PHILADELPHIA – Samuel Mok is exactly the kind of person the Republican Party wants as a member: He is a successful businessman who runs a consulting firm in Washington and a minority Chinese-American.
Yet, as the GOP emphasizes its diversity at this week’s Republican National Convention, people like Mok are not being hotly recruited.
Mok, an alternate delegate for Maryland’s 8th Congressional District at the Republican National Convention, was born in Shanghai, and grew up in Hong Kong, the son of a Chinese political dissident. He has contributed about $15,000 to the party, and is attending his second convention.
While he’s never felt any discrimination in the party, Mok said, it’s not like the Republicans have sought him or other Asian-Americans out for membership, as the party has Hispanics.
Unfortunately, it’s not alone in that neglect, said Temple law professor Jan Ting. Both parties have ignored Asian-Americans because they haven’t been quick to get involved politically. “It’s understandable for Asian-Americans to be ignored if they don’t register and vote.” Yet the Republican Party is reaching out to minorities. At the Monday luncheon “One American Dream, Many American Dreamers,” Americans “of all races and heritage who represent the promise of the American Dream” were honored.
However, of the 19 featured speakers, 10 were white, five were black, and there was one each Hispanic, American Indian, Asian and Jewish. The word minority was never mentioned in front of the 2,200 mostly white guests, and the word immigrant was replaced with “American by choice.”
But it’s a start, said some Republicans, who admit their past policies toward minorities and immigrants were often harmful to the party.
U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., married to Asian-American Elaine Chao, said the party has made mistakes during a reception for Asian-American party members Tuesday.
“Rhetorically (the Republican Party) was hostile to immigrants, which was a mistake because new citizens are the most gung-ho,” he said.
Ben Wu, who works for U.S. Rep. Connie Morella, R-Bethesda, was at the reception. He said the Republicans have softened their views of ethnic minorities, but the policies of the past have had “unintended consequences.”
“(Republicans) realized, a little too late, the importance of attracting immigrants,” he said.
That’s changing, party members said.
Susan Au Allen of Virginia is a member of the New Majority Council, an arm of the Republican Party dedicated to attracting Black, Hispanics, Asian- Americans and Native Americans. She said it’s the party’s philosophy to treat all citizens as Americans, but to recognize the need to appeal to different cultural groups.
Jane Hu, of Montgomery County, a member of the reception host committee, said Republicans have focused more on Hispanic and black minorities for sheer numbers, but they shouldn’t forget the Asian-American community.
“If the Republican Party ignores Asian-Americans it’s their loss. They should pay more attention to Asian Americans because they tend to be Republicans,” she said. Asian-Americans are not a battleground constituency in this election, say election analysts, because Vice President Al Gore is strong in California, where there is a large Asian-American population.
– 30 – CNS-08-02-00