(NRO) In the scramble to make the GOP more diverse, a lot of people are looking at Asian Americans, who many believe are a natural constituency for the party. I would love it if Asian Americans converted en masse to the Republican party, but the challenge for Republicans is harder than many appreciate.
President Obama did spectacularly well with Asian Americans, garnering nearly three-quarters of their vote. This runs counter to a lot of conventional wisdom on both the left and the right. On average, family income is higher and poverty is lower among Asian Americans than among non-Latino whites. Entrepreneurship, family cohesion, and traditional values all run strong among Asian Americans, and reliance on government runs weak.
And yet Asian Americans — now the fastest-growing minority in America — are rapidly becoming a core constituency of the Democratic party.
I’ve joked for years with my Indian-American relatives and friends that they are the new Jews because their parents bury them in guilt and overeducate them. It turns out it doesn’t end there. Sociologist Milton Himmelfarb observed that “Jews earn like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans.” Well, Indian Americans earn like Jews and vote like Jews.
And maybe for similar reasons. The comparison to Jews is instructive. Perhaps the most common explanation for the GOP’s problem with Asian Americans is the party’s pronounced embrace of Christianity, which turns off many Jews as well.
According to Pew studies, barely a third of Chinese Americans are Christian, and less than a fifth of Indian Americans are.
“Whenever a Gujarati or Sikh businessman comes to a Republican event, it begins with an appeal to Jesus Christ,” conservative writer Dinesh D’Souza recently told The New York Times Magazine. “While the Democrats are really good at making the outsider feel at home, the Republicans make little or no effort.”
My friend and colleague Ramesh Ponnuru, an Indian American and devout Catholic, says the GOP has a problem with seeming like a “club for Christians.”
That rings true to me. I’ve attended dozens of conservative events where, as the speaker, I was, in effect, the guest of honor, and yet the opening invocation made no account of the fact that the guest of honor wasn’t a Christian. I’ve never taken offense, but I can imagine how it might seem to someone who felt like he was even less a part of the club.
A few years ago, Robert Putnam, a liberal sociologist, reported this finding: As racial and ethnic diversity increases, social trust and cohesion plummets. “Trust (even of one’s own race) is lower, altruism and community cooperation rarer, friends fewer,” Putnam found. “People living in ethnically diverse settings appear to ‘hunker down’ — that is, to pull in like a turtle.”
The villain isn’t racism or bigotry or anything so simple. The phenomenon is much more complex. Indeed, it’s not clear why this happens, but it’s clear that it does. Economic inequality and cultural attitudes do not matter much. “Americans raised in the 1970s,” Putnam writes, “seem fully as unnerved by diversity as those raised in the 1920s.”
Part of the explanation stems from the fact that people with shared experiences and cultures draw strength from working together, whereas with strangers, language often becomes guarded, intentions questioned.
The GOP is not a Christian club, but there’s no disputing that Christianity is a major source of strength and inspiration for many Republican activists. This is nothing new and, generally speaking, there’s nothing wrong with this. The abolitionist, progressive, and civil-rights movements were all significantly powered by Christian faith.
As someone who’s long argued for theological pluralism and moral consensus on the right, I think it’s nuts for the GOP not to do better with Asian Americans, particularly given how little religion has to do with the policy priorities of the day.
Twenty years ago, conservatives started referring to Judeo-Christian values in an effort to be more inclusive. The challenge now is to figure out how to talk in a way that doesn’t cause decent and dedicated Christians to pull in like a turtle, while also appealing to non-Judeo-Christians and the nonreligious. That’ll be hard, requiring more than name-dropping Confucius or Krishna.
— Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. You can write to him by e-mail at JonahsColumn@aol.com, or via Twitter @JonahNRO. © 2012 Tribune Media Services, Inc.
obama is a blood drinking shape shifting reptile via sherdog.net
the Jewish community may not support Obama financially. That’s very important, because in the 2008 elections, Jews provided about 60% of the Democrats’ money.This time they may not even do that. The money may not come at all. via israelmatzav.blogspot.com
No, Not All Jews Are Liberal–And They Are A Growing Presence In Conservative Media
If you give us a viable candidate, we will vote Republican. But if you expect us to vote for Sarah Palin, you’ve got to be crazy. – Disenchanted Jewish Democrat, in No Exodus, Politico, July 5, 2011
Many reviews already have appeared of “The Undefeated,” the soon-to-be-released documentary about Sarah Palin’s tenure in Alaska. Yet none of them – even in The Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post or Politico.com – mentions that nearly all of the film’s many pro-Palin media talking heads are Jews.
Benjamin Korn, Jews on the Rise in Conservative ‘New Media’, July 7, 2011
Jews are known for being liberal. They are also known for consistently, if not persistently, voting for Democrats. And that is not going to change–in the short term.
But that does not change the fact that Jews are becoming prominent Conservative voices.
In the example above of Jews who enthusiastically support Sarah Palin, Korn lists: Internet news mogul Andrew Breitbart, nationally syndicated radio talk show host Mark Levin and L.A.’s radio phenom Tammy Bruce. The list does not end there. There is Matt Drudge, whose website averages 30 million hits per day–and close to a billion hits each month month. Other Jewish Conservative voices include:
- Binyamin Jolkovsky, who started Jewish World Review in the late 1990s by Binyamin Jolkovsky
- IsraelNationalNews.com (Arutz Sheva) which had also operated a pirate radio network
- Michael Savage
- Dennis Prager
- Michael Medved, who–along with Prager are on the board of the GOP-oriented Jewish Policy Council
- Aaron Klein, senior correspondent for WorldNetDaily.com and a weekly columnist for The Jewish Press
- Rabbi Shmuley Boteach a political centrist with an Orthodox point of view who founded the L’Chaim Society at Oxford University
- David Horowitz of FrontPageMag.com
- Andrew Breitbart, publisher of BigPeace.com on foreign policy, BigHollywood.com on the film industry and BigJournalism.com
- William Kristol, founding editor of The Weekly Standard and Fox News commentator
- Charles Krauthammer, commentator at Fox and syndicated columnist at The Washington Post
- Jennifer Rubin, writing her Right Turn blog at The Washington Post
- Jonathan Tobin, formerly executive editor of Commentary, and now full-time editor of Commentary’s Contentions blog.
- Caroline Glick, deputy editor of the Jerusalem Post, columnist and founder of Latma TV.
Perhaps one of the things most noticeable about Jewish Conservatives is that they have as a group not been noticeable–perhaps because they are becoming more commonplace.
Certainly there is another reason why Jews, per se, have attracted so little notice in the conservative new media: the change in American conservatism itself. Ethnically diverse and intellectually formidable, today’s conservatism is reliably pro-Israel, comfortably Judeo-Christian and for the most part promotes a nuanced social agenda.
In a movement that is credible and hospitable to American Jews, and from which the ethno-centrism of yore is largely absent, Jewish journalists will flourish.
Of course, the fact that Jewish Conservatives are becoming more of a force in the media does not necessarily mean that Jews as a group are going to start voting conservative–but they are a growing reminder that the Jewish Democratic vote may become something that cannot be taken for granted. Hat tip: BW via daledamos.blogspot.com