We have made great strides towards a multiracial democracy in 2021
Isfahani is co-director of Open Society-US, overseeing grantmaking, advocacy, and administrative work in the US offices of the Open Society Foundations.
Outside the year elections usually produce difficult nights for the ruling party and this month’s vote was no exception. The Democrats lost all races statewide in Virginia and narrowly held the governorship in New Jersey – the two blue states. Experts analyze themes familiar to distraught Democrats and the GOP’s ability to reignite cultural wars to their political advantage.
This negative narrative, however, obscures some landmark victories worthy of their own titles, as they suggest milestones on the longer march to a truly multiracial democracy.
In Boston, Democrat Michelle Wu became the first Asian American to be elected mayor of Boston. The finalist was fellow Democrat Annissa Essaibi George, who is Arab-American. Wu will succeed the city’s acting mayor, Kim Janey, who became the first black woman to hold the post after Mayor Marty Walsh joined the Biden administration as Secretary of Labor. This transition marks a sea change in a city not exactly famous for its racial inclusion, having been ruled for nearly a century by white males.
In Cincinnati, Aftab Pureval defeated David Mann, a longtime local political leader. Pureval, whose family immigrated from India, becomes the first Asian American to rule his town. In Dearborn, Michigan, State Representative Abdullah Hammoud became the first Arab American and the first Muslim to rule the city of 109,000, which has long been home to a large Arab population. He defeated fellow politics veteran Gary Waronchak, former state representative and former Wayne County commissioner.
Subscribe to the Fulcrum newsletter
And in Seattle, Bruce Harrell, former city councilor and second-generation Japanese American, was elected the city’s first Asian American mayor.
But these are not the only firsts of multiracial democracy on election day. The change was on the ballot from Manhattan to Central America. New York City elected five new city council members from the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, including its first Muslim (in a city of 800,000 Muslims), its first South Asian Americans and its first Americans of Korean descent. And Duluth, Minn., Elected its first Muslim to a municipal office: Azrin Awal, a 25-year-old immigrant from Bangladesh.
These advances are all the more astonishing given the wave of hatred targeting Asian Americans during the pandemic. According to the latest FBI figures, hate crimes against Asian Americans increased by more than 73% in 2020. This number is all the more glaring given the documented reluctance of Asian Americans to report them. incidents of hatred to the authorities.
It’s also important to note that many of these electoral victories came in cities with no large Asian American population. Indeed, the AAPI community represents a relatively small percentage of all voters in places like Boston and Cincinnati. The fact that a significant number of white voters supported these candidates is a scenario surely as worthy of media attention as the fixation on white suburban voters who turned Republicans on Tuesday.
Pureval summed up the change well. When he started out in politics, “[everybody] would say to me, “There’s no way a dark-haired guy would win a county-wide seat in Cincinnati.” Now people tell me, ‘I can’t run and win because my name is Joe Smith.’ So there is a tipping point where the perceived weakness of our community turns into a real strength. “
Equally encouraging is the number of Americans who voted, despite the trend for turnout in midterm and midterm elections to drop significantly from year-of-the-year levels. presidential election. Virginia’s vote came as a result of the implementation of historic electoral reforms, including postal voting without excuse, the extension of in-person voting, and the removal of the requirement for a passport photo of the reader. Parts of the state experienced the highest participation rates in recent history. Georgia and Iowa also recorded significant turnout.
This level of civic engagement is encouraging – especially after Donald Trump’s endless rants about the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election and a massive effort to endorse voter suppression measures in Republican-controlled legislatures across the country. As the results in Virginia suggest, improving access to the ballot box and removing barriers that make voting more difficult can clearly benefit both parties – and all Americans. It’s time for Congress to pass federal voting rights protections to ensure free, fair and secure elections across the country in 2022 and beyond. The future of America’s multiracial democracy looks bright, if only the people had the opportunity to exercise their constitutional right to choose their leaders.
From your Articles site
Related articles on the web