In 2003, a rather conservative Supreme Court essentially ratified that formula. In a landmark case involving the University of Michigan Law School, the Court ruled that race could be used as a "plus" factor in college admissions.
Both Clinton's speech and the Court's decision honored and upheld a policy that millions of Americans consider reasonable and valid. Even our current socially conservative president refused to use affirmative action as a wedge issue in his 2004 re-election campaign.
In the end, Americans understand that affirmative action deepens the country's commitment to overcoming centuries of racism and discrimination against women, blacks and other minorities. It stands in the shadow of the Emancipation Proclamation, the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote, and the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965.
Affirmative action has for more than three decades effectively countered discrimination and brought Americans closer to the goal of one America. Proposition 2 deserves to be defeated.
Matthew Dallek, a former Democratic speechwriter on Capitol Hill, is the author of "The Right Moment: Ronald Reagan's First Victory and the Decisive Turning Point in American Politics."