The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Wednesday, October 20, 2004
 

Bush's softly softly on race: an explanation, perhaps?


In naiver days, I was disappointed by (and have oft bemoaned) the limp and ineffectual response of the Bush administration to the University of Michigan affirmative action cases Grutter and Gratz.

Now, Emil Guillermo in the San Francisco Chronicle suggests a reason: voter suppression.

In a piece on campaign fear-mongering, he says that neither Ds nor Rs want to get non-white voters excited enough to vote.

And, unless they are excited, they won't vote - much. He takes his text from Proposition 187: Davis won in 1998, he says, on the back of Hispanics' anti-Wilson sentiment, but then the vote slumped back:
Exit polls show that the percentage of voters who are members of minority groups actually dropped between 1998 and 2002, from 36 percent to just 24 percent.

(Those are CA numbers, of course.)

The argument for the Dems wanting to suppress the non-white vote is fear
that being branded the minority party will cost them white votes.

(Kerry's handling of the affirmative question in the third debate is given as an example of reluctance to play the race card.)

How does one accommodate Dem rimming of Sharpton in this? (Not to mention his off the reservation speech at the Convention...) I suspect, because - to the limited extent it registers on the average voter's radar, it's accepted as a meaningless Dem tribal ritual.

A Danegeld is paid in the form of affirmative action; but that's somehow been factored in, such that significant majorities of whites poll in favour of AA [1]. And there was a flood of amicus briefs from corporate America supporting AA in the Michigan cases. Rocking the boat bad for business, apparently.

Another theory - on the GOP side - has it that its core constituency is well-differentiated: it does not have a slate of conservative views which must be accommodated, but rather, particular individuals have their own single issues that override all other considerations. The Bush administration's milkiness on AA is no bar to the support of, say, an anti-abortionist.

Which, given the paramount role of race throughout American political history, is somewhat surprising.

More research needed, evidently.

  1. Depending of the question asked. A 2003 Pew survey (done just before the Supremes decided the Michigan cases) is interesting. Amongst the surprising stats (p5) is that, whilst white men oppose AA 49-52, white women support it 60-28. (Not explained by Title IX: only 3% of white women said (p3) that they had been helped by AA.)


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