The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Michigan Proposal 2:
Turning clock back on a movement that benefitted many

Oct 30, 2006

Proposal 2 on the ballot in Michigan would amend the state constitution to ban affirmative action programs by state and local governments in public employment, contracting and education.

Supporters of the proposal got it onto the ballot by outright fraud, calling it the “Michigan Civil Rights Initiative” and not stating clearly that it called for a ban on affirmative action programs.

The supporters of the proposal are obviously not for equal rights or equal access to education or jobs. If they were, they wouldn’t have had to trick people to get this proposal on the ballot. They would have been pushing for equal access decades ago when black people and women were being systematically excluded from schools, jobs and government contracts.

And they would be pushing now to make sure no one was denied access to education for lack of money.

No – the only aim of these people is to try to divide working people, pushing them to compete with each other for the few decent jobs or the few chances to go on to school.

We don’t win by fighting each other. We win by fighting those in power.

Affirmative action came out of such a fight, the black movement of the ‘fifties, ‘sixties, and ‘seventies.

Not that affirmative action has compensated for previous centuries of discrimination. Anyone who says it has is lying. It mostly touches middle class people more than it does working class people.

But it was won by a mobilization. That mobilization improved the situation for black people, and it did not hurt the white working class population in doing so. It led to greater access to education, social services, workers’ compensation, and unemployment insurance for all working people. It brought about Medicare for the elderly and Medicaid for working class families.

When there is a social movement in which different parts of the working class are not counterposed against one another, the ruling class can be forced to open things up for everyone.

Vote against the supporters of Proposal 2 and all the others who would divide us.