Explore Key Topics - Political Issues - Domestic Politics

Southeast Asian Americans are increasingly registering to vote and participating in local and national elections throughout the United States. Ethnic media and ethnic community leaders play instrumental roles in influencing the political viewpoints of their communities. In some cases, ethnic newspapers, radio, and television translate ballot measures into ethnic languages and objectively inform voters about upcoming political issues; in other cases, they deliberately sway voter opinion. With the assistance of Asian American advocacy organizations, local groups have helped provide election ballot materials in ethnic languages for the newcomers who have gained citizenship.

Winning Elective Office
In addition to being appointed to political positions at the local, state, and federal levels, Southeast Asian Americans started running for, and winning, local offices in the 1990s. Most notably, these include the Vietnamese in California and Texas, Cambodians in Massachusetts, and Hmong in Minnesota. Some affiliate with the Republican Party because of its anti-Communist stance and socially conservative agenda, while others lean to the Democratic Party with its civil rights platform and emphasis on social policies. Ethnic politicians raise money not only within their local ethnic communities, but also from ethnic fundraisers held in other cities and states.

For the most part, these politicians have won elections in sites with large ethnic communities, although they are not always the ones casting the majority of votes. In other words, they are winning elections because they have gained popular support from mainstream voters. If this trend continues, more Southeast Asians from both the Republican and Democratic parties will continue to run for office and get more involved in electoral politics.

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