mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Blue Civil War
Asian Americans Claim Victory in Affirmative Action Fight

California’s most recent battle over affirmative action has ended with a victory for representatives of the state’s Asian-American community, as Democrats reluctantly tabled a measure to allow race to influence admissions to state universities. The San Jose Mercury News reports that intense and unexpected opposition from Asian-Americans pushed the party to drop the law for the time being. More:

“This was remarkably bad politics on the Democrats’ part,” [Hoover Institute research fellow Bill] Whalen said. “I can think of few things more destructive than pitting one constituency of a party against another” […]

One reason Democrats were caught off guard is that Asian-Americans have historically supported affirmative action. Indeed, many still believe race should be considered in college admissions. Some Asian organizations — including the Southeast Asian Resource and Action Center, Chinese for Affirmative Action, and Filipino Advocates for Justice in Union City and Oakland — advocate such policies, noting that not all Asian ethnicities are well represented in higher education.

But the scarcity of seats in UC provoked intense opposition among others — and Republicans pounced on the opportunity.

It’s unlikely that one battle will substantially undermine Asian American loyalty to the Democratic party, but it is a sign of the instability brewing across the blue coalition. Some California Democrats have said they intend to take up this affirmative action measure again, so we’ll likely see another fight of this kind before long. But generally, blues will continue to find it harder and harder to give all their constituents what they want, particularly when divisions of race and class pit them against each other. Whether in education, pensions, or elsewhere, blues will increasingly be be forced to favor one beneficiary over another.

Features Icon
show comments
  • Fat_Man

    The Blue coalition has lots of seams. In 2007, GWB proposed immigration reform. The base of the Republican party opposed it. But one reason it died in the House was that the CBC didn’t like it either.

    • Corlyss

      Hint: Whichever party is out of power will NEVER permit the party in power to achieve, or appear to achieve by working bi-partisanly, strides in major wedge issues like entitlement reform, immigration reform, tax reform, education reform, welfare-reform, vote-modernizing reform. Indeed if the word “reform” appears naturally in discussions surrounding the issue, we’ll all be moldering in our graves for generations before headway is made in them. The impasse itself is far too valuable to both sides to allow it to be resolved with the other’s name prominently displayed. Think of the Palestinian-Israeli issue.

  • JohnOfEnfield

    Blue sky thinking.

  • Andrew Allison

    Asian-Americans are vastly over-represented in CA state university, not because of their race, but because of their ability. In other words, racial profiling (that’s exactly what it is) could only hurt Asian-Americans. Why would their resistance be unexpected to anybody but a deep blue idiot.

  • Corlyss

    American-Asians are treated like the Jews of 100 years ago. I’m not the first to note this.

  • free_agent

    Maybe we’re warming up for one of the periodic realignments of the various interest groups between the two parties?

  • Gene

    Live by identity politics, die by identity politics.

  • Carl_Bankston

    The newspaper’s assertion that “not all Asian ethnicities are well represented” in higher ed is misleading and it depends on what we mean by “well represented.” Asian Indians, Chinese, Filipinos, Koreans, and Vietnamese in the U.S. in the 25 through 29 age category have higher college graduation rates than whites do (according to census estimates). And those are the largest Asian ethnicities in the country. Virtually all Asian groups (including Cambodians, Hmong, and ethnic Lao) have higher attendance & graduation rates than native born blacks. If you will check out the enrollment stats at Berkeley & UCLA, you will find that all of the major Asian ethnic groups are actually over-represented. So, there is no question that any policy that favors under-represented groups would work against Asians in every specific large category, as well as against Asians in general.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service