The views and opinions expressed on this site and blog posts (excluding comments on blog posts left by others) are entirely my own and do not represent those of any employer or organization with whom I am currently or previously have been associated.
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.
As I’m sure you’ve heard, Republican presidential nominee candidate Herman Cain is dealing with a bit of a scandal at the moment, as he tries to deal with allegations that he sexually harassed multiple women in his past. In true comedic style that had me LMAO, David Letterman commemorates Cain’s situation with his “Top Ten Herman Cain Pick-Up Lines“:
You’re like a Godfather’s pizza: a little doughy, but still hot
May I stuff your crust?
You put the ‘ass’ in National Restaurant Association
Can I buy you a glass of whatever Rick Perry is drinking?
Would you describe yourself as the litigious type?
(Video: Newt Gingrich having sex with a vending machine)
As part of this blog’s mission of making academic research and data more easily accessible, understandable, and applicable to a wider audience and to practical, everyday social issues, I highlight new sociological books about Asian Americans and other racial/ethnic groups as I hear about them. A book’s inclusion is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily mean a full endorsement of its complete contents.
A year after Barack Obama’s historic election as President of the United States of America, the following books examine the larger sociological context of his campaign and election, with a particular focus on the question of to what extent does his election signify any important change or improvement in race relations in the U.S.
This book offers one of the first sociological analyses of Barack Obama’s historic 2008 campaign for the presidency of the United States. Elaborating on the concept of the white racial frame, Harvey Wingfield and Feagin assess the ways racial framing was deployed by principal characters in the 2008 election. This book counters many commonsense assumptions about race, politics, and society, particularly the idea that Obama’s election ushered in a post-racial era. Readers will find this book uniquely valuable because it relies on sound sociological analysis to assess numerous events and aspects of this historic campaign.
Barack Obama and the African-American Empowerment examines the evolution of black leadership and politics since the Civil Rights Movement. It looks at the phenomenon of Barack Obama, from his striking emergence as a successful candidate for the Illinois State Senate to President of the United States, as part of the continuum of African American political leaders. The reader also examines the evolving ideals about the roles of government and the economy in addressing the historic disadvantages experienced by many African Americans. Here, some of the nation’s most influential intellectuals bring together original scholarship to look at the future of national politics and American race relations.
In The Breakthrough, veteran journalist Gwen Ifill surveys the American political landscape, shedding new light on the impact of Barack Obama’s stunning presidential victory and introducing the emerging young African American politicians forging a bold new path to political power.
Ifill argues that the Black political structure formed during the Civil Rights movement is giving way to a generation of men and women who are the direct beneficiaries of the struggles of the 1960s. She offers incisive, detailed profiles of such prominent leaders as Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and U.S. Congressman Artur Davis of Alabama (all interviewed for this book), and also covers numerous up-and-coming figures from across the nation.
Drawing on exclusive interviews with power brokers such as President Obama, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Vernon Jordan, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, his son Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., and many others, as well as her own razor-sharp observations and analysis of such issues as generational conflict, the race/ gender clash, and the “black enough” conundrum, Ifill shows why this is a pivotal moment in American history.
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.
As the 2008 Presidential campaign heads into the final stretch, two recently-released studies shed light on the nature of civic engagement and political attitudes among Asian Americans.
The first one is an electronic book entitled The State of Asian America: Trajectory of Civic and Political Engagement, published by the non-profit organization Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics. It contains several articles on various aspects of political participation and civic engagement among Asian Americans, written by several well-respected scholars of Asian American Studies.
For example, there are articles entitled “Political and Civic Engagements of Immigrants,” “Asian American College Students and Civic Engagement,” “Asian American Panethnicity: Challenges and Possibilities,” and “The Usual Suspects: Asian Americans as Conditional Citizens.” This free e-book can easily be used as a textbook by faculty like me who teach introductory/survey courses on the Asian American Experience and is certainly a valuable resource for anyone interested to learn more about the dynamics of political empowerment among Asian Americans.
The second report is entitled “2008 National Asian American Survey” and is jointly authored by scholars from Rutgers University, UC Berkeley, UC Riverside, and the University of Southern California. In conducting a comprehensive national survey of political attitudes and presidential preferences among Asian Americans, the major findings of this report are:
Japanese American citizens are the most likely to vote (82%), followed by Asian Indian (73%), Koreans (72%), Filipinos (67%), Vietnamese (65 %) and Chinese (60%).
41% of Asian American likely voters support Barack Obama while 24% support John McCain. However, 34% remain undecided.
32% of all likely Asian American voters identify with the Democratic Party, 14% identify with the Republican Party, 19% identify as Independent, and 35% are non-partisan, saying they do not identify as Democrat, Republican, or Independent.
Chinese, Filipino, Asian Indians, Japanese, and Koreans tend to affiliate with the Democratic Party and therefore to support Obama, while Vietnamese are more likely to identify as Republicans and support McCain.
Asian American Democratic primary voters supported Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama by a 2 to 1 margin. More than half of former Clinton supporters (59%) plan to vote for Obama while 10% plan to vote for McCain and 29% are undecided.
These results confirm those I discussed in my earlier post on Asian American Presidential Preferences and reinforce the trend that among those showing a political preference, Asian Americans are overwhelmingly Democratic, although a significant number remain undecided.
Taken together, these two studies provide scholars like me and non-scholars like with valuable information and insight into the very important issue of political participation among Asian Americans. I would like to thank and congratulate everyone involved with both studies for their hard work and contributions.
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.
I received the following announcement from the well-respected Asia Society about a series of short videos they’ve produced on preferences for the upcoming presidential election among Asian policy leaders:
At the Asia Society’s 36th Annual Williamsburg policy conference in Bali, Indonesia, key Asia-Pacific leaders were asked to discuss the US elections and to comment on their preferred candidate.
Over 80% of all Asia-Pacific leaders interviewed expressed a preference for Barack Obama, arguing that he would be best for US foreign relations and would send a positive, hopeful message to the world.
Both videos are quite interesting and offer good information and advice for how our next President can maintain and develop closer ties with our Asian neighbors, many of whom are poised to take on a more prominent role as we move forward into the 21st century.