That's a winner: APA Heritage Month Statements from Clinton and Obama

Monday, May 05, 2008

I was reading the APA Heritage Month statements that both Clinton and Obama put out last week and the two are really quite different.

What was interesting to me was that Obama's statement - the candidate with the Asian lineage - was clearly more of a simple press release that really didn't have much to do with anything specific about the APA community - you could really just plug and play pretty much any ethnic group into the statement and it wouldn't matter, while Clinton's statement was directed specifically towards the APA community.

Check Obama's statement for release:

Dear Friends,

The month of May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month – a time to honor and celebrate the extraordinary contributions of the nearly 13 million Asian and Pacific Americans (AAPI) who have helped build a strong and vibrant America. The APA community represents many ethnicities and languages that span across generations, and their shared achievements are an important part of the American experience.The APA story and community are also personal to me. Members of my family are of Asian descent and it is a community that I became a part of while growing up in Hawaii and Indonesia and living in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. APA Heritage Month reminds us of our commonalities in history, the values that bring us together and how Asian Pacific Americans will shape America's future.

Beyond acknowledging the contributions of the APA community, APA Heritage Month is also an opportunity for us to recognize the challenges we still face. Our nation is at war, our planet is in peril, and for increasing numbers of Americans of Asian and Pacific descent, the American dream is in danger of slipping away. As President, I will work with the APA community to ensure that all Americans have access to quality, affordable and portable healthcare that will also reduce the language and cultural barriers that limit access to our medical system. We will make sure the global economy works for APAs by fixing our public education system, making college affordable through an annual $4,000 tax credit, and equipping our workers with the skills and training they need to compete. We will invest in renewable energy, which will ease our rising fuel costs while also saving our planet. We will do more to support small businesses, including strengthening programs that provide capital to minority-owned businesses. We will develop comprehensive immigration reforms that strengthen our security while affirming our heritage as a nation of immigrants, and reach. We will restore our Constitution and the rule of law, including our commitment to human rights abroad and civil liberties at home. Finally, we must forge a more effective regional framework for collective security in Asia and the Pacific to promote political and economic stability, confront transnational threats like terrorism and influenza, and collectively address environmental concerns.

With your support, I am confident that we can address these challenges. I am thankful to the many leaders, campaign organizers and grassroots volunteers of Asian and Pacific descent across the country, who have registered thousands of new voters, conducted phone-banking, organized canvassing trips, hosted political events, translated campaign materials into numerous Asian languages, and much more. By reaching out directly to the APA community, we can ensure that APAs are well represented in this national conversation about our future and the movement to write our destiny.

So, as we celebrate APA Heritage Month, let us honor the achievements of Asian Pacific Americans who have contributed so much to the success and prosperity of our nation, and who must be a part of our effort to change America.

The story of the APA community is quintessential American story about drawing strength from our diversity to achieve extraordinary things. With your continued energy, enthusiasm, passion and activism, the change we seek is within reach.

Barack Obama
Now juxtapose that with Clinton's, who talks about the model minority myth, how the APA community isn't a collective, specific legislation and why it's important to the APA community, and immigration reform and how it relates to Asian American issues like family visas - and more:

It is with great enthusiasm that we celebrate May as Asian Pacific Heritage month – Lighting the Past, Present and Future. Since the late 1700s, Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) have come from all over Asia and the Pacific Islands with the hopes and dreams of building a better life for themselves and their families. AAPI have played an important role in building our nation and I am pleased to celebrate the leadership, diversity, and harmony of this community and extend my gratitude to AAPIs for their sacrifices and contributions to enriching the lives of all Americans.

This year, Americans of all backgrounds, including AAPIs, have become engaged in the political process in record numbers. Through my travels around the country, I have had the fortunate opportunity to meet with AAPIs around the country from Iowa to Texas to California, Nevada and Pennsylvania. I have been honored and grateful to have the support of the AAPI community, especially many elected officials, business, and community leaders.

While AAPIs have achieved much for their families and the communities in which they live, I recognize there are still many issues confronting this community. That is why I have worked so closely with the AAPI community to promote policies that address the community’s needs. Just last week, I was proud to be on the Senate floor to cast a vote for legislation that would restore veterans' benefits to the brave Filipino veterans who were called into service and fought under the United States flag during World War II.

It is also important to acknowledge and honor the fact that, like the fabric that makes up America, the AAPI community is not monolithic – not only is it the fastest-growing community in the country, it is one of our most diverse. Like many Americans, many in the AAPI community face tremendous challenges due to a lack of access to quality, affordable health care. That is why I have proposed a truly universal health care plan that is based on the principles of shared responsibility and choice and address the issues of health disparities, cultural competency, and language barriers. Under my health care proposal small businesses would receive a tax credit for providing health care to their employees. This is important to the AAPI community that has one of the highest numbers of small business owners.

The state of the economy is important to all Americans, including the AAPI community, and we need to do more to help middle class families struggling to pay for everything from increased gas prices to college costs. That is why I have proposed tax cuts that would save families thousands of dollars who are struggling to pay for health care, college costs, or the care for an elderly parent or disabled child. It would also help families who are saving for a secure retirement. The cuts would provide middle class families with at least $100 billion in tax relief per year. I also have a plan that would create millions of new, good-paying green collar jobs that would not only reduce our dependence on foreign oil but strengthen our economy.

But we can only make our economy stronger with an educated workforce. While many AAPIs have succeeded in attaining higher education, I am fully aware that others in the AAPI community continue to struggle to reach these same achievements. For that reason I will continue to strongly advocate for making college affordable and accessible and propose universal pre-school education for all our nation's children.

During APA Heritage month we are reminded that we must fix our broken immigration system that is separating AAPI families. Last year, during the debate on comprehensive immigration reform, I offered an amendment to address the backlog of family visas. I will continue to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform legislation that brings families together.

I recognize that many Americans including AAPIs continue to face discrimination in society and at the work place. Throughout my career, I have hired staff members who reflect America’s diversity, including AAPIs. I am proud that over 20 percent of my campaign staff is AAPI. As President, I will ensure that AAPIs have a strong voice and role in my administration.

Finally, I will strive to restore America's standing in the world, and part of that is standing up for human rights and combating human trafficking.

While we celebrate the contributions and the achievements of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders this May, let us remember those among us who continue to struggle and commit to address the challenges facing the AAPI community and all Americans.
APA Heritage Month: Clinton 1, Obama 0