There is the fundamental question that often comes to the fore in the political life of a representative: Do you vote what you think is right or do you vote the will of your constituents? Madison Nguyen is caught in this situation. According to news reports this week, 2,000 people attended a meeting and rally on the naming of the Little Saigon/Saigon Business District.
Tempers and feelings are running very high on this issue and I can only imagine, having been in the center of such storms a few times, how the pain must be registering with Madison Nguyen. It has to be excruciating.
I wonder if there is a middle ground. The councilwoman was so correct when she said that the issues of gang violence, affordable housing, economic opportunities and good schools all trump this naming issue. She spoke in logical, City-Hall terms. That is not the question here; in this one the heart and the memory are involved.
We have entered a very different realm. It is a place where the emotions and injuries of many years past are the issues to be debated. This is harsh but true. I touched on this last week when I wrote about some of these feelings that were evident at the Tom Hayden visit of 1987.
There will be a tendency to hold firm. There will be strong advice not to give in to those who try and intimidate you. To this I say that one person’s intimidation can be another’s proper and intense protest. It is often in the eye of the observer, but the challenge for the city now is to be measured, principled and, above all, wise. I hope there is some common ground.
There has to be a place where the trauma and waste of a recall will be avoided. Don’t get me wrong, I do not think that one would be successful, yet one can measure success with difficulty. But failure for District 7, Nguyen and San Jose can be clearly delineated. It comes with the name “recall.”