Wednesday, October 26, 2005

S. B. Woo's Speech at UMN

The Importance of Group Political Clout

America is a great country and it has one the world's best political
systems. However, all political systems are managed by human beings, and
human beings are full of frailties and contradictions. For example, we can
be so noble as to die for people in other lands for an ideal. On the other
hand, we can be so blind to the sufferings of others sitting, living and
next to us simply because they differ from us in some apparent ways: be
they the color of our skin, race, national origin, gender, religion and/or
sexual orientation. In fact, human beings can be so insensitive as to not
only discriminate against others but also invent negative stereotyped images

about them in order to justify their prejudice.

There are three major stereotyped negative images against the Asian
Americans. First, we are "good work horses but are so hopelessly lacking
in leadership skills to become race horses." Second, a lot of of our
compatriots think of us as "perpetual foreigners who are more loyal to our
respective old countries than our chosen country, America." Third, Asian
Americans are "too timid to be aggressive even when it is called for."

How are we to deal with these prejudice? There is nothing better
speak up effectively to counter the unfair stereotypes, and second,
take action to REMEDY the consequences of such negative stereotypes.

Let me now cite historic examples in America to show you why GROUP
POLITICAL CLOUT is the best way in America to protect a small minority
like the Asian Americans (AsAms) from exploitaiton.

At the beginning of our Republic, our forefathers proudly
pronounced that "All men are created equal." However, for 87 more years,
Blacks remained slaves. For 144 more years, white women could not vote.
Indeed, even after the so called emancipation and suffrage, African
Americans and white women didn't REALLY enjoy equal opportunity to attend
colleges and get good jobs. It was not until they toiled, I mean toiled,
to establish their OWN group political clout that they became equal
citizens of America. African Americans went through the great Civil
Rights Movement in the 1960s. They organized NAACP, the Black
Congressional Caucus, and Jesse Jackson's Rainbow coalition. Women went
thru. the women's liberation movement, and organized N.O.W., The Nat'l
Org. of Women, and the Emily List and quite a few others. It was then and
only then that they began to break glass ceilings and enjoy equal justice.

Think for a moment now, who were those white women who were
not allowed to vote. They were no less then the mothers, wives
and sisters of the politicians in power at the time. Yet those
political leaders not only denied their mothers, wives
and sisters the rights to vote but also spread negative stereotypes about
Some of you males may still believe in that negative
stereotyoe: "Women are too soft in their hearts and heads
to make political decisions."

Today such negative images about women become laughable, given the
magnificant examples of Sandra O'Conner, Hillary Clinton, Diane Finestein
and Barbara Boxer. Similarly, the negative images about AsAms will become
laughable -- I promise you -- a decade or two from now, if only that
we AsAms will wake up and organize our own Group political clout.

Let me cite more examples to show that we need
Group Political Clout. Will white males, who are without the group
political clout, be discriminated in America? Absolutely YES.

About 175 yrs ago, when the Irish first immigrated en mass to
America, after the Great Potato Famine, discrimination against them was
rampant. They were stereotyped as "either perpetually poor or forever
drunk." A newspaper ad about a job seeking applicants in Boston, where
the Irish congregated at the time, blatantly stated: "No Irish Need

However, the Irish soon learnt that IN AMERICA, if people
discriminated against you because they didn't like you as an individual,
the best recourse was to go to the Court. If people discriminated against
you because you were a member of a powerless group, the best remedy would
be to build your own group political clout.

So the Irish organized and began to vote as a bloc. That is, they
voted as a united community to reward those politicians who cared for
their rightful aspirations and punished those who didn't. Soon good jobs
opened to the Irish. Equal justice came too. Thereafter the Irish melted
into the great melting pot of America.

The Polish and Italians who immigrated to America after the Irish
met the same discrimination and used the same political recipe to lift
themselves to be equal citizens of America. A famous
historian once said, "The history of America is the history of the
immigrant underclass, using the political process, to lift themselves into
the equal class." In the mid 20th century, the Jewish Americans built
their group political clout. Two decades ago, the gays built their own
political clout. Today, the Hispanics are building their own political
clout. Should Asian Ams. wake up and build our own group political

Why did I tell you that this and that group including Caucasian males and females have all suffered discrimination? It is because I want to show you that while the initial cause of your being
discriminated is because you have apparent differences such as races & nationality from the majority in power, the persistence of that discrimination is DUE TO our own fault. We failed to organize our own group political clout (GPC).

So let me now use the 80-20 PAC to illustrate how we can organize
our own GPC. 80-20 is a national, pan Asian political action committee
dedicated to winning equal justice and opportunity for Asian Americans.
It advocates that we must be united to get our Group political clout.
And the best demonstration of our GPC is through a swing bloc vote in
presidential elections.

I've mentioned equal opportunity, political clout, and a swing
bloc votes. Allow me to explain each to you.

Equal opportunity is for every man, woman and child to go as far
and rise as high as their ambition and ability will take them. In other
words, equal pay for equal work, equal opportunity to get salary
increments and promotions, and equal opportunity to rise to the top.

What is political clout? It is much more than just electing a few
AsAms to high political offices. Political clout is the ability to
reward and punish any politician, I repeat, any politician. Reward the
politicians who share our rightful concerns by getting them elected.
Punish those who don't share our rightful concerns by un-electing them.

What is a bloc vote? Why is it so powerful? Here is an illustration.
Two candidates run against each other in a political division, which for
simplicity is assumed to have two constituent groups only. One group has 1
million votes (8%) and the other has 11 million votes (92%). Candidate A, a
novice, courts the larger group, not being aware that the smaller
constituent group has the internal political cohesion to deliver a bloc vote
in the ratio of 8 to 2 while the larger group does not. When the ballots are
open, candidate A wins the larger community by the ratio of 52/48. The
margin of difference is 4%. Since the larger group has 11 millions votes,
4% of 11 million votes provides a winning margin of 440,000 votes to
candidate A. His opponent, candidate B, is a seasoned politician. She
courts the smaller group and wins that community by a ratio of 80 to 20,
which is the voting pattern of the Jewish Americans and African Americans.
The difference between 80% and 20% is 60%. 60% of 1 million votes is
600,000 votes. As a result, candidate B wins the election by (600,000 -
440,000) or 160,000 votes.

Astounding? Yes. But that is the power of a bloc vote. Why did I
use those particular numbers in my illustration? It is because I was
using AsAms in CA as an example. Asian Americans represents 8% of CA's
voters. And in a presidential election, the rest of CA may just vote
about 52 to 48.

Why does 80-20 advocate a SWING block vote? That is, why does
80-20 advocate voting as a bloc for Democrats sometimes, and for
Republicans in other times? It is because a swing bloc vote is the best way
to induce both parties to compete to serve the rightful interests of
Asian Americans.

Is 80-20 being power hungry? Certainly not. However, it does
advocate to get our share of the political clout to protect ourselves from
exploitation. In organizing our own GPC, will we be balkanizing America?
Absolutely not. We gather our own GPC so that we may melt as equal
partners into America.

Let me point this out to you. Our fight is a fight to help make
America "a more perfect Union," as our forefathers have ordained it. Our
struggle is a struggle for the noblest of the American Dreams, the
dream of equal opportunity for all Americans. WE are dedicating ourselves
to fulfill one of the most solemn pledges of Americans, the pledge of
allegiance to the Flag, which as you know ends with " ...with liberty and
justice for ALL." I repeat "with liberty and justice FOR ALL." This ends
my speech. You've been a great audience. Thank you.