Thursday, November 12, 2015

GOP makes a push for Asian/American voters

BELIEVE IT or not, the Republican Party is making an effort to woo Asian/American voters, who in the last two presidential elections have moved more into the Democratic camp.

The GOP hopes that they will be able to sway enough AAPI voters to weaken the impact the small but politically and financially potent influence that Asian/Americans have in key states and races. 

This past summer, the RNC launched the Republican Leadership Initiative, which hopes to recruit “Asian Pacific American grassroots leadership.”

The release of this commercial "It's Our Time," is part of that outreach.

Nothing groundbreaking or innovative, but at least the attempt is there.

"There was a time when Asian Americans seemed reliably pro-Republican. In 1992, President George H.W. Bush got 55 percent of the Asian American vote. Bob Dole also won more of the AAPI vote — 48 percent to Bill Clinton’s 43 percent," wrote Bobby Calvan for Al Jazeera in a three-part series about Asian/American & Pacific Islander voters.

Republicans pin their hopes on the fact that nearly half of Asian/American voters claim to be "independent," according to a Pew study.

The GOP believes that the AAPI vote still can be persuaded to vote GOP.  "In the 2014 midterm elections, some exit polls suggested that Asian Americans were about evenly split between Democratic and Republican candidates — a dramatic turn from the 2012 presidential election, when 73 percent of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) aligned with the Democrats," read the Al Jazeera article.

RELATED: 3-part series on Asian/American electorate by Al Jazeera

It remains to be seen if the party's new message can overcome what's coming out of the mouths of the GOP's presidential candidates. 

There are a number of factors why AAPI have shifted to the Democratic camp in the last eight years. One is President Obama himself, who spent most of his childhood among Asians in Hawaii and Indonesia. 

There is also a fear that the influence of the Christian right on the GOP raises questions about the Republican party's assertion of openness among Asians, the majority of whom are non-Christians.

The biggest obstacle for the GOP efforts is its stance on immigration. Most Asian/Americans, no matter how long they have lived in the U.S., favor a more liberal immigration policy including a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

The "anchor baby" controversy has set back any efforts of wooing the Asian/American electorate, the fastest growing immigrant groups. In 2012, immigration from Asian countries surpassed immigration from Latin America. The statements and wild anti-immigrant statements the GOP presidential candidates constitute a strong push factor in making AAPI voters swing more towards the Democrats.

What the GOP doesn't understand is that if they take a stand against immigrants and you take a stand against family.

It does not help the Republican party’s attempts to dispel that unfavorable notion when most of the “Asians” in its newly formed “Asian Republican Coalition turns out to be white businessmen in Hong Kong,

“We have a very broad definition of what constitutes the Asian American community," says white businessman Thomas Britt, the vice chairman of ARC and a former Asia Finance Chairman of the Republican National Committee.

 "The Asian Republican Coalition is open to all Americans, including Asian Americans and those of us like me who are not ethnically Asian but have spent twenty years living in Hong Kong.” That might appeal to some Asians, but certainly not to the admittedly small group of  Asian/Americans that with whom I interact, most of whom strongly resent anything that might even hint at a colonial relationship.

"Is this a joke?" asks Frank Chi, a Democratic media consultant, when told how Britt defined  Asian American. "If not, then this is a fundamental misreading of politics in a multicultural America."

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