One of the most revealing stats from our recent Presidential election was the exodus of Asian-Americans, particularly sub-continental Indian Americans, from the Republican Party. (Although, Korean-Americans have tended to be more receptive to Republicans.) No matter, Joe Biden's gaffe about Indian accents in Delaware convenience stores!
Perhaps because of my affinity for Indian culture and food - and my fascination for the world's most populous democracy (I used to avidly read Indian newspapers in the newspaper section of my college library at the University of Illinois) - I've paid special attention to the Indian community in this country.
In part because of their relative wealth & education; family businesses, and traditional values, a significant proportion of Indian Americans once voted for Republican candidates. Indeed, to the extent Republicans were identified with a more muscular foreign policy - including reading the riot act to India's arch-enemy Pakistan (no matter, Nixon/Kissinger using Pakistan to create an opening to mainland China in the early 1970's) - Republicans could reasonably expect a sizable proportion of the affluent Indian-American vote.
Yet, despite two Republican governors of subcontinental heritage (Governor Nikki Haley in Louisiana and Governor Bobby Jindal; Haley is a Sikh-turned-Methodist, and Jindal converted to Catholicism), the G.O.P. is hemorrhaging Americans who trace their roots to that part of the world.
(Is it just a coincidence or at some subliminal level, is it revealing that the one politician of subcontinental heritage to become the premier of a Canadian province - Ujjal Dev Singh Dosanjh of British Columbia - retained that more "alien"-looking name, and remained a Sikh?)
How could that be? I think generally conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg has nailed part of it, and is spot on with the Indian subcontinental--Jewish parallel.
Just curious: What did Joe say about the Indian accents at the convenience stores?
By the way, I don't think these stores are "convenient" if I have to spend 5 minutes explaining to Muhammad the meaning of the word "cigarettes."
Wed, Dec 12, 2012 8:37am
In 2006, then-Senator Biden told a supporter of subcontinental roots in New Hampshire:
"In Delaware, the largest growth in population is Indian-Americans moving from India. You cannot go to a 7-11 or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I'm not joking..."
In fairness, Hillary Rodham Clinton once quipped: Gandhi used to run "a gas station down in St. Louis..."
Among Indian-Americans themselves, I've heard that some jokingly say "hotels, motels, & Patels" to refer to people of that common Indian surname involved in the motel industry. Of course, people normally enjoy greater license (within reason) when stereotyping their OWN ethnic/racial/religious group!
Wed, Dec 12, 2012 9:35am
Do you think they voted against the GOP or for the candidate who grew up in Asia as a youth and values their culture/values more than the Richie Cunningham candidate?
Wed, Dec 12, 2012 10:21am
At first reading of today’s blog, I thought “Why shouldn’t they join the Democrats, everyone else is!” After reading Mr. Goldberg’s article, I have come back to my first thoughts.
Latinos, Asian-Americans and now those from India, should be inclined to the Republicans. The shared values are obvious. Jews should be lining up behind the G.O.P. as that is the party which is faithful to Israel. Yet despite Obama, they remained with the Democrats. Why? I believe one reason is who owns the bureaucracy. FDR created it and his party has always owned it. If you come to this country, develop wealth and want the best opportunities, you go with the political party that controls the power.
If you come to this country and wish to obtain favorable business advantage, you do not become a citizen. I knew a husband/wife business couple who came here from Ireland. They became citizens and started an Irish pub. They were treated like other Americans. The business next to them was owned by a family named Patel. Many remained citizens of India. They received very favorable U.S. government loans and tax-breaks. Other members of their family became citizens so they could work with county bureaucrats (Democrats of course). The Irish couple (Republicans) received no advantages.
There could be a religious element. The immigrants may be closer to Republican “values” but they do not support the G.O.P. They understand that you join a worship community for social values, not a political party. Abortion, marriage and other social issues are sources of dialogue for the church, not Congress. They do not belong in politics. Tea Party Republicans do not understand that fact. Neither does the Catholic Church. But this year the voters spoke loud and clear. They rejected the takeover of the Republican Party by social-values forces.
Wed, Dec 12, 2012 10:31am
Indonesia is so far removed from the rest of Asia -- the land bridge to Australia -- I'm not sure people in India necessarily identify with that country. China could be another story, given the Chinese diaspora all over Southeast Asia.
