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

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

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

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.