The Asian Vote 2000
"Republicans plan to transform the electorate by turning them all into investors. Democrats hope to transform them by mass immigration. Guess who's winning?" So a journalist colleague remarked to me on Monday, as we discussed the November 7th voting breakdown. The answer is, of course, that the Democrats are winning. Indeed, they seem to be winning even when the immigrants become keen investors, at least when those immigrants are Chinese.
Most Chinese immigrants I know are enthusiastic players on the securities markets. They have, as fund managers say, "a high appetite for risk." Well they might: the Asian stock markets are a lottery — volatile, ill-regulated and frequently corrupt. Two years ago in China, a fund manager closed down his fund and pocketed the entire assets — 1 billion RMB (about US$120 million)! Investors were furious; some had sunk their life savings in the fund. Those who protested, however, were thrown in jail and beaten up. Did I mention that the fund manager is a son of ex-Prime Minister Li Peng? When you come from a country like that, investing in U.S. markets holds no terrors.
Even so, Chinese immigrants went heavily for Gore. The e-mail forums I eavesdrop on telegraphed the result. These are technical people mostly, software engineers and entrepreneurs, mostly 1990s immigrants from the mainland, about a quarter from Taiwan. Pre-election postings urging forum members to vote ran about 4 to 1 for Gore. Exit pollings were not as bad as that, though they covered all "Asian-Americans," not just Chinese. And my e-mail forums are drawn from the topmost IQ bands, which, of course, are always further left than the generality, by Derbyshire's Law of Political Stupidity. (The Law states that serious political stupidity is concentrated in the tails — both tails — of the IQ bell curve.)
The Los Angeles Times national exit poll found Gore beating Bush 62% to 37% among all Asians. The Voter News Service exit poll showed a narrower margin for Gore of 55% to 41%, but this is regarded as a less accurate poll. Also in California, Asians voted 64% to 33% for Senator Diane Feinstein over Republican Tom Campbell. Nationwide results were similar. The trend is leftward, towards a "Jewish" model — that is, a subset of the population with above-average incomes and education none the less voting heavily Democratic. There are numerous factors at work here.
In the case of the Chinese, the Clinton administration's skillful race-baiting has helped push voters to the left. For example, the refusal of a Republican-dominated Congress to consent to the appointment of quota-crazy Bill Lann Lee as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the Justice Department has been successfully sold as "racism" to Chinese-Americans.
So, by an even more amazing sleight of hand, has the administration's handling of the Wen Ho Lee spy case. Whether Lee was truly a spy or not can never be known; the investigation of him was thoroughly sabotaged by the departments of Energy and Justice, in the interests of Clinton's "engagement" policy with Communist China. This was done covertly, though (the full story is told in Bill Gertz's new book The China Threat): Lee was held for over a year in a federal prison, and one might have expected Chinese-Americans to hold Clinton & Co. responsible. No, the administration finessed the issue, blaming it on an irrational obsession about national security among congressional Republicans, and Chinese-Americans, who all believe Lee innocent of the spying charges, had a further reason to support Al Gore.
The tribalist, "multicultural" cast of the modern Democratic party is in any case very appealing to immigrants from China. The Chinese terms Han-zu (Chinese race) and Zhong-guo-ren (Chinese national) are interchangeable. Younger Chinese people in the U.S. favor a third term, Hua-ren, which is identical in meaning to Han-zu but sounds softer to ears that have been sensitized to the American obsession with race. (Hua is an older, more elevated term for China, rather as "Albion" is for Britain. The nearest American equivalent would be "Columbia.") Conversations and e-conversations among educated Chinese ring with pleas for racial solidarity; and to judge from the stated voting intentions that often go with them, these pleas are not in the least muted by the pleader having obtained U.S. citizenship.
This is especially the case for the youngest generation of immigrants from China. After the crushing of the 1989 student movement, the Chinese Communist Party realized that it needed to find some better foundation for legitimacy among its young people than "Marxism-Leninism-Mao-Tse-Tung-Thought." They accordingly took up the banner of Chinese race-nationalism. Any Chinese person who completed his education in the 1990s got a stiff dose of indoctrination in racial-national pride and historical grievance. This, of course, makes these younger people very receptive to Democratic race-propaganda.
Other factors in the increasing leftward tilt of Chinese-Americans include:
- 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 frustrations of Chinese men, often perceived as not talkative or aggressive enough for higher management positions. Sexual frustrations, too, are abundant among Chinese males, who marry white women at only one-third the rate at which Chinese women marry white men. Both states of affairs can easily be rationalized as "discrimination."
- Fallout from the "funny money" scandals of the 1996 election, in which a number of Chinese and Chinese-American figures were prominent. The Republican outcry was, of course, motivated by "racism."
- Good old 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 people to think that if someone has been arrested, he must have broken the law, so there is a feeling that whoever holds power must do so justly, or 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 with passing time; some will get worse. As the United States increasingly fragments into warring tribes playing a zero-sum game of spoils, Americans of Chinese descent will be enthusiastic players. Which again, of course, favors the Democrats.