Here’s a truly odd observation from the usually-excellent Marc Ambinder. Writing about Jeremy Lin, Asian-Americans, and the Republican Party, Ambinder argues:
If Republicans were to rid themselves of their anti-immigrant wing, or if they choose not allow their primaries to be controlled by it, there is no real reason why Asian-Americans can’t become a true swing constituency. Their allegiances with the Democratic Party are tenuous. “If Asians vote for Republicans like Jews have traditionally voted for Democrats, Republicans could see many advantages,” [Asian right-wing activist Tony] Lee says. “For that to happen, Asians have to see conservatism as the best way for them to be more integrated and assimilated into the mainstream for themselves and their children, which should not be that hard a sell.” Look again at Lin’s own story: he faced discrimination as a kid playing on the courts of (even) Palo Alto, and slurs while at Harvard, but because of his superior natural abilities, rose up through the most meritocratic institution in society. There is no affirmative action based on race or last name. If you can’t play, you are not going to get on the court. That up-by-the-sneaker-laces narrative is a vital part of Lin’s appeal—and the Republican deal.
The first, and probably most important criticism is that the “up-by-the-sneaker-laces narrative” is most definitely not the “Republican deal.” Today’s GOP is committed to doing everything it can to ensure economic inequality and social immobility. It seeks to destroy all those things that enhance mobility and to even discussing the issue. Paul Ryan made a big deal about saying economic inequality was irrelevant because American has more social mobility: when confronted with the inconvenient truth that the United States is far less mobile than Europe, he has dropped the discussion altogether.