California's Prop. 16 goes down to defeat
Proposition 16, the identitarian measure aimed at reviving race-based affirmative action in California, was ruthlessly crushed on the November ballot by 56.8% of voters (over 8.8 million votes). The fashionable bandwagon of California's political establishment and corporate interests behind Prop 16 paled in comparison to a smart, people-centered opposition anchored on a reverberating message of equality under the law. Having worked on the No on 16 campaign since its embryonic stage, I view our hard-fought victory with far-reaching ramifications.
Beginning of the End for Racial Spoils
With a record turnout of an electorate that voted for Biden 2 to 1, California voters' decisive rejection of racial preferences signifies a recantation of radical left ideals in America's most populous and bluest state. More importantly, Prop 16's uneventful expiration serves as a critical juncture in our national history of fighting for civil rights: preferential treatment on the basis of equality and merit will replace incessant race-pandering as the guiding light to advance the rights of the underprivileged, whose disadvantages have varied causes unresolvable by crude preferences.
By voting down Prop 16, California voters reaffirm the timeless American creed of equality and the merit-based principle. Time and again, the American public has reached consensuses on the latter: a March 2019 Pew study finds that the majority of Americans (73%) say colleges and universities should not consider race or ethnicity in admissions. Similarly, a 2016 Gallup poll discovers that 63% of Americans oppose race-based affirmative action.
A David v. Goliath Campaign Built on A Good Message and Dynamic Alliances
We, the "No on 16" campaign, took on Mission: Impossible and defeated an omnipotent opponent backed by Sacramento's political elites, billionaire donors, unions, and the mainstream media. The Yes on 16 campaign amassed a lucrative war chest of $22 million, became the poster child of "racial reckoning," and harvested major endorsements from the California Chamber of Commerce to the New York Times. Even the state attorney general promoted the cause by giving Yes on 16 a favorable and deceptive ballot label which discombobulated racial preferences as pro-diversity.
Our defense of the state's constitutional principle of equal treatment for all was marginalized and erroneously caricatured as a conservative crusade against affirmative action. But against all odds, our No on 16 campaign succeeded in getting our winning message of truth and unity out with a meager budget of $1.8 million. Our coalition-building was unprecedented on a multitude of levels. Equal rights champions including Ward Connerly, Gail Heriot, and Manny Klausner, under the excellent counsel of strategist Arnie Steinberg, fought hand in hand with new civil rights leaders of Chinese descent represented by Frank Xu, Saga Conroy, and Joy Chen.
Tens of thousands of spirited grassroots volunteers responded to the calling for true equality: in coordination with the principled central campaign, they devised innovative rallies up and down the state to energize voters. No on 16 also brought together Democrats including Cupertino mayor Steven Scharf, prominent independents such as former congressman Tom Campbell and Republican state legislators. Last but not least, our moral appeal was greatly enhanced by robust intellectual input from a scholarly committee featuring talents like Dr. Richard Sander, Dr. Gail Heriot, Dr. Althea Nagai, and many more.
From Prop 16's crushing loss, we can now begin to drive meaningful and bipartisan solutions to persistent inequalities in the state's education and employment sectors. Government programs designed to help the underserved must be rethought to affirm real-life disadvantages. Across the state, multicultural and multiracial communities will coalesce to return practices of affirmative action and equality to the original spirit crystallized in our constitution and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Previously decentralized battles against racial balancing in Harvard, Yale, New York City, and more can hopefully be incorporated into a new national movement championed by Americans of Asian descent in expansive and proactive alliances with various elements outlined above.
¡Vivan equal rights!