- What is the proposed plan?
- Don't we have equal opportunity already?
- Are our numbers large enough for such a proposed strategy
- How might the two political parties respond?
- What statistics to keep in mind as we assess this proposal?
- What is the most important? Money, votes or electoral
- Have we executed a similar project before? Was it successful?
- Why endorse a party, why not endorse a candidate?
- What if the presidential nominee of the endorsed party
is not pro-AA?
- What if the endorsed party does not win the White House?
- What is a brief description of the operational plan?
- How to deliver 80/20?
- How is the Endorsement Committee (EC) to be formed?
1. What is the proposed plan?
The proposed plan is to use the presidential election of year 2000 to gain equal opportunity for Asian Americans. The fact is that Asian Americans have only one-third of the opportunity enjoyed by other Americans to rise to management levels in the academic and corporate world where millions of us work (see following page). In addition, subtler discrimination works against us in almost every aspect of our lives. This impacts our children’s access to top universities, our community leaders' access to policy-level government service, and our business people's access to small business loans, ..., etc.
The time has come for Asian Americans to practice ‘realpolitik’ -- the kind of pragmatic politics practiced by other immigrant groups in their paths to equality. We must reward the political leaders and parties that fight for our equal opportunity. We must censure those who don't - through the ballot boxes as our framers empowered us to do.
We are nine million in number and strategically located in CA and NY - states with the largest electoral college votes in the presidential election. Hence we have the ability to reward and censure political parties effectively during a presidential election by adopting the right plan of action. That plan is for us to (1) publicly inform the two parties that we are dissatisfied with their services, (2) give the two parties between now and the presidential election of 2000 to compete to redeem themselves, (3) empower a small group of our community leaders to endorse, after the national conventions of both parties in 2008, one political party based strictly on how hard it has fought for our equal opportunity between now and then (See Endorsement Committee Structure for details), (4) form a Pan-Asian coalition to vote and contribute money to the presidential nominee of the endorsed party, regardless of our personal choices and party affiliations, and (5) pore all our organizational energy into California (12% Asian Americans), New York (5%), and New Jersey (5%), where Asian Americans are most populous, and whose summed electoral college votes are about half of what is needed to be elected President. The goal is to achieve a margin of 80/20 in favor of the presidential candidate of the endorsed party.
With such a margin, we have the ability to make or break the presidential nominee of either party. Then and only then will the two political parties look out for our rightful interests even when it is sometimes politically inconvenient.
The above strategy is aggressive and lawful. Indeed it is in the best tradition of democracy -- citizens exercising our rights to assemble and using our power of the ballot box to work for our rightful interests. For those reasons, the two parties will likely respond positively, as soon as they get wind of this plan. However, we should not be made complacent by the initial flurry of positive gestures from the two parties. True equal opportunity will come ONLY after we have demonstrated our political maturity to vote 80/20 for one or other party.
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2. Don't we have equal opportunity already?
No. But you be the judge. (1) Academic administrators are predominantly
drawn from faculty and professionals in universities. The ratio of the
number of administrative personnel to the number of faculty plus professional
could attest to whether Asian Americans have been discriminated. Nationwide,
that ratio for blacks (non-Hispanic) is 0.21; for Native Americans is 0.20;
for whites (non-Hispanic) is 0.16; for Hispanics is 0.15, using data provided
by National Center for Education Statistics, US Department of Education.
However, it is only 0.06 for Asian Americans. In other words, Asian-American faculty and professionals in institutions of higher education institutions have only one
third the opportunity to rise into management as all other Americans.
Bear in mind that the academic world is where Asian Americans contributed
greatly -- seven Nobel Laureates in 4 decades.
(2) Statistics from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission show that in companies with over 38,000 employees, Asian Americans are the only minority group that is disproportionately under-represented in managerial positions.
(3) President Clinton promised in 1994 to make his Cabinet "look like America itself." To his credit, he appointed women, blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans to cabinet and sub-cabinet positions. However, of the 250 such positions that are at or above the rank of assistant secretary, he appointed only one Asian American to be an assistant secretary. One Asian American out of every 250 Americans is not the demography of America: we are nine out of every 250 Americans. When Clinton and Gore campaigned for their second term, their emissaries worked the Asian American community hard. They urged us to contribute generously so that they could, after the election, help us achieve equal opportunity. The Asian Americans responded most generously, some too generously. Asian Americans voted slightly more Democratic for the first time in decades. However, when the election was over and the John Huang scandal ballooned, promises of inclusion and equal opportunity were forgotten. The same pattern of token appointment for Asian Americans continued - one assistant secretary and one acting assistant attorney general were appointed. And of the 845 serving federal judges, only 6 are Asian Americans.