I DO think President Obama won over subcontinental hearts and minds (at least the Hindu/Sikh Indian side) with his stated appreciation for that part of the world; an apparently cordial relationship with the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh; quoting Gandhi; etc. And to the extent that this President stepped up drone attacks against suspected Islamists in India's archenemy, Pakistan, another plus.
That said, I return to the premise of Jonah Goldberg's analysis. Don't forget that many "educated" Indians in the U.S. identify not with the Hindu fundamentalist party, the BJP, but with the more multi-religious, secular, Indian National Congress Party. Italian-born Catholic Sonia Gandhi has headed that party and almost became Prime Minister. Imagine: A Roman Catholic "foreigner" in charge of one of India's two major political parties. Now, ask yourself: Could you imagine a Hindu or a Sikh born in a foreign country leading the Republican Party (or even the Democratic Party) and in position to become President? (Constitutionally impossible in the U.S., of course, apart from the endless dispute about Mr. Obama's birthplace!)
But, I offer yet another partial explanation: The anti-immigration fervor in the United States. It doesn't take an incredible stretch to imagine that some Indian-Americans in the United States - U.S. citizens, affluent, but betrayed by their slight accents and/or skin color - being the recipients of racial epithets from thuggish teenagers or adults. I remember reading about Sikh American men - wearing their religiously required turbans - perhaps working at a service station or store - receiving abuse, indeed, mistaken for Muslims by ignorant Americans. (Not that abuse aimed at Muslim Americans is any more justifiable.) And rightly or wrongly - or somewhere in between - Republicans are blamed for fanning the anti-immigrant fires, just like the Know Nothings of the 19th century.
I believe all these reasons account in some way for the steady exodus of people of Asian heritage from the G.O.P.
Further (and literally): A steady exodus of some of these educated Asians and Asian-Americans back to the countries of their heritage, something of a nightmare for Corporate America. Educated Africans too, but a secondary cause is discrimination from blacks, African-Americans...
To Jim H---
I appreciate your points about Asian-Americans - perhaps entrepreneurs - wanting to ingratiate themselves with the bureaucracy, often Democratic. However, some of these entrepreneurs have been here for a couple of decades - or more - yet the pronounced switch to the D's happened, in some cases, with this election. Furthermore, that doesn't account for the Asian-Americans in the professions who identify much more strongly with the D's. For example, physicians and researchers of Asian heritage who don't seem to be as worried about Obamacare as their white male counterparts.
I agree with the practical effect of your "social values" arguments to an extent. But don't forget many people - whether of Asian or Latin American heritage - may be quite traditional on those issues. No, I think something else is going on, and I return to the article above, and what I just noted about anti-immigration...
Wed, Dec 12, 2012 11:15am
By the way, if you go to one of the convenience stores, and the clerk is wearing one of those head pieces, you'll know he's the district manager.
Wed, Dec 12, 2012 11:50am
"Indonesia is so far removed from the rest of Asia -- the land bridge to Australia -- I'm not sure people in India necessarily identify with that country."
All I'm saying is that Mr. Obama seems to relate much better to the values/traditions/teachings from the EAST compared to someone like Governor Romney. Romney's views on American values/traditions/culture are very different from Obama.
Wed, Dec 12, 2012 11:56am
But, paradoxically I think ex-Governor Romney, as a former LDS Mormon bishop, is actually more internationalist than he could ever suggest during the campaign.
Wed, Dec 12, 2012 1:32pm
...update on earlier Karl Rove "benching" from FoxNews:
"Our nuclear weapons policy is based on Cold War conditions that no longer exist. The Pentagon is expected to spend more than $700 billion on nuclear weapons over the next 10 years, for little added security."
Wed, Dec 12, 2012 4:16pm
As everyone involved in education knows, Asians are high performers. And have high math skills, and above average intelligence....
No smart person is going to join a party of lying dummies. I'm not being derogatory; just re-stating the facts that the Republican party whether it was Ryan's Janesville experience, Jeeps moving to China, Benghazi was a cover-up, or that we had fewer battleships than we did in 1917 to humorous result.... all made the Republican party look like they never graduated third grade....
