The Intersection of Asian-Americans, Presidential Politics, and Me

5 Nov

Over the past week, I read two opinion articles on Politico about why Asian-Americans should vote for Obama or Romney by Rep. Judy Chu and Lanhee Chen (Romney policy director), respectively.  I wasn’t sure whether to be happy or frustrated that either of them were reaching out to me as part of some monolithic bloc.  As numerous others already know, the Asian-American bloc is not aptly named.  The differences among the various Asian countries are probably even more so than here in America by religion, ethnicity, income, standard of living, and a host of other characteristics.

I am, of course, happy that national politics is starting to recognize that Asian-Americans are the fastest growing group in America and that there is an untapped potential for our group to do something.  It seemed like the only governments that were paying attention to Asian-Americans were those states which had a significant portion (i.e. California, Hawaii, and New York) and not in places where I currently reside (i.e. Indiana, making up less than 2% of its population).  I don’t think of my ethnicity in terms of politics to often, but I know that it is important to understand and I am glad that politicians are slowly doing the same.

In my humble opinion, Asian-Americans are torn between Obama and Romney.  We like Romney’s stance that personal responsibility should be a guiding post for how we live our lives.  For those that are religious, we admire his devotion to his faith, unlike Obama who barely attends church.  And as Chen notes in her opinion article, education is very important in general and we usually see it as the only way to move up in society.  As a Filipino-American, I know more will vote for Romney over Obama.  In general, we are more socially conservative and are more connected to the military, check marks for being more GOP-inclined.  (Why Asian-Americans Should Back Mitt Romney)

I, however, am voting for Obama this time around.  As someone who grew in the Asian-American, and more specifically the Filipino-American, culture, I think that Rep. Judy Chu stated perfectly that “[Obama’s] decisions reflect his belief in embracing the diversity of America – and fostering opportunity for all Americans”.   As China and India became major powers in the world economy, technological innovation, and military supremacy, Obama will be the best prepared to handle the next four years for those here in the US and across the Pacific.  Now don’t get me wrong, we tend to disagree with his stance on same-sex marriage, views on abortion, and the handling of the economy (albeit mostly inherited).  However, Obama understands more under-the-radar issues that I think is needed in a President, especially now.  He knows that the color of your skin will dictate how others view you, that your ethnicity may be both a blessing and a curse, and that your culture is so important to be irreplaceable.  (Obama’s Commitment to Asian-Americans)

To be honest, I would have voted for Romney if ran for President like he governed Massachusetts.  I admire that he ushered a statewide healthcare plan, worked with democrats in the legislature, actually believed in climate change and stopping it, and was fairly moderate in his social issues.  I am disappointed that he moved so much on the issues that it’s hard to see what he would actually do.  If I know where he stood, I would vote for him.

Obama, on the other hand, actually has done what he said he would do.  He passed ObamaCare, for better or for worse.  He finally said he was for gay marriage (even though we all knew he was already).  He lowered taxes where he could and raised them on those he knew could afford them.  I’m voting for him because he won’t run the country as a corporation.   If he did, then that’d mean just working for the most profitable solution, instead of the best solution for all.  How is FEMA or Social Security the best way to get money?  Government does it because no one else will and it should look out for those that most need it, especially when they’re at their lowest point.

Don’t tell me that since I’m young I’ll just vote for Obama or any Democrat.  I have not voted straight-ticket and will never.  I make the vote in who I think will be best for the job and for me for both the short- and long-term.  I hope you have made an informed decision to vote for who you think is best.

3 Responses to “The Intersection of Asian-Americans, Presidential Politics, and Me”

  1. iyleenismail November 6, 2012 at 6:53 pm #

    Reblogged this on Stir-Fried But Sweet and commented:
    fascinating insight

  2. mi November 30, 2012 at 6:38 am #

    “As a Filipino-American, I know more will vote for Romney over Obama. In general, we are more socially conservative and are more connected to the military, check marks for being more GOP-inclined.”

    Maybe you should elaborate on this. I once dated a Filipino native whose mother married a Filipino-American and the boy moved to the states when he was 14. The paternal family served in the military in the Philippine, moved to Canada, and then the United States. I never quit understood their strong stance against Democrats. I just told myself they don’t understand since they have been living here for a long time and are well established; therefore, they don’t understand recent immigrants… like me. And their hatred for social politics in Canada fueled their political stance in the United States. But because you mentioned the above, I would like to know more about that matter.

    • ronarruejo December 5, 2012 at 3:39 pm #

      From your comment, I realize I should’ve couched that sentence more because of my personal life, but the statistics for Filipino-Americans, and Vietnamese, for that matter generally (but obviously not wholly) line up with the Republican party. Speaking for my own family, there is a general split by age of party affiliation, with those who immigrated to the U.S. being more conservative, and the younger (including me) being more liberal. However, of course, it’s a lot more complicated than that.

      On the immigration front, I know that a majority do not like policies such as the DREAM Act or the several forms of “amnesty” (I don’t know a less politically-divisive word) that the Democrats seem to advocate for because they went through the long process of trying to get to the U.S. that it seems others are skipping by. The younger members of our family do not have thoughts on that matter and focus on more on the covert (or blatant) racism of policies that seem to deport (or make life harder) on those by most Republicans (especially easy to see in the southwest states of CA, AZ, NM, NV, and TX).

      On the social front, I think (although this might be too much of a generalization) that the elderly worked in relatively much worse circumstances and survived when they first came to the U.S. and see that (welfare) programs like unemployment insurance, subsidized housing loans, and educational loans are taking away from the people who worked hard for them and giving them to people who are mooching off the government and believe in that Republican virtue of “taking responsibility”. The younger generation feels that the government doesn’t do enough to help children and young adults (re: high cost of education or lack of sufficient job prospects) especially when they see income inequality growing worse (i.e. GINI index) compared to ‘socialist’ and/or ‘welfare state’ countries like in Scandinavia.

      Specifically about the military, quite a bit of Filipinos serve in the U.S. military (which I know is different than your story about the Philippine military) and/or their families in civilian life within the military. They would generally see a bigger and better military as improving their own life. The younger generation sees the military, especially if they haven’t been involved with it through their parents, as using up too much money that could go to sources that I pointed out in the previous paragraph.

      I can’t really comment on the link in Canada, and I know that there are some important differences between our lives, but I hope I was able to explain some more, if even a little.

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