Re "Do Asian Americans Count in L.A.?" Commentary, Feb. 28: Raphael Sonenshein's article is very insightful. Asian Americans tend to scrutinize candidates' qualifications and the issues, and, as a result, they are less inclined to automatically vote for candidates of the same ethnic background.
Second, in the suburban bedroom communities with significant Asian populations, they are increasingly viewed as an aversion or even a threat to the community. As a result, often Asian candidates are voted against regardless of their merits. Another reason for the disproportionate representation may be fragmentation of the Asian votes among multiple Asian candidates in one election -- often a stratagem adopted by wily opponents.
Complexities and impediments notwithstanding, the Asian community's political awareness has been enhanced by leaps and bounds in the last few years and is still growing. Yes, Asian Americans do count in L.A.
Kee Kim, Director
LA 80-20 Asian-
I almost didn't finish reading Sonenshein's piece on the lack of Asian American political power in L.A., because as an ex-Scottish American having given up the quest for ethnic political hegemony long ago, I find it rather tedious if not depressing and, in 2005 in Los Angeles of all places, more than a bit anachronistic to dredge up race and ethnicity in the service of political analysis. But my boredom turned to alarm when he swerved from merely saying that power is organized along racial, ethnic and religious lines, to actually advocating for more of it.
Setting aside the violence and terror that ethnic politics have wrought worldwide, it's not even in the long-term self-interest of those who employ it. Politicians and political scientists may debate the extent to which African Americans and Latinos have benefited by their efforts at organizing themselves politically along racial and ethnic lines. But from my perspective, the economic fortunes of Scottish Americans have been on the rise ever since we decided to drop the prefix from our politics and redirect our parochial urges toward purely cultural pursuits such as highland dancing, bagpipe music and single-malt Scotch.
Instead of fomenting political tribalism, Sonenshein might consider investigating the likely connection between the relative economic success of Asian Americans and their relative failure at ethnic politics.