October 22, 2007
Written by C.N.
Back in 1996, Chinese American Democrat Gary Locke became the first Asian American governor of Washington state and therefore, the first governor of a mainland state in American history. Now we have a second — as the Associated Press reports, Republican and Indian American Bobby Jindal has just been elected as Governor of Louisiana:
Jindal, a 36-year-old Republican, will be the nation’s youngest governor. He had 53 percent with 625,036 votes with about 92 percent of the vote tallied. . . . The Oxford-educated Jindal had lost the governor’s race four years ago to Gov. Kathleen Blanco. He won a congressional seat in conservative suburban New Orleans a year later but was widely believed to have his eye on the governor’s mansion.
Blanco opted not to run for re-election after she was widely blamed for the state’s slow response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. . . . Jindal, who takes office in January, pledged to fight corruption and rid the state of those “feeding at the public trough,” revisiting a campaign theme.
“They can either go quietly or they can go loudly, but either way, they will go,” he said, adding that he would call the Legislature into special session to address ethics reform. Political analysts said Jindal built up support as a sort of “buyer’s remorse” from people who voted for Blanco last time and had second thoughts about that decision. . . .
In India, Jindal’s family members were proud, and were going to celebrate with the traditional Punjabi folk dance called bhangra.
The New York Times reports in a separate article that not all Indian Americans are head over heels over his victory. The article quotes my friend and colleague Prof. Vijay Prashad as saying, “The fact that he’s of Indian ancestry is a subject of jubilation. But there’s a very shallow appreciation of who he really is. Once you scratch the surface, it’s really unpleasant.”
As a liberal, I too feel some uneasiness about the victory of any conservative Republican, Asian American or not. Nonetheless, I still offer my congratulations to Bobby Jindal on his historic victory. We may have opposing political ideologies but as my post about how Vietnamese Americans frequently cross party lines to support Vietnamese candidates to strengthen ethnic solidarity, so too am I proud that another Asian American has achieved such a powerful position in the American political landscape.
Perhaps Asian Americans are slowly succeeding in demonstrating that we are in fact “real” and “legitimate” Americans just like anybody else.
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Bobby Jindal: New Governor of Louisiana" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2007/10/bobby-jindal-new-governor-of-louisiana/> ().
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