sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

November 29, 2012

I Don’t Know Why Asians Are Democrats, But

Filed under: politics — Tags: — edge of the sandbox @ 9:35 pm

Charles Murray thinks that Asian Americans should be Republicans. He doesn’t come right out and say it, but it’s obviously on account of their praised IQs and because they are not the biggest fans of urban blacks.  OK,  just kidding. He thinks that their work ethic and appreciation for American freedom and capitalism makes them natural Republicans, but they are spooked by social conservatism.

Being an immigrant I have some insight into the issue.  In 1990 my family landed in the lovely city of Sacramento, CA, and after a while I made some American friends.  They were somewhat geeky and ostensibly sweet.  We were all contemplating a move to SF, giving how it was an exciting big city just two hours away.  They loved to talk smack about Sac and how it was all rednecks.  I heard that Rush Limbaugh, who got his start in Sacramento, was  just awful.  I kind of had the feeling that my friends were just saying things, just being topical.  I never ever ever said anything bad about Rush.  The way I was brought up, if I am to talk smack about people, I had to back it up with quotes, and I had better things to do than listen to people talk about politics on the radio.  Nevertheless, I filed Limbaugh under “most likely an evil clown”.

When later in the 90s Neo-Nazis firebombed Sacramento synagogues, the in-group opinion attributed it to what now would be called the Rush Limbaugh climate of hate.  I came to Rush fairly recently.  I was already a conservative for many years, but I had this impression that he’s probably some sort of pontificating blow-hard like… OK, no naming names, but I’m not that big on talk radio.  I tuned in when I started driving my kids around, and in no time I was hooked on Rush.  I don’t think there is another political commentator today so smart, genuine and cheerful.

The moral of the story is this: immigrants arrive to major population centers where they are absorbed into the liberal culture.  Even in fairly conservative cities like Sacramento new arrivals tend to assimilate into liberal culture whose adherents seek out foreigners.  And yeah, maybe some conservative sound over the top, but there is a belief that all conservatives are over the top, and that belief is unjustified.  Moreover, there is more then enough of radical demagogues in urban population centers, but they become part of the scenery after a while an urban dweller accepts them.

Although “Russians” (read Russian-speaking Jews) are fairly conservative, we did vote Democratic in the 90s.  I suspect Asians have more reasons to be liberal.  Granted, there is a world of difference between an Indian and a Vietnamese, for instance, so we shouldn’t paint everyone with one large brushstroke and yaddah-yaddah-yaddah.  Many Chinese Americans are refugees from Maoism, for instance.  You’d think, good, then they are staunchly anti-communist, and, of course, they are, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into being anti-big government because they are also the people who inherited centuries of Mandarin tradition.  Their ancestors worked at the service of emperors, and they think it’s an honor to be part of a bureaucracy.

Take, on the other hand, a middle-age Russian-speaking Jew like myself.  Our grandparents came out of towns in what is now Ukraine and Belarus to form a new Soviet intelligentsia, often loyal to the regime.  Our parents were professionals, usually engineers.  They treasured Russian literature didn’t hold bureaucrats in particularly high regard.  They came to despise communism.  We knew that the Jews who immigrated to the US in the early 20th century did really well for themselves, and we credited capitalism for providing them with an opportunity.

Poster for the 1954 adaptation of Chekhov’s Anna on The Neck. The movie (and the novella) were among the many in Russian literature and cinema satirized chinovnik, or bureaucrat in Russian Empire. Chekhov wasn’t particularly nice to women either, but that’s a different story

As I mentioned, we did vote Democratic in the 90s, but that’s largely because we believed Democrats to be reasonable people.  The onset of the second “intifadah” and 9/11 put an end to that delusion.  We are fiscally conservative, have stable marriages — although we don’t vote American-style culture wars.  We are vehemently against affirmative action, though.  Of course, none of our political preferences are found in Russian Jews that get mentioned in the media, like Sergey Brin or Gogol Bordello.  Hmm… I wonder why.

UPDATE: Linked by Temeple of Mut — thank you!



