Asians—those smart, hard-working people you’ve always been told believe in merit and would never act like the NAACP or La Raza—have joined the racial spoils system. They have gotten in right at the top, and they are playing dirty. They have extracted pandering promises from all the Democratic candidates for president—promises Al Sharpton would be proud to get for blacks—and have treated the candidates like fools for good measure. Barack Obama is the only Democrat to come out of this with at least a shred of self-respect.
The group behind this is one you never heard of: the so-called 80-20 Initiative. Founded in 1997 by Dr. S. B. Woo, an immigrant from China and former lieutenant governor of Delaware, it gets its name from its proclaimed goal, which is to deliver 80 percent of the Asian vote to candidates it supports, especially in close races where an Asian bloc vote could swing the election.
It is an almost entirely web-based political pressure group, which claims to have an e-mail list of 750,000 Asians it can activate at the touch of a “send” button. In an interview on CNN, Dr. Woo claimed 80-20 can reach 55 percent of the “Asian-American community” within eight hours.
80-20 claims that Asians may be the worst victims of racial discrimination in America. As board member Frank Lee put it in a statement in January: “We are truly fighting for . . . rights already enjoyed by all Americans except for Asian Americans.”
The solution? Quotas—but not quotas for jobs like bricklayer or policeman. 80-20 wants quotas for federal judges and top management in government and private industry. And it is playing hardball to get them.
80-20 started extracting promises from presidential candidates in the 2004 election. To back up its demands, the group has put together charts and graphs, claiming that Asians are only half as likely as non-Asians to be promoted to top management in industry, and only one-third as likely to get high-level jobs in government. They claim women, blacks, and Hispanics all do better than Asians.
Based on these claims, 80-20 sent letters to all the 2004 candidates, offering its endorsement if they promised to do three things if elected:
1. Order the Secretary of Labor (who at the moment is Elaine Chao) to hold public hearings on discrimination against Asians,
3. Meet with Asian-American leaders two years later to report on progress in the fight against anti-Asian discrimination.
How do you fight the kind of “discrimination” that you “prove with statistics?“ If blacks are 13 percent of the population but only 4 percent of the postmen, you torment the Postal Service until 13 percent of the postmen are black. In other words, quotas. That was what 80-20 wanted for the top jobs in the country.
80-20 did pretty well with the candidates. John Edwards, John Kerry, Howard Dean, Joe Lieberman, Dennis Kucinich, and Ralph Nader all took the pledge. Al Sharpton was running, but didn’t sign; he must not have liked the idea of Asians horning in on his territory. George W. Bush didn’t sign either.
This year, 80-20 wants more. In the “Presidential Candidate Questionnaire“ it sent out on June 1, 2007, it kept the first three promises about stamping out “discrimination,” and added three more. To get an endorsement, candidates now had to promise to appoint at least two Asians as appeals court judges—none is Asian now—and “consider” filling a Supreme Court vacancy with an Asian.
At the district court level, 80-20 wanted an outright quota. Candidates had to promise that during their first term they would appoint enough Asians to boost their numbers to half their percentage of the population. That would be an increase from the present 6 to 21 judges—a three-fold increase—and would mean the president would have to send up a parade of Asian nominations.
Candidates also had to promise to meet with Asian-American leaders to “review the progress in adding AsAm [Asian-American] Federal judges,” that is to say, be browbeaten.
Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, and Mike Gravel all took the 80-20 pledge in June 2007, just days after they got the questionnaire, and shamelessly bound themselves to a quota for Asian judges. 80-20 crowed that candidates had “replied with the iron-clad promise of 6 yeses!” [Emphasis in the original, by the way]
For six months after that, though, 80-20 got no bites. So it decided to lower its sights.
Hillary Clinton’s people negotiated less binding terms. On December 10, she signed what 80-20 calls a “revised” version of the questionnaire. The promises to end “discrimination” against Asians were unchanged, but instead of an outright quota on judicial appointments, Mrs. Clinton promised to “seek to increase” Asian nominations “until the current dismal situation is significantly remedied.” The language of the promise goes on to explain: “To put things in perspective, not meaning to imply quotas, presently there are 0.6% Asian Am. Federal judges, while the Asian Am. population is 4.5%. . . .”
