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Barbs, Brickbats and Picking the Best on the Ballot

November 05, 2000|S.B. WOO | S. B. Woo is a former lieutenant governor of Delaware and a founding member of the 80-20 Initiative

The 80-20 Initiative aims to politically empower Asian Pacific Americans so that we will enjoy equal justice and equal opportunity.

Politicians are pragmatic people who need to choose between many competing interests. Our goal is to demonstrate that Asian Pacific Americans can unite to deliver 80% of our money and votes to the candidate who we have endorsed. If we can, both parties will compete to earn our endorsement in subsequent elections.

Empowerment can only be earned, never given, and only through a demonstration of leverage.

Our choice of Gore as the vehicle of our self-empowerment was based on the following factors:

First, the Democratic Party has done more than the Republican Party to help Asian Americans achieve equal opportunity in workplaces. Major recent examples are: appointing the historic first Asian American Cabinet secretary in Norman Mineta and the awarding of 22 Medals of Honor to Asian American soldiers for their heroics in World War II, giving them their long-due recognition and respect.

Second, Gore gave a very strong commitment to 80-20's four specific requests toward achieving equal opportunity in workplaces. Bush refused to communicate with 80-20 directly.

Third, Democrats take more enlightened positions regarding immigration and hate-crimes prevention legislation, which affect Asian Americans greatly.

Last, we believe Bush does not have sufficient leadership experience. He is governor of a state that gives huge budgetary and operational power to its lieutenant governor, who is often viewed as being more powerful than the governor.

When Asian Americans deliver a bloc vote to Gore, regardless of who wins the presidency, Asian Americans will win. Both political parties shall court us from that day on. However, the United States will also win. When 11 million Asian Americans gain equal justice and opportunity, the U.S. becomes "a more perfect Union."

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