We beg the indulgence of our readers around the world. This week's editorial if aimed at Filipino-Americans who go to the polls on November 4.
ince 1620 when the pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, people the world over have migrated to America in search of a better life. Filipinos are no exception. In the '70s and '80s Filipinos who were able to, left for the U.S. to escape the tyranny of the Marcos regime; today they leave to escape the poverty and the lack of opportunity in their homeland. Whatever the reason, Filipino migrants quickly shed their old habits and attitudes and embraced American culture. And for the most part, those who—as former President Bill Clinton put it—"work hard and play by the rules" are amply rewarded.
Filipino-Americans cherish the freedom and the egalitarianism they experience in America. You don't need to know someone or have "padrinos" in high places to get ahead. You move up the economic ladder on your own initiative. America gives everyone a level playing field and a fair shot at the "American dream." And unlike the Philippines, no one is above the law, no matter how rich or powerful they are.
It is thus with grave concern that progressive Filipino-Americans view the creeping changes taking place in the country they now call "home." The Republican Party it seems has been taken over by right-wing extremists who appear hell-bent on changing everything that America stands for.
The once large and thriving middle class that gave America its refreshing egalitarian bent is being systematically decimated, replaced by billionaires and large corporations who have the wherewithal to "buy" elections and manipulate political sentiment. Legislators who once focused only on their constituents are now forced to pander to moneyed interests who (because of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. FEC) now have the power to easily remove them from office.
If conservative Republicans have their way, America will be a less inclusive, less tolerant, plutocracy where the vast majority have little or no say in government and only the rich and powerful get a fair shake. Social safety nets set up decades ago like Social Security, Medicare and Unemployment Insurance will be dismantled or significantly scaled back so that everyone—even those incapable of fending for themselves—will be forced to either sink or swim.
That is not the country that Filipino immigrants migrated to. That is more like the country they left behind. In the Philippines, the wealthy operate above the law as most judges and government officials are readily bribed. There are no social safety nets in the Philippines. Hospitals routinely turn away the indigent who show up in their emergency rooms. And if you're old and retired, you move in with relatives (if you're lucky enough to have one willing to take you in) or you end up homeless.
Moneyed Filipinos and powerful politicians on the other hand get all kinds of perks reserved only for them. Despite their wealth, senators, congressmen, judges, and other high government officials receive huge discounts on whatever they buy—sometimes they even get it for free. The "dons" and "doñas" rule with impunity... everyone else is nothing but an afterthought.
If you want to see what America will be like if right-wing Republicans have their way, look at the Philippines today. In the 1950s the Philippines was second only to Japan and ahead of all its Southeast Asian neighbors. Look at it today; a land of unfulfilled expectations and missed opportunities where only the rich have everything and everyone else has nothing.
So Filipino-Americans, do the right thing and vote Democratic. Keep America the great country it has always been. After all, it's the reason you migrated there in the first place. Published 10/30/2014