(Nov. 6) Citizens of two states defied stereotypes on racial issues in very good ways in statewide referendums this week.

Throughout the South, the stereotype of Californians is of people hopelessly obsessed with racial grievance-mongering and payback for it. Among the bi-coastal supposed elites, the stereotype of Alabamans is of racist yahoos still pining for the days of Jim Crow. Neither stereotype is fair.

In California, the ballot initiative at issue would have repealed a 1996 referendum that banned racial preferences in public employment, education, or contracting. In other words, it would have again allowed what once was called “reverse discrimination” to give jobs or college admissions to minorities based on their minority status rather than on competitive merit. If passed, Proposition 16 would have reinstituted a racial spoils system, cost taxpayers extra hundreds of millions of dollars, and probably actually harmed the long-term prospects of some minority students it purportedly was intended to help.

Supporters of Proposition 16 outspent opponents by $12 million to $1 million, all in a liberal state. Nonetheless, common sense and goodwill outweighed the “politically correct,” leftist call for racial spoils. At this writing, with 76% of the ballots in, Proposition 16 is losing 56% to 44%. The lead for the “no” side is much too big for supporters to overcome, and all observers have “called” the referendum duly defeated.

This is good news. As U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in a tangentially related context years ago, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” Proposition 16 would have let California’s state government discriminate on the basis of race, but California’s voters rightfully rejected it.

Meanwhile, in Alabama, voters approved what should have been, and proved to be, an easy choice to allow the “recompilation” of small parts of the state’s Constitution. This recompilation is far from a major rewrite. Instead, it will make two small types of changes. The first, entirely uncontroversial, would merely rearrange (but not rewrite) some sections to make more logical sense. The second set of changes involves race….

[The full column is at this link.]


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