January 20, 2005
Written by C.N.
The Seattle Times has a very interesting article about the legacy of Washington Governor Gary Locke. If you’ll recall, Gov. Locke was the first mainland Asian American governor ever, and his governorship recently ended after two terms (he decided not to seek a third term). As the article describes, Gov. Locke seemed to have a rather complex set of priorities and accomplishments:
Many conservatives view him as a big-government liberal. Many liberals view him as, well, a conservative. . . As a legislator, he supported one of the biggest business-tax increases in state history and frequently argued for imposing a personal income tax. As governor, however, he approved billions of dollars in tax breaks to big business and vowed to never support an income tax. . . He has championed civil rights and tough-on-crime measures. He is a big backer of social-service programs and preaches personal responsibility.
During his first year as governor, Locke joined with Republicans to enact landmark welfare-reform legislation — but only after they agreed that the program be open to immigrants. . . As governor, Locke has been dogged by the charge that he lacks the vision of a true leader. Technocrat and tinkerer are two of the words most frequently used to describe him. He has been portrayed in cartoons as a limp rag-doll and as captain on a ship that remains tethered to the dock. Some say it’s just his low-key manner and his plain way of putting things. He once referred to his legislative agenda as “prudent yet bold.”
Does Gov. Locke’s shifting stances on issues and programs represent a tendency toward indecision and lack of executive backbone, or is he merely being pragmatic, realistic, and more focused on results than ideology? I may be a little biased but as someone who has always admired him, I think it’s more of the latter.
In fact, I think Gary Locke represents an excellent example of what sociologists might call a “postmodern” leader — someone who is not bound by traditional political or ideological boundaries and instead, focuses on what is the right thing to do at the moment given the circumstances and at the same time, what will benefit the most people in the long run.
As I have repeatedly stressed throughout Asian-Nation, the Asian American community is way too complex and diverse to expect all of us to think, act, or attain socioeconomic success (or fail to do so) in the exact same ways. In other words, Asian Americans are another reflection of the world around us — complex, multifaceted, and ever-evolving. With that in mind, I think Governor Locke is an excellent example of contemporary Asian America.
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Gary Locke’s Legacy" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2005/01/gary-lockes-legacy/> ().
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