Voting Asian American, Sandy, and how sports can matter in politics


If you are suffering from what I call “pollsy,” the state of being bombarded by one campaign poll after another, do yourself a favor. Ignore most of them. Save your energy for the only one that counts. On Tuesday, November 6, the general election takes place, and it could be the most important vote you’ll cast in your lifetime.

If you hope to see America progress, you’ll know how to vote.

The numbers I care about are the white vs. non-white vote. Since 1980, the number of white voters has dropped from near 90 percent of the electorate to just 74 percent in 2008.

In this year’s tight race, with African Americans and Latinos overwhelmingly for Obama, Asian Americans could mean the margin of difference for somebody.

And yet despite being the fastest growing minority group in America, we are by and large the most ignored. For example, none of the polls will tell you about Asian Americans, where it’s out of polls, out of mind.

But a number of polls do point the way of Asian America. The updated National Asian American Survey (1,031 adults interviewed mid-October, 483 likely voters, 4.5 percent margin of error) saw Obama actually surge from 43 percent to 50 percent among likely voters. Romney actually dropped from 24 percent to 19 percent. This is even after the disastrous first debate in Denver. And there’s still 30 percent undecided.

But I’m bothered by the likely voter category. Just 50 percent of the eligible Asian American adults surveyed are voting.

In the end, I don’t care whom you vote for. But you need to cast a ballot in this game.

Around the country, forget party. There’s reason just to vote Asian American.

Grace Meng for Congress looks inevitable in New York.

But Jay Chen’s congressional race in the Hacienda Heights and La Habra Heights area in Los Angeles County is close and getting nasty with a plethora of ugly campaign signs cropping up in his district.

This one that says “Vote for the American” was posted on a lawn.


It’s a lot more subtle than a flaming cross. But it comes from the same DNA.

More of that has come up in recent weeks, all, of course, disavowed by Chen’s opponent Ed Royce, a white Republican incumbent. Royce has the classic anti-diversity resume. He thinks multiculturalism is a crock, voted against the Voting Rights Act extension, and believes Arizona’s “Show me your papers” law should be nationwide. (Incidentally, if anyone asked Chen for his papers, he wouldn’t need them, considering he was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan.)

But the race is getting personal for Chen, so that voting Asian American makes perfect sense. Given the kind of xenophobic attacks Chen’s endured, voting is the only way to strike back. After all, voting is about representation.

Considering our numbers, isn’t it time we counted? _SANDY, THAT MARATHON, AND MORE ON THOSE SF GIANTS_Thanks goodness someone had the taste not to stage the New York Marathon this weekend. Mayor Bloomberg followed up on his Obama endorsement by making the correct decision on the marathon. Bloomberg playing a fiddle in running shorts is not a good image. Sure, a marathon can be inspirational and a metaphor for great triumph over self-imposed recreational physical agony. But I find something offensive about watching runners reach out in desperation for water bottles during a race, while thousands of New Yorkers are on a different kind of race for survival after Hurricane Sandy, reaching out with limited success for the basics–water, food, and electricity.

The only way I’d hold the race as scheduled is if somehow the runners were hooked up to some massive treadmill that could keep the lights on in Lower Manhattan. Or if the runners, as some did on Sunday, made their marathon the actual door-to-door delivery of food and supplies to victims. Otherwise, the city has business to take care of post-Sandy, and it’s not to appease the marathon running cult.

Sports surely is a luxury. But it can have an important function in times of crisis when the rooting interest isn’t thousands of individual runners, but of a team that is symbolic of a community. Aside from the legendary short-cutter, the cheater Rosie Ruiz, I can’t name one legitimate winner. But I do know most winners come from Kenya, which during a political season would give those inclined an opportunity to make a birther joke (not me).

Recently, I wrote about what lessons all of America could take away from the example of the San Francisco Giants victory.

And the parade last week in San Francisco was an astonishing event, one that literally brought together a community of fans for a moment of civic love and appreciation. The crowd was estimated at more than a million people. I was up in the press stand at City Hall, so I couldn’t get a good view of the entire parade. But I’ve seen close to a million on the Washington Mall, and a million in Manila during the funeral procession of Benigno Aquino, Jr.

Last Wednesday, sure felt like a million.


It’s an incredible thing to see one million people focused on one thing, where the driving force isn’t some guys with guitars. (Woodstock was about half a million.)

I just kept thinking: what if all of these people voted? Or were as excited about the upcoming election as they were about their World Series Champion Giants?

Not to be insensitive, the Giants did announce an appeal for Sandy victims and the American Red Cross. “If everyone gave a dollar…” said the announcer. But really $1 million just doesn’t make a dent in light of the tens of billions needed to rebuild after Sandy. It surely made people like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie rethink the real virtues of big government, especially after Sandy made his entire state newly-minted members of the 47 percent Romney likes to chide.


Still I found it odd that there was not one mention at the Giants celebration about going to vote on Tuesday. I saw a few people passing out fliers, but there was nothing political about this event, despite the presence of pols like former House Speaker and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and former Secretary George Schultz, who is married to the City’s chief protocol officer. Fortunately, only Mayor Ed Lee was allowed to speak. But Lee gave one of his worst speeches ever, and then tried to save things by giving the Giants president Larry Baer both the key and the broom to the city (Lee used to head the public works department). Greater political relevance was displayed by Giants star relief pitcher Sergio Romo, a young Latino from the barrios of Los Angeles. He wore a T-shirt with the label “I just look illegal.”


At the podium, Romo mentioned the tremendous diversity within the team and the fan base, and how in this incredible season, the team overcame adversity to play together as one. Besides the obvious life lesson, there’s also a predictive element in the Giants’ victory. From MSNBC’s “Daily Rundown” show comes this statistical tidbit: Since the Great Depression, the state of the home team in the World Series has determined

the winner of the presidential election nearly 90 percent of the time. That’s better than any batting average or win percentage around.

This year, the Giants had the home field advantage in California. And this year California is staunchly for Obama, ergo….

Oh, but so much for stats. Before the Series, the Giants on paper looked like dogmeat. As the saying goes, that’s why they play the games.

And there’s a big one to play on Tuesday.

You are playing, aren’t you?

Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator.
Updates at Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.
The views expressed in his blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF’s views or policies.
read Emil's bio