|Sotomayor & "Affirmative Action"
||[May. 31st, 2009|10:17 am]
A quick thought about Sonia Sotomayor: I've seen a lot of chatter on the internutz (and I'll bet there's even more of this on the broadcast media) about whether Sotomayor is an affirmative action pick. She isn't.|
She's definitely a first-in-her-demographic. But she's not affirmative action in the usual meaning of the term. The whole idea of affirmative action is that we can tilt some of the power imbalances in our society by promoting members of demographic groups which don't usually have easy access to social and political power.
That's not what the Sotomayor pick is about. This much is apparent in the comitragedy of Republican reaction. You can see them thinking, "Hmm...we should probably keep our mouths shut on this one. We really can't afford to piss off Hispanic voters. They're the biggest minority group in the country, they're the fastest growing, and they're already swinging into the Democratic column....Awww screw it! She's a racist! La Raza is the brown people's KKK! Affirmative Action! Ricci!"
The first impulse is correct: Obama's selection of Sotomayor is a recognition of the growing political power of her demographic. It's not an attempt to right imbalances; there are plenty of other choices that would have done that equally well. Rather, it's part of the Democrat's attempt to seal their hold on political power by allying with a powerful political constituency.