By Lao Xiao
11 October 2021
After a stunning performance in the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries, Young Anzai is now forming a third party, the Forward Party, to break with the two-party tradition that has characterised the US since its founding and to give a voice to the ‘centrist’ Asian community.
As America continues to divide, with polls showing that Republican and Democratic supporters would ideologically prefer to be in two countries, one made up of red states and one made up of blue states, it is clear that ideological ‘polarisation’ has spread to every aspect of life. At this time, the Chinese-American Anze Yang, who made a splash in the last Democratic presidential primary and then lost in the New York mayoral primary, has come back to form a third party, the Forward Party, vowing to break the existing two-party system in the US, as the old system is showing its signs of weakness in the 21st century. Biden’s victory will not put an end to the extreme politics of the Trump era, and it is on the verge of getting worse. In Yang’s view, the political model is unsustainable as the interests of the majority of voters who want a middle way are being ignored or hijacked in a vicious red-blue battle, and without change, America’s defeat will continue to deepen.
Interestingly, Anze Yang’s vision of party formation is presented through his new book. On 5 October, his book Forward: Notes on the Future of Our Democracy was officially launched on Amazon to much media attention. The book, which began in March last year and was completed in the middle of this year, focuses on a detailed account of his experiences in the Democratic primary last year and the lessons that emerged. He goes beyond thinking about his own personal successes and failures, and challenges the US institutional design from the perspective of evaluating it. In the book, he clearly states that the two-party system in the US is unsustainable, that “our democracy is in decline, and that the US system is designed in such a way that major reforms are difficult to occur”. For example, the re-election rate for members of Congress is now as high as 92 per cent, which is so high because it is only necessary to please the extreme 10 to 20 per cent of voters in a constituency, “which is good for the politicians, but bad for the majority of the people. It’s good for politicians, but bad for the majority of the population.
In fact, the shortcomings of the two-party system are also evident in Taiwan, where the rivalry between blue and green has created room for the survival of third and fourth parties. In Yang’s view, the reform of the US political system has reached a point where it is urgent to break the shackles of the two-party system and establish a middle-of-the-road political platform to accommodate more “middle-of-the-road” voters, so that different political views can meet and merge. Yang stressed that the founding fathers of the United States did not like political parties, and there is no mention of a two-party system in the Constitution. Many democracies now also have at least three political parties.
In his new book, Yang mentions in detail his vision of why he wants to form a third party in the US. In his view, the US will go down in the global competition of the 21st century if it cannot overcome the you-versus-me dichotomy and unite the majority of middle voters.
During last year’s presidential election, Anze Yang went from obscurity to stardom, with his political idea of giving each person a basic income of US$1,000 a month ‘wowing’ US public opinion. Not only did he not go silent during the New Hampshire epidemic, which led to a backlash of racial hatred against Asians and Chinese, but he rose to political prominence, even leading most of the Democratic presidential primary contenders in fundraising at one point. This has created an extraordinary miracle of Chinese political participation in the United States, and has demonstrated to the United States the ‘political commitment’ of Chinese entrepreneurs.
However, the defeat of Yang Anze in his two political candidacies has also created whispers among the public: Has Yang really been treated fairly and impartially in the Democratic Party? Was there also an ‘invisible glass panel of ceiling’ over his head? Such questions also filled Yang Anze’s new book with much suspense.
In a preview of the book, Young’s publisher Crown has already revealed some of its content and themes. According to Crown, the book is a critique of the ‘age of institutional failure’ in the US, and will reveal to the public many of the country’s moral figures, including those whose political motivations are out of touch with those of their constituents. In addition, Yang’s book has been recommended by Cuban, an American entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, as “a very important book”. And New York Times columnist Kara Anne Swisher, one of the most powerful high-tech journalists in Silicon Valley, did not hesitate to endorse Yang, saying: “Is another political party possible in America? …… In this book, Anze is not just telling us about a lot of deep-rooted problems. In this book, Yang does not just tell us about the many deep-rooted problems, but shows how we can find solutions if we adopt new thinking and find the courage to do so.
Young’s new party has Asian people in mind
Young is not pretending that his party can quickly become a political triumvirate with the Republicans and Democrats, but his goal is clear: his party is good for Asians, who have been discriminated against in the epidemic. He told the media that by breaking the politics of extremes, Asians, who advocate a middle way, could become a key minority and improve their political status. Because Asians are not an extremist force, and “the US political system has always pitted people against each other, a system that always caters to those who go to extremes, and today the political pressure is already the highest since World War II”. Yang Anze told World Journal that Asians are the victims of the American system’s design because most Asians are centrists; “My mentality is typical of Asians, I am not crazy about politics, we immigrated here just to have a better life; but unfortunately, American politics has reached a point where it is impossible to function without going to extremes”.
Yang Anze is clearly not a so-called ‘banana man’ (yellow skin and white heart), but has felt the political disadvantages of Asians in his own practice of democracy. Generally speaking, Asians are reluctant to take the lead and believe that it is better to join or become supporters of mainstream political parties so as to protect their ‘lives’ through the major parties. Yang Anzhi’s candidacy shows that if an Asian politician is a policy-oriented leader with a vision, he or she will have many obstacles to make a name for himself or herself in the two major political parties, and may not even be able to get a foothold.
