California Voters Resoundingly Reject Affirmative Action

To many people’s surprise, California delivered great news on November 3, 2020.

Voters went to the polls and rejected Proposition 16, which would have enacted affirmative action in California.

If passed, Proposition 16 would give public universities the power to create admissions quotas based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin. The Los Angeles Times reported that state and local governments would have also been permitted to use these factors during the hiring process of government employees and when government contracts are awarded. Voters rejected this initiative by a 56 percent to 44 percent margin.

This initiative was brought before the voters by the California Legislature, which is under firm Democrat control. It’s purpose was to repeal Proposition 209, a ballot initiative that voters approved in 1996 that prohibited affirmative action policies in the Golden State.

Proposition 16 backers were able raise over $20 million. On the other hand, opponents only raised about $1.5 million. However, money was not the deciding factor with regards to this vote due to the fact that there was a strong bloc of opposition to the measure as reflected in recent polls.

Ward Connerly, a former University of California regent who supported Proposition 209,  believed that California voters viewed Proposition 16 as an assault on fairness.

“[Proponents] still have not persuaded the people that it is OK to discriminate against one group of people in the interest of trying to benefit another,” Connerly declared on the night of November 3.

Even a blue state such as California has voters that know there are limits to social engineering. Americans, no matter how radical some aspects of their politics may be, still have a residual sense of respect for the concept of fairness. In addition, they understand the divisive nature of using racial criteria to give people job opportunities.

It’s unfortunate that there are not strong partisan forces willing to take on such policies. However, referenda do offer opportunities for citizens to have their voices heard when the political class is not willing to take on issues that concern them most. Californian voters should be congratulated for coming to their senses on the question of affirmative action.