Why It’s Important An Asian Man Ran For President


Stephen Maturen

Andrew Yang was one of very few Asian candidates in the presidential election sparking a greater discussion about Asian representation as a whole.

Sagun Shrestha, Editor-In-Chief

Democratic candidates for the 2020 election were some of the most inclusive, boasting a plethora of women, multiple people of color, and an openly gay man. Standing out from the crowd, however, was the only Asian man running, Andrew Yang.

While many of his other competitors were entrenched in misconduct during their mismanagement in their respective roles, Yang provided a refuge away from politically charged scandals, and one with topics other candidates didn’t even touch.

“He had such new ideas that no one talked about. He talked about thorium reactors and how they’re going to replace uranium with thorium and how it’s just so innovative,” said senior Ariana Sanford. “And he talked about climate change, refugees, and how we’re going to have to relocate people because of climate change.”

Yang held out for a considerably long time for being a political newcomer, dropping out in February. Even so, his legacy remains as being a person of color in a sea of white and being Asian at that. 

“It’s just the fact that we were able to see Andrew Yang. He’s brilliant, also very successful, and just to see him going up there and trying his best and beating out senators, governors, and so many other people that are high up, incumbents in their respective political sphere, it was just amazing to see how he beat them and how inspiring that was,” said Sanford.

Though Yang wasn’t the first Asian presidential candidate, he was one of very few, reflecting a trend that is present in nearly all spheres of life, as Asian representation is entirely lacking.

“Personally Asian representation means a lot to me because growing up I genuinely never saw people that looked like me in media. It’s good to know people are becoming more aware but I still believe Asian American voices, especially in politics, are rarely heard of,” said junior Danika Perez.

This presidential election was a wake-up call in terms of representation because it was such a momentous occasion for the Asian American community, a detail other groups, overrepresented groups, may have failed to notice.

“Since presidential campaigns gain way more attention than other political things, this may be the first time many Americans have seen an Asian face running for office which is really significant,” said Perez. “I think Asian Americans of all ages will see that it’s possible to be in the political spotlight and not be afraid to pursue it.”

It’s necessary to address the lack of representation that is rampant in politics and in Hollywood, though there has been an increase in accommodating all cultures, as seen by movies like Crazy Rich Asians with a historic all Asian cast, and the recent Netflix show Never Have I Ever, which encompasses a chunk of South Asian culture.

“There’s a lot more Asian representation now then there was before, but like with a lot of things, there’s a lot of work to be done. I would like to see more Asian representation in movies and in pop culture, especially because that’s what young people relate to, that’s what they pay attention to, so we still have a ways to go,” said social studies teacher Youngkeun Jaffe.

With the community becoming more progressive, there is hope that soon there is no reason to compete for representation as it is no longer an issue and that as society pushes forward, so too does mutual understanding and tolerance.

“I think more Asian Americans need to be at the forefront of politics, of culture, of sports,” said Jaffe. “We need to be represented in all aspects of life, as all groups should be. So we appreciate different groups of people and their contributions to this wonderful country.”