To this end, Yang Anze called for an Asian awakening, telling World Journal, “My vision is clear and I believe more people will awaken to the fact that the two-party system is disintegrating and we need a new system to renew democracy; I am a descendant of immigrants and like our parents, we want the next generation to be better off, but now it is obvious that America is not getting better and this is an opportunity for change. There is no doubt that by forming a party in the US, Anze Yang has taken a crucial step towards Asian political participation, which is more significant than his previous appearances for President and Mayor of New York. Asian voters, especially those of Chinese descent, should transcend the limitations of both parties and join the new party in a minority role from the standpoint of helping the US continue to be a world power. Of course, once the new party is established, elections are the test. The FPP must put up its own candidates to storm the congressional seats in next year’s US mid-term elections, and it is to be expected that Yang Anze himself should also throw himself into the congressional race, with a good show on the horizon.
(From World Journal/Asia Weekly)
I agree with the description of the political environment in the United States given by the former Democratic Party presidential candidate Yang Anze, the helplessness of the Chinese in the midst of it, and the idea and meaning of building a party. What makes me laugh is that if we replace the word “America” with “Australia”, we can almost match it, which means that the current political climate in Australia is very similar to that of the United States. The only difference, perhaps, is that the Liberal Party and the Labor Party, at least in public, are not fighting as much as the Republicans and Democrats in the US.
But the situation of the Chinese in the US is also very similar to that of the Chinese in Australia, and most of all to that of the Chinese in politics, where the racial ceiling is much higher than in the US.
In the US, it is rare for Republican and Democrat legislators to openly question a minority group, except for Trump, a loudmouth who questions the loyalty of Chinese Americans (what they think is a different story). In Australia, however, the Chinese are not so lucky, as Liberal MPs have openly questioned the loyalty of three Chinese representatives in Parliament, coming close to saying the words “go back to China”.
In the last two years, Australia has been in the grip of right-wing political parties, right-wing media and right-wing people, and there has been a lot of discrimination against the Chinese. The census does not include the birthplaces of the Chinese in their hometowns, television programs have dared to publicly link Chinese with concentration camps, and recently there have been warnings from Chinese that “the Chinese right to live is being squeezed”.
If this continues, the situation of Chinese people having money but no status, and being marginalised from employment and work will become the norm, and Chinese people will have no future in any industry.
As the environment in the United States described by Yang Anze is extremely similar to that in Australia. The author believes that the establishment of a Chinese party in Australia will be an inevitable choice in the future, as there are definitely Chinese elites who are willing to stand up to protect the Chinese and speak out for the Chinese community.
The Chinese have a spirit of enterprise in their values: “I am not at the mercy of fate”. With the exception of some political refugees and those living on welfare who have an inferiority complex and owe a debt to society, mainstream Chinese, especially those who work with their own hands and pay taxes, are basically generous and healthy, and it is because they are healthy that they have the courage to express themselves and stand up straight in Australia. This can be seen from the participation and support of many Chinese in the anti-discrimination campaign. The mainstream Chinese attach great importance to the status of Chinese people, who do not want to be noble, but to be respected by society.
These Chinese who dare to take action already consider themselves as part of Australia, and it is precisely for this reason that they actively defend their rights, instead of being submissive.
This is why I have predicted that it is only a matter of time before the Chinese in Australia establish a party.
Earlier, in June this year, this newspaper launched a poll on whether Chinese people should establish a party, out of 164 people who voted, 80% or 132 people were in favour of Chinese people establishing a party, while only 13% or 22 people were not in favour of establishing a party. Although the number of people who voted was small, a single leaf tells the story that the mainstream Chinese community is in favour of a Chinese party.
When it comes to Chinese party building, some voices say that it will be misunderstood by the mainstream society, which is an inferiority complex and a mentality that Chinese people are not integrated into the democratic political society of Australia.
In fact, in Australia’s democratic political society, there are many small parties, such as the Australian Car Hobby Party and the Australian Sex Party. The love of politics is a hobby and an ambition, so what is wrong with establishing a political party for this purpose? Is the political status of Chinese people even worse than that of caravans and sex?
When the status of the Chinese is challenged and discriminated against, it is only natural to set up political parties to defend the rights and interests of the Chinese and to speak out for the Chinese community.
Some Chinese MPs such as Cynthia Liao have ignored the issue of racial discrimination against the Chinese for the benefit of the Liberal Party, which is a lesson well learned. The society needs Chinese political parties to take up the responsibility.
At present, the Labour Party is still able to speak out on behalf of the Chinese, but it is not strong enough, otherwise it would not have warned the Chinese that “their right to live is being squeezed”. It is better to ask for help than to ask for help, and there is a need for the Chinese to build a party. After the Chinese have basically achieved all kinds of personal success, the defence of Chinese interests is a higher pursuit.
In 1997, Chinese doctor Wong Shiu Keung founded the Asian-dominated Unity Party, which has opened a door of hope for the Chinese community, although it has almost disappeared for various reasons.
Now that the Chinese in America, Yang Anze, has taken the first step to establish a Chinese party, we cannot rule out the possibility that this will have a global demonstration effect, inspiring Chinese people from all over the world to actively defend the status and rights of the Chinese.
There is no reason why the social status of the Chinese should be inferior to that of a station wagon and sex. I hope that Chinese men and women will dare to take up the mantle and contribute to the long-term development of the Chinese community, showing that the Chinese have truly integrated into Australia’s democratic political society.
A community of 1.2 million people, or nearly a million at 80% mainstream projection, is a lot of people. In order to avoid the resurgence of the White Australia policy and the emergence of various exclusionary policies under different names, the Chinese, who have a history of immigration that predates the founding of Australia, should start a new page in history for the sake of the present and the future, given that the current political parties are unable to accommodate the Chinese!
Internationally, the entry of Arab political parties into the Jewish mainstream Israeli government has provided a model for the political path of minorities in various countries; the formation of a third party by American Chinese Anze Yang has also set the sails for the political path of Chinese in various countries. So, are the Chinese in Australia still far from building a party?
The writer is a Chinese columnist