In their own words, AAPI voters in Nevada discuss economy, guns and race

The fastest-growing Nevada demographic is the Asian American Pacific Islander community.

14 June 2022 Tuesday 13:09
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In their own words, AAPI voters in Nevada discuss economy, guns and race

The fastest-growing Nevada demographic is the Asian American Pacific Islander community. They are also a rising political force in Nevada, which has its primary elections Tuesday.

About 12% of Nevada's total population is made up by the AAPI community. The state electorate includes 8%.

Eric Jeng, director of outreach at the Asian Community Development Council, said that the AAPI vote has historically leaned toward Democrats by two to one, but it is not a guarantee for the party.

He said, "If you ask my right now, for midterm elections, I honestly don’t know who will win." "I see both sides doing more outreach and events. That is what I like. It is a good thing that no one takes the Asian vote as a given."

This outreach included the opening of a Las Vegas Asian Pacific American Community Center by the Republican National Committee in May.

Ronna McDaniel, Chairwoman of the RNC, stated at the opening that "We also acknowledge the Democrat Party's take the Asian American vote as a given for far too long. It's now time for Republicans to step up."

All the 2022 elections for governor, Senate, and three of four House seats in the state are considered to be toss-ups. Each race will have a Democratic incumbent running for reelection.

Jeng stated that he is encouraged by the fact that both major political parties now recognize the power of this voting bloc.

He stated that "2020, 2018, and 2016 proved the Asian vote, a lot more time, ultimately decided the election." "I don’t believe that a candidate can win without the Asian vote."

NPR spoke with five AAPI voters before Tuesday's primary in order to discuss politics, voting, and culture.

Tina Kwan is a Chinese American registered Democrat and cautioned against stereotyping of the AAPI vote.

She said, "I believe there is a comparison among the two non-monolithic demographics Latinx voters and AAPI voter,"

"It's easy to say, "Oh, brown people, and yellow people, all should be Democratic," right? Kwan said that many of her relatives aren't politically involved because they feel disillusioned by government.

Cecilia Winchell is a University of Nevada Las Vegas student who is Chinese-American.

"Especially in China, you come from countries that care about politics but will never influence it," she stated.

The majority of respondents said that inflation and rising gas prices are top of mind. This is consistent with national polls of voters before the midterm elections.

Continue reading the conversation below. These responses were edited for clarity, length, and clarity.

Susan Davis, NPR - Race and identity are so intertwined in our politics. Is your racial identity influencing your political views? Are you averse to people discussing race in politics?

Ash Mirchandani : Let me tell you, I came from India with nothing. I am a brown guy. I have a speech impairment, which causes me to stutter. I was promoted to a very high level in government. I went into business. I have created seven successful businesses. I started a non-profit that provides mental health therapy for children. Many things have been accomplished. It seems that racism is a topic that gets a lot of attention. Although racism is a real issue, I have never given it too much weight in my life. People should not make race an issue in elections. It doesn't serve anyone.

Davis: Tina! What do you think?

Tina Kwan: Tina Kwan, I respectfully disagree. Every day I go to work, I see aEUR", not crimes, necessarily, but racially motivated behaviour that is unsaid. We will never see a government that is representative of everyone, so representation and the emphasis on representation are still important.

Davis: Cecilia, what do you think?

Cecilia Winchell says: While I believe diversity is important, I also think some of the things that the Democratic Party does are a bit performative. While there is a lot of emphasis on diversity, it may not include the actual perspectives.

Winchell: Joe Biden is my favorite oldest person. (laughter). He's been around a long time and that has its advantages. However, I fear that being around for so long perpetuates many of the problems we have seen in this country. Perhaps it is time for some younger blood to come in.

Davis: Tina. You're a Democrat. What do you think of Biden?

Kwan: I believe President Biden is doing his best with a terrible hand.

Davis: What is the worst hand?

Kwan: After four years of chaotic politics in the country, Kwan now inherits not the tail of the pandemic aEUR", but Act II. An economy that was not on his plan and made promises that he could not keep.

Davis: Ash, it is true that you were part of the 2020 Biden campaign and worked with Asian outreach in Nevada. You mean that [Biden] is about as popular as Donald Trump. How can you explain that?

Mirchandani : I believe we often confuse economic forces and the president's policies. Inflation is his greatest challenge right now, I believe. It's not easy to be president. It's not an easy job. There are too many priorities to manage and you have to make the right decision for everyone. He is a steady hand. He has been involved in politics for many years. He is a good man who wants to do the right thing for his country. Are you sure that I agree with everything he says? I don't. Are you sure he's a vast improvement on the previous president? Yes.

MC Balicanta says: Right now all prices have gone up, including the rent and the gas. My oldest child is with me. I have two other children. My coworker has a house that is only two bedrooms. We are renting it. It is very difficult to save money for the purchase of a house.

Davis: Brian, what about you?

Brian Almero agrees with MC. The real estate and mortgage industries aEUR", that's what I work in, have rents that are increasing twice as fast as they can. Because our wages haven’t increased, many local residents can’t afford to rent or buy a home. Every day, we struggle just to make ends meets.

Mirchandani - For me, the most important thing is how can I retain my staff. How do I pay my staff what they want or need? My restaurant's food costs have increased by 40%. I can't raise my prices by 30-40% per annum because nobody will buy it. How can I survive? If we don't act quickly, I believe that small businesses will go out of business.

Balicanta says: I believe some guns belong to war and not to the streets. They should not allow 18-year olds to get credit cards and buy guns without background checks.

Davis: Brian, how about you?

Almero: I support guns. Because we have the right here to bear arms, that's what I mean. However, I agree with MC regarding background checks.

Davis: Do AR-15s should be more difficult to purchase?

Almero: I'd say yes if it were assault rifles.

Davis: However, it is not necessary to limit the purchase.

Almero: Exactly. It is not necessary to limit its purchase.

Davis: Ash, what do you think?

Mirchandani says: No one should own a semi-automatic gun or an AK-15, or an AK-47 aEUR". Unless you are looking to kill en masse, there is no reason. AEUR" background checks are one way to ensure gun safety, while a registry is another. It is not enough to take away guns. You're only going to empower the criminals if you take away guns.

Kwan: We need to have stricter gun laws and background checks. Nevada is open to carry. Are people allowed to bring guns into my office? It happens to be a pediatric practice, but it is essentially a daycare. It happens.

Winchell, Obviously there is something deeper in society that is wrong. There are mental health issues, there are disillusioned teens who go online to find radical information. This creates a mindset that encourages shootings. It will take many different approaches to this problem. One of the most important is reducing the number of guns in the country. It's not okay for these children to die just because it's difficult to find a solution.



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