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In the awakening, Asian Americans are still forming political forces

When Mike Park first heard about the recent shooting in Atlanta, he felt angry and terrified. But almost immediately, he had another idea.

He said: “We can’t just sit down.” “We can’t sit in our little colony anymore.”

Parker was born in South Carolina, a South Korean immigrant, and wanted to escape his Asian identity when he grew up. When his friend did not want to eat dinner at home because he was not used to pickled radishes and cabbage in the refrigerator, he felt embarrassed because he had to be a student who wanted to speak at Asia Pacific Day.

Parker is 42 years old. He has both Korean ancestry and the same Asian American identity as his peers. The Atlanta shooting killed 8 people, including 6 Asian Asian women, which made him feel more united, especially after the surge in prejudice against Asians nationwide.

Parker said: “I do think this terrible crime brought people together.” Parker worked as an insurance agent in Duluth, a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. “This is indeed a wake-up.”

For many years, Asian Americans have been one of the least likely countries for people of any race or ethnicity to vote or join a community or advocacy group. Today, they are entering public life, running for public office with a record number of people, and voting for elections, which is greater than ever. They are now the fastest growing group of American voters.

But as a political force, Asian Americans are still taking shape. Their voting history is relatively short, so unlike demographic groups with different demographics, their families have established partisan loyalty and voting tendencies in several generations. Most of their families arrived in the United States after 1965, when the United States opened its doors to Asian people. The class division is also very broad. Among Asian Americans, the gap between rich and poor is the largest.

Karthick Ramakrishnan, president of AAPI data, said: “These are your classic swing voters.” These immigrants did not grow up in democratic or Republican families. You have more persuasive power. “

Historical data on the voting patterns of Asian Americans is mixed. Ramakrishnan said that analysis of withdrawal polls showed that most people voted for George Bush in 1992. Today, most Asians vote for the Democrats, but this masks the deep differences between the various subgroups. For example, Vietnamese-Americans tend to be Republican, while Indian-Americans tend to be Democrats.

It is too early to divide the final data on the Asian American voting in 2020 by party or ethnicity. But one thing seems clear-the turnout of Asian Americans seems to be higher than ever. Mr. Ramakrishnan analyzed preliminary estimates from voter data company Catalist The data is based on available earnings in 33 states representing two-thirds of eligible Asian voters. It is estimated that among all races or ethnic groups, adult Asian American voters have the highest increase in voter turnout.

As relatively new voters, many Asian Americans find themselves uniquely interested in the two main parties, attracting Democrats’ stance on guns and health care, and attracting Republicans’ support and support for small businesses. Support for self-reliance. But they are not in the neat category. The Democratic Party’s position on immigration has attracted some people and rejected others. The anti-communist language of the Republican Party attracted some people. Others were indifferent.

Former President Donald J. Trump repeatedly mentioned the “Chinese virus”, which disturbed many Chinese-American voters. Democrats’ support for the school’s affirmative action policy aroused strong opposition from some Asian groups. Even the violence and insults against Asians that began to break out last spring after the coronavirus began to spread have pushed people in different directions politically. Some people blamed Mr. Trump and his followers. Others believe that Republicans are supporters of the police and law and order.

Yeun Jae Kim, 32, voted for the first time last year. His parents moved from Seoul to the suburbs of Florida when they were young and started a truck parts salvage business. Mr. King then graduated from Georgia Institute of Technology and then worked for the Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta, but like his parents, he was so focused on keeping him from voting or not considering politics at all.

Changed my mind last year. But how to vote and who to choose? He and his wife spent a few hours watching videos on YouTube and talking with a politically experienced friend (also a Korean-American) in the church.

Kim Jong-un said: “For me, it’s difficult.” Kim Jong-un described himself as a “middleman” politically. “The Democrats do do certain things, and I really like them. I do like certain things about what the Republicans do.”

He wants to keep it secret. But he said that voting made him feel good.

