Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Is Bernie's Secret Weapon Asian Americans?


A couple years ago, when Blue America endorsed Ted Lieu for Congress, it wasn't because he was Asian-American any more than it was because he was a male or because he was in the Air Force Reserve. It was because he was the most progressive candidate in the race and because he had an eye-popping record of accomplishment in the state legislature as the most creative, effective and member dedicated to working families. This cycle Blue America didn't endorse Bao Nguyen because is Asian-American, nor did we endorse Pramila Jayapal because she is Asian-American. We endorsed the Bao, who has Vietnamese heritage and Pramila, whose family heralds from Kerala in southwest India, because they are, like Ted Lieu, dedicated and effective progressives who will be able to make significant contributions into turning the dysfunctional cesspool known as the U.S. House of Representatives into a tool for working families. Primal proved herself in the Washington state legislature and Bao proved himself as the mayor of Garden Grove in Orange County.

That said, the Pew Research Center reports that Asian Americans are the highest-income, best-educated and fastest-growing racial group in the U.S., with Asians now surpassing Hispanics as the largest group of new immigrants. The kind of Know Nothing xenophobia and racial stereotyping and scapegoating that have taken hold in the GOP are viewed with great alarm and Asian-American groups have massively migrated to the Democratic Party in the last few years. And, according to Floridian Ricky Ly, writing for Asia Trend, "a recent Gallup poll showed that Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders enjoys the highest level of popularity for any major candidate of either party among Asian-Americans."

Both of Blue America's Asian-American House challengers this cycle, Bao and Pramila, have endorsed Bernie. Ly explains that "economic opportunity, education, immigration, and social justice are all important issues" for him and that "working hard, opportunities for growth, the pursuit of happiness are all American values [Asian Americans] cherish." The more he learned about Bernie, the more enamored of his program and his "movement that seeks to revolutionize our political system to be more of a government that is by the people, for the people" he became.
Asian Americans are acutely aware of what happens when people give into their darkest fears and hatreds, how the government and even our own fellow citizens can act out, sometimes in violence, in misplaced anger and frustration against those who look, speak, or act differently.

From the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1885, the Japanese American Internment Camps during World War II, the death of Vincent Chin, to the targeting of Muslims and South Asians after 9/11, Asian Americans have through American history been unjustly and unfairly targeted in hate crimes when prejudices go unchecked. Senator Sanders has stood up to discrimination and supported civil rights and human rights time after time.

...Recently on CNBC’s Fast Money, Asher Edelman, a former Wall Street corporate raider, who the character Gordon Gekko from the film Wall Street was based upon-- stated that Bernie Sanders is the strongest presidential candidate.
"Well, I think it’s quite simple,” he began. “If you look at something called 'velocity of money'-- you guys know what that is, I presume—that means how much gets spent and turns around. When you have the top one percent getting money, they spend five, 10 percent of what they earn. When you have the lower end of the economy getting money, they spend 100, or 110 percent of what they earn. As you’ve had a transfer of wealth to the top, and a transfer of income to the top, you have a shrinking consumer base, basically, and you have a shrinking velocity of money. Bernie is the only person out there who I think is talking at all about both fiscal stimulation and banking rules that will get the banks to begin to generate lending again as opposed to speculation. So from an economic point of view, it’s straightforward."
Senator Sanders as a democratic socialist believes in capitalism but with humanity, where corporate greed is checked, where the government is by the people, for the people. Many governments in the world operate successfully with a democratic socialist government from Norway to Sweden, where people enjoy universal healthcare, high levels of education, and high satisfaction of life ratings while still having world class and competitive businesses and companies.

Goal Thermometer On education, Bernie Sanders proposes to reign in on corporate welfare while providing free public college tuition to all. In this age of technology, a high school diploma no longer cuts it for graduates who want to be competitive in the new global economy. As an Asian-American, education is valued as a way to move up the socio-economic ladder and we believe the more highly educated our country is, the greater our country will be.

On jobs, today, hundreds of thousands of American manufacturing jobs have been shipped overseas through disastrous trade policies like NAFTA and will most likely worsen with the upcoming TransPacific Partnership agreement, pitting American workers with those in the third world making 60 cents an hour, accelerating a race to the bottom for all. Bernie Sanders voted against NAFTA and opposes TPP, working for fair trade with policies written by the people rather than by corporations.

On small businesses, Bernie Sanders has worked hard to push for policies that help small businesses, encourage entrepreneurship, and foster innovation. Among these, he has supported loans for small businesses, pushed for reforming intellectual property regimes, and advocated for giving the entrepreneurs of tomorrow access to good education. Bernie wants to make sure that small businesses have access to low-interest loans and other forms of support, so that they can thrive. The United States has long been a world leader in entrepreneurship and innovation, which in turn are the engines that drive our economy. To continue this tradition of leadership and growth, Bernie has supported increasing access to education and training, and opposing intellectual property regimes.

