THE BLOG

Asian Voices: Progressives, Are You Listening?

08/05/2013 12:33 pm ET | Updated Oct 05, 2013

Start including Asian voters in any discussion of Black and Hispanic issues. We've heard little of the 1.4 million undocumented Asians or 200k Asian youth who qualify for the DreamACT. Remember, Bill Clinton never won the Asian vote, andwe shouldn't take it for granted in 2016.

Asian-Americans appear to be the only large (and growing) voting group whose interests align with the Democratic Party and yet they are rarely afforded the same share of the 'debate spotlight' as social issues relevant to women, LGBT, Black, Hispanic, religious minority, middle-income and low-income voters. The absence of Asian voters' concerns in the public debate allows the GOP to take a revanchist approach to legislation affecting minority populations with the belief that they're acting in impunity. To be blunt, they may feel the Black/Latino/LGBT demographic groups affected are inexorably members of the Democratic Party, and therefore there's nothing to gain by supporting a law and/or no cost in repealing a law tailored to the concerns of such groups.

The Republican Party DOES, however, believe it should be winning the Asian vote. Thus, if Progressives reached out to the Asian-American community and sought their engagement on key issues, it may bring more Republicans to the table to prevent Democrats from completely filling that vacuum.

The Immigration Reform debate provides an excellent example. Democratic politicians, Progressive news hosts and analysts, and many Liberal bloggers engaged in this debate have focused on the importance of the legislation for Hispanic youth and families. Almost no attention has been paid, however, to what Immigration Reform means for the 1.4 million undocumented Asian immigrants, or the 200,000 undocumented Asian youth who qualify for the DreamACT. According to the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, nearly half of the 4.3 million people in our immigration backlog are individuals from Asian countries waiting to be reunited with their families.

If the implications of Immigration Reform for Asian voters (which the GOP believes they 'should' win) were given the same attention as the implications for Hispanic voters (which the GOP may believe they will never win again) and LGBT voters with international spouses (which the GOP apparently never wants to win), then there may be more House Republicans open to supporting it.

There are several other key issues where Asian-Americans' and Progressives' policy preferences align. Consider the following:

Abortion. During the 2012 election, Mitt Romney gave an interview where he stated he wanted to see a prohibition on abortion. This strongly conflicts with the views of 54 percent of Asian-Americans who feel abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

End Racial Profiling Act. Like Blacks and Hispanics who are stopped and frisked due to their skin color, and LGBT who are attacked by gaycists on a regular basis, Asian Americans face profiling. Imagine an Asian woman walking home one night when she notices some unknown man following her in his truck. She starts moving faster to get away from him but he gets out of the vehicle and catches up to her. She defends herself fearing the stalker may try and rape her, and he takes out a gun and shoots her. Without legal protections against profiling, this woman's family would likely see the man who killed their daughter walk free on self-defense.

ObamaCare. While the GOP has attempted to repeal ObamaCare for the 40th time (going on 1,000), a majority of Asian-Americans support the health care law whereas only 18 percent are opposed.

SCOTUS Voting Rights Act Decision. Asian-American groups have been fervently opposed to the decision to strike section 4 of the Voting Rights Act. This is related to my earlier point: because the GOP likely thinks the VRA only applies to Blacks, a voting group they don't care to engage with, they had no problem striking it down & have no interest in amending it. However, if the concerns of Asian voters (and Hispanic & Indian/Native American) are brought to the VRA debate, the GOP will be more a more attentive audience.

Affirmative Action. Another issue where the GOP is largely opposed whereas the Democratic Party and Asian-Americans are aligned in support.

Gay Marriage. Despite Asian-Americans' support for same-sex marriage being lower than the national average, there has been an increase in support in the past few years (similar to the national trend).

Right now Republicans are more concerned with their NRA Scorecard than Compromise Scorecard, but as the Asian-American community continues to grow at a rate faster than Hispanics, as there are more majority-minority districts that are primarily Asian-American, and as they grow in swing-states such as Nevada, Virginia, & Texas, the GOP will have to respond appropriately to the concerns of diverse groups tethered by common fates. Should the Republican Party fail, the Whig Party will welcome their company.