Monday, March 17, 2014

Will Asians Kill Race Preferences in California?

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Overlooked: ‘Coalition of the Ascendant’ Goes to War–With Itself; If you’re looking for moments when tectonic issue shifts seem to become visible–like the moment when Dems realized they had to give up on gun control, or the (coming) moment when there are enough charter school parents to defeat teachers’ unions–here’s one:  the moment when California Democrats abandon a push to reinstate race preferences because of constituent-driven opposition from Asian Americans in their own ranks. 
Background: California passed Ward Connerly’s Prop. 209 in 1996, which banned race preferences in admission at public colleges like the University of California.  This latest push is an attempt by the state’s Democrats to advance a constitutional amendment that would undo this aspect of 209. …
Meanwhile, the state’s Asians, who have done fine in the admissions game without preferences, now constitute about 11 percent of the electorate–bigger than the state’s black vote, though still smaller than the Latino share  (which was 22% in the 2012 exit poll). Asian communities seem to worry, not without reason, that preference-aided admissions for blacks and Latinos will mean fewer slots for Asians. …

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Larger Meanings:  1) California is now more-or-less a one-party state, run by Democrats. If Dems can’t pass an affirmative action bill even when they are in full control, what does that say about the future of affirmative action? … 2) One-party government seems to sometimes make local Democrats more responsible. If there were a powerful Republican faction to be beaten, state legislators might choose to promote affirmative action if only to paint the GOPs as bigots. That is no longer necessary in California. ….
The Forward Lean:  Even though the  San Jose Mercury News says the initiative is on “life support,” I suspect the Dems will eventually patch up their differences and get an anti-209 amendment on the ballot. Too embarrassing for the party ideologists otherwise. But the cracks are now out in the open.

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