Well my dream of being the first Vietnamese-American member of Congress died today as Ahn "Joseph" Cao upset 9-term Congressman William Jefferson. For those of you who do not remember, Jefferson is the Louisiana Congressman who faces charges of money laundering, racketeering, and bribery, and is the person who had $90,000 of cash in his freezer.
Even though Cao is Republican and is firmly anti-choice, I would much rather have a man who, from what I have read, seems to be an honest and dedicated servant than a corrupt politician. (See, I'm not that partisan, nor am I a one-issue voter.) New Orleans, especially, deserves better.
Like my parents, Cao is a refugee who came over during the war. He was going to be a priest but decided to use his legal services to help immigrants. I was impressed that he worked as a lawyer and was a board member for Boat People SOS, an advocacy group for refugees that is very respected. He is also a community organizer, who fought a landfill in the community after Hurricane Katrina. What did Sarah Palin say about community organizers having no responsibilities?
Something that Cao said that really hit home with me was when he explained, "When I [was] 9 years old, I received a letter from my father while he was in the re-education camp . . . He told me to study hard, to work hard and to give back to your country and to your community. So I hope to do that in Congress."
Today, Barack Obama also appointed General Eric Shinseki as secretary of Veteran's Affairs, which will make him the third Asian-American to serve in a cabinet position. General Shinseki is best known for testifying infront of the Senate Armed Services Committee and challenging Pentagon officials by saying that more troops were needed in the original Iraq invasion.
My favorite part of his biography was his speech he gave when the US Army Museum opened a gallary in his honor: "I asked my Grandma Shinseki what I should say before I came here," he said at the time. "She told me, 'tell them you come from a good family . . . and tell them you're a good American soldier.' " Totally something an Asian grandma would say.
Seeing as how Asian-Americans are one of the most underrepresented groups in politics, it's great to see more Asian-Americans in a variety of positions. Maybe this will quell the fears of many Asian-American parents who only want their children to be doctors and engineers because they think its the only way to succeed. Now there are faces and stories in government that they can relate to as well.
As for me, there are still a variety of positions I can be the first to take. Supreme Court Justice, Attorney General, President, etc.