Emil Guillermo: Asian Americans know why we're here. All that is at stake on Election Day, Nov. 8.

Image for Emil Guillermo: Asian Americans know why we're here. All that is at stake on Election Day, Nov. 8.

Asian Americans know why our families are here. It wasn’t just economic opportunity. It was democracy.

Whether you or your family originally came on a boat or a plane, after a stint in a refugee camp, or after a decades-long wait for visa approval, we all have our story of why we came to America. What we fled, dictators and regimes we escaped from.

We have generations of stories on how we put our lives on the line as we yearned for democracy. And we found it here.

Think of that.

All that is at stake with the vote on election day.

In the final push to save our democracy, you’ll have to get by all the flyers and campaign ads trying to push misinformation and disinformation.

In the last few days, I’ve seen ads in a generic format that asserts [name of candidate] is “too extreme” or “too radical.”

Or is bigoted and racist.

All of these emotional attacks are designed to motivate you to go to the polls with a passionate anger.

You should vote. But don’t get used.

On the East Coast, some Asian American voters have received flyers that denounce white racism.

White racism?

That’s not white folks like the KKK exhibiting racism toward blacks and others. It’s “white racism” as in alleged bigotry toward whites by Democrats, progressives, and people of color.

It just doesn’t make sense and contorts the truth. But the flyer is going out to Asian American voters spreading unsubstantiated claims from right wing media, such as how people will be hired and fired “according to their skin color.”

Image by AALDEF

And then comes the highlighted phrase: “Whites and Asians Need Not Apply.”

It bunches Asian Americans with whites in an attempt to stoke our emotions so that in a tight campaign between Democrats and Republicans, this becomes a tie-breaker.

It’s the work of America First Legal, a right-wing group founded by anti-immigrant Trump advisor Stephen Miller, with a stated intention of being the conservative answer to the ACLU.

Spreading lies as truth under the guise of free speech is the AFL’s answer to the ACLU? Beware of it.

It’s all part of a campaign by Miller’s group, which especially has been targeting battleground areas like Georgia in the last few weeks. In the south, the claim was that Vice President Kamala Harris was giving preference to people of color for Hurricane Ian relief. Not true.

The use of misinformation has come up across the country.

In California’s Congressional District 45, which incorporates Orange County and the Little Saigon area, Rep. Michelle Steel used doctored flyers accusing Jay Chen of teaching communist material in schools. Just the kind of emotional appeal to provoke unsuspecting Vietnamese constituents.

Chen, whose grandmother escaped Communist China to Taiwan, is an Ivy League trained naval reserve officer, with political experience serving as head of a community college district.

Chen is well qualified to serve in the House.

Steel, a Korean American married to a white Republican operative, was called out for her deceitful ploy and subsequently lost the endorsement of the Los Angeles Times.

Steel’s tactic is particularly abhorrent because it’s an Asian on Asian manipulation. But this is the nastiness you’ll see in a close race in the democracy we’ve become.

To get your vote, they’re using the little lies, when the big lie isn’t enough.

Over the weekend, the former president, No. 45– responsible for the scapegoating of Asian Americans as the cause of the pandemic, which led to thousands of hateful transgressions on our community–was at a rally in Florida.

“The election was rigged and stolen and now our country is being destroyed,” the former president said, continuing to run on the lie that has been disproven at every level.

The election was neither rigged nor stolen. And he was modest not taking credit for destroying our faith in a system he has helped erode.

But the theme has successfully infected the Republican party, which has as many as 300 candidates in these midterms who are verifiable “election deniers.”

And that is the real fear: if they get elected, we’ll have a strain of the Jan. 6 infection within our government ready to wreak a kind of chaos capable of imploding our country from within.

That’s why election deniers are capable of. They’re also DACA deniers, abortion deniers, and affirmative action deniers.

But ultimately, they are democracy deniers.

Already in key battleground states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, there are efforts to question the integrity of every ballot on any technicality.

We vote on Nov. 8, but then comes litigation and the challenge of every vote until the deniers get the count they want.

That’s the kind of democracy we seem to be in now.

Don’t give up hope.

Vote. Disregard last minute ads on TV and radio. On social media. And in your mailbox. Don’t get bogged down by misinformation.

You should know the truth by now. And then think about why you are here.

Asian Americans know the reason why we came to the U.S. in the first place. And why we value democracy so much.

Asian American Filipinos know why they fled the Philippines and the martial law declaration of Marcos in the ‘60s.

Now is the time to remember your family’s origin story to America. Chinese. Vietnamese. Korean. Hmong. Japanese. India. Pakistan. What they left behind and why. And what they dreamed of when they arrived here.

All that is at stake with the Nov. 8 vote.

NOTE: I will talk about this column and other matters on “Emil Amok’s Takeout,” my AAPI micro-talk show. Live @2p Pacific. Livestream on Facebook; my YouTube channel; and Twitter. Catch the recordings on

Image by AALDEF

Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator. Updates at Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.

The views expressed in his blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF’s views or policies.

Read Emil's full bio →