I`m continuing to think about how the Republican Party—or, more accurately a generic patriotic party that reflects traditional American values—can win national elections if current immigration policy is not altered and the racial balance of the U.S. continues to be shifted by the federal government. I`ve argued that simple arithmetic proves the untried "Sailer Strategy"—by which the Republican Party would worry less about "outreach" to hostile minorities and more about "inreach" to mobilize its natural white base—will be viable for a surprisingly long time, despite current immigration policy. I`ve also argued that the current Census category of "Asian", which encourages anti-white rent-seeking by groups that otherwise have very little in common, should be abolished.
Today, I want to address that "Asian" vote, in as far as that`s possible given the weaknesses of the Census definition.
Until now, the Asian vote hasn`t received much attention. After all, Asians only cast 2.5 percent of the vote in 2008.
Although Asian immigration rates are high, their turnout rate is low. Only 47 percent of Asian citizens bothered to vote in 2008 versus over 65 percent for whites and blacks.
Moreover, their total fertility rate is fairly low: in California in 2005, only 1.4 babies per American-born Asian woman`s lifetime, and 2.0 for Asian immigrants—compared to 2.2 for American-born Latinas and a startling 3.7 for immigrant Latinas.
Still, if current policy is left in place, the Asian share of the vote is likely to about double over the next four decades—making them almost as important as Latinos are now.
If you take a simplistic model of partisanship, in which Democrats, as the tax-and-spend party, appeal more to those who get more out of government spending than they put in, then Asians should tend toward the Republicans.
Moreover, with some specific exceptions such as Small Business Administration loans, Asians are net losers from affirmative action, which Democrats support. (Republicans, however, have never spoken up on this issue and have largely dropped it in recent years.)
And, in fact, Asians apparently once did vote Republican. Exit polling of Asians only goes back to 1992, when George H.W. Bush is said to have done significantly better among Asians (winning 55 percent in that three way race with Bill Clinton and Ross Perot) than among whites (only 40 percent). Of course, the sample size then was really too small to trust.
Some of this is due to demographic change among Asians. For example, in 1992 Chinese-American citizens were largely anti-Communist Republicans with roots in Taiwan. But most recent Chinese immigrants are from the mainland. Moreover, Indian-Americans make up an ever-larger fraction of the Asian total. And, although there are a number of (allegedly) conservative Indian pundits, South Asians appear to vote even more Democratic than East Asians.
Also, the GOP hasn`t helped itself by paying little attention to issues of particular importance to Asians. For instance, Asians dislike big urban school districts, because they lack the votes to get the schools to spend heavily on Advanced Placement courses for their children rather than on remedial courses for blacks and Latinos. Case in point: Asian parents in Los Angeles County have largely moved out of the huge Los Angeles Unified School District and into smaller surrounding municipalities, such as Arcadia, where they do have the votes to get the local schools to serve their kids.
Passing state laws to make it easier for parts of big school districts to secede would be popular with Asian voters. But it hasn`t been on GOP radar screens—because the secession issue is ultimately all about race, which Republicans are terrified to think about.
Overall, though, I believe the trend to East Asians voting Democrat stems largely from Democrats winning in the struggle to be chic among elite whites. East Asians tend to be rather conformist. They take quickly to mouthing a society`s dominant platitudes, which in America are increasingly liberal.
I`m reminded of something that surprised me in the late 1990s. My wife worked with a Korean immigrant lady named (unsurprisingly) Ms. Kim. The poor woman`s husband had died in a car crash a few years before, leaving her with two small children to raise.
But that just showed what an out-of-date fuddy-duddy I was. As a relative newcomer to America in the Age of Oprah, Ms. Kim had noticed what I hadn`t: that it`s now uncool for modern American widows to attempt to distinguish themselves from unwed mothers. That would be insensitive and discriminatory.
This doesn`t mean that, in her heart, Ms. Kim agreed with contemporary American mores. After all she grew up in a culture that stigmatizes illegitimacy as strongly as any in the developed world. In 2007, only 1.6 percent of babies were born out of wedlock in South Korea, versus a staggering 39.7 percent in the U.S. (That`s 72 percent illegitimacy among blacks, 51 percent among Hispanics, 28 percent among whites, and 17 percent among Asians).
But East Asians are used to hypocrisy. If the rich and respectable in America demand certain pro forma declarations, well, that`s a small price to be paid to not be excluded from polite society.
Granted, American hypocrisy is bizarrely inverted—rather than pretending to be better than she is, fashionable Americans want Ms. Kim to pretend to be worse than she is. But if that`s what the socially-influential whites in America say they want to hear, well, lip service is cheap.
At the beginning of the decade, 45% of all Asian-born immigrants lived in three heavily-Democratic metropolitan areas: San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City. Although Asian voters tend to live in the more conservative parts of the megalopolises, such as the staid San Gabriel Valley east of Los Angeles rather than the trendy Westside, it`s still Southern California rather than, say, Northern Texas.
After the 2004 election, I calculated that 76 percent of Asians lived in states that voted for John F. Kerry.
Asians tend to emulate upscale whites. But, as Andrew Gelman pointed out in Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State, a key difference between Republican states and Democratic states is that, in Republican states, wealthy white voters are more likely to be Republicans than downscale white voters. That`s not true in Democratic states, where social status among whites doesn`t correlate with voting Republican.
