After seeing a few folks mistakenly characterize Minnesota as “uber liberal,” we asked outspoken Korean adoptee Jayme Hansen to share his thoughts on the most recent Minnesota caucus election won by Rick Santorum. Additionally, we also asked him to weave his personal story (he was raised in these parts) within that context. Jayme was game, and offered up the following, which we anticipate will ruffle some feathers.
P.S. Jayme K. Hansen was born as Yoon, Dong Jin in Chung-ju, South Korea. He is currently living near Seattle Washington with his wife and two children. He is a highly decorated military officer working as a hospital comptroller for the US Army. He obtained his Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Master of Public Administration (MPA) from Syracuse University along with a Bachelors of Science (BS) in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences from Clarkson University along with internships with the National Security Studies Program and Project Lead Program through United Way. He has earned numerous awards and recognition with his work with NGO’s to include Korea America Friendship Society Medal and Good Neighbor Award from the American Red Cross.
By Jayme Hansen
When it comes to Minnesota politics, nobody can say that it’s boring! What other state can boast that it has elected a comedian (Al Franken) and a professional wrestler (Jesse Ventura) alongside a political giant like Walter Mondale? In the recent Minnesota caucus election, Mr. Rick Santorum won by a landslide with nearly 45% of the votes in Minnesota. Is this something for the conservative party to celebrate? I, like many other pundits, say no.
Mr. Santorum’s Caucus win is nothing to celebrate as only 1% of the voting age population went to the polls. The election really said nothing about how the state will vote in the future or even how well he did in that state against his rivals. I think the vote was heavily influenced by small pockets of conservative voters. I’d continue to venture out and say that the majority of the voters in the state had no interest in voting for a conservative – hence the poor voter turnout. This caucus election reminds me of something that I learned in business school: that a homogeneous sample will give you the smallest variance and therefore the smallest confidence interval, but that doesn’t mean it is an accurate representation of your population. We shall see if my theory is true in the November general election.
Minnesota politics is as contrast as the gazillion adoptees who inhibit the state. Minnesota historically has been a democratic voting state when it comes to the election of the President of the United States. However, this doesn’t mean that conservatives can’t be successful. Minnesota has produced conservative politicians. I think we see this contrast due to the differences of the populations that is seen in the state itself. In the niche rural communities, individuals tend to be more religious, pro-life, and adhering to conservative views than their city cousins, who tend to be more liberal. This explains an unusual phenomena – why Minnesotans’ have voted for a Democratic President a total of nine times out of the past ten presidential elections and in contrast allow uber conservatives like Michelle Bauchmann to serves the 6th district in a state that is generally regarded as liberal. The much larger city population votes carry the presidential nominations when there is a large voter turnout and the pockets of conservative voting constituents in the countryside can elect a contrasting politician.
I think this political scenario beautifully explains why we see a contrasting difference in the adoptee community. There is a stark difference between the adoptee who was raised by the generally cold, distant religious families found in the rural communities and the more liberal families seen in the cities. We have the “angry adoptees” on one hand and the happy accepting on the other. I don’t think many adoptees really think about why they think the way they do. We have been taught at school and by society that individuals independently decide on who they are, but in reality, people’s political views, religion, and other “choices” are heavily influenced by the individual’s families. A case in point is that an overwhelming number of Korean adoptees have the same religion as their adopted families. If a genetic component existed with religion, we would see a similar distribution of Buddhists as seen in Korea (nearly 50% of non-adopted Koreans are Buddhists). Most people know that to think genetics has any play in the influence of a person’s religious beliefs is sheer nonsense. However, few take this into consideration with their political views or other life choices that they have made. I think this is why individuals like me who grew up in an environment that was less forgiving can see the adoption process under a more critical eye and see flaws in the process more easily. This metamorphism did not come overnight nor did the change come without struggles and pain.
My story is no different than what hundreds, possibly thousands of adoptees had to endure – a life of pain and suffering brought on by the hands of the people who adopted us. I was adopted by a Scandinavian couple who was unable to have children. I was moved to the Midwest and lived a difficult life that was filled with mental torture, physical abuse and hard physical labor. I was forced to get up before dawn every morning at 5:00 am to feed and milk the cattle of my adopted family’s farm. I was berated daily by the people who called themselves my family and for entertainment they would have the dog attack and bite me. The community that I grew up in did not treat me any better. When I was in 1st grade, a high school senior wrote obscenities on my face with a permanent magic marker. Later in life a kid dumped a plate of food on my head at my first day of school and, in my 99% all white high school, I was called a gook, rice ball, and other hurtful names on a daily basis. Despite having these negative experiences I strongly latched onto the uber conservative ideals that was held by my family and community that I lived in. I became very religious and spend a great deal of my time reading and studying the Bible. I taught Sunday school, Vocation Bible School and even contemplated enrolling into a seminary program. I believed in corporal punishment, I was pro-life, pro-NRA, anti-homosexual, and proactive with the intelligent design movement. You could say that I was the ultimate conservative.
My life began to change as I moved away from home and experienced a different way of life. My belief system was challenged and my soul writhed in pain as I thought about the implications of my beliefs. How could my young nephew’s homosexuality be wrong? I knew that he was “different” than his brothers, even when he was a young child. When I spoke to a close friend, who worked with the Peace Corps, she informed me that her experiences later helped her to be pro-choice. I wondered if I made the right choice as I heard about the countless number of children being born to a bleak future as they starved to death or to have died with agonizing pain of a curable disease. Even the bedrock of knowledge I gained through thousands of hours of studying intelligent design was questioned when I studied biology and learned about the views of brilliant scientists like Watson and Crick.
I’m not saying that being pro-conservative is better or worse than being a Democrat. I’m merely trying to point out that our belief structures, i.e., politics, religion, etc., are shaped by our families and societies. I learned through my own life that it is extremely difficult to change ones opinion, even with the use of logic and emotion. These beliefs become ingrained within us by our parents, and we learn to constantly support these views with the distorted lens we have been retrofitted. All I can say is, “Of course you can’t see it!” In the like manner, I realize that there are also contrasting views to adoption. There are the kids who were adopted into loving families, assimilated into society with minimal issues, and were able to attend Culture Camps on a routine basis. These individuals will see the adoption process in a completely different light than those who have had to endure beatings, rapes, and unspeakable acts by their parents. We are all uniquely different and we each have a different point of view that is shaped by our experiences. Unlike the political parties that take hard stances, lets agree on that.