November 1, 2016    6 minute read

Trump Out? Why Clinton Is Even Worse For Asian Americans

Balancing The Scales    November 1, 2016    6 minute read

Trump Out? Why Clinton Is Even Worse For Asian Americans

Pick up any major newspaper or website and one can see how deeply reviled both candidates for the next President of the United States (POTUS) are. Hillary Clinton, Senator from New York state and Secretary of State under the Obama administration, has consistently been accused of building up the revolving door between Wall Street and the White House.

She received significant amounts of money after addressing executives on the high street, and though branded as “extremely careless but unintentional” by FBI, has broken secrecy requirements from time to time when using her personal e-mail system.

Which Is The Lesser Evil?

Even moguls in her party frequently disagree with and criticise Clinton. If there is only one reason why Clinton is still not the most hated presidential candidate in the US’s history, it is because someone is causing, even more, public discomfort. And that is Donald Trump. Seen from most circumstances, Trump is indeed a disastrous choice for POTUS. Born into a wealthy family, he inappropriately but understandably became a playboy. The recent upsurge of accusations against Trump regarding sexual misconduct is a price he must pay to be an anti-establishment candidate. Digging out opponents’ dark histories is a required course for every politician. Veteran Clinton is far more aware of this than Mr Trump. Sexism, racism and misogyny in personal lives, protectionism, isolationism and xenophobia in public lives all make Mr Trump seem as daunting as a demon.

So why choose Mr Trump? Because he is a lesser evil than Mrs Clinton to Asian Americans and unfortunately in this year’s presidential duel in the second biggest democracy in the world, there is no better choice.

Building up infrastructure, protecting domestic producers and pumping up growth engines are the common targets of the two candidates. No matter how divided Mr Trump’s and Mrs Clinton’s detailed policies are, they mean the same for all races. It doesn’t matter if you are Asian, white, black or Hispanic. If you’re an American, then the work is for you. Toll roads do not differentiate against races, neither do goods nor services in the market. But the picture blurs in higher education.

Banning The Use Of Race In Recruitment

Back in December 2012, Senate Constitutional Amendment No. 5 (SCA-5) was introduced in Democratic California, which argued for eliminating a previous proposition’s (California Proposition 209) ban on the use of race, sex, colour, ethnicity or national origin in recruitment and admissions at California’s public universities and colleges. The Amendment was passed in January 2014. Though SCA-5 has now been put on hold by its proposer, its influence is lasting.

California is home to several world-renowned public universities such as UC Berkeley and UCLA. It is also one of the most ethnically diverse states in the U.S. In 2014, 39% of its population is Hispanic, 13% Asian and 5.8% Black. Only 38.8% Californians regard themselves as white. Proposition 209, therefore, was a natural response to this diversity. It prohibited California from discriminating against people by race and ethnicity in the operation of public education. In other words, no preferential treatment should be granted when evaluating individuals or groups, be them, applicants or current students. Hence, what SCA-5 essentially does is to legalise preferential treatments in the field of public education.

The Effects Of Affirmative Action

Take UC Berkeley, one of the finest public universities in the world as an example. For its entering class of Fall 2015 (students can enter during either Fall, Winter or Spring, but the significant majority enter in the Fall), 2.8% is black, and 12.5% is Hispanics. Meanwhile, 24.3% is white and Asian is a whopping 42.9%. This number does not even include the 12% international students, most of whom come from China, India and Korea, all Asian countries.

Why the fact matters? The most important aim (and its justification) of SCA-5 is its ability to observe a “serious and sober examination of Affirmative Action”, according to then California Senate President pro-Tempore Darrell Steinberg. Affirmative Action requires the policy to favour “members of a disadvantaged group who currently suffer or historically have suffered from discrimination within a culture.” In plain words, Affirmative Action and SCA-5 require policymakers to take into account the difference between what disadvantaged groups receive and what they should have been awarded. In our higher education example, it means that the abysmal difference between ethnicity makeup in higher education and that in population must be taken care of. Hispanics account for 39% of the Californian population but only represent a trivial 12.5% in UC Berkeley, while Asians who account for a mere 13% of the total population enjoy a 42.9% representation on campus. A similar picture exists for other public universities and colleges in California.

Balancing The Scales

So the Democratic Party in California decided to change the status quo and encouraged public universities and colleges to admit more blacks and Hispanics to balance the ethnicity makeup and population makeup. What SCA-5 indicates, therefore, is to legalise preferential treatments to blacks and Hispanics at the expense of Asians and whites. The reason is simple. The available spots at public universities are limited. It is a zero-sum game.

It is never wrong to build a community that every ethnicity has a say in the community’s development. All races and ethnicities are equal. But the motive behind SCA-5 and the Democratic is more political than socially justified. Asian Americans shouldn’t have to score 300 points higher in SAT than Hispanics to be eligible to compete for the same spot. Granted, the society as a whole must do whatever they reasonably can for disadvantaged groups to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor. But that doesn’t mean sacrificing another non-disadvantaged if not advantaged group. Unfortunately, policymakers want to be politically correct. Though Hispanics only account for around 13% at UC system, they make up 39% of the electorates in California. No surprise when one finds out that the person proposing SCA-5 is a Hispanic.

Most Asian Americans select California as their base for their American dreams, and a significant amount of them are college educated. Hence it is at least untrue in Democratic California that most Trump supporters are non-college educated. They choose Trump not because he is competent as the POTUS, but the other choice is even more terrible.

Why, asks everyone, is that a democracy as sophisticated as the US is unable to provide a third choice is another story.

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