Leading opponents of affirmative action are increasingly seizing on Illinois Senator Barack Obama's historic run for the presidency as proof that race-based remedies for past discrimination are no longer necessary.
Influential Republicans and a growing number of policy specialists at conservative organizations, including the Goldwater Institute, Project 21, and the Manhattan Institute, are citing the fact that large numbers of white voters are supporting Obama, who leads in the race for Democratic delegates, as evidence that affirmative action has run its course.
Ward Connerly, a black conservative who is leading a national effort to ban racial preferences, vowed to use Obama's success as evidence for anti-affirmative action ballot initiatives his organization is promoting in five states. Connerly, who helped dismantle affirmative action policies in California universities and public hiring in the 1990s, said he has donated $500 to Obama's campaign.
"I've been saying for a number of years that the American people are not institutionally racist," and Obama's strong support among white voters proves it, said Connerly, founder of the American Civil Rights Institute, an organization that backs proposals to end affirmative action in Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. "It underscores my position . . . that affirmative action is an idea whose time has passed.
"The whole argument in favor of race preferences is that there is 'institutional racism' and 'institutional sexism' in American life, and you need affirmative action to level the playing field," he said. "How can you say there is institutional racism when people in Nebraska vote for a guy who is a self-identified black man?"
Seriously, that's their argument. Because (some) people will vote for a black man, there's no institutional racism in America anymore! Never mind that Clinton is getting the majority of the white vote, and never mind the people who won't vote for a black man--this one, solitary gesture overturns centuries of white privilege and black oppression, erases all the racist stereotypes from our country's mind, and bridges the gap between black and white welfare in this country.
Sure, according to the census (warning: PDF) the median income for non-Hispanic whites was $30,000 in 2006, while that of blacks was $18,000. And sure, 8.2% of whites were below the poverty line that same year while 24.3% of blacks were. And sure, only 10.8% of whites had no health insurance whereas 20.5% of blacks remained uninsured. I'm sure that the fact that some white people are willing to vote for a black man will change all of that! Why, with each white hand that throws a ballot switch for a black man, a black person gets health insurance and an extra $100 in wages, right? They probably get a diploma, too, which will help bridge the education gap in the races--in 2005, only 17% of black adults had a bachelor's degree compared to 30% of whites.
But we as a nation aren't racist, because a few whites will vote for Obama! Hallelujah! Who knew that eliminating racism in this country was so easy as voting for a black candidate?
[Edit] Hopefully each vote for Obama by a white man will also cure one African-American girl of an STD, since 50% of them have at least one, compared to 20% of white girls.