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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

October 27, 2008

Written by C.N.

Obama or McCain: Presidential Preferences Around the World

As we all know by now, this presidential election is likely to be one of the most historic and significant ones in recent American history. With that in mind, it’s probably not surprising to know that this election has also captivated the attention of many people from all around the world. So which candidate do people from other countries favor? As Andrew Lam at New America Media reports, the answer probably isn’t that surprising:

The Economist . . . has an interesting interactive map of the world showing which candidate would win if people in various countries voted in the American election. The total cast so far shows 86 percent for the Obama/Biden ticket and 14 percent for McCain/Palin.

Here are samples of a few countries: Russia: 86 percent for Obama and 14 percent for McCain. Germany: 88 percent for Obama and 12 percent for McCain. Vietnam: 91 percent for Obama and 9 percent McCain. . . .

This finding is consistent with several other polls. The BBC conducted a poll on September 10 and found that global citizens preferred Obama 4-to-1, out of 22,000 people surveyed in 22 foreign countries.

A Reader’s Digest magazine poll, released Oct 6, asked 17,000 people in 17 countries – including the U.S. – whom they would like to see elected president. It concluded: “It’s a good thing for John McCain that only American citizens can vote in U.S. presidential elections. If the election were held overseas, or even in the rest of North America, the Republican nominee wouldn’t stand a chance.”

Besides being overwhelmingly for Obama, the polls also found that – on the average – more than half surveyed are fixated on the American election. Basically, the world is following the American election with vested interest, as if it were the World Cup. World poverty and environmental issues rank top as their concerns.

The trouble for Senator McCain is that he is perceived overseas as continuing the legacy of George W. Bush administration – one in which preemptive strikes are the norm, and whose unilateral actions helped isolate it from the world. . . . McCain becoming the next president would mean the American empire remaining steadfast on its warpath, and therefore, keeping the world out of balance.

The collective voice of the world seems to be pretty clear in terms of their preference for Obama over McCain to be the U.S.’s next President. For McCain supporters who scoff at such preferences, they should remember that these countries around the world include many of the U.S.’s best allies.

In other words, the U.S. does not live in a global vacuum. The world is getting smaller, every country is increasingly interconnected to every other country, and globalization is happening all around us, and the go-it-alone politics of the past will not work any longer.

The rest of the world seems to recognize these facts and they apparently feel that Obama does as well, much more so than McCain.


October 8, 2008

Written by C.N.

Excuse Me? “That One?”

My wife and I just finished watching the second debate between Obama and McCain and I feel compelled to write about what I thought was the one moment that stood out the most for me in the entire debate — when McCain called Obama “That one.”

McCain seemed intent on belittling Obama all night, which by itself is very disrespectful and juvenile. But it was about halfway through the debate and McCain was talking about environmental policies when he said something to the effect, “You know who voted for the Bush-Cheney energy bill? That one!”

Excuse me?!? “That one?!?”

Mr. McCain, please tell us what exactly did you mean by calling Senator Obama “That one?”

Here’s my guess — deep down, McCain really wanted to call Obama “That boy” or even worse, “That nigger.”

In other words, calling Senator Obama “That one” goes way beyond being impolite or even condescending — it was downright racist.

We all know no one wants to openly talk about the undercurrent issue of race, but whether we like it or not, race has stuck its head into the campaign in so many ways — from recurring references to Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s comments, to lingering beliefs that Obama is really a Muslim terrorist, to outright and direct incidents of racial discrimination against Obama’s campaign.

It’s within this context that we might begin to understand where John McCain is coming from, and some of the unconscious motives he may have had for referring to Obama as “That one.” We know that he is trailing in almost all polls and that he is slowly watching his claim to be our next President slip away.

And we also know that when people feel cornered and threatened, they become desperate, and when they become desperate, they revert to basic emotional instincts — like believing that his opponent is nothing more than a glorified house slave, certainly not worthy of being on the same social level as him, or even being a “real” American.

What else could he have meant by calling Obama “That one?”

In case you did not already know, there has been much discussion about John McCain’s use of the racial slur “gooks” when he used that term back in the 2000 presidential campaign in talking about his North Vietnamese communist captors when he was a prisoner of war: “I hate the gooks. I will hate them as long as I live.”

So in other words, McCain has a history of racial prejudice. It is also clear from watching his interactions in Obama’s presence that he clearly has a lot of contempt for Obama. I’m sure much of it has to do with the adversarial position they’re in as competitors to be the next President. But ultimately, there is a racial component to his contempt as well — that he, as a White person, is getting beat by a Black person.

In a desperate fight for political survival, just like his desperate fight for his physical survival almost 40 years ago, he has apparently showed us his true colors by derogatorily dehumanizing Obama and calling him “That one.”


September 25, 2008

Written by C.N.

New Poll on Asian American Presidential Preferences

On the national level, Asian Americans comprise “only” about five percent of the country’s population. However, as demographers point out, Asian Americans tend to be highly urbanized and concentrated in a handful of states, such as California where they constitute 10% of its population.

With this in mind, Asian Americans have the potential to be an important “swing vote” constituency. In other words, with the presidential campaign between Obama and McCain being so close, such constituent groups may be able to help “swing” the election in favor of one of the candidates — if the group can be organized to vote overwhelmingly for one candidate.

With that in mind, the 80-20 Initiative is one such group that is founded on this exact principle — to organize Asian Americans into a “bloc vote” that ideally, could deliver at least 80% of the Asian American vote (hence their name) to a candidate that they endorse. Unfortunately, the 80-20 Initiative has had its critics and earlier this year, faced a barrage of criticism for perceived bias against Obama, before they ultimately endorsed him for President.

At any rate, the 80-20 Initiative has just come out with the results of a poll they conducted on presidential preferences among Asian Americans. In an email sent to their mailing list (but yet to be published on their website), they note:

If the election were today, Asian Americans nationwide favor Obama over McCain by a 3.4 To 1 ratio or by 77% to 23%. The margin of error in this 80-20 poll is +/- 10%. . . . The questions used in polls 1) and 2) were sent to a random sample of Asian Ams. whose attitude towards 80-20 is unknown but who are almost all registered voters.

The 80-20 poll also notes that six percent of respondents said that they were not registered to vote, 42% were registered as Democrats, 14% registered as Republicans, and 38% registered as independents or undeclared. These numbers correspond with other data that show Asian Americans have shifted more towards Democrats over the years.

With the upcoming election between Obama and McCain likely to stay tight all the way down to the wire, potential bloc vote groups such as Asian Americans may be poised to have a sizable impact on its outcome — if we can continue to build a consensus and unity.