Equality is the ‘Asian agenda’

From Carl Hum, vice president of policy and programs, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC 

There is an “Asian agenda,” and political candidates would be wise to figure it out  

A reader of Anne Kim’s Jan. 19 post “The myth of the ‘Asian vote,’ ” published on The Hill’s Contributors Blog, could come away with the impression that racial identity — at least when it comes to Asian-Americans — doesn’t matter in electoral politics. 

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But our research and experience tell us that while Asian-Americans are extremely diverse ethnically and economically, there is still common ground in how this new American voting bloc feels about key political and social issues.  

In advance of the 2014 midterms, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC surveyed, in five different languages, more than 1,300 registered Asian-American voters nationwide.

About 72 percent supported an increase in the federal minimum wage, 69 percent believed that the government should substantially reduce the gap between the rich and the poor, 69 percent supported campaign spending limits, 80 percent supported stricter gun control laws and 68 percent supportd affirmative action in higher education. 

All in all, our survey indicated that Asian-Americans support equality — racially and economically — and support increased government spending over tax cuts. 

This information can easily serve as the “Asian agenda,” but if candidates really wanted to understand Asian American communities, they need to get to know us personally — in language — to find out for themselves. 

As Kim cites, the Asian-American population is multiplying at a rate faster than any other racial group: 600,000 new voters every midterm election cycle. And yet, our survey found that prior to the 2014 midterms, 66 percent of Asian-Americans had not heard from Democratic candidates, and 74 percent had not heard from Republican candidates. 

It’s no wonder very few know what Asian-Americans stand for — it would be a wasted opportunity for any candidate to ignore this very cogent voting bloc.

Washington, D.C.

 

Alaska’s beauty needs protecting

From Earl Beal

President Obama is doing the right thing by proposing to designate the northern coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge a protected area. The market is flush with oil and gas currently. West Texas Intermediate Crude and Brent North Sea Oil prices have collapsed. Layoffs abound. The question, therefore, arises: What’s the purpose and utility relative to this push for new oil, gas exploration and drilling, especially in such an area featured as one of nature’s most glorious wonders on the face of this planet? 

Hey, America, have you forgotten what Exxon did to Alaska in 1989 with its egregious oil spill just off the port of Valdez into the Gulf of Alaska?

I was in Alaska for two years as a young man. I know Alaska remains united forever with this land of rugged individualism. Alaska is a crown jewel possessed of its majesty, with its cobalt-blue skies, pure clear streams and lakes and innocent four-legged animals who want to do nothing more than to survive without the threat of being assassinated by two-legged animals. 

Once you know her, Alaska never leaves your mind, character and soul. She hasn’t left mine these past 50 years. Though this land may tend to be unkind, her transgressions, like an unfaithful lover, can be forgiven.

The time, therefore, is at hand for this usually money-grubbing Congress to exercise some backbone for once, and buck up to their Big Oil lobbyists and their special interest buddies and accept the president’s proposal to keep this part of Alaska’s pristine beauty intact, minus the drilling rigs, air-filled stench, access roads, trash and humans associated with such endeavors.

— Terre Haute, Ind.