As he was exiting the Democratic race for president because he said his views were incompatible with those of the left-wing elite and base, former Virginia Senator Jim Webb said that today’s race-based affirmative action policies are hurting poor whites and poor blacks.
Tuesday at the National Press Club, Webb blasted the left’s “interest-group politics” that “can exclude people who need a voice in the corridors of power.” He said though some affirmative action programs were initially necessary to help African-Americans because of the country’s unique history related to slavery and Jim Crow laws, “once we expand that for anyone who happens to be a person of color…. in the long run… you are hurting poor blacks and poor whites.”
“Take a look at West Baltimore and the Appalachian mountains in Kentucky,” Webb said, noting that “you will see… two different cultures that have not been helped and are falling more and more by the wayside” when it comes to poverty. education and economic opportunity.
In a 2010 Wall Street Journal op-ed, Webb said it was an “odd historical twist” that “many programs allow recently arrived immigrants to move ahead of similarly situated whites whose families have been in the country for generations.”
“These programs have damaged racial harmony. And the more they have grown, the less they have actually helped African-Americans, the intended beneficiaries of affirmative action as it was originally conceived,” Webb wrote then. “Affirmative action was designed to recognize the uniquely difficult journey of African-Americans. This policy was justifiable and understandable, even to those who came from white cultural groups that had also suffered in socio-economic terms from the Civil War and its aftermath.”
He said in his op-ed that the expansion of this logic and race-based affirmative action programs to all “people of color,” especially since 1965, “when new immigration laws dramatically altered the demographic makeup of the U.S.,” has “moved affirmative action away from remediation and toward discrimination” against poor whites.
On Tuesday, Webb, who left open an independent run for president, said that Democrats in years past like Sam Nunn, Henry “Scoop” Jackson, Mike Mansfield, and John F. Kennedy “understood that our country is more important than a label.”
“I fully accept that my views on many issues are not compatible with the power structure and the nominating base of the Democratic party,” Webb said, adding that the party’s hierarchy is “not comfortable with many of the the policies I have laid forth and frankly I’m not that comfortable with many of theirs.”
He said that “for this reason, I am withdrawing from any consideration of being the Democratic Party’s nominee for the presidency.”
On cultural issues—most notably on the Confederate flag and guns—Webb was glaringly out of touch with the left-wing elite. When politicians and the mainstream media were calling for the removal of the Confederate flag after the South Carolina church massacre, Webb urged politicians to resist jumping on the politically correct bandwagon. And regarding the Second Amendment, Webb did not back down from his pro-gun views during the most recent Democratic debate. He mentioned that “people at high levels in this government” often “have bodyguards 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
“The average American does not have that, and deserves the right to be able to protect their family,” he said.
He said the country needed a Declaration of Independence “not from an outside power, but from the paralysis of a political system that no longer serves the interest of the vast majority of the American people.” Webb, who opposed President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty, added that the “presidency has gained too much power” and “Congress has grown weak and often irrelevant.”
He added that “political parties are not providing the answers” and today’s financial system does not pay attention to American workers because it “depends on the global economy than the American economy.”
Webb said he has “strong views about where our country needs to go” and “I will never change those views in order to adopt to some party’s platform as a way of getting nominated.”