Filipinos for Obama?

(since the DNC in the US was last night and the blogosphere is abuzz, we thought we’d push Dave’s article back up. – .ed)

by Dave

American politics can be frustrating and disappointing.

After almost eight years of George W. Bush’s presidency, the rest of the world seems anxious for something better for Americans. Senator Barack Obama, a Democrat, is promoting a change in American politics. Despite being a person of colour, support from other Americans of colour is still in question. Filipino-Americans, the largest Filipino community outside of the Philippines, astonishingly vote more Republican than Democrat!

Understanding why this could very well happen requires a deeper look into the Filipino community in the United States.

In both the 2000 and 2004 elections, more Filipino-Americans voted for George Bush to be president than his Democratic competitors! In November, Filipino-Americans may actually vote for John McCain rather than Barack Obama. 

"Leapin' for Obama", courtesy delta niner

"Leapin' for Obama", courtesy delta niner

It wouldn’t be fair to offer here an historical background of the Filipino community in America.  Justice wouldn’t be served to the complexities of the community there.  Nevertheless, the expanse of the Filipino community in the U.S. reflects decades (centuries if you go deep enough) of migration. Today, there are over four million Filipinos in the United States, and vibrant Filipino communities exist in California, Hawaii, Chicago, and New Jersey and New York, with other major cities showing an emerging Filipino population.

Filipino-Americans have followed where employment was available, and one of the major reasons many today vote Republican is because there is a long tradition of military service, and thus, Filipino-American military families. Joining the army was one of the few options for Filipinos during World War II, and with their service emerged a new found respect from the broader American society that did not exist before the war. Often, Republicans like Bush and McCain, are associated with strong support for military issues. Those of us outside the States however see that what Americans might see as a party that “defends the nation” is actually one of American aggression in the world.

"Filipino WWII Veterans Memorial Dedication", courtesy Cheri Gaulke

"Filipino WWII Veterans Memorial Dedication", courtesy Cheri Gaulke

Bush’s train wreck of a presidency actually cuts and underfunds services for veterans. Only last year did a bill promise benefits for Filipino-American WWII veterans who were denied such rights after the war, a right denied to Filipinos for over 50 years. Further, immigration policies ignore the issues facing Filipinos as funding goes towards “border security” rather than the backlogged and understaffed application process that those applying for citizenship and/or sponsoring family members.

Filipino-Americans may be weary of politicians asking you to dream big. After all, politics in the Philippines tends to promise big and deliver small. But Barack Obama is not your typical politician. The underlying issue is that he is a person of colour, and who better to understand the issues facing Filipino-Americans than another minority. For goodness sake, the man grew up in Hawaii! Living in Hawaii, it’s impossible to overlook the Filipino-American population and the contribution they have had upon the society there.

It’s time for a person of colour to be president of the United States. This would not only benefit minorities in America that need a model of success and power in the highest position who speaks to their capabilities, but also for coloured people here in Canada and around the world. Besides race, considering policies on the military, immigration, education, and health care, Filipino-Americans, and the Philippines, would be better served if Barack Obama is elected president on November 6th.

"A Real Obama Girl", courtesy of keithpr

"A Real Obama Girl", courtesy of keithpr

I have family in San Francisco (Daly City), Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Chicago. After eigh years of Bush and the Republicans, their lives will be better when Obama is president. Now, I just have to convince them of that.

~ by davedeen on August 29, 2008.

8 Responses to “Filipinos for Obama?”

  1. Great piece. My American relatives also vote Republican. I think a lot of Canadian Filipinos would be surprised by how fiscally and socially conservative our American counterparts are; especially since most Filipinos in Canada vote Liberal.

    A good friend of mine had an uncle die in the USA from cancer that should have been treated, if he had insurance. But his kids still say that they would NEVER pay for state health insurance that would pay for everyone else’s treatment, too.

  2. I think a lot of how Filipinos vote depends on where they live and their occupation. My family is mostly in New York and therefore Democrat, or at the very least ABB (Anyone But Bush – yes that’s an actual term).

    I also have a lot of Fil-Am friends whose family histories are deeply entrenched in military service — Filipinos there have been in the Navy since the guys in the photo above were young men. As well, there are huge numbers of Filipino American soldiers (many high ranking) serving tours of duty in Iraq and the Middle East.

    I’d be curious to know what these voters are thinking — do they vote for the person of visible majority? Or the other guy, who is a war veteran and a former POW?

    Especially with the issue of Fil-Am Vets still not resolved, the partisan line is definitely blurrier for our US cousins.

  3. Great post and connection to the Filipino-American war veterans, just one thing I have to say regarding your take on Obama:

    Don’t get caught up in the hype.

    How would the Philippines be better served if he was elected? The U.S. holds neo-colonial political, societal and economical DOMINANCE over the Philippines since 1898 when they started murdering every man, woman and child over 10 years old.

    Yes Obama’s a man of colour but how “coloured” are his politics? I don’t doubt that domestic issues for people of colour (incl Filipinos) in the US may get better should he be elected, but around the world and in Canada there won’t be much basic “change” if any at all.

    Sadly, Barack is NOT the end all and/or the universal vehicle for change in the world.

