Thursday, March 20, 2014

Politico Asks: Why Are Asian Americans Democrats?


UPDATE: One response in Reason magazine.


Eric said...

The Politico piece is pretty good. It's conclusion points out the solution for the GOP. So does your comment.

The GOP should take a tailored, particularized approach reaching out to Asians that capitalizes on our predilections rather than lump Asian outreach with outreach to all minorities.

As the article lays out, Asian voters should be low-hanging fruit for the GOP.

The 'takers v makers' stance, with a little tweaking, would make for a strong appeal to Asian voters, but not as long as it's viewed as code for white/non-white.

I believe there are three basic reasons for the Asian swing to the Dems.

One is Dems activism, including propaganda, is superior to GOP activism, which is why taker/maker is viewed as code for white/non-white instead of, well, taker/maker. That's not an Asian outreach problem. That's a GOP activism problem.

Two is assimilation. Upwardly mobile via education Asians tend to conform to the social/political/cultural norms of the education-centered community, which skews Democrat, in large part because of one, superior Dems activism.

Three is a pervasive underlying feeling of insecurity.

Socially, the insecure feeling is internal and caused by real experiences of being viewed as foreign, being commodified, and treated as second-class.
The internal part can be ameliorated, such as by adding the quintessential American identity of Soldier to one's personal identity, but anti-Asian social bias is real.

The false premise is that racism only comes from the Right.

By highlighting shared values and the hierarchic structural racism of the Left, and with some communication tweaking, the GOP could champion the GOP's version of equality for Asian Americans.

Economic insecurity favors a government safety net, which is associated with the Democrats. 1st and 2nd generation Asian Americans generally lack an extended family safety net in America to fall back on.

However, the GOP can work with Asian economic insecurity because it's more like the Greatest Generation's financial worries than latter-day welfare and affirmative action.

Asians are there for the GOP if they want them. The GOP's problem is mainly inferior activism more than lack of common ground with Asians. Once they figure out how to reach out, the common ground is there.

Eric said...

Harsanyi snarks and doesn't discuss a solution. His "The answer, you will not be surprised to learn, is to be more liberal" missed the authors' point, perhaps deliberately.

His attitude is frustrating because if they seriously worked the problem, the problem would be solvable. The main factor with the GOP's failure to appeal to Asian Americans is actually the larger problem of the GOP's inferiority in activism, in skill and mindset, to the Dems/Left's activists. Asian Americans are low-hanging fruit because if and when the GOP solves its activism shortfall, they would establish common ground easily with Asian Americans. Asian Americans would be a powerful boost to the GOP. But the GOP will self-sabotage as long as they insist on being as obtuse about the issue as Harsanyi.

The first step should be rallying Asian American Republicans. Charge them with a task/condition/standards to formulate a gameplan for GOP Asian American outreach, and then execute the gameplan.

Here's a link dump from when this issue came up after the Nov 2012 election. Note that the GOP apparently has made no progress in developing a gameplan for Asian American outreach since this issue was raised 1.5 years ago. That's their own fault.

John Yoo:

Richard Posner:

Charles Murray:

Jean Kaufman:

A pseudonymous Korean American blogger recommended by Yoo:

A more liberal take:

Mad Minerva said...

Great link dump! I'm SUPER busy right now and haven't been trawling the Internet as much I would have liked to for this topic.

Yeah, the establishment GOP sucks at outreach.

Eric said...

At this point, I doubt that either the Dems or the GOP have our best interests close to heart.

If Politico is correct that Asian Americans are crossing a critical threshold of social-economic stature, then I believe that while retaining our political affiliations and preferences, we ought to be collectively asserting the primacy of our interests as free agents and of our vision for America's course as owners.

My sense of current Asian American organizations and elected politicians is that they tend to be niche and/or derivative, eg, the CA Asian Dems who were in lockstep with anti-Asian education initiatives and the ones who've endorsed the NAACP LDF campaign against the Stuy test.

They need to be replaced by Asian American agents who are empowered by and answer to an Asian American social movement and will compel the establishment on both sides to negotiate with us on our terms.

We can help save America if we gain the power to do it. Maybe.

Mad Minerva said...

Oh, I'm pretty sure either establishment party even really THINKS about Asian Americans. What Asian American political groups I've seen are, as you said, derivative or niche. The fact that the CA Dems went along with the idiotic ed measures UNTIL they faced a backlash speaks volumes about where they are. Ditto for the lot who are happily going along with the effort to dismantle Stuy's standards. This is all extremely frustrating.

Mad Minerva said...

*neither establishment party, natch.

Eric said...

The halting conversation about our place in the order of things in America, filled with uncertainty, gaps, and incongruities, shows the need for a new way for us. It's just hard to conceive as yet how the social movement would come about. Great care would have to taken that it's not co-opted and marginalized into meaninglessness by the inadequate Asian American paradigms currently occupying the social-political space.

Co-option and marginalization is a real danger. It happened to a post-partisan, pro-America initiative I started in college in reaction to 9/11, based on a similar belief that the current social-political establishment is inadequate to solve our challenges moving forward. The need for the initiative is true, but the initiative died in its infancy despite early promise. The campus social-political space was already filled conceptually and structurally by analogs - student GOP and Dems, identity groups, etc. They're inadequate for our nation's challenges yet effectively choke off innovation in the social-political space.

Rather than organize at step one, I believe the necessary first step is an unpacking and drilling, serious and clarifying generational conversation among ourselves to set the conceptual framework; and in doing so, begin weaving organically the threads of a social movement where we are free agents and owners of the whole, rather than niche or derivative.

The Politico piece is a small step in the right direction. John Yoo said in his National Review piece that he's thinking about researching the issue and writing a book. Coming from Yoo (I'm a fan), that would be a big step.

Closer to the ground, I want to comment on the microaggression centerpiece in the Politico article that was waved away by Harsanyi.

They're each part right.

The behavior that Politico authors describe can be microaggressions in a sly bullying way - eg, "trashing" (see - that is as intentionally hostile as stereotypical racism.

At the same time, not all the described behavior is hostile. In my experience, it often comes from decent people who simply don't know better. They're not trying to be ill-mannered or hurtful. They're just ignorant and ignorance is not a crime; if it was, I'd be in jail. Ignorance is natural and correctable.

The healthy solution isn't to ignore bad manners. Neither is the solution to prevent bad manners via jackbooted PC thought and behavior police. Either way is alienating. The solution is for decent Americans to connect foremost as fellow countrymen and from that shared basis, learn from each other in order to develop fruitful, resilient relationships. Not PC-whipped empty, simulacrum relationships.

It's proper that we want to be respected and understood by others, and act towards that end. For that to work, though, we need to learn to respect and understand them, too. As Americans, we're in this together.

And yes, we can assert our interests social-politically as free agents while strengthening America the whole as owners.

My perspective was gained as a young enlisted soldier in an intimate, co-dependent social environment where I dealt with the described behavior from people who didn't grow up with Asian Americans. Some of it was calculated microaggression from racist douches and assholes and needed to be handled like any bully. More of it was from decent people who didn't know better until we learned to be soldiers together. And some of it was from dumbasses being dumbasses; they take longer to learn.

On balance, I'd rather that decent but diverse Americans be given the leeway to learn from each other in earnest and develop good manners organically rather than setting up alienating PC walls between ourselves at the outset.

Finally, the notion that only white Republicans are ill-mannered racists is false. It's a people thing, not a partisan thing, and there are plenty of ill-mannered racist non-white and white Democrats.