Don’t assume all Asian Americans are Democrats ... there’s more political diversity than that

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 November, 2016, 10:31am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 November, 2016, 11:08am

“You’re an Asian. You must be a Democrat! You have to be a Democrat!” exclaimed a woman I was interviewing in Las Vegas, suddenly turning the tables and “interviewing” me about which candidate I support in the US presidential election.

The woman, an ardent Democratic Party supporter, thought I was also a US citizen and started pitching the idea that the Democrats were the ultimate choice for all Asian Americans.

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Statistically, she may have a point. A recent survey conducted by several Asian American advocacy groups, including Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote, said the number of Asian American registered voters identifying themselves as Democrats has increased from 35 per cent to 47 per cent of over the past four years.

The idea that all Asian Americans are likely to be a Democrat is an easy assumption to make, but jumping to conclusions ignores a political diversity within the community that has often been overlooked by the media.

I talked to a group of Filipino Americans at a social gathering and found the majority were Republican supporters who back Donald Trump. They believe he is the candidate who can bring prosperity back to the United States.

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I have also spoken to Filipino Americans who believe that the spirit and core values in American society can only be preserved under a Democratic Party administration.

My assignment in the US is to find out what Asian Americans think about this election, but I have found the more people I talk to, the more difficult it is for me to sum up everyone’s views in one simple narrative. Opinions are diverse even among small groups of people, let alone all of the 17 million Asian Americans.

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At one Filipino American gathering, I was particularly impressed by how they were able to make fun of each other’s support for their preferred candidate, but harboured no hard feelings about the ribbing.

There is at least one thing they have in common - they all cherish the freedom and the right to vote.