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
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
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
all of America could take away from the example of the San Francisco Giants
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
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
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
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 www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page. The views expressed in his blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF’s views or policies.