Howard Dean & the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Community in San Jose

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I had the great honor of attending, by invitation only, a “Dialogue with the Democratic National Committee (DNC)” with the Chairman, Howard Dean, along with Rep. Mike Honda, U.S. House of Representatives, California 15th District (San Jose) (who is also Vice Chairman of the DNC) with local Asian American and Pacific Islander community leaders in San Jose today.

In attendance was a who’s who of Asian American politicians and community leaders, including:

And a whole lot more whose names I missed. Since this event was closed to the press, I’m not too sure how much I should write, but it’s not like I am going to reveal any secrets about the hidden Democratic Asian American Army of Volunteers (TM) that the DNC is raising – LOL.

Dean talked about uniting the Democratic Party. I am sure he was all too aware that 75% of Asian Americans in California supported Hillary Clinton. Dean did discuss what an amazing year it has been and how the Democratic Party, when he first took charge in 2005, the Fifty State strategy wasn’t necessarily something that everyone agreed on. At the time, I was against such a strategy, but with the House and Senate gains in 2006, this proved not only right, but practical. And how in this Democratic primary, the Democrats have had a primary in all 50 states and have amassed a wealth of voters, new voters, knowledge contributions. However, Dean said that despite that the odds are in the Democrat’s favor to win The White House this November, it will be a very tough and close election (which I believe will be the case as well).

One of the things that Dean did say on race which I thought was really interesting was about how during this campaign, he observed a truly generational differences amongst the topic of race from his generation (i.e. older generation) and the under 30-to-35 year generation really saw race differently. The younger generation sees America as a much more multi-ethnic and inclusive party and are more united by age rather than divided by race.

Dean said Asian Americans in California could really make a big contribution in certain swing states, like in Nevada and Virgina, where there is a sizable Asian American community to make a difference. Dean said that without the Asian American vote, Jim Webb (D-Virginia) would not have been elected Senator, defeating incumbent Virginia Senator George Allen (an Indian American “tracker” S.R. Sidarth for the Webb campaign caught Allen using the racial epithat macaca to refer to Allen ; also I know Asian American activist and filmmaker, Eric Byler was quite active in the Webb campaign.)

Additionally, for Asian Americans of the younger generation, Dean said we could certainly help the older generation understand what was at stake in this and each and every election. And certainly for those of us that we bi-lingual, to help in every effort to help the community for the older generation who were not and discussed getting out into our communities and neighborhoods and discussed the DNC’s Neighborhood Volunteer Program.

Overall, Dean spent a good two hours with all of us to discuss his thoughts as well as hear our concerns and answer our questions. I’ve seen Howard Dean speak before at the first Democratic Asian American Pacific Islander national leadership conference in San Jose a few years ago, but this was the first time seeing him speak and answer questions at length.

8Asians is a non-partisan website, so if the Republican National Committee has had a similar outreach to the Asian American community, please let me know – I’d love to hear what has been going on – on the other side.

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About John

I'm a Taiwanese-American and was born & raised in Western Massachusetts, went to college in upstate New York, worked in Connecticut, went to grad school in North Carolina and then moved out to the Bay Area in 1999 and have been living here ever since - love the weather and almost everything about the area (except the high cost of housing...)
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