On the environment, Senator Sanders believes that we can no longer ignore the ramifications of human activity on climate change, whose evidence is supported by 98% of the scientific community, and the disastrous effect of our energy policy on our environment. Climate change has been cited by many countries around the world as the number one security concern even above ISIS, above terrorism, because many of their agricultural industries depend on the environment to sustain food supplies and security. We have to start developing sustainable, clean energy alternatives before it’s too late for our planet.

On foreign policy, Senator Sanders believes that war should be the last option after all diplomatic efforts have failed. As a child of the Vietnam War, the needless deaths of millions of innocents is something that should be avoided at all costs. Senator Sanders voted against the Iraq War in 2002, accurately predicting that the war would be a huge cost on our nation both in blood and treasure, as well as the lack of a strategy to fill the power vacuum once Saddam Hussein was ousted from office which would lead to the disastrous insurgent rise of a terrorist group like ISIS. On veterans issues, Senator Sanders worked to co-sponsor the most comprehensive bill to improve veteran care and access in recent history. He believes that just as weapons are a cost of war, so is taking care of the people we sent to fight. Veterans must receive the health care and benefits they have earned, and the respect that they deserve.

“If you can’t afford to take care of your veterans, then don’t go to war.”

U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a combat veteran as well as the first American Samoan and first Hindu American member of the U.S. Congress, cited these reasons for her support for Senator Sanders for President. She resigned from her position as vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee.

“The choice before us is this,” Gabbard said recently at a rally in Kissimmee, Florida. “We can vote for Hillary Clinton and … get more of these interventionist, regime-change wars that have cost us so much, or we can vote for and support Bernie Sanders, end these counterproductive, costly interventionist wars and invest here at home, because we cannot afford to do both.”

“No one understands more how important peace is than those who’ve actually been there and experienced that high cost of war firsthand,” Gabbard said. “During my first deployment to Iraq, I served in a medical unit where every single day that high human cost stared me back in the face.”

Rapper and Bernie supporter Killer Mike said that “Bernie Sanders is the only politician who has consistently, for 50 years, taken that social justice platform into politics. And right now, we have an opportunity to elect someone who is directly out of the philosophy of [Martin Luther] King-ian non-violence. We can directly elect someone who cares about poor people; cares about women, gay, black rights; cares about lives that don’t look like his. This opportunity in history is not going to come in another 20 years.”

He’s just one human being. He won’t be able to achieve all of this on his own, but together, when we all stand together, America will always win.

That is why I support Senator Bernie Sanders for President of the United States.

Bao has been clear with Orange County voters that he is "working to reduce inequality and restore a government of the people, not of the special interests. Donald Trump has condoned violence against his dissenters time after time, and made scapegoats of our fellow Americans based on race and religion. So much airtime is devoted to outrageous soundbites instead of the real issues. We cannot waste time turning our democracy into reality TV, when climate change threatens our economy and environment, and when families still struggle to make ends meet or save for their children to attend college."

Bao is in a tightly contested race that includes more than just Garden Grove. The district includes most of Santa Ana, Orange and Anaheim. Over 60% of the votes last time were for Obama, a figure expected to grow for the Democrats in November. His two main competitors in the race, scandal-tarred ex-assemblyman and ex-state senator Lou Correa and ex-state senator Joe Dunn, have been furiously battling it out. However, last week the Orange County Register revealed what many had long suspected, that Dunn was "fired from his job as executive director of the State Bar of California was justified because he misled board members and failed to provide them with key information." So now Bao is competing with two corrupt opponents.

Due north in Seattle Pramila Jayapal, another progressive Asian-American congressional candidate who has endorsed Bernie, is the top candidate in a crowded field. Right after she announced, Daffany Chan wrote that "Jayapal's unique platform is a reflection of her own personal story. The state senator came to America after her parents raised enough money to send her from India at 16, when she attended Georgetown University. Since then, Jayapal has been heavily involved in civil rights causes and activism, including founding the immigrants' rights organization OneAmerica.
Though this is Jayapal's first bid for Congress, she's already made a name for herself in her hometown of Seattle. The state senator is known for her tenacity-- and in the tough world of politics, she's got the thick skin necessary and isn't about to give up a fight. "I'm a bold progressive fighter who will stand up for Seattle's values," Jayapal said in her announcement speech at Seattle Central College. "I'm running for Congress because our system is rigged for corporations and the wealthy. The time has come to tackle this inequality."
Below is the interview Marianne Williamson did with Pramila as part of the on-going Blue America/Sister Giant Progressive Summit that runs at and features progressive luminaries like Alan Grayson (FL), Carol Shea-Porter (NH), Ted Lieu (CA) and Keith Ellison (MN) as well as up-and-comers like Tim Canova (FL), Jamie Raskin (MD), Eric Kingson (NY), Pat Murphy (IA), Paul Clements (MI), Alex Law (NJ), John Fetterman (PA), Nanette Barragan and a growing list of the men and women who are going to help shape the progressive agenda for the country.

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