Any person in this country, whether Asian, black, Hispanic, or white, who has an intelligence above that of a third grader, naturally sided with Obama...
It now appears that 53% of America has an intelligence level above third grade. The Republican party soaks up the rest....
Point made. It's about intelligence. Democrats have it; Republicans don't. And as immigrant populations in their daily life go up against some of these stupid indigenous natives we have in this country, the scars are such every immigrant practically enjoys finally voting to put the simpletons in their place....
Newest example? Mark Rubio saying that evolution is a false science... Seriously? Considering what the Republican Party offers with Mourdock, Akin, and now Rubio, why are we even discussing why a smart immigrant population won't vote Republican?
I doubt they ever will. They'd have to be stupid too......
Mike from Delaware
Wed, Dec 12, 2012 6:18pm
An interesting article. I think he's correct. Many folks I've shared my faith with during the past 20 years have said to me they could never become a Christian, because they could never become a conservative Republican. My reply is neither am I... what's that got to do with being a follower of Christ? But to the unchurched, they do see that connection and it's a turn-off to them in terms of coming to Christ, and it's apparently the connection can also be a turn-off to voters who are not Christians, so they vote Democrat.
This goes back to what I've said in the past that the church should NOT be political. I know folks who are DEMS who are wonderful Christians and I know folks who are GOP'ers who are in no way Christians. Jesus is far bigger than political parties. As Christians, we need to be serving people as we walk in Christ; leave the politics out of faith; Jesus is all that's needed.
Thu, Dec 13, 2012 1:21am
Mike: I'm a Republican primarily because I'm a Christian. However, you are correct that Jesus is much bigger than any political party, and at the end of the day our destinies have nothing to do with any of it. I used to think some weird stuff, such as God's blessing was removed from America because Bill Clinton got elected, but 20 years later, I see how silly that notion was. God didn't destroy Sodom and Gomorrah until all the righteous had been evacuated, and there are still many, many righteous in America, even if some of them voted for Obama.
Mike from Delaware
Thu, Dec 13, 2012 8:35am
Mrpizza: I used to work with a guy who was a very fundamentalist-type Christian. When we first met he told me that I wasn't saved, because I was a United Methodist. Of course he didn't believe Catholics, Lutherans, Episcopalians, or Presbyterians were saved either. He also believed you couldn't be a Christian and be a Democrat either. He told guys at work that you couldn't be a Christian if you didn't believe in the 6 twenty-four-hour days of creation. As I work in a Science-based industry, these guys were very science-oriented and believed in Evolution and simply said, no problem, we don't believe that, so, guess we can't be Christians. They then started calling him the "Flat-Earther".
Funny how we try to make God comfortable to us and try to put Him in a box. Faith in Christ is the important part, whether we baptize babies, sprinkle, dunk, have communion each Sunday or once a month, or yes, even believe it had to be 6 twenty-four-hour days, is not important to having a walk with Christ or whether we're Democrats or Republicans. Unfortunately many folks put up such barriers like these that keep many from coming to know the Risen Christ. Somehow I don't believe God is honored or blessed in that since Jesus' purpose was to bring all mankind to God the Father. We, as believers, need to focus more on living Christ, not as judges, but as ambassadors who've been given the honor of passing on the love and grace HE gave us at no cost to us. Focus more on the red letter part of the New Testament (Jesus' actual words).
You're right, God didn't destroy Sodom and Gomorrah until all the righteous had been evacuated (same with Noah and his family). Some times we as Christians can be too fast to condemn and judge. That's God's job, not ours. We are to love as Christ loves us.
Thu, Dec 13, 2012 6:53pm
MFD: Sounds like your co-worker was the ultimate legalist!
Mike from Delaware
Thu, Dec 13, 2012 11:00pm
Mrpizza: He was a really nice person, and I actually liked him, and especially enjoyed having discussions with him. But his views were way out there.
I have to agree with you that calling him the ultimate legalist is a pretty good description for his brand of Christianity.
Fri, Dec 14, 2012 4:01pm
Quick note: probably these were the wisest words spoken on this blog since I've been a part.....
"you are correct that Jesus is much bigger than any political party"
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