Editor's Note: Vince Ei is a San Jose State Journalism student who wrote this piece for Patch as part of a class assignment.
After living under a cruel military regime in Burma for 30 years, my parents moved to the United States in 1982 where a whole new life awaited them.
They came to a country where they could support and maintain an improved lifestyle with a number of unalienable rights available to them. They could continue to comfortably practice Buddhism and live without fear of an ambiguous government that did as it pleased. There was one particular aspect of this government that had my parents astounded, the ability for it's citizens to participate, and this is the year to finally take part.
My parents have been in the United States longer than I have been alive but I've voted more times than they have. They have seen five different presidents and have been through nine presidential elections. My dad claims that nobody has ever compelled him enough to actually vote. My mom says that she usually likes some points made by both the republican and democratic candidates but dislikes others leaving her in the middle and unable to decide. My parents would fall under the labels “undecided,” “low-information voter,” or the more empowering “independent.”
The now-famous leaked video of Mitt Romney, captured by Mother Jones, has him coining the recently popularized term, the 47 percent. In the same video he talks about a certain five to 10 percent of the population on which he bases his campaign. While he labels the 47 percent as victims who are “dependent upon the government” and “believe the government has a responsibility to care for them,” Romney compliments the other group as people who are “thoughtful, that look at voting one way or the other... whether they like the guy or not.”
This five to 10 percent is not represented better anywhere else in California than in Cupertino. According to an article by Josh Richman in the San Jose Mercury News, 39.7 percent of registered voters in Cupertino do not belong to any party, the largest group in the state that doesn’t lean one way. That is 5.2 percent more than Milpitas, which is second in that category based on a 2010 census by the California Secretary of State's office. The article points to the large Asian-American population in Cupertino for the percentage of independent voters outnumbering both Republicans and Democrats. Based on the same study by the California Secretary of State's Office, seven of the top 10 nonpartisan cities in California have an Asian-American majority.
Not to say only places with a high percentage of Asian-Americans are nonpartisan. Most, if not all, swing states have a low population of Asian-Americans. In the season premiere of Saturday Night Live, an ad spoof was created by the fictional Low Information Voters of America that depicts the undecided voter in a variety of identities who need some questions answered before they make a decision on election day.
The questions range from simple—What are the names of the people running?—to absurd—Can a woman have a baby just by French kissing?. The spoof represents different races, ages, 47-percenters, 10-percenters, and other branches of population. Saturday Night Live has no current Asian-American cast member, but the spoof has an Asian-American asking some of these questions almost as if they just threw him in to represent Cupertino exclusively.
My parents fit the profile of the Asian-American majority of Cupertino but have found their calling to finally vote in one critical issue, Obamacare. They stayed true in their undecided nature with the other issues, but for many it takes just one issue to take their vote. Along with healthcare, some voters will vote solely on the subject of energy, some will vote because of their rank in society and what class they fall under.
In the first presidential debate, a glaring contrast between the two candidates on issues like energy, healthcare, taxes, and social security unfolded, which will help a lot of independent voters make up their minds.
It's true that Cupertino is but a purple blemish on one of the bluest states in America, but if you are scared your vote won't make a difference on California's stand on national issues, don't be, because your views can still impact more localized issues which still matter by directly impacting our daily lives.