Asian American Community Are Getting Involved More with Politics

By Seaver Wong

Exactly a month ago was the Presidential Election. Mitt Romney was running on the Republican side against Barack Obama on the Democratic side. Obama ended up winning the election 332 electoral votes to 226 electoral votes. 270 is the minimum number of electoral votes needed to win. Obama also had 50% of the popular votes with 60,459,974 total votes. Compared to Romney’s 48% of the popular votes and 57,653,982 total votes, it looked very close in terms of the popular vote and total votes altogether, while the electoral votes tell a bit of a different story. Most important is the amount of Asian American voters that came out to vote for Obama. 73% of the Asian American community voted for Obama. That is major news. This is part of a shift towards the Democrats from past years, especially in 2008 where he won only two-thirds of their vote. Asian Americans are clearly getting more involved in politics and what is happening to their home country. They want to see change and reform, which is a great thing to see. Ethnic minorities are getting more involved in helping their country out and steering the direction that they want it to go towards. Obama made repeated attempts to sway minority groups which worked perfectly in his favor. The Asian American population voted for Obama because he gave them a reason to. Romney didn’t make any move to sway ethnic minorities, whereas Obama did. That was a big reason why Obama won. His narrative was enough to convince members of the Asian American population to vote him into a second term. This is ironic since less than half of the Asian American community were never contacted by campaigns. From personal experience, I fit into that category. I was only contacted with pre-recorded phone messages to vote on Election Day. I think that’s better because I really do not like pre-recorded messages and I am more likely to hang up on pre-recorded messages. Obama won because of the different ethnicities that came out to vote him into a second term in office. The Republicans are going to have to rework their strategy for the 2016 Presidential Election.

Thirty new Asian American candidates also ran for office. Five of them won. One is still too close to call as of November 14th. Grace Meng won the open seat in the 6th Congressional District for New York. Her campaign was about evolving demographics. It was also noted that although 1.6 million Asian Americans reside in New York, Asian Americans have also been underrepresented in local politics and on the national political stage. Meng hopes to change that. She and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois are officially the first Asian American members of Congress from their respective states. Mazie Hirono became the first foreign-born Asian woman to be sworn into national office and the first Japanese immigrant to be elected into the U.S. Senate. She is also the first Senator to represent Hawaii. California representative-elect Mark Takano, Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, and eight Congressional Asian-Pacific American Caucus members who were reelected currently round out the list of elected and reelected Asian Americans. Ami Bera’s race in California has still yet to be decided, but she has a lead of 119,726 votes over Dan Lungren’s 115,902 votes. That’s a difference of 3,824 votes. That lead is getting bigger.

Since Obama won, his second term will be under more scrutiny and criticism. In my opinion, we haven’t gotten change. Obamacare largely failed to pass, unemployment has lowered a bit, but the federal deficit is still rising. However, he has focused a lot on cyber-warfare, including creating Stuxnet, which infected Iranian centrifuges and creating drones to spy on other countries. He gave approval to the orders that led to Osama bin Laden’s death. In Obama’s second term, Obama is going to have to work with the new members of Congress, the majority of whom are Republicans. He’s also going to have to find a way to reduce that federal deficit and lower unemployment. He promised new jobs during the debates. Now he needs to make good on those promises. He’s going to have to work even harder to show the change that he was talking about in his first term. The economy isn’t in great shape, but it’s seen worse. There has been talks that we might go over a “cliff” and that we might end up in another recession in the worst case scenario. This is one of the things that Obama has to prevent. He has to find a way to prevent the economy from hemorrhaging any more money and lower the unemployment rate. The U.S. people are going to be looking into what he does with increased scrutiny. In light of the scandal involving ex-CIA director David Petraeus, the Benghazi attack, and the FBI investigation, Obama needs to personally vet new potential members before letting them into his cabinet. The worst case scenario might turn out to be a Watergate repeat and nobody wants that happening again. Then again, Obama isn’t Richard Nixon. Obama is definitely going to have more eyes on him in his second term as he is subject to increased criticism as he tries to make good on the promises that he stated during the debates and in his campaign this year. He can’t get a free ride anymore because change has to happen now.

Onto the subject of Asian Americans, Asian Americans are now a force to take into account. It proves that the concept of the United States works. Asian Americans are taking more advantage of the opportunities that they are afforded. We’re getting our voices out there and it’s getting harder to dismiss and ignore the Asian American community. Congress’ diversity is maturing and increasing. It’s no longer a Caucasian only environment. Equality is really happening. It’s a real milestone here. This may lead to improved relations between Asian countries such as China and maybe North Korea, even though that’s a major longshot. However, anything is possible. Also, Asian Americans can now work to improve the way of life for the previous and future generations and immigrants in the U.S. Any Asian immigrant who has had to come into the U.S. to see that their children have a better life than they did can now see that coming to fruition. It’s happening and it’s real. We’re truly in a better place now than we were a decade ago. It may not be perfect as we still have to contend with racial stereotypes and insults, but the opportunities that are possible to us now are glimmers of hope for us.

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Comptroller John Liu. Photo by Peter Yang Zhao

Assemblyman Ron Kim + Congresswoman Grace Meng. Photo by Peter Yang Zhao

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