Thursday, December 11, 2008

Obama's Popular. Can We Rid Ourselves of Affirmative Action Now?

An article today in the Wall Street Journal discussed a recent poll that almost 75% of Americans feel positive about President Obama.

This would seem to put a fly in the ointment for those who still cling to the notion that America is inherently a racist country. There will always be a residue of racism in the human heart but the notion that racism is systemic in America and cannot be overcome as part of the body politic should be put to rest. Obama’s election has clearly demonstrated that racism in America is no longer systemic to the degree it may have when these policies were born. American blacks no longer need to maintain a “twoness” as W.E.B. Dubois called it where blacks had to act one way with whites and another way with blacks.

It has always seemed to me during my lifetime (b.1972) that America is more concerned with merit. Americans are very happy to support anybody, regardless of color, who does the job well. We respect and admire people who achieve their goals in life. Of course the “everybody gets a trophy” liberal mentality goes against this. But the idea that everyone should win because the loser’s feelings may get hurt is ridiculed by most Americans.

Conservatives should support affirmative action only if it is based on a non-color, means-based income threshold. It should not be the color of your skin that gives preferential treatment. On the other hand, if you are poor but talented you deserve an opportunity. It is a fact that there are bright pupils in poor school districts, for example, who suffer. There is no way to argue that students in underperforming schools have the same opportunities as students in more affluent school districts or those whose parents can afford good private schools. We all suffer when flowers like these can’t blossom. Certainly we can advocate a policy that gives potentially excellent students the opportunity they need to excel.

Perpetuating affirmative action flies in the face of what America is about and Obama’s election is just one more piece of an already long running trail of evidence that should mark the final end of a preferential racial policy. Affirmative action does more harm than good and actually perpetuates stereotypes at this point. Conservatives have a winning issue if they advocate means rather than race as a just way to advance the future of affirmative action.

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