ORANGE COUNTY VOICES : Power of the Vietnamese-American Vote
What concerns do Vietnamese residents with American citizenship have for the election season next year, and have we thought about what to do with our votes?
The privilege of an American citizen with a Vietnamese heritage is to know how to use the vote so we can serve and defend our people in a strong, effective manner and to fight for those policies and laws that would benefit our people and motherland. The Vietnamese community needs to unite to establish the strength of our votes in every region so elected American officials from the city level to the county, from the state level to the federal level must pay attention to our presence and concerns.
In the past 16 years we still don’t understand the power of voting and have not used it effectively, though we have it in hand. There are a lot of Vietnamese who became American citizens but have not registered to vote. An important point that needs to be stressed is that Vietnamese-Americans, as well as other Asian-Americans, tend to not pay attention to local candidates, but only know to vote for candidates in higher levels such as the gubernatorial or the presidential race. If we have no local representatives, our rights would not be sincerely considered.
Vietnamese-Americans need to inquire more about the direction of each party. Though currently there are many who are members of the Republican or the Democratic Party, they might not truly understand yet the ways of each party.
We cannot forget that the Democratic Party has Tom Hayden and his former wife Jane Fonda--people who had publicly supported Vietnamese communists, had stabbed in the back all American and South Vietnamese soldiers, had lent a hand in Hanoi’s invasion of the South. In the period near the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, it was the Democratic Party in the majority of the U.S. Congress that decided to stop sending aid to South Vietnam, resulting in our having to leave our homeland.
Most Vietnamese in America have registered with the Republican Party because its foreign policy has a stronger anti-communist viewpoint and so is favorable in our search for a solution to bring democracy back to Vietnam.
The Vietnamese arriving in the United States since 1975 are all political refugees, and hold important roles in politics to create influence in the machinery of local or federal governments. In the Vietnamese community, all organizations or individuals must have clear political views. In joining either the Republican or Democratic Party, those views will gain us the attention and support of the parties because they are groups having enough political clout in America to be able to help us effectively.
Currently in Orange County, a group of people have established the Vietnamese-American Republican Heritage Council of Orange County to create close ties between the American and Vietnamese people.
The organization has a clear purpose of defending all political issues concerning the county’s Vietnamese residents. In the past months, the council had battled over redistricting so the area most populated with Vietnamese residents could be in one district, and had called on Vietnamese-Americans in the 67th District to vote for Mickey Conroy. He was victorious with 70.9% of the votes.
In addition, the council is supporting and guiding a young Vietnamese full of good will and enthusiasm by the name of Henry Hien Pham to prepare to run next year for the City Council in Westminster. There is also a position on the school board in Westminster that needs a Vietnamese-American candidate. Because of the shared benefits for the Vietnamese community, the council longingly calls on Vietnamese-Americans to vie for this position to fight for the rights of our children attending schools in this city.
From here on in, we will continue to find and develop people with talents to become political candidates for local and federal races. This is the time for us to build a bridge that will unite and gain benefits for Vietnamese residents here and in our native land.