The rally for Obama in the heart of Little Saigon marked a major turning point for progressives throughout the OC. Since Vietnamese Americans have traditionally been stereotyped as lock-step Republican, this event demonstrated that Obama’s reach is very pervasive and although I don’t believe the overall Vietnamese population will vote blue this cycle, I think it sent a strong message.
Young people especially are excited about being part of a new FDR-like movement, and indeed when I spoke with them said they were tired of the Vietnamese media attacks on the Democratic nominee and were proud of making a statement of support. Many were quite knowledgeable about issues and said that Senator Obama represents change in terms of investing in infrastructure from education to health care to green technologies. Like many mainstream voters, Vietnamese Americans realize that there have been too many years of squandered opportunities and gross neglect by the Bush administration.
Let’s also not forget that there are also many small mom and pop business owners in the Little Saigon area who yearn for better access to health care and more investment in the domestic economy. Unlike “Joe”, the plumber, who apparently makes over $250,000, “Joe Tran”, the nail salon owner, and “Joe Nguyen”, the college student are very upset that the rich are not paying their fair share into the system.
Special thanks should go to the following organizers: Phu Nguyen, Tammy Tran, Van Le, Phong Ly and My-Dung Tran. Their efforts led to the great turnout on a Saturday morning. It is the work of these leaders, working hard to bring people together for this and other events supporting the development of Vietnamese community involvment in democratic political activism.
If you look at voter registration trends, most young Vietnamese are registering Democratic and Decline to State. This is very bad news for the long term prospects of hardcore Vietnamese Republican leaders. Their base is shrinking and the rally for Obama could be just the beginning of a Titanic shift towards turning Little Saigon into Blue Saigon.