By Gel Santos Relos
"They came, not just in pursuit of the riches of this world,
but for the richness of this life. Freedom, freedom of
religion, freedom to speak their mind, freedom to build a life
and, yes, freedom to build a business with their own hands.
This is the essence of the American experience."
- Gov. Mitt Romney
The 2012 Presidential Race has officially started last week with Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan accepting the Republican Party’s nomination for President and Vice President in Tampa, Florida. Game on!
They are fighting toe-to-toe with the incumbent team of President Barack Obama and Joe Biden, who are running for their second term. Obama and Biden are set to accept their party’s nomination during the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.
If you are new to the US Presidential Election, here's a quick primer:
There are two major political parties competing in the political discourse and elections: the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, although there have been many times when this two-party system have been challenged and rocked by a third party or independent candidate.
Each party conducts its own primary elections in every state, whereby each presidential candidate campaigns, engages in debates and tries to make his/her case among the party voters, that he/she best represents their party’s principles and has the “winnability” to defeat the other party’s candidate. The candidate who wins the majority vote among the total number of delegates wins the party’s nomination.
After his failed attempt in 2008 (John McCain won the party’s nomination), 2012 has proven to be Mitt Romney’s year to represent his party. The party nominee then exercised his first executive decision, choosing his Vice-Presidential candidate. Of the many names speculated and actually vetted to be the number 2 in the ticket, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan became Romney’s choice.
In our daily polls, man-on-the-street interviews, website comments and previous presidential elections townhall meeting on Balitang America, it seems many kababayans in America are leaning Republican. (Balitang America Poll) But just what exactly does the Republican Party stand for, and what makes many Filipinos gravitate toward the Republican Party?
The biggest draw to the Republican Party for many kababayans in America is the GOP’s (Grand Old Party) conservative principles, anchored on Christian values. Having come from a Catholic-dominated motherland, many Filipinos in America equate being Republican to being faithful to our Filipino roots and Catholic faith.
This is pronounced most in the stand of the party against the use of artificial contraceptives, legalization of abortion, fight against gay marriage, etc. Some go as far as aligning themselves with some hardcore GOPs, who do not believe in climate change and the theory of evolution of man. These principles very much affect the public policy of the party in terms of the issues concerning education, energy, environment protection, LGBT rights, womens’ rights, etc.
Another hot button issue for many Pinoys is the fight against illegal immigration. This is very important especially for those who waited in line for their immigration petitions to be approved, those who had to endure long years of separation before they finally got to be reunited with their families upon issuance of immigration visa the legal way, those who had to pay fees to obtain immigration benefits.
For these Pinoys, dura lex sed lex is their principle. The law may be harsh but it is still the law, and they are adamant against amnesty or special privileges given to TnTs, even for humanitarian reasons.
The Republican platform of making people pay less taxes is another important consideration for kababayans. They hurt to see a big chunk of their paycheck go to Uncle Sam. They adhere to the GOP’s mantra of small government, low taxes, and the liberty to do what an individual wants to do with his hard-earned money.
This is even complicated further by the aforementioned immigration debate, whereby they believe it is grossly unfair for the government to use their tax money to support the needs of many TnTs, even those who are among their own people. But then again, here is where it gets ironic -- many Filipinos hate paying taxes but feel entitled to receive benefits from the government.
The Republicans also adhere to the economic principle of “free market” and as we have always heard in the campaign speeches, each American’s individual achievement is the primary factor behind economic prosperity. This means allowing market forces to dictate the fate of the economy and going against too much government regulations.
More income, less expenditures means, equals more profit -- and the free market system supports corporations exhausting every options to stay competitive and offer bigger dividends to its investors. An example of this is the Republicans' aproval of companies outsourcing jobs. This means less jobs in America but of course, more jobs in the Philippines.
The GOP believes that the prescription to prosperity is the “trickle down” economy -- giving tax breaks and freedom for businesses to maximize profit, and this will somehow lead to business expansion, more hiring and a more robust economy. This, of course, has always been contested by the Democratic Party.
While the Republican Party also believes there should be safety nets for Americans during hard times, they maintain the job of helping them should be more effectively delegated to the private sector, instead of the government. Therefore, they prefer giving support and grants to faith-based and other private charitable organizations to carry out the task of helping the less fortunate. This is also why in an effort to trim down deficit without having to raise taxes for the rich, allocation for social services-- including unemplyoment benefits, health care, etc. are first to go.
Republicans also believe in American exceptionalism, which means "the United States has a specific world mission, to spread liberty and democracy". For them, this means Americans should “lead from the front and not from behind,” as we have heard in the convention speeches. This principle translates to a stronger military, and the need to allocate more budget to support it.
These are just some of the major differences between the two parties. This week, it will be Democrats’ turn to be in the forefront of media coverages, as President Barack Obama and VP Joe Biden accept their party’s nomination for their re-election. Next week, we will talk about the Democrats’ principles in this column.
Related article: The US Presidential Race Is On: Are you leaning Democrat?
(My Asian Journal Column Article, September 5, 6, 7, 2012)