The Asians and the Nordics

Even those who aren’t above noticing these sorts of things are still puzzled by some of the demographic trends from the election. Specifically, they’re troubled by the high percentage of Asians that voted for Obama and the high percentage of white people in upper Midwestern states that did the same.

Razib has some analysis of both cases.

First, on Asians, he thinks it’s all about religion.

I doubt this for lots of reasons. Even in western states (think Washington State) where there are lots of Asians and lots of non-religious (more libertarian) Republicans, I think Asians tend to vote Democratic at state and local levels.

If it’s really religion, wouldn’t Republicans do well with Koreans? When I first got to Seoul, I was struck by the number of crosses on display nearly everywhere. Yet, my informal and half-assed research would seem to indicate no difference between the Korean pattern of voting and the more general Asian pattern of voting.

It seems more likely to me that Asians vote democratic because Asians generally do what they’re supposed to do (and the Democrats are the ruling party) and because the Democrats are the party of minorities and Asians simply haven’t figured out that they’re not really minorities.

(I have Asian friends who constantly refer to large gatherings of Asians as diverse, when I object that such gatherings are worse than Klan rallies, they really don’t seem to be able to comprehend. Understanding complex political situations that defy rationality isn’t exactly something Asians are known for being good at, just saying.)

Second, on the upper Midwest, he highlights some of the relevant area. Note that he could also highlight large parts of Minnesota.

These are my people, so I feel as though I should defend them. I think they vote Democratic because Democratic ideas actually work in these parts of the country. I forget who it was that said all of Yglesias’ policy ideas start with the (unstated) assumption that everyone is Swedish (or Norwegian), but in this part of the country, that’s basically true.

Also, voting Democratic is the nice and polite thing to do, and everyone is nice and polite.

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13 Responses to The Asians and the Nordics

  1. ivvenalis says:

    Not that they will do it, but a concerted Republican strategy to portray the Democrats as the party of Blacks and Hispanics would probably do the trick, especially with the Asians. Just air the Obamaphone Lady, and tack on “I’m Cracker McWhitey, and I approve this message.” A nasty e-mail campaign connecting various inflammatory black leaders with the Ds would probably work wonders for Asians too. I’m sure resentment of white men and discomfort with Christianity plays a part in their voting habits, but a lot of it is just plain cluelessness.

  2. fnn says:

    No doubt there are other factors, but NE Asians and Swede/Norwegians are both highly conformist groups that take their clues from the Cathedral ruling elites. Subcons are such a bizarre collection of groups and personalities it may take a new Kipling to explain how they voted.

    • Foseti says:

      I don’t think you can ignore the high levels of conformism among these groups as part of the explanation.

      • Red says:

        Getting in good with the elites when you don’t have a natural military power base is always a wise move. Voting democratic is voting for the ruling class. Jews do a similar thing everywhere they go.

  3. Handle says:

    The problem with the question, “which form of government is best” is that there are social and cultural conditions that make any form of government more or less viable and effective. The advantage of a neocameralist patchwork (hyperfederalism, multizionism, etc.) is that there doesn’t need to be an answer, the local government suits the local preference, and people vote with their feet. And birds of a feather will flock together. I’m tolerant of diverse multiculturalism too – but my scope is community instead of the individual – because part of what individuals want is to be able to live in (and use local rules to preserve the character of) certain kinds of communities.

    I have relatives in the upper midwest, and they vote Democrat too, because they’re nice, communitarian, charitable, guilt-vulnerable people living in homogenous, socially-cohesive areas and with almost no exposure to the kinds of things that would make them cynical or skeptical about the party or its policies applied to others elsewhere.

    One thing I find about people’s views towards actual, real governments is that they are amazingly forgiving of what they think their ideological objections are when the system actually works effectively. Libertarians shouldn’t like Singapore’s harsh law-enforcement climate, and Liberals shouldn’t like it’s lack of Democracy. And they always have to mentions these things as a kind of unmotivated, pro-forma disclaimer when they start to rave about it.

