[Letter to the editor]Barrier-breaking elections
Presidential elections, whether they occur every five years, like in Korea, or every four years, as in the United States, are always entertaining and crammed with intrigue, suspense and mudslinging that would impress the most prolific of movie directors.
Since Vice President Dick Cheney chose to forego an opportunity to compete with a pack of Democrats opposed to the Iraq invasion, the race for the Republican Party nomination is as precarious as the fate of global warming. The competition for the Democratic Party nomination centers on three idiosyncratic figures: John Edwards, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Among the front-runners in either party, there are “firsts” in American history, if elected.
For instance, Mitt Romney would be the first Mormon; Barack Obama, the first African-American; John McCain, the first former prisoner of war, and Mrs. Bill Clinton ― the amiable and strong-willed Hillary, would be the nation’s first female president. Bill Richardson, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, if victorious, would become America’s first president of Latino heritage.
Although I am keenly aware of the unprecedented backgrounds of the declared presidential candidates, a part of me still yearns to see a member of another burgeoning minority group take a shot at the ultimate political podium.
That group, if you have not realized it already, represents about 4.5 to 5 percent of the U.S. population and is projected to double by 2050. This minority group, to which I belong, is the stereotypically acquiescent Asian-Americans.
I’m confident that once the population of Asian-Americans rises in the United States, politicians will begin to channel more resources toward winning the “Asian vote.”
From Congressman Mike Honda to Gary Locke, the former governor of Washington state, Asian-American politicians are instigating change while balancing between ethnic identification and national affiliation.
Although Asian-American politicians will need to answer often unnecessary questions regarding their national loyalties, it is about time a politician of Asian ancestry ran for president of the United States.
Victory may prove elusive, especially in predominately white states like Iowa and New Hampshire, which kick off the campaign primary season; potential Asian-American candidates will need to demonstrate vitality, durability and patriotism by successfully navigating the pitfalls of a drawn-out campaign.
I sincerely hope that sooner rather than later, an Asian-American candidate can be as well recognized as Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson. Barriers are meant to be broken and now is a good time to witness another historic glass ceiling being shattered.
Dennis Yang, English Instructor,
Gimhae Foreign Language High School
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