In the old days, when minority communities organized candidates’ forums, you would find that there were more candidates than attendees. Today, the attendance is decent, and some events are even packed. I was impressed that the audience knew how to ask intelligent questions at the Sea Beez forum. For the past five years, the Asian community has been actively organizing several major fundraising events for candidates, from Republicans to Democrats.
This process was developed through a desire to support specific candidates. U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, our former governor, inspired many Asian Americans and people of color to jump on the campaign bandwagon by doorbelling, putting out yard signs, donating funds, and hosting events for him.
People registered to vote for the first time because they wanted to be a part of history in electing the first Asian American governor in the continental United States.
Despite the fact that Locke is no longer in Washington state, political involvement has been kept alive. In 2008, at a wedding banquet, I overheard a Chinatown merchant chastising another man on why everyone should vote. “In America, if you don’t vote, you lose your voice, your identity. Voting is not just showing power; it shows unity. Don’t complain if people look down on the Chinese. You don’t even vote!”
This guy has been perceived as passive, and yet he spoke out so eloquently. I was surprised and elated with how progressive our community has become. ♦