Today you get to see George Takei in a different light, stripped of much of his usual levity, as he urges Asian-Americans to vote for Obama.
Takei, using his voice as part of the Asian American community, talks in the video below about how America’s internment of Asian Americans directly affected him, and how he believes it is vital that the Asian American community throws off its low voter registration and turn-out to help give President Obama another term in office.
“We’ve got to be actively involved in the electoral process,” Takei says in the video. “If you really appreciate the price that has been paid for that right, you should be in there participating, protecting our interests and in so doing, making our democracy a truer democracy.”
President Obama won 62 percent of the nationwide Asian American vote in 2008, overcoming an early trend that saw Hillary Clinton receiving a larger share of Asian American support.
Since then, 600,000 new Asian Americans are thought to have entered the electorate. Asian Americans are a relatively small minority but are also the most rapidly growing minority in America, and their party allegiance as a demographic is still perceived as for the taking.
The campaign team behind Republican nominee Mitt Romney, keen to capitalize on the notion that many Asian Americans are small business owners and therefore might be won over to voting Republican because of Obama’s perceived intransigence on the economic recovery, has been heavily messaging the Asian American community, especially in Virginia which for the first time since 1964 voted for a Democratic nominee in 2008 — due, in part, to the rising Asian American population who saw Obama as their candidate.
While the Obama camp has several positives to sell to the Asian American community, without even really needing to tote Obama’s family connections, including the $7 billion in loans the Obama administration has given to Asian American businesses, as well as the record number of Asian Americans among Obama’s staff, the support for Obama among Asian Americans is not as iron clad as he might like.
For instance, a survey done in April of this year found that 59 percent of Asian Americans said they would vote for Obama, compared with 13 percent for Romney. The 59 percent was higher than Obama’s 2008 record.
However, a survey carried out in September showed that only 42 percent of Asian Americans would vote for Obama and 32 percent of the nationally representative sample of more than 3,300 Asian Americans interviewed said they were undecided. That’s a sizable number who could boost Romney’s 24 percent in support, and statistics show that appealing to those undecided voters may be crucial in states like Nevada.
As touched on in George Takei’s video, the biggest hurdle for the candidates seems to be mobilizing the Asian American community to vote.
Asian Americans can face unique challenges in voting, from needing accurate language translation to proving they are naturalized, and these obstacles could be made even worse by voter-ID laws. And this is perhaps where Obama can ultimately sway many minority voters, small in themselves but powerful as a collective, by pointing out that it has not been the Democratic Party that has attempted to disenfranchise so many among the electorate with voter-ID mandates.
Image taken from video under fair use terms.