kamala harris andrew yang
© REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
The Democratic Party's reliance on identity politics led to controversy on Tuesday as the lineup of speakers for next week's Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee seemingly failed to include any politicians of Asian descent.

"The gross underrepresentation of Asian American speakers in the four days of the DNC Convention is tone deaf and a slap in the face," Representative Ted Lieu said on Twitter. Lieu, a California Democrat with Taiwanese ancestry, also noted that Asian-Americans are the fastest-growing ethnic group in multiple swing states.

Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who bowed out of the race in February, expressed disappointment that he wasn't given a chance to speak at the convention. "I've got to be honest," Yang tweeted. "I kind of expected to speak." He added later, "Maybe I endorsed against one too many incumbents."

Such controversy is not uncommon in a party that has employed a strategy of building a coalition of special interests that identify themselves by such dividing lines as skin color, gender and sexual orientation. Before announcing Senator Kamala Harris as his vice-presidential running mate on Tuesday, Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden had faced pressure to pick a black woman.

More than 100 prominent black men signed an open letter to Biden on Monday, warning that "failing to select a black woman in 2020 means you will lose the election." Harris identifies as "American" and has Jamaican and Indian parents, while media generally refer to her as black/African-American. While running for president in 2019, she faced questions from Democrats over whether she's "black enough."

Yang and another former presidential candidate, Senator Cory Booker, also a former presidential candidate, complained in January that only white candidates had qualified to participate in the final debate before the Iowa Caucuses.

"I don't doubt that the rules our party set were well-intentioned, but the outcomes are undeniable: These thresholds have effectively kept people of color from the national stage," Booker said.

For his part, Booker did land a prime speaking slot at the convention, on August 20, the night when Biden is scheduled to accept the party's nomination for president.