“Not meaning to imply quotas?” A quota is exactly what 80-20 wanted, but couldn’t get from Mrs. Clinton. Instead, they got a quota in everything but name. She agreed that both at the district and appeals court levels the current situation is “dismal,” and she promised to improve things “significantly” during her first term. She thus committed herself to openly race-based judicial appointments, and, like the others, agreed to a browbeating session two years into her term.
John Edwards and Bill Richardson later signed the same “revised” version.
What did Mrs. Clinton get in return? Just before the crucial California primary, 80-20 endorsed her. “Sen. Obama willfully refused [to sign],” 80-20 huffed. “That is why we endorse Sen. Clinton.” The group also promised to spend $30,000 on political ads for Mrs. Clinton in the Asian ethnic media, including radio ads in Cantonese, Mandarin, and Korean. Mrs. Clinton did win the Asian vote three-to-one over Mr. Obama. And, of course, 80-20 claimed credit.
After losing the California primary Barack Obama got religion and decided to take the pledge, too. But he has been the cagiest player of all. He swallowed the demands to correct “discrimination” against Asians without a gurgle, but his people rewrote the questions about judicial appointments. He promised only that he will make it a “top priority” to appoint Asian-Americans as district and appeals court judges.
Presidents are, of course, busy people with lots of “top priorities,” so Mr. Obama got away with promising the least. No doubt he will have an even higher “top priority” making judicial appointments for a certain other racial pressure group.
80-20 has duly endorsed every candidate that took the pledge, so it is now officially neutral in the Democratic race. Not one Republican candidate bothered to return the questionnaire, and John McCain shows no sign of doing so.
But let’s take a look at the sleazy way 80-20 doled out its endorsements. It started by saying it would back only those candidates who made certain promises. Why, then, did it let Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama successively water down the promises others had already made? It brazenly cheated Senators Dodd, Biden, and Gravel when it let Mrs. Clinton make weaker promises and then gave her the same endorsement it had given them—they were still in the race. It then cheated Mrs. Clinton when it let Mr. Obama sign an even weaker pledge to get the same endorsement.
80-20 is playing the candidates for the fools they are. Needless to say, the candidates have all been very quiet about how they were tricked, and about the race-based judicial appointments they have promised to make.
In the larger sense, however, what does 80-20 tell us about the kind of Americans Asians want to be? Traditionally, they have been the one minority that has not played the victim. It’s not a convincing role for the racial group with the highest incomes, the highest life expectancy, the lowest crime and poverty rates, and a prominent record of success in companies like Yahoo and Linksys.
Asians could have chosen to emphasize their common interests with whites—eliminating “affirmative action,” promoting tough sentences for criminals, keeping out illegal Mexicans—rather than join the chorus about discrimination. Asians can make it on merit and do just fine in race-blind competition.
But if Asians insist on quotas for judges and CEOs, they shouldn’t be surprised to find the tables turned elsewhere. They will pay—along with whites—if blacks and Hispanics get serious about quotas in engineering and medicine. Likewise, in a world of quotas, they would see their admissions to the Ivy League cut by two-thirds.
So why is the one group that consistently out-performs whites claiming to be oppressed?
Because they can get away with it. They have found an area in which Asians probably are underrepresented, and are shouting “discrimination” because they know practically no one—certainly no presidential candidate—is going to make the obvious argument: If underrepresentation is all it takes to prove discrimination, then most of the time America discriminates in favor of Asians.
In the end, it looks as though the advantages blacks and Hispanics have gained from racial activism, bloc-voting, and an aggressive victim mentality are simply too attractive even for Asians to forgo. As the United States continues to lose racial and cultural coherence, Asians appear to be deciding they have nothing to gain by staying out of explicitly racial politics in their current implicit alliance with whites.
And why should Asians line up with a white majority that does not defend its own interests? What was once supposedly the “model minority” is obviously concluding that, in the age of “diversity”, power comes from racial solidarity.
When will whites get the message?