Silicon Valley‘s stars Thomas Middleditch and Kumail Nanjiani tweeted over the weekend that they were targets of harassment Friday night by two Trump supporters who decided to use the occasion of Donald Trump’s presidential election to threaten the actors with sexist insults.
Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign by calling Mexicans “rapists” and “killers”. On the campaign trail, he has advocated a national registry for Muslims and has implied that the Black Lives Matter movement is comprised of violent criminals; he has even gone so far to condone violence against those protesters at his rallies. He has deployed racism against East and South Asians and suggested that he would restrict immigration from Pakistan and the Phillippines which he declared to among the world’s “terrorist” nations. He has insulted women, gays, and the disabled. He is the voice of the #Whitelash against globalism and America’s growing diversification.
It should come as no surprise, therefore, that one of only a handful of newspapers to endorse Trump was the official newspaper of the Ku Klux Klan. One of Trump’s most avid supporters is former KKK Imperial Wizard David Duke.
Following the devastating defeat of Democratic nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton by Republican nominee — and now President-elect — Donald Trump, national media outlets are now racing to figure out where it all went wrong. Some pundits have used national exit polling data to place the blame on voters of colour, noting that Black, Latino, and Asian voters supported Clinton at slightly lower margins than they voted to re-elected Barack Obama in 2012. Trump’s victory, they argue, is the fault of non-White voters whom they essentially blame for not acquiescing to their own electoral capture.
There are a couple of obvious issues with that damning narrative. One is, of course, that national exit polling data are wrong about Clinton’s support among AAPI voters.
On Tuesday, America will mark yet another Election Day. For Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), this coming election seems particularly relevant.
The AAPI electorate is among the fastest growing voter population in the country. In the last two presidential general elections, AAPI voters voted overwhelmingly in favour of Barack Obama. In several states during the 2012 election, AAPI voters voted for the incumbent president in large enough numbers to have likely swung their states into his column. With Election Day fast approaching, many of us have been reminded of the power of our vote. We have been the target of exhortations to turn out to the ballot box on November 8th. It has been widely speculated that AAPI voters and other voters of colour – who collectively support Democratic nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by three-to-one margins – are likely to win the first female president of the United States her place in the Oval Office.
It seems obvious that greater electoral numbers for AAPIs should yield concomitant greater political power for our community. America is a representative democracy, wherein constituents are promised a seat at the table by a simple sociopolitical contract: our votes are offered to politicians as a quid pro quo promise of beneficial policy changes. More votes might therefore be assumed to invite better policies. Indeed, some AAPI groups – most notably 80-20 — deploy such thinking as rationale for their mission to create a national AAPI voting bloc comprising 80% or more of all voting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders; the group’s leaders seek to leverage that bloc for or against specific candidates.
But what if this thinking is flawed; or, at least, incomplete? What if sheer voting numbers do not alone guarantee greater political power for voters on the fringes of American politics? How do AAPI voters, and other voters of colour, build political power when we must cast our votes in a system structurally resistant to prioritizing issues of race and racism?
Lakshmi: If you follow lots of South Asians on Twitter (as we both do) you probably saw lots of tweets on Saturday about what I’ve been calling “The Trumpet’s Hindutvaganza.” Which is to say, the Donald headed to NJ to pander to the Hindu American vote. What stood out to you?
Asha: “Do they not realize they have brown skin?” was my first thought.