Richard D. Kahlenberg makes the case for Barack Obama winning over white working class voters by turning against race-based affirmative action programs in favor of class-based AA, writing in Inside Higher Education.
While Obama has in the past been a strong supporter of race-based affirmative action, in his debate in Philadelphia with Hillary Clinton, he said in response to a question that his own privileged daughters do not deserve affirmative action preferences, and that working-class students of all colors do. He needs to make this explicit, to spell out the new policy, and explain why he is shifting away from his traditional reliance on race-based policies. Supporting a shift to class-based affirmative action would be the logical policy manifestation of his well received speech on race in Philadelphia back in March. In the address, Obama made clear that this nation needs some form of affirmative action to address the legacy of discrimination in America. He noted that legalized discrimination in FHA loans, for example, prevented blacks from borrowing to purchase homes, leaving older blacks with little accumulated wealth to pass down to today's generations. And he observed that many African Americans continue to attend to attended inferior segregated schools, to live in neighborhoods with concentrated poverty, and to grow up in single parent households, all of which are connected to some degree to discrimination. There are five states where Ward Connerly has been trying to get referendums on the ballot to end race based affirmative action policies. If Obama really has any interest in shifting affirmative action programs from race based to economic class based programs, he should back these efforts. He would need to tell ACORN (his voter registration ally) and BAMN to stop fighting petition drives to get these referenda on the ballots.
Missouri, Arizona, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Colorado were the five states that Ward Connerly targeted this year fro votes on race based affirmative action programs. Connerly has already given up on Oklahoma due to the efforts of his opponents. If Obama really wants to make a statement that might appeal to lower middle income white voters, on this subject, he can tell his allies to back off opposing the petition drives in the other four states.