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Lott's Resignation: Now the Real Work Begins
[December 19, 2002]

By Nicholas Provenzo

While the Center can claim victory in its campaign to remove Trent Lott as Senate Majority Leader (more that 9,750 visitors to our website sent our letter to their Senators demanding Lott's removal) the real job will now be to repair the damage that Lott's statement and his subsequent apologies have caused. According to the AP, incoming House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California said that Lott's stepping down was an "important step" but that Republicans still needed to do more to address the issue of race.

In Pelosi's context, doing more on the issue of race does not mean advancing a colorblind society, but advancing a society where color means everything. All one has to do is visit almost any college campus with their endless parade of racial preferences, racially themed departments, and racial pressure organizations to see just how divisive the left's view of race is in practice. With the painful loss the Republican Party's of credibility on racial issues as a result of Lott's statement and the party's plodding pace in removing him, the supporter of the left's neo-segregation will clearly be on the rise.

Yet the question of race in America needs to be answered properly once and for all. The right place to do this is the upcoming Supreme Court case on the University of Michigan's  affirmative action program. This case, actually two suits, was brought by students who were refused admission because of the University of Michigan's policy of granting racial preferences to blacks and other ethic groups in the university's admission practices.

Yet it has been reported that the Bush administration is conflicted as to what its position in the University of Michigan case will be. According to The Washington Post:

"a number of administration lawyers, led by Solicitor General Ted Olson, are eager to take a position against the Michigan programs. But the sources said Bush's political aides and White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales oppose an administration stance against affirmative action because it could impair Bush's efforts to woo Hispanics and other minorities to the Republican Party.

The argument has become complicated by the Senate leadership battle provoked by Republican leader Trent Lott's words in support of Strom Thurmond's segregationist 1948 presidential campaign. In his bid to save his post, Lott on Monday proclaimed himself a supporter of affirmative action, a program long derided by conservatives as racial quotas."

Lott can be written off as a pragmatist doing anything and everything to save his job, but the rest of the Republican Party is going to have to be more sophisticated if it expects to win long term. The only legitimate position of the government concerning race is that race is wholly irrelevant. If racial prejudice against blacks and other ethnicities is wrong, the same must be said for racial preferences.

To win the race debate, the Republicans are going to have to be forceful in their defense of the government's colorblindness, regardless of the Lott debacle. Trent Lott unwittingly put race back on the table for debate. The right should seize upon this opportunity with more intelligence than has thus far been displayed by our leaders in Congress.


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