Asian American Tea Party?

November 1, 2010 10:45 AM

Even before the results are in, the Tea Party has impacted this year's mid-terms.

But have you seen any Asian Americans in its ranks?

I haven't noticed any. Which leads me to wonder, how can you call yourself a TP and not have enough Asians in it to fill a teepee?

Where are all the Asians?  Serving the tea?

As tea parties go, I'm a big fan of the first one back in Massachusetts when revolution was a white-on-whiter thing.  A lack of Asian presence was understandable back then. But today, when you consider how the TP's rage is all about finances and deficits and out of control spending, wouldn't the group benefit from our number crunching acumen?  

Perhaps the real takeaway for Asian Americans from this modern TP chapter in American politics is that any Tea Party comes with an empty pot.

No one has exclusive rights to the metaphor of American rebellion. Nor does it have to be filled with extreme GOP/independent/conservative bile.

You can fill it with any angry minority sentiment you like.   

If that's the case, shouldn't Asian Americans start a tea party of our own?

Of course, we could. But if we started our own Tea Party, exactly what would our political bent be? And who would bring the pork buns?

My first assumption is that Asian Americans traditionally tilt Democratic. But a colleague challenged me, and what do you know, there doesn't appear to be a shortage of high profile Asian Americans on the right.

There's Bush torture enabler John Yoo,  disgraced Congressman Jay Kim, and former cabinet secretary Elaine Chao (spouse of  Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell).

Even in California, the leading challenger to Southern California Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez is a hard-charging conservative,  Van Tran, a California state legislator of Vietnamese-descent.

Asian Americans are more diverse in our views than we think.  Some of it breaks down by generation, some by ethnicity.  But it certainly would lead one to think we don't really have a united group vision as Asian Americans now, do we?

Post-1965, there may have been a  common struggle for civil rights that helped to define us and form coalitions with other groups.

Back then, to say we were "Asian American" was truly to make a political statement. Now it seems to be a purely cultural/lifestyle handle as  the politics of the day turns from group empowerment to individual self-interest.

Are you voting this week because you want everyone to have a better economic future?

Or are you pissed off about your own taxes, job security, sense of the future?  Or are you voting at all?

And what of being an "Asian American"? Did that make you want to pull the curtain and mark a ballot? Is there something  about being Asian American that still rallies the political spirit in you?

Here's a sad thought: Maybe our Asian American tea party won't be political after all.

Maybe it's really just a tea party.


Posted by:Emil Guillermo

The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the views or policies of AALDEF.


1. The so-called Tea Party or Republican is Supremacist supported by Pat Robertson and accomplice. If you are a genuine Asian and then you shouldn't be in this party. You cannot be a bat or a puppet. A bat has wings and is a mammal. It can be both a bird or a rat. Asian cannot be Caucasian or other; etc. A puppet was played by someone behind the scene. If you are not smart enough politician, and then you might be in a political stooge.
Posted by: KAI | Nov 2, 201010:43 AM

2. Emil, I'm not happy about it, but Nikki Haley, the new governor of South Carolina, is a tea partier of South Asian descent. Hopefully she didn't not draw too much support from AAPIs. Angelica
Posted by: Angelica | Nov 3, 2010 6:19 PM

3. What, you don't count Michelle Malkin as Asian American? Ouch... =p
Posted by: KP | Nov 5, 2010 9:11 PM

4. I am Vietnamese-American and am so proud of being part of the Asian-american community, who has been so successful in this land of freedom and opportunity. Asian-Americans have done extremely well educationally, in all of America's schools and colleges, due mainly to the conservative ethics of respect for the family and hard work. Hopefully Asian-Americans will appreciate and fight for free enterprise, and freedom, instead of joining other minorities to wallow in self-pity and to seek hand-outs. Hand-outs and entitlements are simply unsustainable. Look to realize what continent is prospering? Asia or Europe? America has a choice for the future! To seek opportunities for growth, or to establish a soon-to-be bankrupt system of entitlement. What would minorities teach their children? That they should wallow in self-indulgence and blame the system? or look to the success of the Asian community in America and encourage self-reliance, personal responsibility and hope for a better future? Enough recriminations now that the Asians are the best performing minority in America.
Posted by: sarah si | Nov 5, 2010 9:22 PM