    The thing is, as much as people here complain about it in the actual modern Western context, there are social and cultural conditions where Socialist Democracy works good enough, and in fact, produces a perfectly pleasant place in which you’d be happy to live and raise your family (so long as it wasn’t aggressively pursuing a project of radical, suicidal self-disintegration). Put a bunch of talented, hard working, virtuous, homogenous Northern-Europeans (and even a few compatible outsiders) together – and keep it that way – and, despite your theoretical objections, you’d like their system too.

  4. asdf says:

    I wouldn’t forget the sexual angle. Asian men are really at the bottom of the sexual marketplace. Any ideology/political movement that raises their status (which they believe liberalism does) they will embrace. The conservative movement says that white dudes are cool. The liberal movement says minority dudes are cool. I don’t need to overhear frat boys at the gym making fun of Asian nerds at their college not getting laid to know there is a lot of sexual division between the groups. Add in the fact that liberalism asks girls to be sluts and conservationism tells them to be prudes and are you at all surprised how Asians vote? We can debate whether this perception matches reality but on the individual level its very powerful.

  5. spandrell says:

    Seoul churches aren’t churches. They are tribal reunion houses where people go to network and talk business. 95% of Koreans don’t give a shit about Jesus.

  6. Sgt. Joe Friday says:

    Also consider the fact that most Asian cultures, Japan and Singapore possibly excepted, tolerate or even warmly embrace corruption. I am sure that many Asians in the USA look at the two parties see pretty clearly which one offers more opportunities for pay-to-play, quid pro quo, and goof old fashioned back-room dealing and patronage.

  7. zCl says:

    I’d like to elaborate on that explanation. Conformity is a large part of the explanation, but the comformity isn’t irrational, or against there self interest. First of all, to have an active interest in politics, one must first desire political power, at some level. Most asians at some level feel entirely disengaged from the American political spectrum (how many Asian senators are there? Governors? Maybe one). Without an active interest in politics, there’s little reason one would choose the socially unacceptable route. Non-conformity only makes sense as an individual strategy when either comformity is impossible, or one desires power from it.

    Then, for the Asian’s who are actively interested in political power, what party do you think gives them more opportunities? Certainly not the Republicans, as far as I know, all Asian politicians are democrats.

    Most Asians I know however, just don’t vote, for what its worth.

  8. nydwracu says:

    Instead of starting with the premise that Republican ideological affiliation is the norm, it makes much more sense to assume that Democratic ideological affiliation is the norm and Republican small-government conservatism is a characteristically American—or perhaps more specifically Scots-Irish—deviation from this norm.

    Also, diverse means nonwhite. High Point is called diverse, and 86% of the students are either black or Hispanic. I suspect you’d see the same linguistic tic in heavily Asian schools, as long as they’re non-magnet public schools.

  9. Matt says:

    The most interesting thing about the Asian vote is why it matters at all. Asians make up some tiny percentage of the electorate and are concentrated in states that don’t vote Republican anyway. But more ink has been spilled on the Asian question than any other.

    As to the question, for one thing Asians are not racialized the way whites and blacks are. Your Asian friends think a gathering of Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans is diverse because they don’t lump all of these groups into a big “Asian” conglomerate. This is true also of Latinos. Latino is a BS term and all of these different mestizos have no love for each other.

    Why would Asians vote Republican? The usual answer is Affirmative Action, but AA for whites is wrapped up in a lot of historical baggage and resentment. Asians don’t have any of that. Whatever the cost of AA, they are doing just fine and Blacks/Latinos are still poor as dirt. It’s like immigration to the majority of white people–something they are generally opposed to but not a big issue and not one they vote on.

    The big factor is, IMO, the perception of the Republicans as a reckless, nihilistic faction rather than a legitimate political party. The debt ceiling showdown thing probably did immense damage to the Republican brand among Asians. It portrayed them as willing to hold the government hostage in service to their narrow ideological interest. The rigid ideological opposition to Obamacare probably didn’t help. Fact is, a lot of what the Democrats say about the Republicans is true. They really are a party of no ideas and no vision other than hatred of the democrats. This is why the Republicans need, to borrow a shibboleth, comprehensive reform rather than just a few panders here and there.

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