The most promising of those policies, moreover, really are color-blind. The best way to reduce minority health disparities, it turns out, is to do something about the broader problems of income and social inequality (see Phillip Longman, “Is Inequality Shortening Your Life Span?”). The surest route to narrowing the black-white wealth gap is to crack down on the predatory lending that threatens the whole financial sector (see Reid Cramer, “The American Dream, Redeemed”). The key to helping more college students of color graduate is to demand more accountability from the entire higher education system (see Kevin Carey, “The Next Affirmative Action”). Our unconscionably high rates of incarceration (Glenn Loury, “Prison’s Dilemma”), could be substantially reduced with parole system reforms that would also lower the overall crime rate (Mark Kleiman, “A New Role for Parole”).
Policies like these should be Obama’s true north, the point toward which he should try to move the nation in the next four years. There are swamps between here and there, among them the public’s conflicted and often virulent attitudes toward race. But great presidents find ways to navigate around the swamps.
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