The Blog

On 'Divisiveness'

2:54 PM, Jul 28, 2008 • By RICHARD STARR
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As Stephen F. Hayes points out below, over the weekend, John McCain came out in favor of Ward Connerly's Arizona ballot measure, which would end race, sex, and other discriminatory preferences in public education, contracting, and hiring. A well-briefed Barack Obama returned serve: "I think in the past he'd been opposed to these Ward Connerly initiatives as divisive. And I think he's right."

Obama is no doubt right about divisiveness. What he neglects to say is that government preferences themselves--like all spoils systems--are arguably divisive by design. Naturally, the people who benefit from them are going to be unhappy to see them shut down. But larger numbers of people side with Connerly and the McCain of 2008 on the anti-discrimination side of this "divisive" issue than with Obama and the McCain of 1998.

Two years ago in Michigan, when voters passed a ballot measure like the one Arizona voters will decide this fall, the "divide" was 58-42 in favor of the Connerly/McCain position. Indeed, the margin was closer to 70-30 in all-important suburban Macomb County, the constituency fetishized by political pros as a bellwether for swing voters (it went for Gore in 2000 and Bush in 2004).

If this be divisiveness, McCain should make the most of it.