Peter Beinart, after charging that John McCain will press the race issue, argues that Barack Obama will never be able to prevent race from becoming a factor in the election, so he has to take the issue head on by coming out in favor of replacing race-based affirmative action with class-based programs.
Beinart notes that, “Notre Dame political scientist David Leege estimates that 17 to 19 percent of white Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents will resist voting for Obama because he is black.” There’s really no way of telling whether such an estimate is accurate, but even if it is, I’m not sure if I buy into the rest of Beinart’s argument.
For one, I don’t think that affirmative action is as salient of an issue as it once was, and I’m skeptical that the average voter — let alone voters who won’t vote for Obama because he is black — will be swayed by such a distinction.
Either way, I think the discussion is moot, because nothing suggests that Obama would take such a position.
Beinart notes that:
It’s typical of Obama to sympathize with lots of ideas in certain forums, but very un-Obamalike to take a clear, bold, stand on an issue. However open
he may seem to class-based affirmative action in a broad discussion, I’d be shocked if as a matter of policy, he came out in favor of using such criterion as an outright substitute for racial preferences.
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