Asian and Pacific Americans have traditionally been the most right-leaning minority, but in 2012, Obama won over 70 percent of the Asian and Pacific American vote nationally, and Jay Inslee won roughly the same proportion, beating McKenna three to one among the APA community. Republican strategists have long realized that the increasingly diverse electorate was a weak point for them, but have unable to come up with any answers. It seemed as if they didn’t even realize what the actual issue was.
Well, on his Jan. 3 program, Bill O’Reilly, one of the right’s most visible pundits, made it plainly clear what the issue was.
While discussing the state of Hawaii, the topic of Asian and Pacific Americans, a third of the Island’s population, came up.
In a near off-the-cuff comment, O’Reilly said, “Asian people are not liberal by nature. They’re usually more industrious and hard working.”
Yes, the statement seems innocuous, and it’s a positive stereotype, but it’s an overarching statement about a varied people with amazingly different backgrounds and circumstances. A lot of people have made this mistake, so why call out Bill O’Reilly? He’s popular, he’s well-educated, well-read, and intelligent. To see him speak like this is almost embarassing. O’Reilly’s statement reinforces the model minority stereotype. It ignores the issues we have in our community — such as police relations, discrimination, and gang violence.
There’s no question that the Asian and Pacific American community is a hard working one. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t have education issues, police relation issues, or discrimination issues. Those things still exist.
The Republican Party, as it is, is a dying party. Until they can approach our community and other minority communities as equals and with respect, and realize that our experiences can’t just be reduced to one sentence and one group, they’ll keep losing our support. They need to open dialogue with us and include us at the table, not just make assumptions. Until then, I guess we’ll just keep leaning left. (end)