In response to my last post, The Race for Room 200 and the #sfmayor Election, a comment on the SF Gate Cross Posting, basically said that I should just shut up about politics because I am a pastor. Well, sorry to disappoint those who think that being a person of faith automatically excludes him or her from civic engagement, but as many have felt for generations, my Christian faith is inherently political and compels me to be active in public square. As I have said before, issues of church and state are VERY different than issues of faith and politics; church state separation must be upheld, but faith and politics are intrinsically related. So I will keep thinking about politics, thank you very much.
For those who have been keeping up with the race for mayor here in San Francisco, you will have noticed that there are a couple of pretty cool things going on: one, a large number of legitimate candidates are running and, two,many of them are Asian American, five to be exact: Jeff Adachi, David Chiu, Ed Lee, Phil Ting and Leland Yee. This post is not about the merits of any of them as candidates – see my disclaimer below – but rather an invitation to a conversation about the nature Asian Pacific Islander (API) political leadership today and what this particular election means to the larger voice of APIs in American culture. No pressure, I know
I was prompted to think about this by a few interactions over the past week:
- A group that I have been involved with off and on in the past, Asian Pacific American for Progress (APAP), has invited folks to reflect on this election, AND, as we have discovered, there are many of us who are involved with APAP who are also involved with in various campaigns in this year’s SF mayoral race.
- A conversation with a friend about the diversity of the Asian American community in San Francisco around class, immigration status, educational achievement, social views, etc.
- And finally a brief Twitter exchange with @kimberlyychin. She and I do not know each other but I think she raises some really good questions in the following thread . . .
It is that last point that I think is really important for us to think about during this particular election. For those who keep up on Asian American politics, San Francisco’s race for mayor is proving to be a great opportunity for analysis: check out one of my favorite blogs 8asians, the Asian Week analysis of the DCCC endorsement and Bill Wong of the Nichi Bei Weekly. These and other have taken notice of deeper API issues which raise important questions for Asian American voters namely, “Will any of the five Asian American candidates show up on your ballot as #1, #2 or #3 and how much will/does their Asian American background matter?”
Let me be clear. I do not think that anyone should vote for or against someone solely because of their race. I have known far too many politicians for which their ethnic background gives them a unique worldview, but hold a political ideology that is far too conservative for my taste or my vote. At the same time, folks also know what I think about being “color blind” so in order to assure a breadth of perspectives in decision-making, I also believe that, all else being equal, the ethnic background – could also be said of gender and other important life experiences - should be taken into consideration as one is voting.
So what do you think?
- What would it mean for San Francisco, with our high percentage of Asian Americans to NOT elect one of the five Asian Americans as our next mayor? What if we did?
- How might the election or non-election of and Asian American impact the larger conversations on race and politics in San Francisco and the larger culture?
- Realizing that many of us probably do not agree 100 percent on policies or positions with candidates we support, are there “intangibles” or other more subjective criteria that you use when deciding on a candidate?
- And lastly, knowing that a non-Asian American is my #1 and like many, I am still undecided on #2 and #3, if you do support someone else on the ballot, feel free to make your case. Seriously, I still don’t know.
Thanks for reading along and I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
MY DISCLAIMER: John Avalos is my #1 so if that immediately discounts anything I say, there is not much I can do about that. What I can tell you is that I am not part of his paid staff, no one from the campaign vets my writing and I make no assumptions that I agree with everything that John stands for or against. I simply trust the man and have chosen to give him my support and time. I sit in a few meetings, give some thoughts, tweet a bit and help coordinate the PTA.