  1. A very interesting post. I think that’s one of the reasons Republicans are so mystified that Hispanics vote Democrat. The are I live in in Manhattan is predominantly Hispanic and they are conservative church goers. But they are surrounded by the Democratic propaganda. Republicans are evil. Capitalism is evil.

    They see rich Republicans are evil capitalists while rich Democrats are noble professors or writers or athletes.

    There is also a wide difference between the Republican definition of family values and Hispanics. Hispanics (for the most part) come from failed miserable socialist dumps in central and south America. They are used to being clients of the state and see government as having a natural large role in their lives. And they don’t fear this.

    Comment by Infidel de Manahatta — November 30, 2012 @ 1:01 pm

    • I don’t know why people expect immigrants to magically assimilate, particularly if they are not that well educated and all they know is socialism. During the “great migration” the progressives came up with programs specifically aimed at assimilation.

      Comment by edge of the sandbox — December 4, 2012 @ 9:31 pm

  2. That helps explain why these immigrant communities get absorbed into liberal culture, alright. Makes sense, too. When a media and entertainment industry is not government-run, also one would think it deserving of credibility. Amazingly, they seem just as loyal as any Pravda.

    I started listening to Rush in 1990, when you first heard about him, lol. I was 19 and knew little about politics, and I was getting swayed by the usual environmentalism stuff my freshman year. but the warehouse guy at work always had Rush on, and I would stop and listen, and I hadn’t been forwarned by anyone. Rush really was my first poli-sci teacher, and no other radio commentator can hold a candle to him.

    have a great weekend!

    Comment by nooneofanyimport — November 30, 2012 @ 1:41 pm

    • I missed out on decades of Rush, which is no excuse, especially in the last 10 years, since I was already a conservative. It’s really my own prejudice that kept me from tuning in. And did you hear him today? About the microphones?

      Comment by edge of the sandbox — December 4, 2012 @ 9:27 pm

  3. […] Edge of the Sandox has a great demographic analysis: I Don’t Know Why Asians Are Democrats, But […]

    Pingback by A Masala of Fun and Facts – King Tut, Napoleon and Tango « Temple of Mut — November 30, 2012 @ 6:16 pm

  4. immigrants arrive to major population centers where they are absorbed into the liberal culture. Even in fairly conservative cities like Sacramento new arrivals tend to assimilate into liberal culture whose adherents seek out foreigners

    Hmmmm….I hadn’t thought of that before. Does explain a lot, IMO.

    Comment by Always On Watch — December 2, 2012 @ 5:26 am

    • I’m only speaking from personal experience, but I suspect it’s a big part of what’s going on.
      It seems like the solution should be to try to befriend new arrivals. Not necessarily to evangelize, but to show what conservatives are like.

      Comment by edge of the sandbox — December 4, 2012 @ 9:19 pm

  5. Ddo you think we could trade our Muslim immigrants to Russia for more Jewish Russian immigrants? That would be a big plus for America.

    Comment by Conservatives on Fire — December 3, 2012 @ 10:13 am

    • Yes! There are still some Jews left in Russia for some reason, so don’t get me started.

      Comment by edge of the sandbox — December 4, 2012 @ 9:17 pm

  6. To be very un-politically correct… the Asians I know (a dozen or so) all pretty much work their asses off and don’t take money from the Government and think blacks are lazy and don’t work and take from the Government and they think Democrats are lazy. I always find it a little amusing that Asians – who are such a minority in the U.S. (although maybe not in SF) talk like some 20th generation white redneck from Alabama might talk, but that’s their opinion.

    The Russians I’ve known, however, might think pretty much the same thing but they vote Democratic. Go figure.

    Comment by Harrison — December 5, 2012 @ 11:55 am

    • You probably know statistical outliers. Asians do generally vote Democratic, and Russians — Republican, hence the now redistricted NY9.

      Comment by edge of the sandbox — December 6, 2012 @ 10:42 am

      • Apparently if you were an anti-commie Asian or Russian you voted Republican. Makes sense.

        Comment by Harrison — December 6, 2012 @ 5:00 pm

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