Now that the dust has settled from Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling on Affirmative Action and the University of Michigan’s admissions process – especially as it is being viewed (again) as more of a political statement from a partisan-leaning court than a legal analysis from our highest court – I feel free to speak politically about this controversial legal decision.
I know that this statement (and, thus, this reality) drives many hardcore conservatives nuts. Me saying this statement will elicit more calls that I am a “RINO” (Republican In Name Only) or a “spy for the Democrats” that “race-baits”. I’m sure that this admission concerning Affirmative Action will not necessarily help my cache within Republican circles or my bottom line as a political commentator.
That said, I care more about this nation and our future than I do about labels and popularity. So, therefore, here it goes…
Fellow conservatives: whether you choose to admit it or not, affirmative action is the more conservative solution of the two in today’s America when choosing between an avenue for opportunity or a continuation of the economic implosion of our nation.
Yes, Affirmative Action is the fiscally-conservative choice if you want to shrink government, get people off of the government dole, and move the United States to the top geo-economically, academically, and geo-politically for years to come.
The reality of the situation must be voiced: until the general disparities between Black families and others in America close, bridges for disadvantaged Americans looking to advance past their current lot must remain intact. Further, until the re-segregation of the American education system subsides or morphs into a school choice model for more at-risk students, children with the capacity to optimize their talents outside of their current conditions through gateways to world-leading higher education must be given all due opportunity to do so if we are to be true to our credo as the “shining city on a hill” or committed to national sovereignty as a world power.
Education is the gateway to the American Dream for the individual. Education is the weapon of choice in today’s geopolitical environment, one where wars are fought through technology, international trade, and economic pressures before the first bullet is fired. Whether it is through altruistic vision or self-serving patriotism, it is imperative that talents from all corners of our nation are discovered, embraced, and utilized immediately. With the rising costs of higher education and the increased obstacles in place due to the Great Recession, avenues of opportunity are vital to strengthen America to its peak ability at such a critical moment of history. It seems foolish for a conservative to believe that Affirmative Action is a demeaning, archaic foe of the nation. This is particularly so if one is willing to cast aside Affirmative Action goals and practices based on race for higher education without castigating other “preferential treatment programs” simultaneously such as legacy admissions (and subsequent job despotism), “financial” admissions (e.g., those that provide endowment support have “access” for “less than optimally-deserving” candidates), and the like as bastardizing a “fair process” as well.
Further, as a conservative, the choice goes past national sovereignty from a geopolitical perspective. America will not survive as a nanny-state country where a growing number of its residents are depending on government for financial support, whether that includes struggling families or businesses alike. Only with an increased tax base (which will come from more people making enough to pay taxes) will this happen, and in today’s economy, that will only happen with one having a strong educational background in tow. If my conservative brethren want to reduce the cost of government and increase the role of the individual in the success of our communities as a whole (e.g., the “smaller government, bigger people” approach I have been noting) while regaining our esteem and prowess internationally, Affirmative Action cannot be hacked away at. It’s a simple choice: “pay” for the inconvenience of Affirmative Action for another 25-35 years (in the shadows of 100 years of Jim Crow policies that followed up the centuries-long institution of slavery) or risk paying for (literally) the devolving of America by way of the growth of the permanent underclass – a combination of economic, healthcare, and community realities often cemented by race.
Affirmative Action in regards to college admissions is just one determining factor among several that are used in order to provide families (and, subsequently, communities) the ability to achieve heights previously unseen and unattainable. The greatness of the American Dream for prior decades was rooted in our ability to raise doctors, engineers, and innovative leaders from the economic doldrums and the shameful legacy of racial discrimination – two realities that we have yet to overcome in a permanent fashion based on decades of statistics. We must overcome these social obstacles if we are going to exude true international leadership in the 21st century, not just national nostalgia for days that are becoming long past. Locking deserving children away from opportunities to advance their talents to their fullest – whether that is through school choice policies or Affirmative Action considerations – is not in our best interests at all, nor is it in the blueprint plans for a better America. Supporting Affirmative Action for a little while longer may be an inconvenient reality, but until we resurrect the spirit to tackle the social woes of our time in a holistic partnership that confronts America’s racial (and thus economic, social, educational, and employment) problems of today, we can no longer afford to ignore the inconvenient truth.
Lenny McAllister is a political analyst and commentator featured on various local, national and international outlets including Al Jazeera America, CNN, the American Urban Radio Network, and Sun News Network. The Pittsburgh-based pundit hosts NightTalk: Get to the Point on the Pittsburgh Cable News Channel on Friday nights. He is also a host at Newsradio 1020 KDKA in Pittsburgh. You can follow the former WVON The Talk of Chicago 1690 AM host on Twitter and Facebook.