Thursday, November 08, 2012

The minority vote

A lot of pundits are talking about the role of the minority vote in this election. BTW, whites are now a minority in the US, so I can speak as one minority to my fellow minorities.

First of all, everyone has vested interests, but everyone doesn’t have the same vested interests. And this can operate at an aggregate level as well as an individual level.

Vested interests aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Acting in your individual or collective self-interest isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

How we deal with our vested interests is a good test of our Christian commitment. For instance, antebellum white Southerners had a vested interest in maintaining the institution of slavery. The Southern economy was largely agrarian. That’s labor-intensive. Slave labor supplied cheap mass labor.

Of course, most of us think that’s a paradigm-case of allowing a vested interest to betray Christian priorities.

I’m no expert on minority communities in the US. I speak as an outsider. But it’s my impression that these groups generally vote Democratic for very different reasons.

To begin we, we need to guard against hasty generalizations. As Marco Rubio points out, Latino-Americans don’t comprise a monolithic voting block. There are significant regional variations. Still, the Latino vote is disproportionately Democrat. (That may change over time.)

I think the reason many Latinos vote Democrat is because many of them are here, or came here, for the economic opportunities and social programs, as well as to escape the violence and corruption of the countries they left behind. 

However, there’s a danger of destroying the very thing you came for. If Democrat policies bankrupt the host country, then America ceases to be the land of opportunity.

Of course, there are exceptions. Not all Latinos came here to escape poverty. Eduardo Saverin’s dad moved his family to the US, not because he was poor, but because he was rich–which made his family a target for kidnappers (or so I’ve read).

Likewise, not all Latinos are here because they came here. There’s always been some Latino presence here. Like many borders, the Southern border is a line on a map. A legal and political boundary rather than a natural barrier. It wasn’t always there.

Now, a vested-interest can either have short-term or long-term goals. Conservative Latinos like Marco Rubio and Miguel Estrada are Republican because they think that in the long-run, Latinos are best served by GOP policies.

It’s understandable if Latinos to feel defensive about Republican rhetoric on illegal immigration. Due to a sense of ethnic identity and solidarity, it’s natural to feel picked on.

Rudi Giuliani once said he cracked down on the mob because he felt Italian-Americans needed to police their own.

By contrast, I don’t think Asians vote Democratic for the same reason. Rather, I suspect Asians naturally align with the Democrat party in large part because Asians come from traditionally non-Christian countries and cultures. (There are recent exceptions like S. Korea or the Chinese underground church movement.)

As such, they don’t feel any in-built affinity for the religious right. They don’t naturally identify with Christian social conservatism. That’s somewhat alien to their national or ethnic experience.

This, in turn, is reinforced by other factors. Many Asian-Americans are college educated. College tends to secularize students.

In addition, many Asians have located on the West Coast, which is already left-of-center. And immigrants are apt to assimilate with the dominant, preexisting culture.

The black vote is paradoxical. For one thing, it was Southern Democrats who enacted and defended Jim Crow. Likewise, some Democrat policies like sodomite marriage or desegregation busing are unpopular among many blacks.

However, blacks generally vote Democrat for two reasons: in terms of historical memory, they associate the civil rights movement with Democrat politicians like Bobby Kennedy and LBJ.

That’s a generational thing. You’re not going to have a major partisan shift until that generation dies out.

The other factor is the way the Democrat party panders to black voters through social programs. There are, of course, black conservatives  (e.g. Tim Scott, Allen West, Ken Blackwell, Roger Innis, Michael Steele, Larry Elder, Ward Connerly, Shelby Steele, Thomas Sowell, Stephen Carter, Clarence Thomas) who think Democratic policies are detrimental to the long-term interests of blacks, but it’s an uphill climb.

I think Jews usually vote Democrat in large part because Marxism is a Jewish ideology. And I think that, in turn, reflects a reaction to centuries of clerical anti-Semitism. There’s some pushback from conservative Jews like Dennis Prager, Michael Medved, and David Horowitz, but in the US the Jewish right is far smaller than the Jewish left.

You also have so-called “neocons.” These are hawkish, but they may be socially liberal.


  1. Just a note. Whites in this election did not vote as a block. Had they done so Romney would be president.

  2. Where do you get your information that whites are a minority in the US? According to the US census whites make up around 75% of the population. That is hardly a minority.


    2. The article you cite only points out that minority births surpass white births. Your statement "BTW, whites are now a minority in the US" is just not supported by the evidence.

      According to the Fox News article it wouldn't be until some time in 2040 that the minority population would surpass the 50% mark.

      "After 2010 census results suggested a crossover as early as 2040, demographers now believe the pivotal moment may be pushed back several years when new projections are released in December"

    3. You're overinterpreting my tongue-in-cheek introduction.

  3. In addition to Steve's fine comments, although speaking anecdotally (so take it for what it's worth if anything):

    I know Asian-Americans who have one foot in America and one foot in their home country, so to speak. An apartment in two places as well as dual citizenship and bilingual ability. They often travel back and forth between both nations. Indeed, sometimes their parents will stay with them until they enter university, but then their parents will return to their home country for work or to retire. Also these Asian-Americans will go and work in Asia post graduation. They'll do an internship in order to get "international experience," which in turn looks good and apparently is all but a requirement for top flight MBA programs and other grad level programs. This seems to occur mainly among the more prosperous and educated East Asians from developed places like Taiwan and Hong Kong. I would think this dilutes (if that's not too strong a word) their sense of being an American. Stuff like love of country and land and people may not play so well with them as it would with other Americans. Not to mention these Asian-Americans might find some personal affinity with Obama given his international background.

    But the Southeast Asian experience is quite different to the East Asian experience. If I'm not mistaken, Vietnamese-Americans are the largest group of Southeast Asians in America. But there are many other Southeast Asians represented in America including Cambodians and Laotians. They tend to come from considerably lower socioeconomic and educational backgrounds than East Asians. Many live tightly packed in small apartments or homes. I have friends who have lived in their garage all the way thru university so that other more "senior" family members can live in the rooms in their home. At least among the Vietnamese, there is a history of Catholicism (thanks to the French). I don't know but I would guess Southeast Asians may have voted Obama in part because many are dependent on gov't welfare programs and the like.

    Anyway, there's more to be said. But I'll stop for now.

  4. Good article on Hispanics and why the vote Democratic.

  5. A lot of America is and is continuing to become integrated. A lot of Americans intermarry. Many of them have children who of course would be ethnically mixed. I presume many if not most of these children would identify with more than one ethnicity. If intermarriage rates are increasing in a demographically significant enough way, I wonder what sort of impact this will have in terms of minorities voting in discernible blocks in the future.