This Wednesday, July 16, John McCain will address the NAACP convention in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Will McCain take a position on ballot initiatives to end affirmative action in Colorado, Nebraska, and his home state of Arizona?
This November voters in John McCain's home state of Arizona are likely to weigh in on a ballot initiative that would turn back the clock on equal opportunity by re-writing the state constitution and eliminating affirmative action programs that have helped to ensure that women and minorities get a fair shake.
Ward Connerly, a right wing backed activist from California who is leading the effort, failed to get his initiative on the ballot in Missouri and asked to have it withdrawn in Oklahoma, but he has turned signatures petitions in Arizona, Nebraska, and Colorado. Connerly faces a legal challenge to half the signatures he submitted in Colorado.
While McCain opposed a similar effort to end affirmative action in Arizona in 1998, he has refused to take a position on Connerly's initiatives this year.
Because if McCain stands by his support for affirmative action and opposition to "divisive ballot initiatives" he will face the wrath of an already skeptical right wing. And if he supports Connerly's initiatives to end equal opportunity programs he will have flip-flopped on yet another issue this election year in a pander to the right.
1998: McCain Opposes "Divisive Ballot Initiatives"
The Associated Press reported John McCain saying, "Rather than engage in divisive ballot initiatives, we must have a dialogue and cooperation and mutual efforts together to provide for every child in America to fulfill their expectations." "McCain condemns initiatives aimed at rolling back affirmative action," Associated Press, February 25, 1998.
McCain Disagrees,The Washington Times February 26, 1998
Sen. John McCain has condemned as "divisive" ballot initiatives such as one pending in the Arizona Senate that would ban affirmative action, the Arizona Republic reports.
Mr. McCain told Hispanic leaders Tuesday that although he doesn't favor race-based hiring quotas, he opposes ballot proposals outlawing quotas or racial preferences.
"Rather than engage in divisive ballot initiatives, we must have a dialogue and cooperation and mutual efforts together to provide for every child in America to fulfill their expectations," he said.
McCain Slams Affirmative Action Ban, The Bulletin's Frontrunner, February 25, 1998
The Arizona Republic (2/25, Barker) reported, "Sen. John McCain, weighing in on a volatile issue that has split the Republican Party, condemned 'divisive' ballot initiatives such as one pending in the Arizona Senate that would ban affirmative action." The Republican senator "told Hispanic leaders Tuesday that although he doesn't favor race-based hiring quotas, he opposes ballot proposals outlawing quotas or racial preferences."
1999: McCain Supports Affirmative Action
In 1999 when he was running in the GOP Presidential primary against George Bush there is this YouTube video of McCain voicing his support for affirmative action programs.
2008: "So all of us are for affirmative action"
On April 22 of this year, CBS News reported McCain saying, "If you're talking about assuring equal and fair opportunity for all Americans and making sure that the practices of the US military are emulated, the greatest equal opportunity employer in America, then I am all for it," he said, "So all of us are for affirmative action to try to give assistance to those who need it, whether it be African-American or other groups of Americans that need it."
McCain "mum" on Connerly Initiatives
McCain's own base has questioned him on this issue with the National Review writing, "Specifically, do you favor the ballot initiatives that have been adopted by California, Washington, and Michigan, and will likely be before voters this November in Missouri, Colorado, Arizona, and Nebraska?"
In April, Pat Buchanan wrote, "With no help from McCain, Connerly is trying to put on five state ballots a Civil Rights Initiative that declares white men are also equal and not to be denied their civil rights because of the color of their skin. And where does McCain stand?"
It's a good question that McCain has refused to answer. As ABC reported on June 20, after "multiple requests" from ABC News, McCain "continues to take no position" Connerly's initiatives.
McCain's choice is clear: flip-flop and pander to the right wing or oppose these divisive initiatives as he has in the past.
To stay "mum" on the issue is not "straight talk" we can believe in.
Let's hope the media does their job this week and they ask McCain to answer a simple question: Do you support Ward Connerly's effort to re-write the Arizona state constitution and ban equal opportunity programs in your home state?