By Dr. Noel Fajardo
For many in Asian American communities, when we look at our systems of government we see too much gridlock and partisanship. We see elected leaders and campaigns who take our votes and communities for granted, often assuming, rather than asking, our point of view on important matters. Pair that with a constant bombardment of information, breaking news, and the struggle of daily life, and one can see it is easy for us to feel apathetic. For many of us, this is more than enough reason to sit back and stay silent, especially during elections. But, we know the times are changing, views are shifting, and Asian Americans, like myself, could make a big difference in elections nationwide.
For me, the past four years have shown that our votes matter. Those we have chosen to elect have immense power over our communities’ progress. The decisions we make as a community, or the ones we don’t participate in, can affect – and have directly affected – our families, our businesses, and our communities for generations to come. As a doctor, I have seen how the decisions made by the people we elect can help or hurt the patients I serve. Whether that be ensuring they have access to affordable healthcare or public transit to get to and from my office; all of these issues and more are on the ballot. Our community needs to have our voices heard. By voting, we can hold those in power accountable and make sure they look out for us.
We know Asian American communities are strong, especially in times of crisis. In response to this pandemic, I have seen my patients coming together, donating food and resources to those who lost their jobs or worse – their loved ones – to COVID-19. I have seen many in our city rallying together to support our restaurants. I have felt the strength and compassion of our community. As someone who lost my parents at a young age, the people of Las Vegas supported my practice and helped me find a sense of purpose. It gave me a reason to go to work every day and supported me. Now, I am trying to do my best to support all of us. In the face of this pandemic, it is up to us to sustain and protect the spirit of our community, and that includes voting.
Voting is one of the main ways our elected officials hear us and our concerns. If we go unheard, then it will be impossible for us to get the resources and policies we want and need for our communities to thrive. Until we voice our opinions through our vote, the interests of Asian Americans will be at the whim of leaders we did not elect. Our people are facing many challenges brought about by the mishandling of this pandemic and our economy. Come November, our votes can help elect leaders that will begin to get these people back on their feet.
We can elect leaders who won’t ostracize our people, but will embrace them. Come November, we all need to vote for those who will fight for us and meet this urgent national moment. The time for our diverse communities to come together once more is now. We need to hold each other accountable by ensuring that we are registered and have a plan to vote for that leadership.
As immigrants and descendants of immigrants, we know that change may not come tomorrow, or next week. But, by voting, we can all begin to move forward. We need a president we can trust to be honest with us, especially about the challenges we face.
When COVID-19 broke out, there was skepticism and widespread disinformation and conspiracies surrounding the disease. That disinformation, continues to affect lives and cause real harm. I have seen it in the medical field firsthand: words matter, and actions matter even more. When our leaders cannot be a role model for our country, people get put in harm’s way. We need to hold them accountable. It’s up to us to protect our communities, and that begins with voting.
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Dr. Noel R. Fajardo is a gastroenterologist in Las Vegas, an immigrant, a graduate of the University of The Philippines Manila College of Medicine, and a community organizer.