Skip to main content
ColumnistsExecutive DirectorJACLPolitics

From the Executive Director: Looking Into the Future, the 2024 Convention and Beyond

By June 25, 2024No Comments

David Inoue

We’re coming up not only on convention, but also on the first of two presidential debates. The political parties have yet to officially appoint their nominees, and yet, the presumptive nominees have been set for months. It is unlikely these debates will change many minds, but when the election is anticipated to be as close as ever, and possibly coming down to only a few votes in battleground states, the stakes could never be higher.

It is because of these high stakes that just a few weeks later, we will be joining APIAVote and OCA Asian Pacific American Advocates to host our conventions together, culminating in an Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander Presidential Town Hall in Philadelphia. This will be our community’s opportunity to hear directly from the candidates about not only their priorities for the nation, but also our specific community.

Even if you may have made up your mind on whom you are voting for, it is important to hear from the opposing candidate and what their vision is for the country. If significant differences exist, maybe that serves more motivation to work for your candidate. Or maybe you think the differences are not so great, and you decide to sit out voting or maybe even switch your vote.

This community town hall will give you the opportunity to make that decision.

If you are not coming to Philadelphia next month, you can still view the town hall. In fact, we encourage you to develop community locally, host a watch party on Saturday afternoon to watch together. Just as we will be gathering in Philadelphia, you, too, can do the same in your community.

While I appreciate the ease of mail-in voting, there is something lost in not going out to vote in person. For me, voting usually takes a good 30 minutes or more as I stop to talk to neighbors camped out for their candidates as well as those going to cast their ballots. 

This past primary was particularly special, as for the first time, my wife was able to vote in local D.C. elections as a noncitizen. She only got to vote for two city council candidates, but she was able to exercise her right as a resident of Washington, D.C., and announced as a first-time voter when she received her ballot.

The JACL National Convention is just one point in the year when we gather as a JACL community. Chapters hold numerous local events bringing people together. When I attend other events, sponsored by other organizations, the JACLers often find their way to one another resulting in a group picture to capture our presence.

Whether you are attending convention in person or watching the town hall from afar, keep in mind that engaging in this electoral process together is what is important. Engage in conversation with your neighbors, with your friends, as to why it is important to vote and carefully consider who receives your vote. 

JACL does not exist just for the purpose of meeting at an annual convention. We exist only if we all make the effort to build community throughout the year, engaging with partner organizations, sharing time with fellow members and always working toward being better Americans for a greater America. That is what it means to be looking into the future together, and hopefully that is what we see as the result.

David Inoue is executive director of the JACL. He is based in the organization’s Washington, D.C., office.