Arthur Christopher Schaper
As a California conservative, I know many Asian-Americans in office, Republican or Democrat.
And there are plenty of Asian Republicans, even though that ethnic group compromises 3% of the American population (and yet is the fastest growing minority in the country, too!)
The Mayor of Gardena, Paul Tanaka ran for LA County Sheriff earlier this year, but barely made it into the Top-Two runoff because of a negative press hammering links to LA County Jail scandals (without evidence). In Torrance, two Republicans, business owners Alex See and Leilani Kimmel-Dagostino, threw their hats into a sixteen-ring circus for city council. Despite the growing diversity of the city, an all-white council still oversees the heart of the South Bay.
When reading up on Rhode Island’s political scene, I had no idea that there were Asians living in New England (please forgive this backward sentiment), and that one of them would be running for a statewide office: Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, now running for Governor of Rhode Island.
Another Asian conservative activist in the state, Dexter Liu, told me about his strong advocacy for the Second Amendment. He endorsed Fung for Governor not because of his Asian heritage, but because of his strong stance on the issues, including gun ownership.
I could not agree more. Every political candidate should be judged on the content of his character, not the color of his skin. Conservatives are interested in individuals, in rights, and values. Identity politics, ethnic cat-calling, and prejudice politics are not a strong point for free market advocates. Nor should they be.
Unfortunately, integrity on the issues left the Republican Party unarmed to deal with demographic changes in this country. Democrats happily stepped in to play the identity politics ploy, reaching out to ethnic groups, and distilling class warfare into racial clashes. This divide-and-conquer tactic worked so well, that today 90% of blacks vote Dem, along with 70% in the last Presidential election.
As for GOP outreach to minorities like Hispanics and even African-Americans? Little to none. During President Gerald Ford’s Administration, the National Republican Party toyed with a Hispanic outreach Committee, then shut the concept down. Bad idea.
Today, Republicans are reaching out to all colors, recognize that people of color are indeed people of color, but without defining them that way. Conservatives are learning that you can play the identity politics game, just to disprove the notion that limited government, individual liberty, and constitutional rule apply only to “white folks”.
The latest minority outreach iteration? The Asian Republican Coalition, which convened recently in Washington DC.
Unfortunately, illiberal hit pieces like Mother Jones and Huffington Post want to spin the “all-white GOP” fraud, as if to expose a prejudiced desperation to score points with minority voting blocs, just for easy votes.
From Mother Jones, reporting on the Asian Republican coalition:
Yet, the Asian Republican Coalition appears to be in an awkward position: It seems unable to find many people of Asian descent to endorse or support its cause.
The MJ piece did acknowledge that minority coalitions do endorse non-minority candidates because the candidates’ views and values are sympathetic to their own, or the venues have a large Asian population.
But when [The Coalition] held its kickoff party, apart from Ying the scene reportedly was full of white politicians and consultants. "We have a very broad definition of what constitutes the Asian American community," the group's vice chairman, Thomas Britt, told Vice. "The Asian Republican Coalition is open to all Americans, including Asian Americans and those of us like me who are not ethnically Asian but have spent 20 years living in Hong Kong."
What is wrong with a strong group of politically-minded individuals who want to broaden their party’s appeal, regardless of their color? The League of Women Voters routinely invites men to join their group. Besides, one meeting does not determined the final ethnic make-up of any group.
This link showcases the many Asian-Americans running for office throughout the country. Even in my state, Indian-American Neel Kashkari is running for office, and the GOP outreach is expanding.
In the latest edition of Human Events, California’s National Committee Representative Shawn Steel focused on four Asian-American candidates in his Orange County, CA enclave too:
All four of these candidates are Asian American women who immigrated legally and have spent years developing leadership skills in their local communities. All four are conservative. Their emergence as a new, serious political force toward changing the GOP stereotype.
In Rhode Island, not only Chinese-American Allan Fung, but also Stan Tran (a California native, too!) ran for the First Congressional District against David Cicilline. Despite his loss, his presence on the ticket affirmed the GOP outreach to all Americans, not just European descendants.
Historians, especially liberal ones, should also note that Asian-American politicians joined the Republican Party early on. The first Asian-American elected to the US Senate, Republican Hiram Fong, represented Hawaii for nearly two decades (also the first Asian-American to seek the Presidency).
Despite illiberal publications extending old stereotypes, Republicans are inspiring voters based on their race without abandoning core party values.
Arthur Christopher Schaper is a teacher-turned-writer on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance.