President Bush has spoken. Giving 20 bonus points to public
college and university applicants just for being black, Hispanic or Native
American is "divisive, unfair, and impossible to square with the
This is a vital step forward and away from the Clintonian social
engineering regime, under which the Reno Justice Department consistently
sided with the racial bonus point-givers. (For a quick refresher, Internet
users, Google "Sharon Taxman," "Piscataway," and "Deval Patrick.")
But Bush's announcement is only a teeny-tiny step in the right
direction. In 2001, this administration, not Clinton-Gore, backed the
federal government's payment of cash bonuses to highway construction firms
that accept bids from companies owned by members of certain minority groups.
(See "Randy Pech" and "Adarand.")
And in his remarks Wednesday on the University of Michigan case
now before the Supreme Court, Bush voiced continuing support for the
Clinton-Gore-Reno fantasy that government-engineered racial diversity can
and should be achieved "without using quotas" or other unconstitutional
means. As examples of model programs, Bush cited public university
admissions plans in his home state of Texas and his brother Jeb's state of
As I've noted before, W.'s "10 percent" and Jeb's "20 percent"
plans are the same old, tired racial-preference policies disguised under the
slipcover of "compassionate conservatism." Jeb's "Talented 20" program, for
example, guarantees state university admission to the top 20 percent of
students in every Florida high school senior class.
That percentage -- that, ahem, quota -- was engineered to ensure
no net loss in minority enrollment in the state university system.
Although many observers have focused on the effects of Jeb's
"One Florida" program for university admissions, the plan actually expands
racial preferences in state hiring and contracting. Despite Jeb's ostensible
commitment to nondiscrimination, he advocates "enhancement of minority
business development through financial and technical assistance programs
that target the legitimate development needs of emerging minority
businesses, minority construction firms and minority franchisees."
In other words, more color-coded government aid.
Instead of encouraging minority businesses to compete on their
merits, Jeb Bush pledged to "reduce the red tape in the minority
certification process to encourage more minority businesses to become
certified." But why should they certify by racial status in the first place?
Because, Jeb Bush openly admitted, "My plan is not race-neutral. . . .
Race-consciousness is appropriate."
The vast majority of Americans of all races and ethnicities
reject race-consciousness in public life. Voters in multiracial California
and liberal Washington state did just that when they passed ballot
initiatives banning government racial preferences in 1996 and 1998.
Nevertheless, the president (and his brother) continue to spurn one of the
conservative movement's greatest, modern-day civil rights heroes, the man
behind those ballot measures: Ward Connerly. Jeb Bush helped sabotage
Connerly's effort to pass an anti-racial preference initiative in the
Sunshine State; the president has avoided Connerly like the plague.
The victory against racial preferences in Washington state,
which I witnessed firsthand, was stunning. Connerly, founder of the American
Civil Rights Institute and a California university regent, helped Initiative
200 overcome slimy, deep-pocketed opposition from the business, civil rights
and media elite. It garnered a whopping 58 percent of the vote, with
substantial support from Democrats, independents and women.
Connerly's latest crusade has similar wide appeal. The Racial
Privacy Initiative would bar California government officials from requiring
people to check off their race when they apply for a job, register for
school or have a child. It would abolish those oppressive little boxes that
encourage college applicants, for example, to cram themselves into one of a
litany of categories, including "African American," "American Indian/Alaska
native," "East Indian/Pakistani," "Chinese/Chinese American," "Filipino,
Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Pacific Islander," "other Asian (not including
Middle Eastern)," "Mexican American/Chicano," "other Spanish
American/Latino," "white/Caucasian (including Middle Eastern)," and simply
Such intrusive government bean-counting for the purpose of
awarding race-based bonuses, to use President Bush's words, is "divisive,
unfair, and impossible to square with the Constitution." The time for
Connerly's prescription is at hand: To prevent the government from boxing
Americans in, throw away the boxes.