Christina Lin

Radicalization of Democrats and Asian voters

In this election year and in the face of rising anti-Asian hate crimes in the US, Asian-Americans are considering how they will vote in November to protect their interests and the future of their children. For far too long politicians have dismissed and ignored Asian Americans in the national debate about education, healthcare, racism, labor and employment, but the stakes are much higher this time.

Traditionally the Democratic Party can rely on the Asian-American vote. In the 1980s and 1990s Asian-Americans generally voted Republican, but during the Obama years Asians turned away from the Republican Party. In the 2012 election, 76% of Asian voters turned out for Barack Obama, and in 2016 two-thirds of all Asian voters supported Hillary Clinton.

However, Democrats seem to take this support for granted, and rewarded their Asian voters by backing policies that explicitly or implicitly discriminate against Asians. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the use of race by universities to suppress Asian achievement.

As University of California at Berkeley law professor John Yoo observed in a 2018 article “Betrayed Asian-Americans should turn their backs on Democrats”, Asian-Americans in droves support Democrats, yet they in turn support race-based affirmative action that systematically discriminates against admission of Asian-American students.

Education.  In 2014, a group of Asian-American students filed a lawsuit through Students for Fair Admissions against Harvard University on its biased admission policy. Harvard uses racial balancing – in the guise of a personality score for applicants – to keep Asians at a lower percentage of admissions, not unlike how Ivy League schools used similar criteria and methods early in the last century to avoid admitting Jewish students.

Although Asians score highest on academics and extracurricular activities, Harvard gave them the lowest possible score on personal traits such as humor, sensitivity, creativity, grit and leadership, feeding into the stereotypes of Asian-Americans as “grinds” and math geeks who lack personality.

The Asian-Americans lost their case against Harvard, while in 2018 a UCLA law professor also sued the University of California for systemic anti-Asian racism in its admissions policy.

Now California’s Democratic Governor Gavin Newson, the regents of the University of California and most elected Democrats are supporting Proposition 16  in the November ballot to re-establish affirmative action in California’s universities—seemingly unaware that education is one of the most important issues for Asian voters. Back in 1996 California had outlawed affirmative action of using skin color and sex rather than merit as criteria for university admission.

Had affirmative action been based on socioeconomic class that assisted disadvantaged individuals regardless of race, this would have seemed fair and also address the diversity goal, given a disproportionate share of economically disadvantaged students are people of color. However, with an admission criteria based on race, Asian American parents are worried about reverse discrimination against their children.

Tax and economic opportunity.  A large percentage of the Asian population run small businesses.  As of 2016, there were 2 million Asian-American-owned small businesses employing more than 3.6 million Americans, and they  greatly benefited from the conservative Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.  As such Asian mom-and-pop stores and small businesses benefit most from tax cuts and deregulation, which is the platform of Republicans, and would suffer from higher taxes and big government—which is generally the platform of the Democratic party.

Family values and religion.  Immigrants from Korea and China are also among America’s most fervent evangelical Christians as well as supporters of Israel. As court cases about wedding cakes and health-care coverage have highlighted, Democrats are waging federal and state wars on the civil rights of some religious people whether Christians, Muslims or others who conscientiously cannot obey laws supporting abortion rights or gay marriage.

Asians also have strong conservative family values, and the constant assault on their values by the Democrats is steadily building resentment.

Law and order.  Because of language problems and reticence to file police reports, Asian immigrants are often seen as soft targets by criminals, and inter-minority racism is a neuralgic issue especially in San Francisco.  Race relations in Los Angeles also remain uneasy between black and Korean communities nearly three decades after the riots when Hispanic and black gangs targeted Koreatown, though recent steps have been taken to build trust, with Los Angeles Councilman David Ryu saying “The L.A. riots was not a black-Korean issue” but “a poverty issue; it was an issue of language barriers.’

However, this progress is now in jeopardy with Democrats seemingly weaponizing the racism card and defunding police forces in the hopes of garnering votes in November. This is seen by critical Asian-Americans as supporting/prolonging riots and lawlessness, endangering their public safety, and bringing back past fears of the 1992 riots when over 1,700 Korean businesses were destroyed and Korean Americans suffered the bulk of the nearly $1 billion in damages. Already this June, 79 Korean businesses have been damaged in the looting and rioting, and California National Guards were deployed to protect Koreatown from rioters and prevent history from repeating itself.

With the Asian community already terrified of increasing anti-Asian hate crimes and memory of the1992 burning and looting of Koreatown due to inadequate number of police officers, the Democratic Party’s platform of defunding the police would mean defunding the buffer protecting vulnerable Asians from criminals and gang violence—where there are an estimated 450 active gangs and combined membership of 45,000 individuals in Los Angeles alone.

Growing Asian-American electorate.  Despite the fact Asian-Americans are the fourth-largest racial group in the U.S. and the electorate has ballooned by 139% to 11 million eligible voters in the past 20 years, politicians continue to ignore them and dismiss their concerns.

Former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang is a case in point of how Democrats see – or don’t see – Asian-Americans. During the campaign, the Democratic Party and media such as CNN, MSNBC, CNBC and others often ignored him, allotted him little speaking time at the debates, and outright erased Yang from polls of top performing candidates.

Once when CNBC did post a photo of him, it was the photo of another Asian man. To add insult to injury, the man did not even share the same name. The last name was Yang but the first name was Geoff, and makes one ponder if the Democrats subscribe to the stereotype that “all Asians look alike”?

As a fellow Chinese American and supporter, this author was offended and appalled by the Democratic Party’s discrimination against Andrew Yang during the campaign.  It seemed Asian-Americans have made great strides in the US since the internment of Japanese Americans by a Democratic President in World War II, but this was a new rude awakening.

Now the Asian American community is beginning to reflect on their seemingly self-defeating politics of supporting a party that is increasingly radicalized, drifting farther away from their core values, and undermining their children’s future–a development that appears to also trouble Jewish Americans and Israel. Given this, it would not be surprising if Asian Americans and Jewish Americans are not as enthusiastic this time about voting Blue in November.

About the Author
Dr. Christina Lin is a US-based foreign policy analyst specializing in China-Mediterranean relations. She has extensive US government experience working on national security issues and was a CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear) research consultant for Jane's Information Group.