Wednesday, October 13, 2021

The Education Polarization Question

Tom Edsall has an essay today on the Democrats' difficulties in dealing with this trend. I had my say in the piece, as follows:
"Two Democratic strategists, Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin, both of whom publish their analyses at the Liberal Patriot website, have addressed [the education polarization] predicament.
On Sept. 30 in “There Just Aren’t Enough College-Educated Voters!” Teixeira wrote:
The perception that nonwhite working class voters are a lock for the Democrats is no longer tenable. In the 2020 election, working class nonwhites moved sharply toward Trump by 12 margin points, despite Democratic messaging that focused relentlessly on Trump’s animus toward nonwhites. According to Pew, Trump actually got 41 percent of the Hispanic working class vote in 2016. Since 2012, running against Trump twice, Democrats have lost 18 points off of their margin among nonwhite working class voters.
In an effort to bring the argument down to earth, I asked Teixeira and Halpin three questions:
1. Should Democrats support and defend gender- and race-based affirmative action policies?
2. If asked in a debate, what should a Democrat say about Ibram X. Kendi’s claim that “standardized tests have become the most effective racist weapon ever devised to objectively degrade Black and brown minds and legally exclude their bodies from prestigious schools”?
3. How should a Democrat respond to questions concerning intergenerational poverty, nonmarital births and the issue of fatherlessness?
In an email, Teixeira addressed affirmative action:
Affirmative action in the sense of, say, racial preferences has always been unpopular and continues to be so. The latest evidence comes from the deep blue state of California which defeated an effort to reinstate race and gender preferences in public education, employment and contracting by an overwhelming 57-43 margin. As President Obama once put it: “We have to think about affirmative action and craft it in such a way where some of our children who are advantaged aren’t getting more favorable treatment than a poor white kid who has struggled more.” There has always been a strong case for class-based affirmative action which is perhaps worth revisiting rather than doubling down on race-based affirmative action.
Teixeira on Kendi’s arguments:
It is remarkable how willing liberal elites have been to countenance Kendi’s extreme views which ascribe all racial disparities in American society to racism and a system of untrammeled white supremacy (and only that), insist that all policies/actions can only be racist or anti-racist in any context and advocate for a Department of Anti-Racism staffed by anti-racist “experts” who would have the power to nullify any and all local, state and federal legislation deemed not truly anti-racist (and therefore, by Kendi’s logic, racist). These ideas are dubious empirically, massively simplistic and completely impractical in real world terms. And to observe they are politically toxic is an understatement. [Note: my reply here was about a more general question that Edsall asked about Kendi's overall approach rather than the specific question above about standardized tests/replying in a debate etc.
The left, in Teixeira’s view,
has paid a considerable price for abandoning universalism and for its increasingly strong linkage to Kendi-style views and militant identity politics in general. This has resulted in branding the party as focused on, or at least distracted by, issues of little relevance to most voters’ lives. Worse, the focus has led many working-class voters to believe that, unless they subscribe to this emerging worldview and are willing to speak its language, they will be condemned as reactionary, intolerant, and racist by those who purport to represent their interests. To some extent these voters are right: They really are looked down upon by elements of the left — typically younger, well-educated, and metropolitan — who embrace identity politics and the intersectional approach."
The piece also features my colleague John Halpin's thoughts as well as those of people who disagree with us. .Read the whole thing; it's worthwhile.

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