Fisher v. University of Texas turns on whether Texas’s preferential treatment of certain minority groups is necessary to achieve “diversity.” Diversity in the academic world is now one of its central organizing principles, although diversity remains an instrumental good, not a good in itself. Racial and ethnic diversity, it is said, helps students learn about different points of view and prepares them to live and lead in a multiracial and multicultural society. This new orthodoxy creates a relentless focus on race and ethnicity in admissions, and at times even more so in faculty hiring.
A few days before Fisher was argued but not in connection with the case, Ezra Klein of Vox amassed data suggesting that the greatest cleavages society were not between racial and ethnic groups, but between members of different political parties. A high percentage of members of both parties, for instance, expressed horror at thought of a daughter or son marrying outside the faith. Large majorities of both parties would be likely to hire a member of their party over that of another. As Ilya Somin has noted, such partisanship has troubling implications for democracy. Partisans will be more likely to dismiss opposing views reflexively, making beneficial decision making far less likely.
Thus, assuming we accept diversity as essential in higher education, it would seem that we need at least as much political diversity as diversity with respect to race and ethnicity.