If Asian Americans were grossly under-represented in only one of the above three categories of leadership positions, or if Asian Americans were under-represented in all 3 categories, but only slightly so, there might be more subtle explanations that account for such facts. However, when Asian Americans are grossly under-represented in all three categories and are the only minority group to bear that fate, we think the facts speak for themselves. We must stand up and be counted. We must have the courage to take corrective measures. Our plan of action will help us and our children gain equal opportunity. Indeed, our efforts will help make America "a more perfect Union."
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3. Are our numbers large enough for such a strategy
Absolutely. Ask any political strategist, "Which of the following two constituent groups would you court earnestly – one with 1 million people or one with 10 million?" The answer will be, "It depends. If the 10 million group tends to vote 50/50, say 52/48 at best, and the 1 million group has the internal cohesion to swing from one party to the other and deliver at 80/20, then any politician will court the 1 million constituent group more diligently." Why? Because the larger group, voting 52/48, can only deliver a margin of 4%. Four percentage of 10 million provides a margin of 400,000 votes only, while the smaller group, only 1/10 in size, delivers a margin of 800,000 votes.
For state and local elections, we may want to maintain our party loyalty so that we don't waste hard earned political capital, small as it may be. By the same token, we must give those Asian Americans who are currently holding offices or running for offices elbow-room during our execution of the plan. Don't force them to make a choice between our strategy and their party loyalty. Their hands are tied. We must think strategically and long-term.
In California, New York and New Jersey, Asian Americans can easily affect the outcome of the presidential election in 2008, when we vote 80/20 for the candidate of the endorsed party. Mind you, the total electoral college votes of those three states is about half of what is needed to elect a president.
The John Huang scandal set us back badly. But we can turn a disaster into a golden opportunity. There is so much frustration and anger in our community against both parties these days that the time is ripe for us to forge the necessary unity in order to make the above strategy work.
Our numbers are small. We traditionally voted and contributed to each party about 50/50. These two factors condemned us to be the doormat of both political parties. However, when we will have forged unity and adopted the right strategy, overnight we'll become the darling of both parties.
Have you ever wondered why the Jewish Americans, only 6 million in population, are politically so powerful? It is because they demonstrated that they have the internal cohesiveness to vote and togive financially in lopsided ratios for a presidential candidate of either party. The African Americans voted 90/10 for Democratic presidential candidates in recent decades. However, their one party affiliation makes them less effective.
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4. How might the two political parties respond?
As soon as both parties recognize that we have a good strategy and are gaining support at the grass-roots level, they will compete to win our favor. Specifically, they may do the following.
Of the 5 responses anticipated above, the second one will probably benefit the largest number of AsAms in the most significant manner.
First, the Party in control of the White House and the executive branch, will immediately make a series of significant appointments of AsAms to policy-making positions. It'll be the easiest thing to do because there will be no political repercussions -- ordinary citizens don't pay attention to sub-cabinet level appointments, and the Democratic senators, by that time, will not be foolish enough to oppose the nominations. Federal grants may flow like water to such AsAm civic organizations as OCA, JACL, AAJA (journalists), AALA (lawyers), IFSSS, LEAP, NAPABA (bar), Asian Pacific Legal Center ..., etc. Federal "Small Business Loans" may become much more available to AAs.
Second, the Party that is in control of the Legislative branch will open congressional hearings on the strong statistical evidence showing the existence of glass ceilings for AsAms in the academic and corporate world. The committees may criticize the current or previous Administration for leaving AsAms out of Cabinet positions. The hearings may conclude with explicit instructions to relevant federal agencies (e.g. the Department of Education, EEOC, and Commerce Department) to report annually to Congress with evidence of progress in removing the glass ceilings of AsAms. Such actions will cause the universities and corporations to begin treating AsAms as first class citizens -- drastically increasing opportunity for good jobs to millions of AsAms in the academic and corporate world. [The Administration may decide to compete with Congress for turf in this vital arena. If so, great!]
Third, both parties will begin to court well-established AsAm fund-raisers again. Presently, the two parties cannot put enough distance between themselves and their respective AsAm fund-raisers. The parties figure that those fund-raisers have no alternative but to come back to the fold when the parties need them in the coming election year. But once the parties are aware of our plan of action each party will fear that its AsAm fund-raisers may defect to the other party. Both parties shall demonstrate a quick change of heart. However, I don't think our AsAm fund-raisers will be that easily pacified.
