by Perry Diaz
I received an email a few days after the presidential election with a picture of the map of the United States in red and blue colors. ‘The Map’ as it was called shows the counties in red where President Bush won and the counties in blue where Senator Kerry won. What a beautiful tapestry America is in red and blue.
At a glance you see a trend in America, it’s red in the middle and as you move outward, it’s turning blue. The West Coast is mostly blue and the East Coast is split between red and blue with the northeast and southeast predominantly blue.
What does this mean to Americans? And to Filipino-Americans? The victory of President Bush is the watershed of the conservative revival of America. America is going back to its roots as a conservative nation. The liberal agenda of the Democratic Party is losing support from its traditional allies, in particular — the minorities. Exit polls showed that President Bush’s support among the African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and Asian-Americans — and Filipino-Americans — has improved dramatically.
Why? I believe that moral issues transcend the racial divide. In general, voters are more concerned about their children’s moral upbringing and education. Parents — black or white, poor or rich, immigrant or natural-born American — care about the future of their children more than anything else. The “Leave no Child Behind” program that President Bush promised in 2000 and approved by the US Congress still resonated with voters in the 2004 election. Yes, the election in 2004 is all about the future of the next generations of Americans.
Prior to the presidential election, I wrote an article titled “The core of our values.” I stated that “our religious upbringing, our strong family ties, our deep-rooted tradition of self-reliance, and our time-honored spirit of bayanihan have ingrained in us a core of values that directs how our brains think and how our hearts beat.” I believe that a majority of Filipino-Americans have these conservative core values. I believe that a majority of Filipino-Americans voted for President Bush because of their affinity to the President’s conservative beliefs and moral agenda.
The Philippines is probably one of the most conservative societies on earth. The population is about 90% Roman Catholic and the people adhere to the strict practices of the church, which include the following: divorce is not recognized, family planning and birth control must only use natural methods of contraception, and abortion is not permitted. Philippine law punishes rapists with life in prison or the death penalty and metes out stiff sentences to drug dealers.
I posted “The core of our values” on several list-serves in the Internet and I received mostly favorable comments. However, a few Filipino-Americans questioned my article and one of them Emily (not her real name), an educated Filipina with an MD and a PhD degrees, emailed me and said the she disagreed with my article. She said that my article did not represent her beliefs. She said that she is “an agnostic, pro-choice, and anti-war.” True, my article did not represent her beliefs. I replied to her email and told her, “Based on how you described yourself, you’re profile is that of a liberal and you’re most probably a registered Democrat.”
Filipino-Americans in California, Illinois, New York and New Jersey are mostly registered Democrat. However, they vote according to their conscience and they cross party lines for the candidates of their choice. In 2004, their candidate of choice was George W. Bush. This is a phenomenon that has left a lot of Filipino-American political leaders wondering. For example, in California, in the past 25 years, Filipino-Californians have crossed party lines to vote for a Republican president and governor. In 1980 and 1984, Filipinos in California voted for President Ronald Reagan. In 1982 and 1986, they voted for Governor Deukmejian. In 1988, they voted for President George HW Bush. In 1990, they voted for Governor Pete Wilson. In 1992, their support started to shift to Democratic presidential and gubernatorial candidates. After 10 years, in 2002, the support of Filipinos in California began to shift back to the Republican Party. In 2003, the Filipinos overwhelmingly supported Arnold Schwarzenegger when Democratic Governor Gray Davis was recalled. In 2004, notwithstanding the Democratic victory in California, I believe that a majority of Filipinos in California voted for President Bush.
With President Bush’s reelection, the question of the day is: Will the Filipino-Americans in California abandon the Democratic Party in the 2006 gubernatorial election? My guess is “Yes, they will abandon the Democratic Party to reelect Arnold Schwarzenegger.”
The rightward swing of the Filipino-American vote will play a crucial role in future elections. If the momentum continues, the Filipino-American vote will become a key factor in California and in the United States beginning in 2010 when the Filipino-American population would increase, as projected, to more than 5 million.
With that large a number, Filipino-Americans will become a swing vote. But the question is: Will Filipino-Americans get elected to the United Congress? However, before we can even talk of electing Filipino-Americans to the US Congress, how about electing them to city councils, county boards of supervisors, school boards, and the multitude of local offices? The time has come. All we need now are Filipino-Americans to step up to the plate.