Five Obstacles In Our Quest For a Political Voice
Five obstacles prevent APAs from gaining our rightful share of political clout.
Obstacle I:"Building an APA political voice means electing APAs to high political offices," most APAs believe.
However, a truism in US politics is that an elected official must serve the interest of those who elected him/her.Therefore, unless an APA is elected in an APA-dominant election district, he/she may at best play an occasional complementary role in advancing APA interests. For such officials to do more is to arouse the suspicion of their constituents which probably will mean a defeat for such officials in the next election.
Hence, Jewish-American's political voice comes primarily from AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) that is not elected by registered voters.The black political voice initially came from Martin Luther King and his followers, none of whom were elected. Nowadays, it comes from NAACP andJesse Jackson who is not an elected official, and a few blackCongress-persons, elected in black-majority Districts.
An effective political voice means the ability to reward/censor elected official during elections.Only an non-elected entity that is NOT vulnerable to political pressure, has the ability to reward and punish politicians.
The above is not to say that we need not encourage people inour community to run for offices.Most elected APAs will likely help when they can.At a minimum, those with aconscience will pass political "know-how" and "insiders'knowledge" to our community.
Obstacle II:"We can not attain political clout until more APA register to vote," some said.
Getting APAs to register and vote is a worthy civic function.However, the truth is that so long as APAs vote about 50-50, we will not have a political voice even assuming that every eligible APA is registered to vote.To politicians, spending time and energy to serve the interests of a minority that votes 50-50 is like working hard for a small business deal with no margin of profit.
On the other hand, courting a minority capable of delivering 80-20 (such as the Jewish-American and black communities) is like chasing a small business deal that offers a huge profit margin of 60%.(The 80% vote obtained by the courting politician minus the 20% vote taken by the opponent yields a net gain of 60% of votes of that constituent group.)
Today, 6.5% of the voters in CA are Asian Americans.If weestablish ourselves to be a swing-block capable of delivering80-20, we'll be courted by politicians of both partiesIMMEDIATELY.CA is a must for any presidential candidate inyear 2000.CA has 54 electoral votes that is 20% of what'sneeded to be the next president.In addition, California'spresidential primary is in early March.Winning that primarymay be tantamount to winning the party nomination.
Its presidential primary is in early March, while winning the CAprimary may be tantamount to winning the party nomination. In addition, Its presidential primary is in early March, whilewinning the CA primary may be tantamount to winning theparty nomination.
Obstacle III:A lot of APAs believe that we already enjoy"first-class citizenship", so why seek a political voice.
The facts are that APAs are not accorded equal opportunity inworkplaces presently.That is we need a political clout.
Equal opportunity means: "For every man, woman and child togo as far and rise as high as their ambition and ability will takethem," The stark reality is that a glass ceiling hangs over AsianAmericans, as documented in government sponsored studies.
We have only 1/3 the opportunity of all other Americans to rise to the top in most walks of life.That diminution of opportunity applies to us in the academic world, the corporate world, and the federal government. Visit http://80-20.net for more detailed information.
Obstacle IV:Many APAs blindly believe in "bundling" without seeking accountability.
Bundling means putting political giving of an interest group together before handing it to a politician.It makes a deeper impression on the politician.
Whether bundling helps depends on whom we entrust to bundle the money. The individuals who bundle our money gain political clout with the powerful politicians.However, they must use their clout to serve the interests of our community.When our community faces a political problem, as in recent years when our entire community's image was tarnished owing to the alleged bad deeds of a few, these "bundlers" must use their clout to fight for us.If, instead, they hid when we needed them, we need to make a mental note of such individuals.
Obstacle V:Our belief that political clout must be granted to us by political forces outside of the APA community.
The fact is that RELIABLE political clout can not be granted by individuals or entities, no matter how powerful.It must be earned by a community's own effort.APAs must do the hard work to organize ourselves into a politically cohesive community.
Once the cohesiveness is there, we'll be able to reward, through financial giving and votes, politicians who share our major concerns, and censure those who don't.That, by definition, is political clout.
Get involved in creating a politically cohesive APA community.Your involvement will not only help you and your children but also America. America will be "a more perfect Union" when ten million APAs will have earned our rightful share of political voice.
SB Woo is the former lieutenant governor of Delaware and currently serves on the Steering Committee of the 80-20 Initiative.