Fourth, both parties will seriously recruit AsAm candidates to run for various city, county and state offices in order to win our favor. The parties may also begin to treat AsAm candidates on equal footing with other minority candidates in term of protecting them from intra-party primaries.
Fifth, statesmen in both parties, regardless of their racial background, will secretly be pleased that Asian Americans have finally wised up and adopted the American way -- using the political system to climb out from the underclass to the class of equality. Generations of earlier immigrants have done just that -- the Irish, the Polish, and the Italians in the last two centuries; the Jewish, the blacks and the Hispanics in this century. Those statesmen will know that by helping us remove the glass ceilings, they help at the same time build "a more perfect Union."
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5. What statistics should we keep in mind as we assess this proposal?
The following are estimated 1997 population statistics:
|Total Asian Am population: 9.5 to 10 million
|Population ratios among the major ethnic groups:
|AA Population in cities (in million):
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6. What is the most important? Money, individual votes,
or electoral college votes?
The purpose of raising money is to get votes. The purpose of casting
votes is to decide who gets enough electoral college votes to be the next
president. If Asian Americans at this time already has enough assets --
emotion, strategic locations in CA, NY and NJ, and leadership -- to impact
upon about half of the electoral votes needed to elect a president, we
have "THE pressure point" right under our thumbs.
Unite and seize the opportunity for the sake of our children and ourselves.
Be proud to have also helped make America "a more perfect Union."
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7. Have we executed such a project before? Was
We have. It was very successful. That operation was smaller in scale,
involving the Chinese American community only. Even then it delivered
significant results to our community. [See the last page in this booklet
which is a reprint of a front page top headline article in The World Journal
that reported the specific goals (boxed section) set by our ad hoc group
when the news first broke. The bottom left, in hand writing, showed what
In 1987, Anna Chennault and S. B. Woo invited most of the more effective Chinese American fund-raisers to go to St. Louis for a two day retreat. The purpose was to create consensus on a "Political Declaration of Chinese Americans." After documenting how we had been ignored by the political parties, the Declaration pointedly requested appointments in a number of specific policy-making positions. It ended by informing all presidential candidates competing in the primaries of 1988, that we would not vote or contribute to any presidential candidate unless the candidate stated in writing that "upon being elected to The White House, he/she will support us in our requests."
After the retreat, we started an organization and media campaign to gather signatures of support from leaders of our community, i.e. worked to backup our Declaration. More than a thousand of our best-known leaders signed. A nine-city simultaneous press conference was held to whip up emotion and mass support. Of the entire community, only one leader, whom we contacted, did not sign. All of our big fund-raisers repeatedly turned down pleas from presidential candidates to hold fund-raisers for them. In reply, our fund-raisers urged written statements from these candidates to endorse our Declaration. That was one of the finest hours of the Chinese American community. Soon we received letters from all major presidential candidates including Bush, Dukakis, Paul Symon, Jesse Jackson, and Pat Robinson ... stating that they endorsed our Declaration.
The participants at the St. Louis retreat paid for their own travel and lodging expenses. Most contributed an additional $1,000 each to fund subsequent operations to broaden our base of support. David Lam of CA and others contributed big bucks to fund a half-time staff.
When Bush was elected, we got in touch with Bush's Transition Team, and reminded it of Bush's promise. We lobbied for adding John Tsu of CA, who was one of the participants in the St. Louis retreat, to the Transition Team. John was appointed and did a fantastic job. Subsequently, all positions we asked for and more received the nod from President Bush, including the first Chinese American deputy secretary in the federal government (Deputy Secretary is four ranks higher than a deputy assistant secretary -- the appointment that John Huang got.), the first Chinese American ambassador, the first Asian American Vice Chair of the Civil Rights Commission, the first Asian American member in the National Science Board, an Assistant Commissioner of the Immigrant and Naturalization, a number of federal judges, a voice in the SBA ...., and so on. The ad hoc committee ceased operation in mid 1989 to honor our pledge to disband when the job was done.
How naive we were! We thought that a precedent of appointing significant numbers of Chinese Americans was set, and that all future presidents would follow suit and expand it to include all Asian Americans. We were wrong. However, learning from past mistakes can make us stronger. This time we'll still organize an ad hoc organization only, but the organization will have to persist and endure over at least a couple of presidential elections.
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8. Why endorse a party? Why not endorse a candidate?
