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The Asian Vote, 2000 and Beyond

John Derbyshire
November 15, 2000
(abridged and copyedited)

Chinese immigrants went heavily for Gore in 2000. The e-mail forums I eavesdrop on foreshadowed the result. These are technical people mostly, software engineers and entrepreneurs, mostly 1990s immigrants from the mainland, about a quarter from Taiwan. Pre-election posts urging forum members to vote ran about 4 to 1 for Gore.

The Los Angeles Times national exit poll found Gore beating Bush 62% to 37% among all Asians. In California, Asians voted 64% to 33% for Senator Diane Feinstein over Republican Tom Campbell. Nationwide results were similar, Asians tend to vote Democrat nearly 2 to 1.

There are numerous factors at work here. In the case of the Chinese the refusal of the Republican Congress to approve the appointment of quota-crazy Bill Lann Lee to Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights (Justice Department) was seen as “racism” to Chinese-Americans.

So was the Administration’s handling of the Wen Ho Lee spy case. Whether Lee was really a spy can never be known, the investigation was sabotaged by the Departments of Energy and Justice. Chinese-Americans believe Lee innocent of the spying charges. One might have expected them to hold President Clinton responsible for his arrest, yet following Clinton’s lead they blamed it on congressional Republicans.

The tribalist, “multicultural” cast of the modern Democratic Party is very appealing to immigrants from China. The Chinese terms Han-zu (Chinese race) and Zhong-guo-ren (Chinese national) are interchangeable. Younger Chinese in the U.S. prefer to use a third term, Hua-ren, which is identical in meaning to Han-zu but sounds less racial to American ears. (Hua is an older, more elevated term for China, rather as “Albion” is for Britain. The nearest American equivalent is “Columbia.”) Conversations among educated Chinese ring with pleas for racial solidarity. To judge from the stated voting intentions that often go with them, these pleas are not in the least muted by the pleader having U.S. citizenship.

This is especially true among the youngest generation of immigrants from China. After crushing the 1989 student movement, the Chinese Communist Party realized that it needed to find a better foundation for legitimacy among its youth than “Marxism-Leninism-Mao-Tse-Tung-Thought.” Accordingly they took up the banner of Chinese race-nationalism. Any Chinese who completed his education in the 1990s got a stiff dose of indoctrination in racial-national pride and historical grievance. This makes these younger people very receptive to Democratic race-propaganda.

Some other factors in the leftward tilt of Chinese-Americans:

•  The fading of anti-communism among the older generation, many of whom came here from Hong Kong and Taiwan after first fleeing the mainland.

•  Professional grudges of Chinese men in private corporations passed over for higher management positions, easily seen as discrimination.

•  The “funny money” scandal of the 1996 election, in which over a hundred Chinese-Americans helped funnel money from the Chinese government to the Democrats. The Republican outcry was motivated by “racism.”

•  Oriental power-worship. The Democrats have held the White House for eight years, and are politically dominant in places where large numbers of Chinese people live. Just as there is a strong tendency among Chinese to think that if someone got arrested he must have broken the law, so there is a feeling that whoever holds power must do so justly, else why would they be in power? Why would they be favored with “the mandate of Heaven”?

Most of these things are not going to get better, some will get worse. As the United States increasingly fragments into warring tribes playing a game of spoils, Americans of Chinese descent will be enthusiastic players.

Offered here for educational purposes only, under U.S.C. Title 17 Section 107.