SOMEONE ELSE’S WINDOWS: Migrant power in US politics

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/8 November) – Surveys had suggested it would be a tight race between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, the Republican Party bet for the White House. Obama, however, came out roaring even in the so-called battleground states for a second term as US president. Like in a frenzied boxing match where neither fighter likes to give quarters, it was all over as soon as the polls closed. And Romney could do nothing else but raise the hand of the winner.

Analysts predicted a close contest mainly because many Americans thought the Obama administration was not doing enough for the economy, which slowed down to a level surpassed only by the stagnation during the Great Depression. When former company executives find themselves selling burgers after being thrown out of jobs, do you think it would be easy to convince the voters to give the incumbent a second chance? It was this factor that endangered Obama’s reelection bid.

Fortunately for Obama, Romney failed to articulate clear prescriptions for the faltering economy except to say that the incumbent has failed. His proposal to intensify outsourcing sounded illogical vis-à-vis the rate of domestic unemployment.

In the field of foreign policy, Romney appeared as too hawkish, suggesting more aggressive measures against foreign states perceived to be threats to American interests. It was an unwise thing to say to a nation that knows all too well the meaning of Iraq and Afghanistan.

These miscalculations by the GOP led to the post-mortem that the outcome was not really a vote for Obama but a vote against Romney. Stated more bluntly, it means the voters did not like Obama but they were also wary of Romney. They felt it was time to replace Obama, but Romney did not look and speak like the right alternative. The cure appeared worse than the disease.

Many analysts were unanimous in saying that Romney leaned too far on the right and found it hard to tilt back to the center when his conservative pronouncements backfired. He – or his strategists – seemed to live in a bygone world and to not realize their country’s changing demographics.

For example, Romney voiced his opposition to planned parenthood as well as his conservative stance on matters related to women’s reproductive health rights in general. The result: the women’s vote turned out to be 50 percent to 48 percent in favor of Obama.

On the other hand, 71 percent of the Latinos, who comprised 10 percent of the voting population, went for Obama. Romney had said he would go hard against illegal migrants [if elected president]. That means that for every million votes cast 100,000 were by the Latinos, and of this number, 71,000 were for Obama.

It would appear that the Republican Party campaigned as if this was the US where the migrants were still a nonfactor in politics. Reports even pointed out that years from now the US will have a lesser number of whites compared to the African-Americans, Asians, Latinos and other non-whites. This is not farfetched given the white Americans’ tendency toward a small-sized family.

According to an ANC report, Asians are a fast-growing group in the US. There are over 4 million Chinese followed by Filipinos with over 3 million. According to the same report however less than two percent of the Filipinos are registered voters so they are essentially a nonfactor in national elections. Perhaps this is because many of them have remained undocumented or what we derisively call “TNT” (tago ng tago).

The next presidential elections in the US should prove more interesting. Let’s see if the Republicans have learned their lesson in dealing with specific sectors like the women and with the ever increasing political influence of the migrant populations. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at [email protected])

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