A Win in California! Prop 16 Goes Down

A Win in California! Prop 16 Goes Down

Nov 10, 2020 Debi Ghate

With so much focus on the presidential election, we wanted to draw attention to what we consider a true win for anyone who believes in a vision of America where people, regardless of race or other characteristics, can pursue liberty, opportunity, and personal responsibility. By a margin of 56.5 percent to 43.5 percent, Californians rejected Proposition 16 last week.

What was Prop 16? It was an attempt to lift a ban on affirmative action being applied in state agencies. Affirmative action, or making decisions based on racial preferences, would have meant that hiring and contracting with California’s public agencies would have allowed bureaucrats to discriminate against certain groups with the law’s sanction—the very opposite of equality under the law. 

Joshua Thompson at the Pacific Legal Foundation  said it well in this op-ed: 

These schemes go by a number of names—affirmative action, racial preferences, racial balancing, quotas, take your pick. But regardless of what you call it, these schemes inevitably come down to discrimination on behalf of one group of Americans, based on ascribed characteristics like skin color or ethnicity, at the cost of another. And for most Americans who believe that our commitment to equality should reject racially divisive policies, that’s deeply offensive.

As a public-interest attorney, I’ve seen how racial preferences invariably lead to corrupt and unjust outcomes. To take one prominent example, I worked with Black and Hispanic parents in Hartford, Connecticut. We filed a federal lawsuit challenging unjust racial balancing requirements in the city’s prestigious magnet schools. As a result of the city’s misguided racial balancing policy, Black and Brown children were being denied opportunities for quality education under a new system of segregation—a perverse outcome that the scheme’s designers never foresaw.

If a measure like Proposition 16 can’t win in a deep blue California, there’s a reason—voters know when they’re being sold a bill of goods. And all the inflammatory race-baiting from on high isn’t going to change that. So, if you’re one of the majority of Californians who has doubts about allowing the state to discriminate against people based on race, you’re right to be skeptical.  Proposition 16 would take the Golden State back down the path of official discrimination—a path none of us should want to travel.

In a day and age when everyone thinks of race as the elephant in the room, it was encouraging to see that we can, in fact, talk about it and work together to reject proposals that will take us backward rather than forward.