Immigrant and Filipino Cynicism in National Politics

Posted on September 2, 2012 by


I’d originally written the bulk of this coming post in February 2008 at the beginnings of the explosion of the Obama campaign.  Only that has changed has been the frequency with which I get to speak to my mom and dad.

Discussing politics had brought me closer to my mom and dad. Not because we agree, but because we appear to disagree and find some talking points.

My dad has downtalked Al Gore, John Kerry, and Barack Obama.

When we haven’t been fighting or silent treatmenting each other, we’ve actually had friendly arguments about who was fit to lead our country.  It’s like  we were talking about sports teams.

Back in 2008 up till about 2010, he would get forwarded e-mails from my Auntie in New Jersey speculating about Obama’s affiliation with Islam and show them to my mom.  He wasn’t really angry, he would just point out how his ideas seemed to fail.

I figured that it was bonding time with my dad so I remain relatively quiet.I already know that I’m probably never going to agree with my dad about any of his views (unless all of his stated views are a deliberate act to prepare me to advocate not just against him, but on a wider scale).

What I have been somewhat confused by is my mom’s politics.

Some of the things she says echoes what I think, especially as it relates to the funding of education, health care, and allowance of immigration.

In her little mommy way, she talks about how immigrant families have a hard time keeping up with their kids in school. She talks about how families can’t function without health care. She talks about how schools, particularly hers needs more funding. She talks about how, despite going through the process of petitioning, we need to let immigrants stay.

However, she will not vote for candidates who share her views.

(The same thing resonates with my Latina girlfriend, however her one hang-up about fully joining progressive politics are large ones, and ones that would disappoint many of my progressive friends.)

Far as I know, my mom went with Bush II twice.  Last election, it appears she voted McCain, the moderate Republican who despite a not-so-bad record was trying his darndest to prove his conservatism (i.e. capability of bigotry and megalomania).

Based on the positions described above, my mom is probably as “liberal” as it gets.

She like most people in the generation preceding me here in the United States, Filipino immigrants, seem to vote Republican.  I count my dad, my aunty in New Jersey, my more religious “aunties” in LA, a few uncles in LA.

Maybe it was because most of the people I came in with, came when Carter had come into office, only for Reagan to come in and talk the good talk.  Maybe it was because of years of Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship.  Maybe it was the cycle of corrupt presidents that makes them cling on to what Republicans, mostly the rhetorics of “freedom” and “no government interference.”  I think it’s been very entrenched at least in that older generation.

On the other side of the political spectrum and in my generation of Filipino-Americans, particularly, those with college education,I think most are likely to vote Obama-ish, though I think there are just as many apathetic and those not likely to vote if at all.

I have a group of Filipino friends who share most of my views and are highly “political”, meaning “progressive” if not outright “radical”.

Most of them, however, say that they don’t vote.  Cynical of what Obama promised, has done, will do, these people won’t vote for anyone except a third party person.

Their basic premise is that voting for candidates won’t change the system and the way things have worked.  The system won’t work so they don’t even bother.

I think that more often than not they do touch upon some social truths.  The system is rigged.  There are structural inequalities.

That might very well be true and I might agree, but I think its always best to move towards the direction you want things to move even if the effect might currently be negligible.  I don’t know if it’s great to attack the system as a whole, but I believe if you can, learn to re-wire it.  I think it’s not right if at least somewhat disrespectful to categorically dismiss a process that many a few generations ago fought for the right to do.