The Politics of Asian Americans: Diversity and Community

The Politics of Asian Americans: Diversity and Community

The Politics of Asian Americans: Diversity and Community

The Politics of Asian Americans: Diversity and Community

Synopsis

Through the perspectives of mass politics, this book challenges popular misconceptions about Asian Americans as politically apathetic, disloyal, fragmented, unsophisticated and inscrutable by showcasing results of the Pilot National Asian American Political Survey.

Excerpt

This chapter seeks to understand the roles of political parties in the political adaptation and behavior of Asian Americans. We investigate the shape, the sources, and possible consequences of political partisanship among Asian Americans. and we attempt to assess its effectiveness in structuring political attitudes and behavior as compared to other socialization agents or forces. After a general review of the unique characteristics of political partisanship in American politics, we examine the tenuous but critical relationship between Asian Americans and the major political parties. We then discuss theories and past research findings on the political partisanship of this immigrant-majority and nonwhite population. Because the proportion of Asian Americans who do not affiliate with a party may be large and because it has important implications for immigrant political socialization and mobilization, we give special consideration to the phenomenon of and reasons for nonidentification. We also pay close attention to the role of ethnicity and international migration-related factors, in addition to political and institutional factors, in structuring the direction and the intensity of partisanship among persons of diverse origins and destinies.

The Curious (and Die-Hard) Concept of Political Partisanship in the American Context

The two-party system, with nearly all levels of governments run by individuals who belong to either one of the two major political parties (even if the posi-tions are officially declared as nonpartisan), is a unique feature of the American democracy. the two major American parties-in addition to the media and interest groups-serve as crucial linkage institutions that connect people to their government by helping recruit candidates for office, organize campaigns and the vote, mobilize participation and turnout, and discipline legislative and executive actions. Partisan loyalties are consistently found to influence (and be influenced by) political participation, issue beliefs, candidate choice, and policy preferences of mass publics in the United States (Green, Palmquist, and Schickler, 2002). Huntington (1968:401) argues that parties are "capable of structuring the participation of new groups in politics." Similarly, Eldersveld

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