I recently had the privilege of attending the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, as a delegate from Greenwich.
When people ask why I’m a Democrat, I say that Democratic core values resonate with my heart and mind.
Growing up in a devout Catholic family in Saigon, compassion, love, respect for the elderly, humility, education, sharing and unwavering faith in God were our core family values.
Since a very young age, I believed that poverty and ignorance are the worst diseases on earth. I wanted to devote my life to help people by choosing a career in scientific research and public service, and I believe the Democratic Party is most supportive of those goals.
Having survived centuries of colonialism at the hands of the Chinese and more recently the French, Vietnamese people have demonstrated tremendous political stamina. The famous Trung Sisters, perched on elephants, led an army of women and men to push back Chinese invaders in 40 AD.
The success of our Vietnamese community has spanned from the continuing growth of small business to the prominence of a number of Vietnamese-Americans in arts, business, and sciences.
I have witnessed firsthand how Democratic legislators have fought for "our bowl of rice" in protecting and expanding social programs that provide economic security for millions of Vietnamese families, including seniors, students, and veterans.
The Democratic Party has created a large tent for Americans from all walks of life. Its policies of inclusion, social justice, and shared prosperity has allowed minorities to make giant leaps in their education and career growth.
Democrats want to continue fighting for a better quality of life for our community and want to prevent cuts (such as those in the Paul Ryan budget) that would adversely affect our community.
Although there is a perception that Republicans have been more aggressive in targeting the Vietnamese vote, Democrats have been working very hard to earn it. Recently, Republican intolerance on immigration issues, and attacks on Social Security and Medicare have driven many Vietnamese away from the Republican Party. The people whom I have helped to register to vote over the years have told me that they found that Democrats have done more for people of color.
I believe that war - causing untold suffering - should be avoided at all costs and only used as the last resort. That's why I voted for Senator Obama for President in 2008, for his opposition to the War in Iraq and his promise of ending it if elected. He kept his word in ending the war in Iraq and brought our troops home. President Obama, Michelle Obama, and Dr. Jill Biden have worked tirelessly to help former service members getting training and jobs to ensure that military families have a prosperous life.
I learned a great deal from attending the Convention in Charlotte. Our dreams, no matter how ambitious, can become reality. I was fired-up from seeing so many "rags to riches" stories that were accomplished through sheer determination of individual spirit.
I don't have the words to describe the various emotions I felt while attending the Convention. I cried and laughed, depending on what different speakers said. One thing I felt for sure was gratitude. Gratitude to God for having given me the strength to overcome adversity and leading me to the right path. Gratitude to America for having adopted me into her loving arms and giving me political and economic security. Gratitude to all my friends and colleagues who have helped me along my life journey. Gratitude to my grandmother, Huynh thi Sang, and mother, Huynh thi Cuc, who have raised me with absolute binding faith in God and deep inculcation of strong work ethics, compassion and self-sufficiency.
In 2008, I was the Founding Chair of Vietnamese Americans for Obama to conduct voter registration and enlist our community support for Senator Obama. Blessed with strong will and faith, our Vietnamese community ought to seize the moment to shape our own destiny right here in America. I strongly urge you to embrace active citizenry and fully exercise your rights at every single election.
Whether you're Democrat, Independent, or Republican, rich or poor, I urge all my fellow Vietnamese Americans to be engaged in the political process. Don't consider politics a dirty business. It's upon all of us to make politics clean and rewarding. Get involved!
I will entrust my vote to re-elect President Barack Obama on November 6, 2012. I urge you all to reach into the depth of your heart and ask yourself who has been fighting for your rights.
President Obama and Democrats have been fighting for "our bowl of rice." It is just not the Vietnamese bowl of rice but the” AMERICAN BOWL OF RICE.” Let us give them our heart and sweat in reelecting President Obama on November 6.
Dr. Vinh Cam
Greenwich, CT 06831
Dr. Vinh Cam is a former member of the Representative Town Committee, and a member of the Democratic Town Committee.