By Ruth Bayang
Northwest Asian Weekly
The line extended for 10 downtown city blocks around Everett’s Xfinity Arena on Aug. 30.
Thousands of Trump supporters were there for a rally — confirmed just days prior — by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Some people began lining up at 2 a.m.
Trump claimed the crowd was a record for the arena.
I went there with the goal of finding local Asian American supporters who were willing to go on the record. Supporters I have communicated with in the past backed out from voicing their views because they say they received death threats, or feared that they would lose their jobs, or that people would boycott their businesses. I felt a little apprehensive at first. An Asian woman, alone, among people reputed to be hateful toward non-whites. I scanned the crowd and walked the entire length of the line — looking at faces. The crowd was overwhelmingly white. I spotted a handful of Latinos, Blacks, and Asians.
Out of the eight people or groups of Asians I felt comfortable approaching, only three agreed to be interviewed. One of the willing participants was Junryo Miyashita, a retired college professor from Olympia, and until now, a lifelong Democrat. My apprehension faded once I started a conversation with this friendly, yet passionate, gentleman.
“Who did you vote for the last time?” I asked. “Obama — that was a big mistake!” said Miyashita.
“[Trump] is not a regular Republican. He’s against the establishment, more common sense, and much more neutral,” said Miyashita, who was born in Japan.
He said he voted for Barack Obama the last time because he thought Obama would back a so-called single-payer health care system, in which the government pays for care for all citizens, similar to Canada.
“Our health care is a mess.” Now Miyashita — who has never voted for a Republican — is voting for Trump, believing that the GOP nominee will back a single-payer system.
Miyashita’s friend, who was standing in line with him, agreed.
“Obamacare is no good,” said Li Zhou, a nurse from Bremerton and native of China.
In her profession, Zhou said she comes across people daily who struggle to meet their high deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses.
She’s an Independent now jumping on the Trump train.
“Don’t listen to those news reports,” Zhou said about accusations that Trump is a racist. “CNN, MSNBC … they make me sick.”
“[Trump] hires Blacks, Latinos. He’s color blind.”
Zhou said she believes accounts of people who have known Trump for 20, 30, 40-plus years, not the media.
“The people who know him well all say he’s fair, that he’s a gentleman.” According to Zhou, that is not the case with Trump’s rival, Hillary Clinton.
Susan Chung Warner of Seattle said she doesn’t believe Trump is a racist either.
“He’s right off the cuff and he’s not a professional politician,” said Warner, who moved to the United States from Korea.
Warner believes that while Trump doesn’t always say the right things, she chalks it up to his passion and his “big picture of wanting to make America great again.”
“My dad worked very hard. He lived the American Dream,” said Warner.
“We should be grateful for the country that we live in.”
Whether you agree with them or not, I applaud their willingness to come forth, identify who they are, and spell out their beliefs in a friendly manner. And it’s always great to witness citizens exercising their right to vote.
Ruth can be reached at email@example.com.