The Asian-American Republicans
This might seem like a simplistic truism, but I think it is worth noting that
there are more Asians in the world than any other group of people.
The number of Asians living in Asia is rapidly approaching 4 billion. There are
1.3 billion Chinese and almost as many Indians.
But the Asians are not staying in Asia. They are emigrating in search of a
better life for themselves and their families, and many of them are ending up
There has been much talk about how Hispanics make up the fastest-growing part
of the American population and how Hispanic voters are becoming increasingly
important as a potential swing bloc. That is all true, except for the fact that
Asians actually make up the fastest-growing racial/ethnic group.
From 1990 to 2000, Asians, as a percentage of the American population,
increased 63 percent. In 2000, they made up 4.3 percent, but that number is
closer to 5 percent today and is expected to hit 7 percent by 2030.
According to Wikipedia: “As of 2008, Asian Americans had the highest
educational attainment level and median household income of any racial
demographic in the country, and the highest median personal income overall.”
That means that their relatively small numbers as a percentage of the population
belie that fact that their economic power is only going to increase in the
coming years. Smart Asian students mean smart Asian CEOs in 20 years.
In California, Asians thoroughly dominate the higher-education system, and some
politicians have dangled the idea of quotas to keep their numbers down.
In other words, getting the Asian vote should be a strategic imperative for
both parties. Right now, it seems that the Republicans are winning in that
One GOPer who has been talked about as a presidential or vice presidential
contender is Bobby Jindal, an Indian-American. Joseph Cao, the congressman who
beat the corrupt William Jefferson for his seat in New Orleans, hails from
Vietnam. Nikki Haley, the Republican nominee for governor in South Carolina, is
of Indian descent.
Van Tran, also Vietnamese, is making a spirited and aggressive run against
Loretta Sanchez for a congressional seat in California. Sanchez, in a typically
Democratic race-bait, said memorably on Spanish-language network Univision that
“the Vietnamese and Republicans” were trying “to take this seat
from us … and give it to this Van Tran who is very anti-immigrant and very
anti-Hispanic.” While she later apologized for that comment (she didn’t think any
Republicans were listening), this shows the tension that faces Democrats. They
are losing the Asian vote.
At the risk of stereotyping, the Republican free-market philosophy fits in
quite well with Asian immigrants. Asians come to America not to go on welfare,
but to open their own shops. They don’t preach family values; they live them. “The
Simpsons” might make fun of the Indian family that owns the local 7-Eleven, but
let’s face it: A lot of Indians own a lot of 7-Elevens, and with that financial
base, they send their kids to get advanced degrees. My neighborhood dry cleaner
is owned by a lovely Korean woman who just finished paying for her daughter’s
college education. Pakistani cab drivers across the country are building wealth
by driving at night and doing real estate during the day.
These Asians are not waiting for the government to bail them out. They are
achieving the American Dream by working hard — really hard — doing the jobs
others won’t do, taking chances that others won’t take and keeping their
The Republican philosophy of self-reliance works for them because they are
living it every day. They know that if you work hard, and you don’t expect
anything to be given to you, you can succeed in this country, even in the
toughest of economic times.
Asian-Americans are an essential part of the fabric of this country. And
increasingly, they are an essential part of the fabric of the Republican Party.
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