Michigan GOP says: ‘Colorblind = Division, not Unity’

Michigan GOP says: ‘Colorblind = Division, not Unity’

by Chett
August/September 2003

Power of the People

Panel Discussion

Shortly after the Supreme Court’s decision last month upholding certain forms of Affirmative Action, Michigan citizens began looking towards using a ballot initiative to eliminate it. Ward Connerly said, “The Court may have allowed racial preferences with their decision, but they did not mandate them. The people still rule in this country, not robed justices. If the people want color-blindness and equality under the law, all they have to do is stand up and say so.”

Connerly has a proven track record in this regard. As a member of the University of California Board of Regents, his leadership led to a 1996 unanimous vote by the Regents to end Affirmative Action in the UC system.

Later that year he led the effort to pass California’s Proposition 209, outlawing discrimination “on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin”—effectively putting a stake through the heart of Affirmative Action in that state. Voters in Washington state did the same in 1998.

Being that a majority of Americans—including a majority of blacks and hispanics—oppose the use of racial preferences, it would seem a no-brainer to have Mr. Connerly assist Michigan voters in passing their own ballot initiative.

“Go Home and Stay There”

That’s the exact wording of the message that Congressman John Dingell (D-MI) is sending. In an open letter to Mr. Connerly, Congressman Dingell writes, with the flair of Jesse Jackson:

Michiganders do not take kindly to your ignorant meddling in our affairs. We have no need for itinerant publicity seekers, non-resident troublemakers or self-aggrandizing out-of-state agitators. You have created enough mischief in your own state to last a lifetime.

Ouch. Good thing none of it is true. (For a wonderful illustration of crass versus class, FrontPage has Dingell’s letter and Mr. Connerly’s response.)

Wet Blanket

What about the Republicans, you ask? Unfortunately, many have bought the Democrats’ theory that ending racial preferences will increase racial division.

In a statement this month on the topic of a citizens’ initiative, Betsy DeVos, Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, wrote, “I fear that this proposed ballot initiative would only serve to further divide people along racial lines which would be entirely counter-productive.” Later, she continued, “such an initiative would result in more division than unity.”

This would be true if all ethnic minorities demanded racial preferences continue, clearly a racist assertion. What Ms. DeVos doesn’t realize is that the current division is largely along party lines, not racial ones.

Prominent Republicans voicing support for de facto racial discrimination certainly doesn’t help, though.

Waffling Principles

Recall President Bush’s statement last month after the Supreme Court’s split-the-baby rulings: “Today’s decisions seek a careful balance between the goal of campus diversity and the fundamental principle of equal treatment under the law.”

National Review’s John O’Sullivan wryly notes this is “an example of what value politicians really place on fundamental principles.”

John Miller reports that the White House has been letting Michigan GOP leaders know their opposition to Connerly’s ballot initiative, because of perceived concern for the 2004 election.

Yet there are plenty of Republicans who support Connerly—not only in the grassroots, but also in public office. “It’s high time that the party stops backing away from these issues,” says state Rep. Jack Brandenburg.

Would it be too much to ask politicians to stop backing away from fundamental principles as well?

Copyright © 2003 The Multiracial Activist. All rights reserved.

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