By HELEN HIROHATA MASUDA
(First published in The Rafu Shimpo on April 28, 2010)
Why does it appear that so many Japanese Americans vote for the Democrat ticket? I say it appears, because I have no scientific poll to prove this. But isn’t it a fact that every Japanese American in the Congress is a Democrat? To name a few—Senator Daniel Inouye, Senator Daniel Akaka, Congressman Doris Matsui. To name a few others in politics—Norman Mineta, former Transportation Secretary, in the California legislature; Mariko Yamada, Mary Hayashi, Warren Furutani. Why are so many JA’s in politics Democrats? It boggles my mind! After all, was it not a Democrat president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who put Japanese Americans into Relocation Centers during World War II by Executive Order 9006? FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover, who was a conservative, said it was not necessary and Robert Taft, a Republican were a few who opposed it. Congressman Taft was the only one in Congress who voted against the evacuation of JA’s and it was Republican President Ronald Reagan, who signed the Bill for JAs to be compensated for being evacuated. I think there is a myth that Democrats care about minorities and that Republicans are the party of the rich. The truth is that Democrats are for big government, entitlement programs increasing taxes, more government control over our lives, a living and breathing Constitution that implies we do not have to adhere to the Constitution, but most adapt the interpretation to modern times. Conservatives and most Republicans believe in free enterprise, smaller government, less government controls, freedom and liberty for individuals, strict interpretation of the Constitution, as our founding fathers envisioned it.
Japanese Americans have prospered in a free-market America. Japanese people came to America seeking the American dream. They worked hard. They farmed and grew vegetables and flowers. They educated themselves and heir children. They ran small businesses and restaurants. They didn’t ask for welfare or a handout. Unlike some of today’s immigrants, they learned English and embraced the American way of life and culture. Today, Japanese Americans are so integrated in American society, you don’t hear very much about us anymore as a community or minority group, voicing our demands and needs while other Asian communities continue to maintain their culture and communities to a greater degree.
My father, Frank Hirohata, was a Republican as long as I can remember. He was for Wendell Wilkie, Thomas Dewey, Dwight Eisenhower, but couldn’t vote until he became a citizen after World War II. Maybe he convinced my mother who was a Nisei to vote his wishes. As a third generation JA Sansei, I was 9 years old when JAs were relocated in 1943 to the Relocation Centers in the inland states. My father was sent to a separate internment camp because he was the president of the Japanese language school in Monrovia and was deemed a threat. He came to the United States in 1918 at age 16 and was put in the 4th grade until he learned English. That must have been humiliating! They had no bilingual education, obviously. He worked as a “school boy,” another word for hired help or servant. He worked on my grandmother’s farm. He went to Pasadena High School and Pasadena Junior College and then to Southwestern University Business School and became an insurance agent. He built a prosperous business and in his time, he had the leading insurance agency for the Japanese community. By hard work, education and determination, he achieved his American dream.
The Democrat Party today does not resemble the Democrat Party of the past. Democrats have always been the party of expansive government, entitlements and high taxes to pay for it. But it was done gradually. That’s why they call themselves progressives—progress a little at a time. Liberals knew that Americans, who descended from hard-working pioneers would never accept socialism and massive regulations and control over our lives. That’s why they chose the word, progressive. Theodore Roosevelt was a progressive and he unsuccessfully advocated government-run healthcare. Woodrow Wilson was a progressive and he instituted the income tax. Ironically, we found out that Democrats who like high taxes for all of us, don’t pay them themselves, as we found out, as nominee after nominee in the current administration for executive appointment were exposed for tax evasion or rushed to pay delinquent taxes before being sworn in. Franklin D. Roosevelt was a progressive and he gave us Social Security which undoubtedly helped many people, but is now on the verge of going broke. Originally 16 people were paying for one retiree, but now, it is, or soon will be, two people paying for one retiree. That is unsustainable—like most government entitlement programs.
Today, the Democrat Party and administration are shocking the nation by their radical policies—billion dollar bailouts for Wall Street, billions for a stimulus plan that has done little for jobs and mostly propped up States and their workers and wasted millions on ridiculous research projects that do little for job creation. We see the takeover of the banks, the auto industry, student loans, environmental regulations, the housing industry in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and now they want to takeover Health Care and control every aspect of our lives! We have an administration that announced from the onset that their goal was to radically change the America we knew and their goal was social justice—the redistribution of wealth. And their means of achieving this is change we now know are based on the teachings of Saul Alinsky. In the 1940’s and 1950’s communism was anathema to American society. Socialism was scorned upon as Norman Thomas ran ever 4 years in futility on the Socialist ticket. Today we have an administration that has shamelessly hired an avowed communist, Van Jones, as the green czar but who had to resign after the American people learned about his true political views. Another former staff member to the Administration, Anita Dunn, in the same breath openly praised the virtues of Mother Teresa and Chairman Mao! She has since resigned but her husband has a position in the White House. Today we see an administration that is pressing hard for the redistribution of wealth, to create a socialist utopia that will come to fruition. Just look at the nations who have adopted socialist programs, the European Union, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, the Scandinavian countries, the United Kingdom, where big government and high taxes, have made them become nanny states where all their taxes are used to provide entitlements and they are going broke and have little means of defending themselves. If they get attacked, they will probably yell Uncle! Uncle Sam, that is, and they will expect the USA to rescue them as we did in World War II. Today sadly, America stands alone in the free world to stand up against the threat against the free world.
I hope I am wrong about most Japanese Americans being Democrats! Because I have no idea how many JAs are liberals or conservatives. By conservatives, I mean Ronald Reagan conservatives, who believe in freedom and liberty, as Mark Levin, renown author and talk show host, constitutional lawyer, who worked in the Ronald Reagan administration, describes so eloquently in his New York Times bestseller, “Liberty and Tyranny,” a conservative manifesto. It’s the liberty and freedom in America that has made it possible for Japanese Americans to prosper and excel in every field today. It’s freedom and liberty that attract the people of the world to come to America. Do you see hoards of people scaling fences or breaking down doors to get into any other country? And it is conservatives that are the promoters of freedom and liberty. JAs don’t need to start their own conservative group – hopefully we are beyond that strict age. As a Japanese American conservative, I say, please prove me wrong. I hope there are millions of JA’s that are active conservatives who care about this wonderful country and will stand up for the freedom and liberty that have blessed us so much. Wake up America! Wake up Japanese Americans, before our precious freedom and liberty slip away. Speak up! Educate ourselves in history, listen to talk radio, participate in tea parties, call your Congressmen and Senators, run for political office, America needs you!
Vox Populi is a forum for community opinion. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo. to submit a Vox Populi e-mail Gwen Muranaka or fax (213) 687-0737.