The Right Coast

July 27, 2005
Akaka Bill
By Gail Heriot

From what I understand, the Akaka Bill is stalled in the Senate and is probably losing support. But I can't resist the opportunity to kick it while it is down--or, better yet, kick the Republican Senators, like Norm Coleman and Lindsey Graham, who told Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle that they would support it.

Over thirty years ago, the Nixon Adminstration agreed to impose/permit an elaborate system of racial quotas known as the "Philadelphia Plan" on building trade unions engaged in federal projects. Why? Some say they were motivated in part by the belief that the plan would divide rank and file union members and hence ultimately weaken the unions as a political force. They had their eye on short-term partisan advantage, and failed to recognize the mischief that preferential racial policies could do in the long term.

With the Akaka bill, this history of short-sightedness threatens to repeat itself. Governor Lingle is the first Republican governor of the State of Hawaii. She believes her political future (and the future of the Hawaiian GOP) depends on the passage of the Akaka bill, and Republican members of the Senate would like to be able to help her. But if any Republican (or for that matter Democratic) Senator is still intending to support this bill, he or she needs to stop, take a deep breath, and think about the precedent that would be set.