by José Niño | Mises.org

Ideally, political elites would like nothing more than state-sponsored ethnic conflictHaving multiple groups pitted against each other in petty political squabbles makes effective opposition against the managerial class virtually impossible

While everyone was transfixed by the 2020 presidential election, one of the biggest victories against woke activism took place in California on November 3, 2020.

Viewed as one of the bastions of the progressive left, California saw its voters thoroughly strike down affirmative action ballot initiative Proposition 16. After voters rejected Prop. 16 by a 57 to 43 percent margin, leftist observers were left scratching their heads at how California, a state that is 36.5 percent non-Hispanic white, would reject an initiative that purportedly combats racial injustice.

Prop. 16 would have repealed California’s affirmative action ban. Proposition 209, the affirmative action prohibition, was passed by voters in 1996. Prop. 209 put an end to the discrimination against or the bestowing of preferential treatment on individuals based on their ethnicity, national origin, race, or sex in public education, public sector work, or state contract work.

How Proposition 16 Shakes Up Conventional Wisdom in Politics

Prop. 16’s success is a likely sign of the obstacles that both the federal government and state governments will face when making attempts to ram through radical social engineering experiments. Even in leftist states such as California, there will be plenty of resistance. Although minorities have traditionally been reliable voters for Democrats, they do not necessarily see eye to eye with all aspects of Democrats’ agenda. When individual issues are put before the voters, the Left’s perceived hegemony starts breaking down.

The partisan squabbling of everyday politics only obfuscates the numerous contradictions within both of the major parties’ respective coalitions. Now that wokeism is becoming an integral part of the Democratic Party’s ethos, many minorities are beginning to no longer feel at home with a political coalition that increasingly caters to the political desires of affluent white liberals.

Asians and Hispanics Played a Substantial Role in Derailing Proposition 16

It’s undeniable that minorities helped derail Prop.16. Asian Americans have historically been known for their low levels of electoral turnout. Their lower rates of political participation have not prevented Asian Americans from being one of the most successful groups in the country. As of 2015, the household median income for Asians was $73,060, which is roughly 36 percent higher than the national median income of $53,600.

There is perhaps a lesson that could be learned from the Asian success story in America. Political activity is not the silver bullet to societal problems. However, politics is omnipresent these days, and no group is exempt from the managerial state’s perfidious behavior. Asians have learned firsthand how the state is used to discriminate against them via affirmative action, which generally punishes Asians, who tend to be high achievers in academic settings. As a result, Asian organizations will occasionally rise up to rally against affirmative action initiatives that gain traction in states with sizable Asian populations such as Washington. In the case of California, Asians made their presence felt in counties all the way from Santa Clara County down to Orange County by rejecting Prop. 16.

Unlike woke leftists, Asian Americans have bought into America’s meritocratic spirit and are willing to defend it not just because it suits their interests, but also because when bureaucrats attempt to subvert it by creating an ethnic spoils system it creates bad precedents. Many Asian parents fear that affirmative action will not only hurt their children’s educational and economic prospects but may also undermine the concept of merit-based admissions while adding racial divisiveness to the equation. Mixing politics with ethnic grievances is just asking for social instability. Many countries such as the former YugoslaviaLebanon, and South Africa have already given us sneak previews of what sectarian and ethnic political conflict looks like. Why add an American chapter to the tragedy of ethnic strife gone political?

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