Why Chinese-Americans like me are embracing the GOP

Why Chinese-Americans like me are embracing the GOP
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For a century, Chinese Americans have been among the least partisan and politically engaged ethnic Asian groups in America. Because we’ve lived largely in urban and suburban areas in coastal liberal states, we have tended to be affiliated with Democratic Party, even while espousing conservative values.

But over the last few years, I’ve witnessed more of my fellow Chinese-Americans abandoning the Democratic Party and generally becoming more politically conservative. There are several reasons for this, including Chinese Americans’ cultural conservatism and the Democratic Party’s slide toward socialism, which reminds many of us of the communism we fled in China.

The Republican Party is a natural home for Chinese-Americans, who tend to value free enterprise, individual responsibility, law and order, education and family cohesion. Many Chinese-Americans have been alienated by the Democrats’ emphasis on political correctness, social justice, wealth re-distribution and LGBTQ rights. 

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Chinese-Americans have often been the victims of the identity politics that Democrats have deployed over the last several decades through academia and the media—including the push to institute racial preferences in college admissions, which disproportionately hurts high-achieving Asian-American students.

Past generations of Asian-Americans came to America largely as economic migrants or educated professionals from southern China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and other Asian countries. They tended to settle quietly and happily into America’s middle class.

Over the last decade or two, America has seen a strong inflow of immigrants from mainland China who came in search of freedom and better educational opportunities. Recent arrivals are beneficiaries of China’s economic boom, and they are more likely to favor individual liberty, limited government and low taxes. As Chinese-Americans have succeeded, they have become more conservative.

This has accelerated since the Obama presidency, as the Democratic Party has embraced messaging that advocates for socialist policies. These messages used to be subtle and thinly veiled; but now Democrats are more overt in their support for socialist policies such as the Green New Deal, 70 percent tax rates and single-payer, government-run health care.

Socialism and communism have repeatedly failed, resulting in death and suffering for hundreds of millions of people over just the past seventy years. It is a recurring cancer in modern history with examples in North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela. Even China’s success in lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty was due in large part to its implementation of some capitalist reforms. But yet, the Chinese government continues to repress the Chinese people’s basic political and human rights. Like Cubans and Vietnamese, most Chinese arrived in America having had extremely negative experiences with socialism.

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2020 is shaping up to be a pivot point in America, a time of choosing between socialism and the capitalist polices that for decades have made America the envy of the world. For this reason, many Chinese-Americans, including me, are running for office as Republicans. We lived through socialism in an extreme form and understand the devastation and misery it causes. We believe we are the ideal candidates to stop socialism and bring generations of voters into an inclusive and diverse GOP.

Once a teenage immigrant with only a few dollars to my name, I’m very grateful for the opportunities I have had to pursue and live my American dream. I have had the privilege to serve my country in the military, joining the Army in the aftermath of 9-11. I’ve also served my city and my community and am raising my family in Saddleback Valley in California, after a long journey across the continental United States.

I get a feeling of déjà vu whenever I see politicians at the federal level and in California return criminals to our streets, water down our public education, strangle businesses with high taxes and burdensome regulations and increase dependency on government. It reminds me of my childhood and the Chinese government’s heavy-handed control over and mismanagement of almost every aspect of life.

But then I remember that I now live in America and thus have the opportunity to participate in the political process. I and many other Chinese-Americans are taking that opportunity very seriously.

Benjamin Yu serves on the Lake Forest (California) Traffic and Parking commission and the boards of several community organizations. An immigrant from mainland China, he is a candidate for California’s 68th district state assembly seat.