The city of Irvine, California was just named one of Money magazine’s top 10 best places to live in the U.S. The mayor for the past for years is Sukhee Kang, a Korean-American entrepreneur. He is one of 17 Asians running for Congress in the U.S. this election year, a historic number that represents the growth in Asian immigration into the U.S.
“The political maturity of the community over many years has led to this,” explains Gloria Chan, president of the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies. She tells the Los Angeles Times, “This is the tipping point,” meaning the rise of the Asian population in America has resulted in Asian representation in American politics.
Chan adds to her statements with the acknowledgements that she can feel the excitement in Asian communities, where she identifies a “deeper understanding of what it means to run and how we can support each other.”
Of the 17 individuals running for office, six are in California – a state that reports 14% in Asian population. Nationwide, Asians surpassed Latinos as the largest percentage of incoming immigrants, pushing their total to a record 18.2 million people, according to a study released Summer 2012 by Pew Research Center.
The movement towards placing Asians into political positions has been mainly a grass-roots endeavor. The “this can be done” mentality is relatively new, but strong enough to result in successes.
People are finally beginning to realize, “that winning as an Asian is possible, especially if you can build a base of support through local office,” explains Rep. Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park), the first Chinese American woman elected to Congress.
The successful elections have led to a shift in the way Asians are teaching and learning American politics.
“We’ve moved away from teaching the nuts and bolts of politics. Our focus is shifting perception of oneself as a leader. WE want to boost people’s confidence in telling the personal story and how to connect that story with issues your constituents may face.”
Toby Chaudhuri, a political consultant in California, states success requires a strong base, similar to Kang’s foothold in Irvine. He explains, “Here is a chance to define a young new century. These Asian candidates can take charge of the conversation about what is America.”