A political party thinks much longer term than an individual politician. Once a party has ascertained that our efforts will likely impact the next presidential election, it will nudge everyone in the party to do something for AsAms, including the White House, congressional delegates, and state, county and city parties. For example: appointing AsAms to policy-making positions, giving their blessing to local AsAm candidates to avoid a primary, establishing blue ribbon commissions or holding Congressional hearings on why the administrator/ (faculty + professional) ratio for AsAms is so low, ... etc. These are easy things to do. In politics, so long as an initiative does not require money; does not create negative publicity; does not specifically come out of the hide of a powerful interest group, it is a “soft task.“ The only reason our political establishment has not done such things for us is our political naivette and our lack of internal cohesiveness.
Party pols care about winning the White House. That's when the pols will have the power, glitz and fun. Also the party pols don't have their own elections to pre-occupy them.
Individuals politicians behave very differently. They have their next elections to worry about. The few who harbor presidential ambitions think short term -- where to get the next million dollars for the primary election and how to win it. Few candidates think about winning the November general election until he/she has the party nomination locked up. In addition, politicians are apprehensive about taking a strong pro-AsAm position, because it could hurt them with other constituents. However, they can be prodded by the party to perform the "soft tasks" listed above. Only the party has the incentive and internal cohesion to distribute the "load" to many politicians and many political institutions so that our interests will advance in a broad front.
In short, if we want to see the best results -- getting people in both
parties working diligently for us beginning today, we must endorse a party
not a candidate.
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9. What if the nominee is not pro-AA?
It doesn't matter what the nominee truly believes. It only matters that the nominee acts to improve our lot. When we achieve internal cohesiveness, the candidate shall fight for our "equal opportunity" because it will be a good political bet. Furthermore, statesmen in both parties will be more than pleased to remove the glass ceilings from above our heads in order to win our votes.
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10. What if the endorsed party does not win
the White House?
It doesn't matter. If we will have delivered 80/20 in the ballot boxes, and both parties will compete to win our favor for the sake of the next election! Politicians begin thinking about the next election, as soon as the results of the current election are known.
If a powerful political group really kicks a presidential candidate
in the face and that candidate wins, the worst that'll happen is that
there will be a punishment period of 6 months for the offending crew.
After that, a new ball game for the next election begins. All past sins
(sometimes all past contributions) are forgotten. "Politics makes
strange bed-fellows," remember?
In politics, the worst fate is NOT in backing the wrong candidate or
the wrong party, it is in not having sufficient power to be remembered
after the election -- the fate of Asian Americans today.
We pledge ourselves to bear good will to all. We deeply respect all our institutions. But the time has come to practice "realpolitik." That we need to fight to gain equal opportunity is why our forefathers thought of America as "a more perfect Union" only. That we have the freedom to fight is what makes America great. Whether we have the courage to fight depends on us. Each of us must look deep into our own character and make that decision.
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11. What is the operational plan for the year
Synopsis: The plan is to forge a united Chinese American community first. Once that's done we'll use the momentum and our community's overlapping links with the Vietnamese-Cambodia -Laos communities to organize with them. After that, a bandwagon effect may form. If not, it'll take at most one more ethnic community to start a bandwagon and pull in the remaining Asian-American communities. The Japanese American community is politically sophisticated, certainly more experienced than the Ch-Am community. The Korean community whose members are courageous and solid may have the emotion at this time. The India community, with many successful business people, has done well in political fund-raising. The Filipino communities, with many medical professionals, has a large number of registered voters. Our Pan-Asian Coalition will be tested in two occasions. Beginning mid 1999, the primary presidential candidates will be asking our fund-raisers to raise funds. Will our fund-raiser decline the requests and instead tell the candidates about the "80/20 Initiative" and ask them to work to assure our equal opportunity? The second test will be in November, 2000. Will our organization deliver 80/20 to the presidential candidate of "the endorsed party?" If we pass both tests, Asian Americans will be an equal partner in the making of the American Dream within 5 to 6 years. Supporters of the 80/20 Initiative will have contributed greatly to this historic achievement.
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12. How can we deliver 80/20 ?
We will tap two resources that have not been used before.
"Registration drives" and "get-out-the-vote drives" are difficult to organize successfully with Asian immigrants for two major reasons. First, voting is not in the culture of most Asian immigrants. Secondly, the activists who led such drives often expounded values that have currency in the black and Hispanic communities but were far too liberal for Asian immigrants. Hence, many immigrants viewed such drives as the idiosyncrasy of community activists rather than political instruments to help them gain equal opportunity. Many would ask what difference could their one vote make? They also asked what difference could electing an Asian American mayor or an Assemblyman make. Yet the same immigrants were very aware of the inequities that befell them and their children. Many deemed, rightly or wrongly, that even their children might not enjoy equal opportunity. 80-20 provides a simple but grand scheme that an Asian immigrant can identify with -- his/her one vote in CA/NY/NJ can make or unmake a US president. Given the high drama of the proposed strategy, most immigrants will recognize it as effective and buy in, that is, register and vote for the presidential candidate of the endorsed Party.
