Asians, Swing Voters
|Posted by Manila Mail under US News|
WASHINGTON D.C. Asian American political leaders claim that Asian American Pacific Islanders votes will be the swing votes in both the Republican and Democratic caucuses or primaries in various states.
Gloria Caoile, executive director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance which supports the Democrats, said AAPIs are a key electorate in critical races. In unpredictable races like the Iowa and New Hampshire cauces, AAPIs will swing the vote, Caoile said.
In the Jan. 19th Nevada Democratic and Republican caucuses, AAPIs votes made a significant difference, AAPI leaders said. Democratic bets Sen. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama came out first and second, respectively, in the Nevada primaries. The Republican winner is Gov. M. Romney.
It said the AAPI communities throughout the United States will pose specific questions to the presidential candidates during debates or town meetings to reflect the strategic importance and political strength of the Asian Americans on Super Tuesday in February.
Caoile and other leaders have urged Filipinos to participate in the election because they can make a difference and aid in building up the swing votes.
During the Nevada caucus, Vida Benavides, a political consultant in Washington DC, urged Filipino Americans to organize in order to make a difference in US elections.
It has been a challenging task on my part as a Filipino to engage my community, especially the new immigrants, to participate and vote in the political process,” Benavides said during a meeting with Filipino American advocates for veterans equity. Unless Filipinos can show that they have the power of the vote, it may always be difficult to advocate for a particular issue.”
She said that in the present campaign, presidential candidates are wooing the votes of immigrants because Hispanic and immigrant votes will make a difference in the coming election.
There are several organizations that are engaged in educational workshops and conducting activities intended to register voters. One of these organizations is API Vote where Benavides is a member of the board. They have tried to reach out to US citizens to register and vote in the coming elections.
Joel Jacinto, director of the search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA) in Los Angeles also urged Filipino Americans to participate in the 2008 primary and presidential elections. We are now becoming the largest Asian Pacific group in California and the United States, but the percentage of Filipino American votes need to be higher in order for our voices to be heard and for us realize our own American dreams.”
He added there seems to be a predisposition and a tendency not to vote because of the feeling that their vote does not matter and will not make a difference.
Jacinto also said that a sense of apathy prevails within the eligible voting community because many Filipinos in the U.S. have not fully embraced and internalized their sense of citizenship as an American. He said some feel that voting takes too much time and effort, which disrupts their time at work and other responsibilities.
We are actively encouraging all Filipino Americans to exercise their right to register and vote and also participate in the permanent absentee ballot,” said Eduardo Angeles, Board Chairman of the Filipino American Service Group, Inc. (FASGI), a service agency focusing on healthcare for underserved older adults.
FASGI created the non-partisan FILVOTE program, which aims to engage Filipino American political empowerment by exercising their right of suffrage.
Nothing has been heard so far from Alma Kerns, the president of the supposedly nationwide organization, the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) about its role in getting the Filipinos to vote in the coming election.
The AAPI population in various states has grown significantly in recent years, drawn by economic opportunities. It said first generation AAPIs have made considerable economic contributions, and more than half have gone on to become citizens. Within this diverse community, AAPI subgroups face more education and language barriers than others; AAPIs need both cultural and in-language assistance for the upcoming caucus.
AAPIs from across the US, particularly AAPIs in the West, will be watching, said Noe Kalipi, APIAVote board member. Nevada was the first caucus in the West and ranking 3rd for highest Pacific Islander population and 6th for highest Asian American population, he said.
The Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote) is a national non-partisan, nonprofit organization that encourages and promotes civic participation of Asian Pacific Islander Americans in the electoral and public policy processes at the national, state and local levels.
Meanwhile, without any fanfare, in the Washington DC area, Filipino Americans groups have been quietly campaigning for their respective candidates in both parties. The same group that tirelessly worked for the unsuccessful candidacy of Vellie Dietrich Hall in Fairfax county in Virginia have been tirelessly working behind
the scenes for Republican candidates of their choice.
Among the questions the ethnic media ask is whether the US is ready to elect a Democrat as president.
For the young generation of Asian Americans, race or gender does not matter.
Increasingly, the media obsession with whether Americans will be less likely to vote for a black man or for a woman.
There growing evidence that younger Americans just dont think about race in the same simplistic ways. Theyre more likely than older Americans to be minorities themselves, for one thing.
In 2006, only 19.8% of Americans over 60 were minorities, compared with about 40% of Americans under the age of 40. And younger minorities come from a far wider range of racial and ethnic backgrounds than their older counterparts. Once, minority largely meant black, which in turn meant descendant of the Africans brought to the U.S. as slaves.
Some of todays young minorities fit that profile, but others are descended from Filipino farmers, Chinese schoolteachers, Iranian engineers, Mexican construction workers, Congolese doctors or Haitian shopkeepers.
The tapestry gets even richer. The number of inter-marriages has gone up dramatically over the last few decades, and as a consequence, so has the number of multiracial young Americans, who like Obama are neither this nor that, but a bit of this and bit of that, with a healthy dollop of something else. And regardless of their own status, younger Americans are more likely than older Americans to have dated inter-racially, to have close friends of other races and to live in families with relatives from other racial and ethnic backgrounds.
As a result, race literally isnt a black-and-white issue for many younger Americans. Questions like Would you vote for a black man? just dont compute because they assume a reality thats ceasing to exist, in which the term black has a fixed meaning, in which Obamas rich heritage can be reduced to a single word.