Gov. Howard Dean, chair of the Democratic National Committee, is showing much love to the Asian Pacific American community by showing up to events and listening to our voices in a way that Terry McAuliffe never did.
With Dean, it's clear that his visits are more about relationship-building and hearing our concerns than about asking us to donate $100,000 straight up the way that Terry ran his events.
Let's look at his history as a presidential candidate:
Gov. Dean is the ONLY candidate to show up to a candidates' forum put on by the Asian American Action Fund
. No Kucinich, no Rev. Sharpton, none of the other candidates bothered to show up. The DNC Chair at the time, McAuliffe, and community stalwart Congressman Mike Honda showed. For his efforts, Dean is rewarded with a surprise endorsement by the Taiwanese American congressman from Oregon, David Wu.
I remember listening to his speech there and from San Diego, and those were the two
speeches that really pushed me to support Dean, apart from his populist, take-no-prisoners rhetoric and speaking style.
Let's look at what he's done since election . . . to the position of DNC Chair:
Then this past April, over 400 Asian Pacific Americans gathere in San Jose for the first ever DNC Asian American national leadership training. Dean attends, and he stays around much longer than anyone would have expected. (McAuliffe was always in and out - spoke his piece, shook hands with people on the way out and mugged for the press. But no substantive conversations.) This training was free (no registration fees) to anyone who wanted to come - and a truly diverse pan-APA crowd showed up from both coasts.
The good Governor spoke to everyone who approached him, sometimes at length. He spoke to young and old, the wealthy financiers and struggling students alike.
In May, he held two forums on the sizzling hot issue of immigration - one in NYC (specifically with Asian Americans) and the other in Chicago. To the best of my knowledge, Terry McAuliffe would NEVER have done that. These were frank discussions that were closed to the press, but venues that allowed the community to vent and to offer positive suggestions for change.
Now he drops by the annual AAAFund
dinner to say thanks and keep on doing the good work. Governor Dean, we might not always agree with your positions (let's have less discussion of national security and border security and more of a hopeful prosperous future as Americans united) but you have given our community more access than previous Chairs. It is my hope that you continue to do so, even without pressure from APIA leaders.
Remember, all these events happened in the past few months. In a few months alone he has done more outreach to rank and file Asian American Democrats than
Thank you for all of your hard work. Believe me, we in the community both notice and respect your efforts to include all Americans. (Still not thrilled that you gutted the constituency desks, but you've made up for it by creating the American Majority.)
P.S. These immigration forums, they're sorta similar to what a presidential candidate would do, no? It's all good with us if you want to keep that light burning. We'll be waiting for ya.