by Rene Villaroman/Asianjournal.com
LOS ANGELES — New York Senator Hillary Clinton notched a very crucial victory in California on Super Tuesday, beating Illinois Senator Barack Obama by almost a quarter of a million votes and gaining slightly in the delegate count.
Clinton’s camp has been attributing her success to the overwhelming support of the Hispanics, Asians and Pacific Islanders (API). She also scored well from women, 45 years old and older. Obama scored very well with African-Americans and men 45 years old and younger.
The victory in the Golden State, however, is diminished lightly by Obama’s own showing, having won 13 states to her seven. Currently, the race for the Democratic Party’s nomination for President could extend all the way to the national convention slated in August. This prompted Wall Street Journal columnist Gerald Seib to comment that “the Democratic fight between Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton seems certain to continue, and it is showing a clear divide between whites and blacks, between Hispanics and non-Hispanics, between women and men, and between older and younger voters.”
The Ethnic Vote
Hillary has been wooing the Asian and Pacific Islander communities from the very beginning. This eventually led to the creation of the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) for Hillary. Chaired by Congresswoman Doris Matsui, the organization believes that “Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have a huge opportunity to make a difference in this election.” The group has different subgroups according to various ethnicity. The Filipino American community, in New York, is headed by industrialist Loida Lewis.
Asian Journal asked San Fernando Valley civic servant-leader and entrepreneur Noel Omega to provide a perspective on the magnitude of the API, and the FilAm community’s role in helping Clinton win California.
Omega said that Clinton won because Asians and Pacific Islanders, including Filipinos, perceived her as more experienced and as having more credibility.
“Our society has a matriarchal influence, so we are on the level with girl power, and in this case, Asians and Pacific Islanders felt that Obama’s eloquence is not enough to cut it past Hillary’s sheen,” Omega observed. “Hillary’s stand on healthcare endears her to the vast field of FilAm healthcare workers and with seniors.”
“And, let us not forget that Clinton has a long-running brand power with Asians and Pacific Islanders,” he added.
Omega also confirmed that Hispanics and Asians and Pacific Islanders played a swing vote role in Hillary’s California win.
“FilAms should realize that as the second largest group of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States and in California, we could claim – statistically speaking – that we made a definite difference on Super Tuesday. However, we need to work on increasing our voter registration and voter turnout to reach our documented full potential in the relevance scale as an electorate,” Omega said.
FilAms headed out to the polls on Super Tuesday and made sure their votes were counted. Jojo and Abbey Abot, cast their votes at one of the three precincts at the Filipino-American Community of Los Angeles (FACLA) headquarters on Temple St., in Historic Filipinotown.
“We need change, and by voting we hope that we could bring them,” said Abbey who voted for Senator John McCain. Jojo, an independent, voted for the propositions.
Avelino Miguel, a custodian at the FACLA headquarters, observed at least 100 Filipinos cast their vote there from 1 until 5 pm on Tuesday. Lita Ocuma, a precinct coordinator in the Echo Park district, said that during the noontime period FilAms showed up in large numbers at a precinct at Manila Terrace. She said that around 50 percent of FilAm registered voters had cast their ballot by 4 pm.
Florencio Carlos, who came with his young son, was concerned about the economy, but he did not reveal his candidate. “I sell flowers in the Flowers District in Downtown,” Carlos said. “I also have a large family, so my greatest concern is being able to provide for my family and to be able to buy medical insurance.”
FilAm’s civic duty
Omega observed how FilAms shared in the excitement that the Democratic presidential aspirants. He opined that this election is unique and rare in that there are no incumbent candidates in the primaries. “This has not occurred since the 1928 presidential elections,” Omega noted. “I feel that this election has the clean slate effect; that no matter who wins, there will be change.”
The FilAm community could contribute to these changes if it could rally its members to register in yet greater numbers for all elections, according to Omega. He suggested maintaining current and accurate census of the Filipino population and to not depend on the periodic government count. He said that is the only way “we can level with the powers-that-be effectively,” He adds: “We should be more vocal and visible during campaign ramp-ups. One of our disadvantages compared to other less populous Asians and Pacific Islanders – the Chinese, Japanese and Koreans in particular – is the miniscule amount of political contributions we generate as an ethnic group.”
“Although we have pockets of generous political contributions in our community, to be sure, we are generally perceived as stingy and need to greatly improve in this area. In politics, money is the fuel of the campaign – thus, money ranks high among factors for political influence,” Omega noted.
Some FilAm civic leaders are quite proactive in the area of political mobilization efforts. However, the community needs to be more effective and widespread in this arena. “We are, unfortunately, not yet well coordinated or effective enough to reach the level established by the Chinese, Japanese or Korean political machinery,” Omega said. “Here in the San Fernando Valley, the FilAm community is just beginning to organize our voting and political technology machinery.”
“We should do this pervasively across the USA where there are enclaves of Filipino voters,” he added.