On election day, then beyond, their work will not stop.
Since Donald Trump was elected president four years ago, Vietnamese American progressives have been building a movement that’s redefining their culture’s political landscape.
Althoughmost of their parents and grandparents have stayed faithful to the Republican Party — largely because of staunch anti-communist feelings dating to the Vietnam War — many of the younger set say they’re focused on domestic issues, not homeland ones. What motivates many of them are concerns over income inequality, keeping the Affordable Care Act, climate change and humane immigration laws, as well as solidarity with Black Lives Matter over racial justice issues.
Some members of Pivot, the Progressive Vietnamese American Organization, which started on the West Coast about four years ago, are trying to persuade family members — moms, dads, uncles, cousins — to back the Biden-Harris ticket. They tick off talking points on taxes and China policies, armed with information from the bilingual VietFactCheck.org, a Pivot spinoff with source-verified articles about the 2020 election.
“Staying within a specific political party is not the end goal. It’s to make sure our values are aligned so that there will be benefit for all,” said Kat Phan, a rising young leader within Pivot and a demographics researcher based in San Francisco. She is among the group’s 300 members across 25 states.
Some analysts describe the nonprofit’s political evolution as “inevitable.”
“Originally, their parents were likely one-issue voters, drawn to the Republican Party by its outspoken stance against communism and by the likes of Bob Dornan and Ronald Reagan,” said Fred Smoller, associate professor of political science at Chapman University. Dornan is a conservative former Orange County congressman.
“But Donald Trump isn’t a conventional Republican. And young people and progressive thinkers are realizing that the things he stands for are not what they stand for.”
Pivot is “a natural outgrowth” and a group “that would really matter in a community where voter participation is dynamic and at the forefront,” Smoller continued. “The Vietnamese vote is a much-coveted vote,” he said, along with the Asian American vote, representing the fastest-growing electorate in the country with more than 30 ethnic and national subgroups.