Message from the President of ACRI
Dear Friends and Supporters,
The principle of "liberty and justice for all" is the centerpiece of the American way of life. This principle reinforces our creed that "all men are created equal" and drives our system of merit. Nearly fifty years ago, the concept of "affirmative action" was originated by President John F. Kennedy as a policy of nondiscrimination. As envisioned by Kennedy, this "colorblind government" policy was consistent with the American ideal of equal treatment for all. When he announced this policy, JFK said that "race has no place in American life or law." Within short order, the nondiscrimination policy was converted by President Lyndon B. Johnson into an affirmative action system of "goals" and "timetable" designed primarily to facilitate the entry of black Americans - the Negro - into the mainstream of American life.
In the fullness of time, affirmative action ceased to be nondiscrimination, or to assist blacks solely, or to be temporary. By the mid-1990s, affirmative action was benefiting women and "minorities," essentially everyone except Americans who are white and male. Affirmative action was even assisting "undocumented" individuals in many states, cities and counties, and universities because they were minorities. The rationale for affirmative action evolved from nondiscrimination against anyone into a system of "leveling the playing field" for blacks and, then, into a system of preferences (double standards in college admissions, contract set-asides and employment "quotas" for women and minorities) to achieve "diversity" in virtually all segments of American life.
With leadership from yours truly, assisted by California Governor Pete Wilson, the University of California Board of Regents, in 1995, became the first public institution in America to challenge affirmative action: the new policy provided that "the university shall not discriminate against or grant preferential treatment" in admissions, contracting or employment on the basis or race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin."
In 1996, the people of California approved a constitutional amendment (Proposition 209) that enshrined in the constitution what the Regents had done and applied the policy of equal treatment to all public agencies. Proposition 209 was opposed by all groups claiming to represent minorities, and especially by the Latino establishment. After a volatile campaign, the measure was approved by a vote of 55-45.
In 1998, the people of the State of Washington approved an initiative patterned after Proposition 209 by a vote of 59-41. Opposition came from groups representing black people and liberal white women.
In 1999, Florida Governor Jeb Bush signed an Executive Order, known as "One Florida," that was structured to prohibit race, gender and ethnic preferences in all aspects of state employment, contracting and college admission. Voters were in support of the initiative that was being proposed by a margin of 66-34, but presidential politics intruded to keep the initiative off the ballot. The Executive Order remains in effect.
From 1999 to 2003, ACRI filed a number of legal actions and spoke to countless organizations to promote the principle of equal treatment.
In 2003, efforts were initiated to qualify an initiative for the Michigan ballot. The effort was opposed by the Michigan Republican Party, the GOP candidate for governor, the governor of Michigan, churches, unions, Colin Powell, U.S. Senator Barack Obama, Representative John Dingel, the Democrat Party and virtually the entire Michigan political and civic establishment.
In 2006, Proposal 2 passed in Michigan by a vote of 58-42, despite a very tumultuous campaign. This campaign proved beyond any doubt the fact that on this issue the political establishment is radically out of step with the people.
In 2008, we sought to advance the ball up the field in a dramatic way by undertaking initiatives in five states: Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma. Clearly, we overreached and were outmaneuvered by our opponents, especially the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and other leftists organizations, including one funded by George Soros - the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center. Their primary tactic was to accuse us of "deceiving" the voters by our ballot language. This tactic, along with endless lawsuits challenging various aspects of our campaigns, was universally used in all "Super Tuesday" states.
The Secretary of State of Missouri thwarted our efforts by writing ballot language that perverted the objectives of our initiative and we elected not to go on the ballot with such language. The exceedingly onerous initiative qualification process effectively prevented us from qualifying in Oklahoma. In Colorado, we suffered our first and only defeat by less than one percent of the vote. We believe part of this defeat was the result of a shortage of funding to explain the initiative to the electorate. More significant, however, was the fact that our initiative was on the ballot in the same year that Senator Barack Obama was running for president and national efforts were underway to change Colorado from a "red" state to a "blue" state. We got caught in a political tsunami.
In 2008, the electorate of Nebraska approved our constitutional amendment by a vote of 58-42, despite opposition from Warren Buffett, who was doing the bidding of Barack Obama, and others.
In 2010, the voters of Arizona approved Proposition 107 by a vote of 60-40. I have chronicled the campaign in an earlier report to you.
With your help, I am happy to report that 26.3% of the American people now reside in states that are "race-neutral" in the public domain of education, employment and contracting. We can be proud of that.
I want to wish all of an effective, healthy, and prosperous 2011. – Ward
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