The Politics of Race

Politics_of_Race
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By Joe Baka

The Democratic Party positions itself as the party of racial progressivism. They argue that their policies are in the best interest of America’s disadvantaged minorities, and that by opposing these policies, Republican voters and lawmakers are racist. The Democrats’ ideology is not the best for the long-term good of America’s minority communities, yet they have successfully swayed public opinion to support these policies and have garnered long-term support from minority voters.

On April 22, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted in response to the House Republicans’ latest budget proposal, which cuts $5 trillion from planned spending over the next decade, largely through cuts to Medicaid, food stamps, and other entitlements. She said that “Over 50% of food stamp recipients are people of color. The #GOPbudget takes food out of their mouths,” and “Under the #GOPbudget, millionaires get a $200k tax cut and communities of color are stuck with the bill.” These assertions, however, have little substance and are merely an attempt to spark an emotional reaction from individuals on food stamps or other government assistance.
The policies espoused by the Republicans in the proposed budget will lead to increased prosperity for all Americans—minorities included—in the long run. Tax cuts, for instance, reduce unemployment by leaving more money in the hands of corporations and small businessmen, the economy’s primary employers. A 2002 study by Bernhard Heitger of the Keil Institute for World Economics reinforces the viewpoint that higher taxation leads to increased unemployment, by examining unemployment and tax rates in countries measured by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)—which include the United States and most of the European Union—over a 12 year period from 1983-1994. He concluded that “the relationship between taxation and long-term unemployment is a mutually reinforcing one: a rising total tax rate leads to a higher long-term unemployment rate (and government expenditures) which in turn leads to a higher tax rate.” In simpler terms, raising taxes results in higher long-term unemployment, which later results in even higher taxes to cover the costs of unemployment. One could easily envision this turning into an adverse cycle. Reducing taxes has the opposite effect. Doing so will result in both increased prosperity for working class minorities, and long-term economic growth and an increased quality of life for all Americans.

Another area in which the Democrats fail to act in the interest of racial minorities is affirmative action. Affirmative action is marketed as an equalizer, and opposition to it is implicitly considered racist. In April 2014, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in the dissent to the Court’s ruling in Schuette v. Bamn, which upheld a voter-approved amendment to the Michigan state constitution banning affirmative action in public university admissions, “A majority of the Michigan electorate changed the basic rules of the political process in that State in a manner that uniquely disadvantaged racial minorities.” However, there is little evidence to suggest that affirmative action benefits minorities. Rather, we must strive to guarantee everyone’s right to equality and ensure that everyone has access to quality, accessible education—a goal not necessarily promoted by affirmative action.

For example, according to a 2012 study from the National Bureau of Economic Research, after California residents voted to ban affirmative action in 1996, graduation rates for minority students at public universities increased by 4.4 percent. Many students who, due in no small part to the failure of public secondary education, would have struggled at prestigious universities are now graduating from universities at which they are competitive. Research has shown that affirmative action actually hurts people of racial minorities. The Democrats only support it because doing so is an easy way to convince minority voters that they have their interests at heart.

These are just two of many examples that demonstrate not only that the Democratic Party’s leadership lacks genuine concern for the wellbeing of racial minorities, but also insinuates that they lack recognition of minority voters’ intelligence and capabilities. By attempting to coax racial minorities into voting for them through pandering entitlement programs such as food stamps, they are implying both that they do not believe minorities can succeed without their assistance and that they believe minority votes can be bought. The Democrats’ support of affirmative action implies that they do not believe people of racial minorities can succeed on their own merit and thus require institutional assistance to compete. Of course no politician would admit to holding these beliefs, but Democratic policies concerning entitlements and affirmative action perpetuate them in the interest of little more than acquiring votes.

Joe Baka is the vice president of the Northwestern University College Republicans. He can be reached at JosephBaka2016@u.northwestern.edu.

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