5. My view is that Asian Americans have more in common with the right than the left. What are the hot button issues? Equal opportunity and equal access. Free enterprise. Lower taxes. Why should it be that simply because Asians are an ethnic minority that we feel compelled to believe that we must have the same identity politics as other minorities? One of the biggest issues for Asians is reverse discrimination and reverse quotas, i.e., the exclusion of Asians because we over-perform. This is completely at odds with other minorities. As for the Tea Party, what is wrong with fiscal responsibility and the Constitution? The sad part is that conservative Asian Americans are not nearly as activist as the liberal ones, but that is as Nixon said, the "silent majority". While the Tea Party is predominantly white, it has never professed to be a white movement. There is no reason why the Tea Party cannot include Asians, if they choose to join. I myself contributed to the campaign of Rand Paul, and I don't live in Kentucky. But you won't see me at rallies and carrying signs. Yes, it's not hip to be a Tea Partier, especially in the big cities where most Asians reside. Most big cities are Democratic strongholds. But you will find more Asians sympathetic to the Team Party than what TV might portray.
Posted by: LK | Nov 5, 201010:25 PM

6. Why do Asian-Americans need AALDF? It is a left-wing organization that has outlived its usefulness, now that Asian-Americans constitute the most successful minority in America. AALDF's existence is premised on a racist and discriminatory America, an illusion which the Blacks and Hispanics love to entertain to justify their social situation and to ask for more "compensation." American can bankrupt itself and distribute all its hard-earned wealth to the minorities and that still would never satisfy the minorities. AALDF now associates itself with Blacks and Hispanics to survive and continue to be relevant. If its leadership is honest with itself, it should put itself out of business. To undermine the American system that has brought prosperity to millions -including Asian-Americans - at home and billions of people all over the world, just to stay relevant, just to have a job, or a title, is beyond redemption. It is irresponsible to say the least.
Posted by: pascal tran | Nov 6, 2010 1:35 AM

7. I suggest AALDEF represent Asian-Americans who receive top SAT scores and get turn away by elite universities like Yale, Harvard, Berkeley,etc..., in favor of less qualified candidates! That way AALDEF can stay useful and have a new m.o. rather than fighting yesterday's wars! Today President Obama is exhorting the American industry and businesses to increase exports to Asia, the prosperous, hard-working and advanced Asian nations. AALDEF can exhort the American people to import the hard working Asian ethics by promoting meritocracy, rather than affirmative action. Let AALDEF fight reverse discrimination for a change. Would you rather have a top-notch Asian heart surgeon when undergoing surgery, than an affirmative action baby?
Posted by: shumin ng | Nov 6, 2010 2:34 AM

8. Anyone who is looking for Asian faces in the Tea Party is deadly wrong. Asian-Americans like to work behind the scenes. They share the same values of conservatism with the Tea Party but do not necessary show up at gatherings. I know of many, including myself, who had sent money to conservative candidates - Marco Rubio, Susan Martinez, etc... Asians tend to be low key, so seeking Asian faces at tea parties is useless.
Posted by: Judith Chang | Nov 6, 201011:12 AM

9. Asian Americans will become more conservative all the time. Since generally we work hard and own business and property. And don't like the re-distribution agenda of the left. We are also hurt by affirmative action programs in higher education. Confuscious thought is about self reliance.
Posted by: bangsen | Jul 26, 2011 3:14 PM

10. We need faces ... asian faces to show up at the movements. Tea party belongs to all americans, white, black, asian, native and whatever you are ... it can belong to you. Ideas know no race or color ... good ideas belong to everyone. I agree with the author. He raised a good point and we should all think hard and self reflect and do something about it.
Posted by: Frank | Nov 16, 201111:29 AM

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