Barack Obama Should Denounce Affirmative Action and Race-Based Politicson March 5, 2008 at 7:53 am and modified on March 5, 2008. at 7:54 am
In California, where Asian-Americans make up 8% of the electorate, a CNN exit poll found they voted three to one in her favor. In New York, the Asian American Legal Defense Fund’s exit poll concluded that 87% of Asian-American Democrats backed their state’s Senator. In New Jersey, it was 73%. From no other group did Clinton command that kind of loyalty; she won 69% of Latino voters in California, for example, compared to 75% of Asians. Publications including some local editions of ethnic newspapers like Sing Tao have endorsed her, as have prominent politicians including former Gov. Gary Locke of Washington and Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii.
Clinton advisers said her decisive victory in Ohio and her narrow one in Texas — where exit polls showed her winning the votes of women, whites and Hispanics in an extremely close race — were more than enough to argue that she should go forward to the April 22 primary in the Ohio-esque Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, even if Mr. Obama has more delegates after Tuesday night.
The identity politics in the Democratic primaries certainly is strange. The mixed-race descendent of slaveholder who spent some of his childhood in Asia somehow is being positioned as the African-American candidate, and thus is gaining very strong levels of support from that racial group. Yet Obama’s hold is strong only in that third largest group, with whites, hispanics, and asians largely skeptical from the Illinois Senator. Why?
It seems reasonable that Affirmative Action and other race-based programs may be at fault. The only racial group that Obama consistently wins has done very well through rentier politics, redirecting public and private goods to themselves through a deft combination of institutional organization, turn-out, and violence. The groups that Obama has trouble with (whites) or typically loses (hispanics and asians) either presently suffer greatly, presently suffer significantly, or will soon suffer from Affirmative Action and its concept of privileged blood.
While denouncing Affirmative Action certainly would hurt him among his only racial consistency, it probably would be a none-issue among his other supporters (high-income whites and the young), while doing much to reconcile him to electoral blocs that fear ancestry-based confiscatory government policies. Even better, denouncing affirmative action would go a long way to ending racism in the country.
I like Barack Obama, but on policy he is either weaker than John McCain (the Surge, free trade), Hillary Clinton (Health Care), or both the war). Denouncing Affirmative Action would not only be the right thing for Barack Obama to do morally and politically — it also would make him the best candidate on an actual issue.