Thus in, say, Arkansas, respectable people (in the eyes of local Asians) vote Republican. But not many Asians live in states like Arkansas. Because Asians are concentrated on the coasts, they are exposed more to Democratic than Republican role models. And they tend to conform to the norms of the rich and powerful,
Moreover, Asians strive energetically to be accepted to the most elite (and thus most dogmatically liberal) universities. But they tend to lack the intellectually ornery streak that helps student resist indoctrination. John Derbyshire, author of the scintillating new book We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism, whose father-in-law was a member of the Chinese Communist Party, told me:
"Asian American freshmen may be particularly susceptible to campus radicalization. Youngsters from Asian families often have parents with little connection with American political life. So Asian-American youngsters, who spent their high school careers accumulating stellar grades in math and science, come relatively innocent to the professional multicultural evangelists in the universities."
But what about the strong family values of Asians? This isn`t a myth, as it is in the case of Hispanics—Asians really do have, for example, much lower illegitimacy rates than any other race in America. So why don`t those values make Asians vote Republican?
My explanation for this paradox: many Asian immigrants cocoon their children so thoroughly that they don`t need much help from the federal government in insulating their kids from anti-family cultural threats.
In contrast, white parents, lacking these webs of extended family and customs, fear that their children are more at risk from a corrosive culture. They therefore want their elected officials to validate the norms helpful in raising their children.
In a way, the GOP`s Asian problem is a subset of its white problem. The Republicans` fundamental problem in California, for example, is not that McCain only captured 35 percent of the Asian vote—but that he won only 46 percent of the white vote in the state.
A self-confident party that can win the 70 percent of the white vote it needs for long-term survival would likely be able to win close to half of the Asian vote.
Of course, at present, Asians can see that the opposite holds true. In modern America, Whites are as out of fashion as widows. And because the GOP is, whether it likes it or not, inevitably viewed as the white guy`s party, it`s out of fashion, too.
For example, consider how Asian politicians in California spin an issue that Asian voters care very much about: the technicalities of admission to the taxpayer-subsidized University of California.
Recently, the UC administrators have proposed reforms that fall into two categories:
This would increase admissions of blacks and Hispanics from slum high schools who lack adequate test scores.
After all, the new SAT is a three-hour-and-forty-five-minute monster that incorporates much that the UC liked about the Subject tests.
But this simplification of the application process would likely hurt Asian high schoolers because their parents are more likely than other students` parents to get them signed up in time to take all these superfluous tests.
Figuring out the various ideal points in your child`s high school career at which he or she should take each of the three SAT Subject tests is the kind of complicated strategizing that Asian parents are most likely to obsess over.
The California Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus (who seem, significantly, to be all Democratic state legislators—the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus is part of the California Democrats website) wrote an angry letter to the chairman of the UC Board of Regents denouncing the reforms.
Here`s what`s interesting: The Asian-Pacific Islanders could have framed their argument as an attack on the UC`s illegal attempt to get around the ban on racial preferences in the California constitution. Theoretically, they could have allied themselves with the other victims of affirmative action: whites.
Needless to say, there is no White Caucus for the Asian Pacific Islander Caucus to ally themselves with—at least, not yet. Right now, indeed, if the Asian politicians had made an appeal to white self-interest on this issue, it would have been publicly greeted by the white elite in California with incomprehension and horror.
So, not surprisingly, the Asian Caucus chose to cast their argument against the proposed changes as if they represented all minorities standing shoulder to shoulder against white oppression:
"According to the `low end` projections of 2007-2008 admitted students provided by the UC, the total percentage of African American, Chicano/Latino, Native American, and Asian American students would decrease from 60 percent to 53 percent … whereas, the percentage of White students would increase from 34 percent to 41 percent." [Letter, February 3, 2009 (PDF)]
Of course, this is deeply dishonest argument that assumes African Americans, Hispanics, etc can`t count. Their numbers would go up under the proposed reform—but the Asian numbers would go down enough to ensure that the non-white total goes down.
But attacking whites is what pays off these days. And America gets more of what it pays for.
My view: Asians will continue to hop on the anti-white bandwagon until such time as whites get up the backbone to tell them to stop. After that, whites and Asians should get along reasonably well.
Part of the problem is that Americans lack a useful vocabulary for discussing issues like Affirmative Action in colleges. The breakdown is definitely not whites v. minorities, because Asians gets few breaks.
One small but potentially significant step toward changing the political culture: popularize the acronym "NAM," which stands for "Non-Asian Minority:" e.g., blacks, Hispanics, American Indians, Pacific Islanders, and so forth (basically, any group with lower average test scores and higher average crime rates, who thus benefits from Affirmative Action).
Unfortunately, nobody has yet come up with as catchy an acronym for those who pay for racial preferences. "Whites and Asians," for example, comes out "WaA", which just sounds infantile.
But using the term NAMs would be a good start.
[Steve Sailer (email him) is movie critic for The American Conservative. His website www.iSteve.blogspot.com features his daily blog. His new book, AMERICA`S HALF-BLOOD PRINCE: BARACK OBAMA`S "STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE", is available here.]