Monday, November 26, 2012

Conservatism is white men

For the sages of the 'conservative' Establishment (I'm looking at you, Sean Hannity), a revisiting of recent history that illustrates why a coloring in of the country isn't just bad for Republicans' electoral prospects, it bodes terribly for a whole host of social, cultural, and economic positions that define the contemporary American right. The lesson at hand today is Michigan's 2006 Proposition 2 banning affirmative action programs in education and public sector hiring, which passed with strong voter approval, 58%-42%. From exit polling on the ballot initiative:

Race/SexYes No
White men70% 30%
White women59% 41%
Non-white men30% 70%
Non-white women18% 82%

White men made it happn. If the nation looked more like Michigan and less like California, Romney would've humiliated Obama on election day. Well, if Obama was around to be humiliated in the first place--in this hypothetical US, McCain would've already crushed him in 2008.

Tangentially, note that relatively speaking, men favor equality of opportunity and women favor equality of outcome.

A couple of weeks ago, another court decision was handed down on the law, which has been wrangled over in the courts since it was passed six years ago. This time the sixth circuit struck it down. There's a decent chance it will make it to the supreme court, where democracy and judicial fiat will square off (with the winner being determined by a body with the ultimate judicial fiat power!). That's not necessarily reason for democracy to despair in this case, though--there's a lot of overlap in the electoral power behind Prop 2's success and the fact that the supreme court is centrist (for the time being, anyhow, with at least an outside chance of keeping it that way if Scalia is still sitting upon becoming an octogenarian). But if the exorable (yes, exorable) change in the face of America continues apace, both the electorate and the magistrates it ultimately appoints will no longer be able to pass initiatives like Prop 2 in the future.

Parenthetically, I detect a somewhat widespread sense of racial identity growing among whites of my generation. The GSS suggests as much and I pick it up in bits and pieces in the real world. It's nascent and inchoate, but I think it's there. Consider how support for Prop 2 broke down by age:

AgeYes No
18-2959% 41%
30-4460% 40%
45-5957% 43%
60+55% 45%

The older generations are whiter than the younger ones are, yet the younger ones show slightly stronger opposition to affirmative action. I suspect youthful NAMs are even more supportive of affirmative action than their parents are, which means that young whites must be non-trivially more hostile to racial preferences than older whites are, the tendency for youth and leftism to correlate happily notwithstanding here.

1 comment:

Noah172 said...

That exit poll shows that support for the initiative cut across a lot of lines. Among the "Yes" voters:

40% of liberals

won or tied every income stratum

won every educational stratum -- except, barely, the post-grads (Ann Arbor liberals...); got 61% of bachelor-only grads

49% of union household voters

40% of Democrats (considering how many MI Dems are black, that's quite a feat)

59% of independents

62% of no-religion whites (the Audacious Epigone vote?)

55% of infrequent or non church-goers

38% of Bush-haters (actually, considering the Ricci case, this number should have been higher)

Strong majorities in Democratic union bastions Flint, Saginaw, and Bay City

Affirmative action is the forgotten "culture war" issue. The Republicans could really get some traction on this with many of the white subgroups that they lose partially or completely -- blue-collar toughs, unemployed recent college grads, otherwise "progressive" whiterpeople on the corporate ladder, suburban professionals worried about college for the kids -- while playing mind-**** with Democrats dependent on the black vote, and forcing Obama to defend privilege for his daughters.