Is GOP Overlooking the Asian American Voters in Virginia?

There was an article in our local Fairfax Times with the headlines: “Candidates target Asian American voters -Group’s high voter turnout likely to play key role in Virginia’s outcome.”

I loved this article because the Asian American vote is a key point in any election held in the present Northern Virginia and they hit it spot on.  Many of the local politicians understand and acknowledge this point–particularly the Democrats.

State Senator Chap Petersen outlined in his Ox Road South blog saying that the “demographic storm in Virginia which has been a gathering force for twenty years has now reached critical mass.”  He also wrote, “What is amazing is how national politicians, with presumably highly-paid consultants, have completely missed this cultural change in Virginia.  Instead, they simply divide the electorate into the same old cookie-cutter categories and write off those groups, which don’t fit the image of their prototypical supporter.  As a result, they miss the opportunity to make connections with these ‘minority’ groups, that would otherwise be sympathetic to their message.“  Chap went out of his way to do this.  He knew who his constituents were and he won.

Number one, politicians need to realize that in the Asian American communities, they need to be coddled and buttered up, not the other way around, as is usually the norm in the GOP.  This is particular essential in the Korean American communities where the people thrive in their individual churches and crave their place in the U.S. society.

One GOP politician who did this exceptionally well is the current Attorney General of Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli, who helped along the wave that brought in McDonnell as governor.  He was able to do this in every corner of Virginia and thus at the National Convention, he was the rock star of the day.  He went to the Korean Churches, ate Korean dinner with the Korean press although he had never tried the food before, gracefully showing his genuine look of newness at trying cuisine he never tasted before and he showed up at Korean specific events which told the community he cared.  He showed up.  He was the only GOP State Senator in a very blue Northern Virginia and the GOP has not replaced his seat yet.

What I’ve observed in this election and was disturbed about from the Romney campaign is that the focus and attention has not been on the actual constituency– and believe me, it is an easy win if you just show you care.  That is what the minority voters want to see.  Apparently, they’ve gone back to the ‘Old Boys Club’ ways and are just doing the same old thing, using the same old people whose art is to kiss the rear ends of whoever is in power.  It’s as if they’re trying to prove they can do something when in fact they are interlopers in the society of immigrants that has built their own factions and closed quarters.  These are the ones that are craving a position, a spot, maneuvering for titles and not for the vote to put on their resumes.  They don’t understand that the average immigrant vote is based on “what can you do for us?”  Thus they have held their rallies and have called in favorites of their friends of which some of are not even from their locale to show that they can bring in people.  The problem is that the majority of the people (who actually vote) cannot show up at these rallies because they are busy working and not trying to jockey for position in front of some political appointee.

I was so excited about the Fairfax Times article (regarding targeting Asian Americans) that I called the reporter, Ms. Holly Hobbes, hoping that someone was finally doing something to break the inroads of what needs to be done to swing Northern Virginia to Romney.   Speaking with the reporter, I was surprised and saddened that no one had called back from the local Romney campaign via the Fairfax County Republican Committee and the only thing they could report on was the Chinese photo op event in June.  What I recall of that event was that it was filled with the so called Leaders of the Asian American Communities but in my eyes, it was basically the individuals who were appointed positions within the McDonnell administration for their work in his campaign, yet the actual people who worked to get the vote were not there and were not even called or informed or mentioned.

Another example of missed opportunities was during the Asian Festival at George Mason University.  After being frustrated that there would be no Romney campaign booth at the festival–where there most certainly would be a Democratic presence—an Asian American campaign worker paid for a GOP booth herself.  Obviously the appointees showed up pretending to do their thing so that they could say, “yes we were there”, but did anyone actually contribute aside from face time?  No.  The unusual thing about this is that the money raised from the Asian American community most likely are coming from the Chinese community, most of whom cannot vote but the majority will come from the Koreans to turn the swing.  Ironically the people supposedly heading this are not even liked or known in the community but most of the time it is a one-man type of show with a “group” called the President of the Korean American Republicans.  Basically, one guy walks around with that title with no members, except for a handful that may say they are members just to be put on their curriculum vitae.

Now it is about 2 weeks countdown to the election and all of a sudden, the Romney campaign has announced n October 25, 2012, that they are launching Virginia Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders for Romney.  Whoop-dee-doo!  There is a list of Advisory Board Members, none of whom are the ones that are the real community leaders in Northern Virginia but are the interlopers who come out and use the leaders to hop onto their new jobs or appointed positions.  The real leaders don’t care, but they do want to be appreciated and are still doing their work in grassroots as best as they can without the support of this so-called “Advisory Board”—just like the lady who bought her own tent at the Asian Festival and used it as the Republican booth.

The thing that is the most twisted is that the Korean American reporters laugh when they see the list because they consider the majority of the people on the list clowns and users and there is no respect for them.  These people promised the community that they would be there for them but instead doors are closed for them.  That to me is more saddening, that the politicians are being manipulated and they’re not fact checking to find out how they can get the real vote and not just a façade of individuals who are jockeying for position when Romney wins.

To the independent minority Asian voter, these are the reasons why they will vote Obama.  When you have untrustworthy people being named as leaders in a community where they are not respected, which way do they have to turn?  How can they believe in Romney to take care of them when these individuals did not?

Scary, eh?



Jin Ah Jin

Virginia PolitiChick Jin Ah Jin has been the lead in campaigns for many politicians, including Ken Cuccinelli for both State Senate and Attorney General and she was appointed the Honorary Chairman for the Fairfax County Asian American Coalition for the McCain/ Palin campaign. Jin also assists in local minority grassroots politics in her state of Virginia. She believes if we can elect and support good officials whose root is the care of their constituents, then we can change things. In her past, Jin worked as a volunteer fundraiser for Mercy Corps raising awareness and money for the health and poverty of women and children in North Korea. She was also a volunteer fundraiser for the Korean American Association of Greater Washington, D.C. area and led the Education Committee to teach English for newly arrived legal immigrants to the area. In conjunction, she worked with the office of former Congressman Thomas Davis, who took the lead on reforms in the welfare bill for legal immigrants. Jin was a former Vice President of Resources, board member and Fundraising Gala chair for the Korean American Coalition of Washington, D.C. in 2001. She was on the Scholarship Committee and the co-chair of the golf tournament fundraiser for the U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce 2003-2006. More importantly, Jin is the mother of 6 children. She says her passion for service is led through her children's eyes: "I want change for my children. I want them to have a future where their dreams can become reality and where they can succeed without prejudice."

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