As a rule, people don't vote to elect a particular candidate. They vote to fulfill their civic responsibilities and/or to express their emotion. Of the two, emotion is ten times more powerful than the sense of civic duty. When we have a simple, sound, and grand strategy to show that "register and vote 80/20" is equivalent to "delivering equal opportunity for our children", we are tapping the deepest emotion of Asian immigrants.
(2) Positive Feedback Cycles
If fund-raisers in all AsAm communities in CA were to refuse to raise money for any presidential primary candidate unless he/she commits in writing to help us achieve equal opportunity, both parties would get the message and begin courting us in earnest around autumn of 1999. Actions to help us gain equal opportunity will be undertaken by both parties. From the Democratic Party, the White House will make significant appointments, the SBA will let out more loans to AsAm business people, our civic organizations will get more contracts and grants. From the Republican party, congressional committees will hold hearings asking why statistics imply a glass ceiling on Asian Americans. We'll publicize such positive developments through our ethnic media to tell our grass roots membership that our strategy is already working -- final victory is within grasp, and the last barriers of inequity will be removed if more AsAms register and vote 80/20 for the endorsed party. Political parties keep tab on voter registrations, particularly during the presidential election year. A significant increase in registered voters in AsAm-dominant Districts in CA will in turn set each Party to try outdo the other in helping us. A marvelous positive feedback cycle is in motion.
After the National Conventions of both Parties, an AsAm endorsement group composed of equal numbers of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents will meet to endorse the party that will have helped AsAms the most between 1998 and August 2000. Campaign contributions that will be twice that of the typical AsAm rate will flow to the endorsed party. Why? Because whether we are Republicans or Democrats we will all be raising funds for the endorsed party. The unexpectedly large amount of money from the AsAm community will induce an increased willingness from the presidential candidate of the endorsed party to fight for our equal opportunity. More deeds on our behalf will follow and more promises given, which again will be used by us to extol the effectiveness of the 80-20 Initiative. Such good news will induce even larger number of AsAms to register and vote according to our endorsement. Another positive feedback cycle kicks in -- in the crucial last 3 months of the 2000 presidential election.
Conclusion: With good planning, courage, and hard work, we can deliver
80/20 in the ballot box. When we do, it is equivalent to delivering equal
opportunity to our children. Our efforts also help make America "a
more perfect Union."
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13. How is the Endorsement Committee (EC) to
Membership in the EC shall be allocated according to the population of each ethnic group. (A fairer way is to allocate membership according to the number of registered voters. However, to our best knowledge, such national statistics are not available.) If the total EC membership is 20, then the distribution will be Chinese (4), Filipino (4), V+C+L (2), Japanese (2), Indian (2), and Korean (2). It shall be composed of equal numbers of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents so that the sum shall be an odd number. The committee shall be composed of prominent community leaders of impeccable integrity.
Other qualifications of membership in the EC are: (1) being more than 60 years of age, with at least a Bachelor's degree, and having lived in the US for at least 15 years, (2) having registered in the same party (including Independent) for at least 5 years; no affiliation or business dealings with either political parties, the current Administration, and the Congress (including appointments, salary, direct contracts, grants, consultant fees, salary, ..., etc.), and (3) having registered with our organization expressing his/her willingness to serve upon a week's notice and pay his/her own expenses for a 2 day meeting in CA. An EC member is required to make judgments independent of his/her party affiliation. A selected member shall not discuss his/her choice of the party with any person(s) other than members of the EC. Violation will mean disqualification.
The Committee is to be formed no earlier than June 1, 2000. Its purpose is to decide which of the two parties have worked harder for the AsAm community between Oct. 15, 1998 and the first meeting day of the Endorsement Committee. It must make a report to the Asian American community within 5 days of the ending of the last National Convention of the two parties. Robert's Rules of Order shall govern the meeting procedures. A chair is to be elected within the membership by members as the first order of business. A parliamentarian can be appointed by the Chair to assist in the implementation of the Robert's Rules. Before the vote to endorse a party, the Committee must invite at least one spokesperson from each political Party to represent its view.
The EC shall issue its endorsement in writing, together with a position paper to support the decision of the committee. Its endorsement and position paper should contain the majority position only.
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