California's rejection of affirmative action shows 'Identity politics only go so far'

California’s proposition 16 would have removed a section from the state’s constitution which forbids discrimination on the grounds of race, gender, etc. The progressive left pushed to pass prop. 16 because they wanted to pursue new affirmative action programs in the state. But as the NY Times points out, it didn’t work as planned:

The state political and cultural establishment worked as one to pass this ballot measure. The governor, a senator, members of Congress, university presidents and civil rights leaders called it a righting of old wrongs…

Yet on Election Day, the proposition failed by a wide margin, 57 percent to 43 percent, and Latino and Asian-American voters played a key role in defeating it.

It turns out that demography is not destiny as many Democrats have long assumed. And minority groups don’t always agree with white progressives about how they should vote. That divide between expectations and reality was especially clear when it came to prop. 16. Asian-Americans largely rejected it, sensing that it would eventually result in policies aimed at reducing the high admission rates of Asians at California’s colleges. But Latinos also rejected it:

“There’s more texture to California blue politics than you might think,” said Lanhee Chen, a fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution at Stanford University and policy director for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential run. “Identity politics only go so far. There is a sense on affirmative action that people resent being categorized by progressives.”

Latinos, too, appear sharply divided. Prominent Latino nonprofit and civil rights organizations endorsed the affirmative action proposition even as all 14 of California’s majority-Latino counties voted it down.

Minority voters still came out from Democrats in Pennsylvania and Arizona in numbers that helped Biden win, but in plenty of other places the old argument that demographic changes would had Democrats a permanent majority is looking shaky.

John Judis is a liberal writer and scholar who in 2002 co-wrote “The Emerging Democratic Majority,” which became a seminal text for those who saw the Democratic Party as a political tide rising. He has since backed off that a touch.

“‘People of color’ is a term that’s been adopted by the cultural left as a way of arguing that if these groups proportionately voted Democratic in the past, they will do so in the future,” Mr. Judis said. “I don’t see how you can make the argument.”

The idea that minority voters can be counted on to vote as a bloc for progressives was always wrong-headed. Identity politics tries to pigeonhole people based upon their background or skin color but it turns out a lot of minority voters resent that. The harder Democrats push this far left agenda, the more they are going to see people opting out. That really shouldn’t be a shock to anyone no living in a woke bubble. But as one commenter replied to this NY Times story: “It tells you something that ‘people are individuals’ is news.”