The Obama campaign has not failed to recognize the importance of the Asian-American and Asian-Pacific Islander vote. It's time that those of us on the blogs who are not AAPIs begin to take more notice as well.
Though a lot of media attention has been focused on the Latino vote in light of the president's announcement of his executive order re: young undocumented immigrants, it's important to remember that, like Latinos, there are also Asian Americans with an interest in immigration policy. Like Latinos, many Asian Americans and Asian Pacific Islanders have been U.S. citizens for many generations—so they have a vested interest in other policies put forth by Democrats.
But the AAPI communities differ from the broad category we dub Latino or Hispanic in several ways. Latinos as a demographic are composed of multiple cultures—from Afro-Caribbean to Indio-Mexican. The Spanish language, with regional variations, is the shared common factor. Religion—usually Catholic or Protestant—also creates bonds. Geographical roots, whether in Latin America or the Caribbean, are co-factors. Conversely, the AAPI category spans the globe in origin—in geography, in languages, cultures and many religions.
I read this recent NY Times article with great interest, and Democrats at all levels of party organization should be taking note.
Asians have surpassed Hispanics as the largest wave of new immigrants to the United States, pushing the population of Asian descent to a record 18.2 million and helping to make Asians the fastest-growing racial group in the country, according to a study released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center.
While Asian immigration has increased slightly in recent years, the shift in ranking is largely attributable to the sharp decline in Hispanic immigration, the study said.
About 430,000 Asians — or 36 percent of all new immigrants, legal and illegal — moved to the United States in 2010, compared with 370,000 Hispanics, or 31 percent of all new arrivals, the study said. Just three years earlier, the ratio was reversed: about 390,000 Asians immigrated in 2007, compared with 540,000 Hispanics.
“Asians have become the largest stream of new immigrants to the U.S. — and, thus, the latest leading actors in this great American drama” of immigration, Paul Taylor, executive vice president of the Pew Research Center, wrote in the report.
All of us who blog, grassroots organize and who are engaged in voter registration should become familiar with the data in the PEW Report: The Rise of Asian-Americans
Their findings, particularly those relating to political and social attitudes, were extremely interesting.
Compared with the general public, Asian Americans are more likely to support an activist government and less likely to identify as Republicans. Half are Democrats or lean Democratic, while only 28% identify with or lean toward the GOP. Among all American adults, 49% fall in the Democratic camp and 39% identify with or lean toward the Republican Party. Indian Americans are the most heavily Democratic Asian subgroup (65%), while Filipino Americans and Vietnamese Americans are the most evenly split between the two parties.(Continue reading below the fold)
President Obama gets higher ratings from Asian Americans than from the general public —54% approve of the way he is handling his job as president, compared with 44% of the general public. In 2008, Asian-American voters supported Obama over Republican John McCain by 62% to 35%, according to Election Day exit polls. On balance, Asian Americans prefer a big government that provides more services (55%) over a smaller government than provides fewer services (36%). In contrast, the general public prefers a smaller government over a bigger government, by 52% to 39%.
While they differ on the role of government, Asian Americans are close to the public in their opinions about two key social issues. By a ratio of 53% to 35%, Asian Americans say homosexuality should be accepted by society rather than discouraged. And on the issue of abortion, 54% of Asian Americans say it should be legal in all or most cases, while 37% say it should be illegal.
When I examined this demographic breakdown, I realized that I only have experience with two of the groups listed—Chinese and Korean Americans, since I lived in two communities in NYC in which these groups predominated—Chinatown and Sunnyside Queens—and had done political work with Chinese-American activists.
That made me wonder about the experiences of other activists and progressives—how often do we link to or discuss issues that involve AAPI groups?
Here at Daily Kos, we have several sub-communities that are ethnic specific, including Native American Netroots, Black Kos and LatinoKos. The APA Kos group only has 4 members and could use support.
The population of the U.S. is changing. The Republican Party is resisting that change—kicking, screaming, and blocking. As Democrats, we need to take a good look at our big tent, and where AAPIs fit in under it.