Observations from abroad: I just returned from a cruise accompanied by Canadians, Australians, Europeans and fellow Americans. From our conversations, it appeared that Barack Obama was favored by the majority of the non-Americans. There was such disdain towards the Bush administration for being responsible for the United States losing its leadership edge in foreign relations and the global economy. Coming from countries with strong party systems, they saw no difference between John McCain and Bush because they represent the same party. However, the white, upper- middle class, senior citizen Americans on board appeared evenly split between Obama and McCain.
Proposition 11: Who should draw the lines for legislative districts? During the legislative redistricting hearings in 2001, I worked with Kathay Feng of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California. She was eloquent, relentless and moving whenever she lobbied legislators and testified in committee hearings. The API data presented was masterful and convincing. But we just didn’t have the political clout to accomplish any major victories for our community except to protect the lines of one single district, that of former Assemblywoman Judy Chu.
Feng has moved on to become the director of Common Cause. Perhaps her memory of our disappointments helped motivate her to get Common Cause to be one of the sponsors behind Proposition 11.
It is very disturbing to a capitol veteran like me to see how increasingly paralyzed the state legislature has become; the unprecedented budget delay and unresolved deficit speak volumes. What incentives do legislators have to make hard choices if their seats are safe and if they oversee the legislative redistricting process that keeps their districts safe?
Opponents of Proposition 11, which will allow an independent commission to be responsible for redistricting, say it will work against ethnic minority representation. I do not believe that a civil rights activist like Kathay Feng would ever align herself with an initiative that did so. In fact, this initiative prioritizes the Voting Rights Act and minority representation.
One can find flaws in any proposition that attempts to change the redistricting process. But we need a legislature that will be more responsible to the voters. Proposition 11 is at least a start.
No on Proposition 8: My family and I are proud to join the majority of California API voters who will be voting No on Proposition 8. The California Supreme Court’s ruling, which grants all couples the same rights to marriage, should be sustained. This decision reflects our nation’s core foundation that all people should be treated equally under the law.
Thank you Colin Powell and Dale Minami: In the midst of some of the ugliest campaign rhetoric expressed during this campaign cycle come some of the most touching thoughts from two of my favorite people, Colin Powell and Dale Minami. Dale’s touching letter as to why he is supporting Obama captured the feelings of so many of us who have engaged in helping APIs become part of the American dream. And I thank Minami for reminding that McCain voted against both the historic Japanese redress bill and the monetary payments legislation included in that bill.
I thank Colin Powell for his willingness to publicly confront the ugly innuendos that link the word “Muslim” to thoughts of terrorism, enemies and, most regrettably, things un-American. It brings back hateful memories as to how it felt to be Japanese American during World War II. All Americans should be offended when Muslim Americans are targeted or slandered, for one never knows which group identity will be next on the target list.
Prove that the API votes can make a difference: Congratulations and thank you to PG&E and its partner Committee on Jobs for providing $2 million to launch an unprecedented campaign targeting API voters to go to the polls. PG&E’s outstanding vice president, Nancy McFadden, a former Clinton White House staff person, picked the very best Bay Area grassroots political consultant, Alex Tourk, to handle the task.
With one-third of API voters undecided in the presidential race in battleground states, presidential campaigns are finally focusing on mobilizing this community’s vote. The only way APIs can prove their value to elections is to produce the numbers to make a difference.