Equality Of Opportunity Versus Equality Of Outcome


I’ve always felt that one of the fundamental divides between the liberal versus conservative (or right versus left, etc., etc.) view of the world is the notion of equality.

The right, I think, generally wants equality of opportunity, meaning that everyone should have the same choices available to them, and that outcomes should be dictated by the choices made by each individual. The left, on the other hand, generally believes that outcomes should be equal and when they’re not equal they’re the product of some bias in the system.

Illustrating perfectly the latter point of view taken to an absurd extreme is this school in the San Francisco area where administrators won’t release the results of a student election apparently because the winners aren’t diverse enough.

“I feel like it is disrespectful to all the people who were running,” one of the candidates, Sebastian Kaplan, is quoted as saying.

Sebastian said the results of the student government election, held on Oct. 10, have not come out yet. He and the other candidates were told this week it is because the principal believes the winners are not diverse enough.

“The organizers are saying things like, ‘we want everyone’s voice to be heard,’ but in truth, the voters’ voices are not being heard,” Kaplan said. “Most kids are in agreement that the results need to come out because kids worked really hard on it.”

If there were some indication that access to the election process wasn’t open to all students, that there was some discrimination of one sort or another taking place, then I’d be fine with throwing out the results. Election results are not valid unless the opportunity to participate is uniform for all members of the electorate.

But to throw the results out because they don’t meet some notion of diversity held by the school’s administrators?

That’s ridiculous. Yet it’s also the perfect illustration of enforcing equality of outcome.

The students who won the elections, who put in the time in effort to run campaigns and convince majorities to cast their ballots for them, are really no different than applicants for jobs or enrollment who are passed over so that employers or schools can fulfill diversity policies. But it’s all the more odious because the administrators are willing to toss out the decisions made by the voting students because they arbitrarily decided they weren’t the right decisions.

If that’s how things are going to work, why even bother with elections?