    Its impossible for an American president to change the system from the inside, The American national security bureaucracy is too strong and long established for 1 person to make real change and Obama himself is found captive to the post-cold war mentality where right-wing assumptions supercede realistic possibilities. For starters:

    Yes Obama’s coloured but his recently appointed senior working group on national security (foreign policy team who dictate how the US deals with the rest of the World ) is entirely made of old WHITE men, in fact, its literally Clinton’s former advisory team. Kinda like how George W’s advisory team is his daddy’s.

    +

    Obama just spent a stint in Israel where he explicitly stated he strong support for that government’s domestic policies despite the current Apartheid, and despite the fact that they publicly have around 300 nuclear weapons (or Weapons of Mass Destruction) on hand .

    +

    After vowing to oppose and filibuster any FISA (foreign intelligence security act) bill that included retroactive immunity for telecommunication companies , Obama changed his mind, voting for Bush’s FISA bill that included immunity for all telecommunications companies allowing unlimited warrant-less wiretapping. (He also “coincidentally” received $206,000 in political contributions from the telecom industry so far this year.)

    +

    In terms of Iraq, he mentions drastically reducing the number of troops, but he does not mention withdrawing the American contractors (such as Haliburton) who are just as numerous as the troops in Iraq and just as cancerous for developemnt, but he does say he’d keep a large enough military force in Iraq to protect “American strategic interests” (Neo-Colonialism anyone?).

    And in terms of serving as the model for what a coloured person in “America” can do, what comes to mind is that last I checked, approximately 96% of all top management positions in North America were held by white men. And Filipinos, for instance, still make $5000 less than the average Canadian wage of $30.000. What’s the remaining holistic picture?

    It would be incredible if Barack was elected, but what would it mean if he’s simply another Condoleeza Rice? Colon Powell? or Gloria Macapagal Arroyo!

    He’d be positioned like Michelle Jean, the lone model minority as the public face of “success” to shut the claims of the marginalized others who reject the systemic oppression in western society where most times to “work hard and sacrifice” STILL gets you nowhere. Who truly will benefit?

    Essentially, the U.S. is like a killing machine, no matter who’s driving it, its going to continue killing because thats how and what it was made for. If a Filipino (or other person of colour) became the C.E.O. of Wal-Mart, Wal-Mart would still contract from sweatshops in China or he’d be fired and replaced by the board of directors

    Don’t get me wrong, this is all love,

    but does it matter how Filipino-Americans vote in a 2-party system that strongly inhibits true democracy, even if it did matter, they’re only 4 out of 300 (million) in the end.

  4. How about if we do it like Richard Pryor in “The Toy”.

    I vote “None of the Above”.

  5. OK, so the DNC was last night and I think Barack Obama might be my new favourite Spoken Word Artist.

    What now?

  6. This message is directly to m1ko. I liked your long insight. I was thinking, “This person’s very smart!” Unfortunately, when I got to your last sentence about the Filipino vote not being important, I changed my mind about you! How can you think that our vote does not matter? That’s what elections are all about! Every vote counts! I’m sure you go on life thinking that you don’t matter, and that our contributions as Filipinos don’t matter. You must have low self-esteem. I’m sure you don’t vote with that attitude and I sure am glad you don’t!

  7. Dear Abondoc,

    I’m sad to see you missed the point and misinterpreted/misconstrued the message.

    The point was that no one’s vote matters, Filipino/Black/White whatever, the US government has an agenda (esp foreign policy) that will push through regardless of which party’s got the title.

    And, As much as I would love debating the political role of Fil-Ams should TRUE Democracy actually exist in the US, (without mentioning the deficiency in voter turnout, the extreme political divide amongst the community; ie the lack of political strength/unity, the .014 total Fil-Am proportion among 300,000,000 others, the scattered population of Filipinos across a US who’s electoral process is determined by winning State majorities, etc.) the fact remains that true democracy in the US is simple fantasy, and simply not the case, (so I rather argue reality). I never said Filipino contributions in general “don’t matter”, I was strictly talking US presidential elections in real time.
    And just to reiterate: No, your vote still doesn’t count, kinda like how the African-American votes “counted” in Florida in 2000 (for example).

    So there’s really no need to get all emotional and try to make it personal with overblown assumptions (sigh..).
    I appreciate your concern, but I can assure you, my self-esteem is pretty guapo, as well as my critical thinking. You may, however, think/judge of me however you wish, ha.

  8. off topic, but important

    as reported on May 2, 2009

    ‘Filipinos in USA Still Free of Swine Flu’

    Independent officials advised Filipinos living and working in the USA to “take precautionary measures” to avoid being infected by the deadly H1N1 ‘swine flu’, which has spread to more than 10 countries.

    There are at least 2,000,000 Filipinos in the USA, and fortunately, so far no reports of Filipinos being infected by the virus which has killed dozens of people in Mexico which borders the southern USA.

    Filipinos in the USA who develop swine flu symptoms should immediately seek medical attention.

    As a precautionary measure, Filipinos without health care insurance are urged to enroll in the Filipino Health Plan by going on-line to http://www.FilipinoHealthPlan.com/enroll.html

    Filipinos in the USA are also urged to constantly inquire for updates regarding H1N1 outbreaks in their local area.

    [send this to a friend]

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