“Republicans plan to transform the electorate by turning them into investors. Democrats hope to transform them by mass immigration. Guess who’s winning?” So a journalist colleague remarked to me as we discussed the Presidential voting breakdown in 2000. The answer is that the Democrats are winning. Indeed, they win even when the immigrants become keen investors, at least when those immigrants are Chinese.
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:
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.