Anh Cao knows communism. Anh "Joseph" Cao fled South Vietnam as a boy in 1975 when a Communist invasion threw the last remnants of U.S. influence out of the country. He, like many anti-Communist Vietnamese refugees, also became a Republican.
On December 6, 2008, Anh Cao defeated incumbent William Jefferson, an African American in a primarily black district, in a total congressional surprise to most. Cao was virtually unheard of until that moment.
Here is an excerpt from the Huffpo's latest blurb about Cao:
Cao (pronounced "Gow") is the first Vietnamese American elected to Congress,but only the fourth Asian American to join the House as a Republican. A child of refugees, his father served as an officer in the South Vietnamese Army, fighting communism alongside American troops. It's all too easy to portray Cao as a Vietnamese American with conservative views that stem from a legacy of anti-communism. Here, the obvious comparison can be made with right-wing Cuban Americans of southern Florida. But Cao's New Orleans East -- home to the largest concentration of Vietnamese Americans of Louisiana -- is no Little Havana. And Cao is no Republican ideologue. A political independent until only recently, Cao, who once trained as a Jesuit seminarian working with the poor in Latin America, described his politics as "walking the middle line" in a recent New York Times article.
But by holding fast to the middle, Cao isn't merely playing it safe as the first House Republican to represent New Orleans since Reconstruction. The middle line is proxy for the nuanced political and racial location that Vietnamese Americans of New Orleans occupy, a location that doesn't quite conform to traditional left-to-right political ideologies. Indeed, the Vietnamese Americans of New Orleans pride themselves on self-reliance, yet they also demand government accountability, especially when confronted with injustice. They seek to advance themselves politically and economically, yet seem to do so without sacrificing solidarity with other racial groups, particularly neighboring African Americans. Nowhere were these values more clearly on display than in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Less than six weeks after the storm, the Vietnamese Americans of New Orleans East returned to their homes, doing so over the objection of local and federal officials. Their leader was Father Nguyen The Vien, a political firebrand and head of Mary Queen of Vietnam church (MQVN). "Before the storm, I guess you could call us libertarians," Father Vien said. "Our attitude toward government was: 'you don't bother us, we won't bother you.' But Katrina changed all that. We had a responsibility to speak out." And so with each step of the rebuilding process, the priest and his congregation battled those who stymied their efforts: foot-dragging FEMA officials, The Waste Management Corporation that sought to dump Katrina debris in their backyard, city leaders all-too-eager to sell off New Orleans East to developers. Through it all, the priest was surrounded by a coterie of experienced community organizers, policy wonks and attorneys.
Finally! Someone to speak the conservatism that the Republican party has been lacking! Enough with the religious right and the wing nuts. Let Cao speak for the real Republicans that are left in this country so we can begin rebuilding our party.
Things are looking up in GOP land.