Californians are perhaps some of the most progressive voters in the nation. However, even residents of the Golden State felt that bringing back state-sanctioned discrimination is a bad idea.
Proposition 16, which would have allowed the state government and California’s educational institutions to select students or employees based on skin color, gender, and/or ethnic background, failed by a long shot as 56% of the population voted to prohibit discrimination at schools and in the workplace.
Naturally, those in favor of affirmative action are extremely disappointed by the result. Proposition 16 supporters raised over $20 million and mounted an aggressive advertising campaign across the state but, in the end, failed to reach their goal. These individuals are now claiming that education for minorities will suffer because educational institutions aren’t required to bypass qualified candidates in order to hire teachers.
Activists are upset that police agencies can’t hire applicants based solely on gender and race, which means that minority communities may not be policed solely by officers that “look like them.”
The bill would have also impacted government contracting decisions, giving companies run by minorities an edge over companies run by white men. Simply put, skin color would have taken precedence over ability and cost.
On the other hand, opponents of Proposition 16 are happy and relieved to claim victory. They note that Proposition 209, which banned affirmative action in the state in the 1990s, makes it clear that no one group or individual should receive preferential treatment based on race, sex, skin color, ethnicity, or natural origin. This, they note, should be the standard that all potential employers in the state should meet.
While some concede that the percentage of Black and Hispanic students at universities is low, they accurately note that there are ways to address the issue that do not involve blatant discrimination against white people.
No one should be discriminated against based on their ethnic background or the color of their skin, and it’s a relief to see that the bulk of Californians still believe this. But here’s the thing: the fact that such a proposal made its way to a ballot at all should raise a few red flags. Identity politics is now mainstream within the Democratic Party establishment. Be prepared for this issue to return sooner rather than later.