Who Needs Democracy?

In 1996 the voters in California approved Proposition 209, which outlawed race and gender preferences in state government, as well as public education. No more affirmative action in hiring. No more lucrative government contracts reserved for minorities. No more racial quotas for admission to state universities. The people of California decreed that they wanted a color-blind society and passed a law to that end. Did they get their wish? No, according to a new article by Heather McDonald (via Professor Bainbridge).

Politicians, bureaucrats and other do-gooders who like to talk loudly about doing good things "for the people" decided that in this case the will of "the people" should be resisted and/or ignored. State and local agencies have repeatedly refused to follow Proposition 209 and done so only when faced with lawsuits.

Without the efforts of a small public interest law firm, some of the state’s largest government employers would still be using racial preferences for hiring and would be requiring contractors to do the same. The Pacific Legal Foundation has had to drag into court the city and county of San Francisco, the Sacramento municipal utility district, the state lottery commission, the state bond commission, and the California community college system, among others, to vindicate the people’s will. The Los Angeles and Berkeley school districts continue to assign students and teachers by race, even though the foundation has won suits challenging the practice in other school districts. MORE

I think we all agree that race should not be a factor in how the government treats citizens. Most Americans share the goal of a colorblind society. Proposition 209 was a giant step in that direction. The fact that some people are resisting it so viciously tells more about them than about the voters.

Mark Steyn has a great story in America Alone about the "Free Tibet" bumper stickers that are often seen on Volvos and other socially-aware cars. Freeing Tibet is a worthy goal, but what exactly are these people doing about it other than displaying a sticker?

Suppose, Mark asks, President Bush were to declare a Free Tibet our number 1 national goal and order the Pentagon to actually make it happen? Many of the people with those bumper stickers would go into convulsions. "Stop the bombing! Bring in the UN! Build consensus!" they would scream as Tibet was freed.

Like the bearers of Free Tibet stickers, many of those who want racial preferences are more interested in proving their own moral superiority than in actually doing anything to achieve their alleged goals. Likewise, they claim to believe in democracy, except when the democratic process does not serve their purposes. Then their elitist core is exposed for all to see.

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