raymond louie and barack obama

This might be a bit of a stretch, but bear with me. I don’t normally get involved in political affairs, but I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between Barack Obama and Raymond Louie. If you live in and around the Vancouver area, you may have heard about Raymond Louie and how he wants to be Vancouver’s mayor.

Louie was once a member of the Coalition of Progressive Electors civic party (COPE), but he broke away in 2005, getting re-elected as a city councilor under the Vision Vancouver banner. Before Raymond can officially participate in the mayoral election later this year, he’ll have to beat out at least two other hopefuls from the Vision Vancouver party: independent parks board commissioner Al De Genova and NDP MLA Gregor Robertson..

So, why do I think that Raymond Louie and Barack Obama are similar?

I Don’t Want To Be Elected As…
When he was first elected in 2002, Raymond Louie said that he didn’t want to “just be the Chinese guy that sits on council.” He wanted to be elected based on his credentials and his beliefs. Vancouver has a large Chinese population, sure, but Louie wants to be recognized as more than “just the Chinese guy.” Why, then, has he decided to launch his mayoral campaign today at the Jade Dynasty Restaurant in Chinatown? He told the Vancouver Courier that the “event will pay homage to his roots and highlight the importance of Chinatown and its small businesses.” Right. You don’t want to emphasize your cultural and ethnic background, but you choose Chinatown to launch your campaign?

Barack Obama, whether he wants to admit it or not, is getting a fair bit of attention just because he happens to be black. If Obama was “just another white guy”, he may not be receiving as much press and praise as he is currently enjoying. Geraldine Ferraro openly expressed these sentiments recently and got all sorts of flack for doing so. At least Obama isn’t as hypocritical as Louie.

Not Minority Enough To Be Minority
I wouldn’t say that it makes him any less Chinese, per se, but Raymond Louie — to my knowledge — was born here. He is a second-generation immigrant and as a result, he probably has more “western” views than he has “traditional Chinese” views. (I know I do.) I’m not familiar enough with Louie to go any further than this, but just by the very nature of him getting involved in politics makes him a little (a lot?) different than most of the Chinese population in Vancouver. Barack Obama, in similar manner, has been charged with being “not black enough”, whatever that means.

Lack of Experience
Part of the reason why some people are hesitant to back Barack Obama is because they feel he is too “green”, lacking enough experience to lead a country. By contrast, people like John McCain and Hillary Clinton are more akin to “seasoned veterans” of the political game. Obama promises that he will bring change, but can he answer the phone? In much the same way, Raymond Louie might not be ready to run the city just yet. While former Vancouver mayor Larry Campbell once said that Louie will be a “future mayor”, he’s actually endorsing De Genova in this election. Maybe next time?

What About Hillary Clinton?
Based on my comparison between Louie and Obama, I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether Al De Genova or Gregor Robertson should be equated to Hillary Clinton. Bring on the pantsuits?