5, which “would allow for sex and race to be considered for state positions once again,” including university admissions and public employment, was brought to the table by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber and Assemblyman Mike Gipson, both Democrats, and stamped for recommendation to the State Assembly and Senate floor by the Assembly Public Employment Committee that same day.
It was instantly clear that Weber had been preparing during the pandemic to push this bill through as quickly as possible, as the hearing in the Labor Committee was accompanied by nearly 100 on-script leftist California organizations calling in to say how “strongly” they supported ACA-5, despite the legislature having not even debated the measure yet.
Race Preference Policies Lack Support
This is the third time in just less than 25 years that the California Democratic Legislature has tried to abolish California’s Proposition 209, a California constitutional amendment passed in 1996 that explicitly banned any form of preferential treatment on the basis of race or sex. Both previous times, their measures failed, despite California being a heavily Democratic state with one of the largest percentages (63 percent) of racial minorities in the country.
Why would liberal Democrats try to pass this bill now, in the middle of a pandemic? Perhaps they hoped no one would notice, but people are noticing. Nearly 30,000 people have signed a petition against ACA-5.
Asian Americans in particular have already mobilized against the bill and are pressuring the legislature to end the push. Studies on Harvard University’s racial preference programs show they most directly harm Asians, for these policies advance similarly qualified black and Hispanic applicants over them for no reason other than their race.
It isn’t only Asians who are harmed. After the passage of Proposition 209, which banned affirmative action, black and Hispanic admission decreased, but their graduation rates in the University of California system increased significantly, resulting in the same number of bachelor’s degrees awarded to black students as before Proposition 209. This suggests race preferences plug promising black and Hispanic minorities into landing spots considered more “prestigious” but less beneficial for their long-term welfare.
Liberal Democratic politicians obsess over getting back race and sex preferences because they believe standing in solidarity with affirmative action will help them politically with minority constituents. But do these policies really garner political support? Only if you are extremely cagey with the wording.
A 2014 Gallup poll suggested 58 percent of Americans supported “affirmative action” in concept, but when the questioning got more specific, into whether admissions should be solely merit-based or whether race should be considered, support for race preferences dropped to a measly 28 percent. In the latest Pew poll, 62 percent of blacks and 65 percent of Hispanics said race should not be a factor in college admissions, suggesting an even broader dislike for race preferences when the issues get more concrete.
This is likely because many Americans still think affirmative action means simply “improving opportunities” for racial minorities historically excluded by racial discrimination. ACA-5 is more radical. It says those opportunities can come directly at the expense of whites or other minorities, such as Asians. It is preferential treatment on the basis of race.
Only Democratic Lawmakers Support Affirmative Action
Democrats must increasingly resort to extremely tortuous wording to get any measure of broad public support for race and sex preferences. Here’s how they worded a 2019 referendum item in Washington state that would restore race and sex preferences:
The legislature passed Initiative Measure No. 1000 concerning affirmative action and remedying discrimination, and voters have filed a sufficient referendum petition on this act. Initiative 1000 would allow the state to remedy discrimination for certain groups and to implement affirmative action, without the use of quotas or preferential treatment (as defined), in public education, employment, and contracting.
Should Initiative 1000 be Approved [ ] Rejected [ ]
The ballot item later explained that “preferential treatment” meant only that race couldn’t be used as the sole factor for admissions, but that under the Initiative 1000 definition, Washington universities could still use race in admissions, as long as they did so “holistically.” The referendum measure still failed, 50.56 percent to 49.44 percent.
That’s right, even with that kind of wording in one of the most liberal states in America, race and sex preferences still failed as a ballot measure in 2019.
It really does appear that after 25 years, voters of all backgrounds are wise to Democrats’ race game. Conservative whites obviously hate race and sex preferences, but polls show even most moderates dislike them. Asian voters are perhaps the most passionate minority against them. When the stakes are framed correctly, majorities of blacks and Hispanics oppose them too.
Besides leftists, who exactly does that leave in support of race or sex preferences? The answer is almost no one. The California Democrats who try to advance this ridiculous bill in the middle of a pandemic are shooting themselves in the foot.