- Posted October 10, 2013 by
Los Angeles, California
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The written word: Your personal essays
NaFFAA: Time to resolve past blunders
Maybe the current leadership of NaFFAA has seen the logic of being open-minded about politics as practiced in this country. My last interaction with the organization was in 2000 when I attended its Las Vegas convention and my observation then was its overwhelming bias for the democrats. Obviously the leadership then was banking on Vice President Gore to succeed President Clinton and threw all caution to the wind despite the fact that it is supposed to be non-partisan.
It was laughable, if shameless, that when President-elect Bush nominated Elaine Chao as a member of the cabinet, NaFFAA suddenly became profuse with praise for the GOP head. It described Ms. Chao as "a woman who has proven herself to be highly competent, talented, capable and deeply committed to American values of fairness and hardwork. As Secretary of Labor, Ms. Chao will bring to the president's cabinet a unique perspective on issues that affect all Americans."
What hypocrisy, I wrote then. She was the same Elaine Chao who was humiliated and taken for granted when NaFFAA denied her the opportunity to represent candidate George W. Bush during that 2000 convention. At that time top officials were accused of making deliberate efforts to keep out the Republican Party to favor administration candidates.
Only the messages of Clinton and Gore saw print in the two souvenir programs made available during the convention. While NaFFAA officials accepted presidential candidate Al Gore's daughter, Kristen, to stand for him during the gala night, they turned down an offer by the Bush headquarters to send Ms. Chao. Both presidential candidates were at that time busy preparing for their first televised debate and could not come.
Both Ms. Gore and Secretary Mineta - the latter was guest speaker during the gala night - made pitches for Gore's candidacy. Additionally, the two other
keynote speakers during the convention - Bill Lann Lee, assistant attorney general for civil rights, and Rear Admiral E. Connie Mariano, director of the White
House Medical Unit – were from the Clinton-Gore party. NaFFAA had made maximum exposure of a photo and quote of First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, a candidate for Congress in New York at that time. Mrs. Clinton was also a NaFFAA keynote speaker in another time.
Then NaFFAA president Alex Esclamado (now deceased) had a high profile role in the 80-20 Initiative, a nationwide Asian-American coalition who declared
support for Gore's candidacy. Also, at the height of the Florida election controversy, Gus Mercado, a top NaFFAA official and one of Esclamado’s close allies, wrote to candidate George Bush:
"But now you must do the right and honorable thing. Bow to the will of the electorate and graciously concede defeat. The American people have spoken
and unfortunately, you fell short. Many carried with honor your battle cry "Trust the People." You must now show that you trust them, honor and accept their popular
will. We believe it is now time to demonstrate your vaunted personal integrity and honor and cut clean. Please do not push the country into a constitutional crisis by stubbornly claiming a false victory in Florida. There is no honor in winning a flawed election.”
In the process Mercado, and by inference, NaFFAA, unduly dragged the Filipino American communities in urging candidate Bush to quit at that difficult stage of the presidential controversy. It was a wonder some goodwill persisted for FilAms during the subsequent Bush administration. Such were major blunders that the organization needs to straighten out. -- Dionesio C. Grava
Photo shows some of the delegates from Los Angeles to the NaFFAA convention in Las Vegas.