He said: “It makes me very proud of this country.” It’s like everyone is together. It makes me feel connected with other people who also voted. “

Part of the new vitality in Asian American politics comes from second-generation immigrants, who are now in their 30s and 40s, and form families that are more racially mixed and civic than their parents. Dozens of languages, cultures and histories are shaping a new Asian American identity.

Marc Ang, 39, a conservative political activist and business owner in Orange County, California, said: “Now, this is the arrival of the times.” His father is a Chinese Filipino Immigrated to California in the 1980s. White-collar workers in the steel industry. The state is now inhabited by about one-third of Asian Americans in the country.

Unger said: “Suddenly, we are top doctors, top lawyers, top businessmen.” He pointed out that there are about 6 million Asians in California, the size of Singapore. “We will inevitably become a voting group.”

Last year, Mr. Ang, a Republican, worked hard to defeat an affirmative action proposition. But he praised the efforts made by the Democrats in the past year to arouse people’s attention. He said it was an inspiring force, and even united with the least political participation from different countries such as China, Vietnam, and the Philippines. People and South Korea.

More and more Asian Americans are running for public office. These include Andrew Yang, one of the early leaders who ran for mayor of New York, and Michelle Wu, a city councilman who ran for mayor of Boston. Filipino-American Robert Bonta has just become the Attorney General of California.

According to AAPI data, by 2020, at least 158 ​​Asian Americans will run for the state legislature, a 15% increase from 2018.

Georgia State Representative Marvin Lim claimed to be a 1.5-generation immigrant: He came to the United States from the Philippines when he was 7 years old.

Mr. Lin spent many years on public assistance. He said his family “did not see boots working for us.” He said that he became a civil rights lawyer and began to vote for Democrats because their values ​​are more consistent with his views. Coincide. The 36-year-old won a seat in the Georgia House of Representatives in November and met with President Biden when he visited Atlanta last month after the shooting.

He said: “I have never been more important than I am now.”

Asian Americans tend to be Democrats. This is especially true among people born in the United States. However, there are also some things that have caused Asians to leave the Democratic Party.

Vietnamese immigrant Anthony Lam fled as a refugee in the 1970s and grew up in Los Angeles to become a working class. He usually voted for the Democratic Party. However, as the owner of a hair salon in San Diego, he became increasingly frustrated with the coronavirus lockdown instructions and was turned away by riots during the “Black Life Issue” protests. When he criticized the robbery, he said that some white Democrats condemned him.

He said: “They said,’You don’t understand racism.’ “I thought,’Wait a minute. Did you have racism just now? I have lived for 40 years. ‘”

Mr. Lin voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. He supported Yang Zhiyuan in the Democratic primary election last year. But he said that he ultimately voted for Trump mainly out of frustration with Democrats.

Despite the recent increase in political representation, some Asian-American communities still feel invisible, and some members believe this may lead to a right turn.

Rob Yang, a Hmong American, owned shoe and clothing stores in Minneapolis and St. Paul, but he grew up poor among refugees. After the murder of George Floyd in his traditional, predominantly working-class Hmong community, he has been observing the turmoil. During the “Black Lives Matter” protests, his own store was stripped of merchandise.

Mr. Yang voted for Mr. Biden. He said that he supports the Black Life Issues movement, but certain people in his community do not. Years of intangible feelings made them frustrated and demoralized.

According to him, Asians still do not have enough voice, and he fears that the pressure to keep everything for years is reaching dangerous levels. He said he was worried that a populist Asian leader “Trump of Asia” might have a huge following because of this frustration. He said: “We have persisted for a long time, and this will only hit us in the right circumstances.”

For Mr. Park, an insurance agent in suburban Atlanta, the attacks in his city and other parts of the United States make people think that economic success does not guarantee protection from racial discrimination in American life. He said that it is time for Asian Americans to stand up and demand that they have a place in American politics.

He said: “It got rid of the idea of ​​a protruding nail being driven in.” “We realized it was okay to stick to it.”

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