Why Filipinos prefer Bush

by Rodel Rodis on October 11, 2004

THE RESULT of a New California Media poll showing that Filipino Americans prefer George W. Bush and the Republican Party over John Kerry and the Democratic Party came as a surprise to many but not to me.

If a poll had been taken of the delegates attending the empowerment conference of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (Naffaa) held in Chicago last month, it is quite likely that more delegates would have voted for Bush over Kerry.

And yet, if one were to go down the list of issues in which Bush and Kerry differ, the majority of NaFFAA delegates would favor Kerry’s position over that of Bush.

Among others, Kerry wholeheartedly supports HR 677, the Filipino Veterans Equity bill, while Bush has been noncommittal at best.

Filipinos support the Filipino WWII veterans for their courage in putting their lives on the line when the country needed their services.

It is thus puzzling that Filipinos would prefer Bush, who avoided the draft by using family connections to get into the Texas Air National Guard, instead of Kerry who volunteered to serve in Vietnam and who is a decorated Vietnam veteran.

The majority of Bush supporters in the Filipino community are those who immigrated to the U.S. as professionals. I would guess that at least 80 percent of Filipino physicians in America are Republicans.

These medical professionals may acknowledge that it was the Democrats who supported the reform of the immigration laws that allowed large numbers of them to immigrate to the U.S.

They may also concede that it was the Democrats who worked to remove the racist barriers that prevented non-white professionals from practicing their professions.

But gratitude has little to do with their party affiliation. By and large, many Filipino doctors and professionals gravitate to the Republican Party because it is the party of their aspirations.

They aspire to be rich and to pay as small a percentage of their income in taxes as possible.

Many of them aspire to be “white” and to live in suburban enclaves in which there are few, if any, blacks.

It is not that they are racist toward blacks, or African Americans, as many of them will readily point to a few black friends or acquaintances as proof that they are not racists.

But they just believe that the Democratic Party represents blacks on welfare and they don’t want that.

Filipinos place a great deal of premium on education.

Regardless of class status, Filipinos believe that education is the leveler of the field. It is what will advance the status of the lowliest Filipino. Those who believe in education may want to read the comments of Professor Yoshi Tsurumi, one of George W. Bush’s Harvard professors, in the Sept. 16, 2004, issue of Salon.com.

Prof. Tsurumi taught a class on macroeconomics in which Bush was one of his MBA students. In 1973, during the energy crisis, Tsurumi recalls a discussion on whether the government should assist retirees and other people on fixed incomes with heating costs.

Bush, he recalls, “made this ridiculous statement and when I asked him to explain, he said, ‘The government doesn’t have to help poor people * because they are lazy.’ I said, ‘Well, could you explain that assumption?’ Not only could he not explain it, he started backtracking on it, saying, ‘No, I didn’t say that.'”

Bush criticized Tsurumi for showing the film, “The Grapes of Wrath,” based on John Steinbeck’s novel of the Depression.

“We were in a discussion of the New Deal, and he called Franklin Roosevelt’s policies ‘socialism.’ He denounced labor unions, the Securities and Exchange Commission, Medicare, Social Security, you name it.

He denounced the civil rights movement as socialism. To him, socialism and communism were the same thing. And when challenged to explain his prejudice, he could not defend his argument, either ideologically, polemically or academically.”

Here are further excerpts from Mary Jacoby’s Salon article about Prof. Tsurumi’s recollections:

“Students who challenged and embarrassed Bush in class would then become the subject of a whispering campaign by him, Tsurumi said.

“In class, he couldn’t challenge them. But after class, he sometimes came up to me in the hallway and started bad-mouthing those students who had challenged him. He would complain that someone was drinking too much. It was
innuendo and lies. So that’s how I knew, behind his smile and his smirk, that he was a very insecure, cunning and vengeful guy.”

Many of Tsurumi’s students came from well-connected or wealthy families, but good manners prevented them from boasting about it, the professor said. But Bush seemed unabashed about the connections that had brought him to Harvard.

“The other children of the rich and famous were at least well bred to the point of realizing universal values and standards of behavior,” Tsurumi said.

But Bush sometimes came late to class and often sat in the back row of the theater-like classroom, wearing a bomber jacket from the Texas Air National Guard and spitting chewing tobacco into a cup.

“At first, I wondered, ‘Who is this George Bush?’ It’s a very common name and I didn’t know his background. And he was such a bad student that I asked him once how he got in. He said, ‘My dad has good friends.”” Bush scored in the lowest 10 percent of the class.

The Vietnam War was still roiling campuses and Harvard was no exception. Bush expressed strong support for the war but admitted to Tsurumi that he’d gotten a coveted spot in the Texas Air National Guard through his father’s connections.

“I used to chat up a number of students when we were walking back to class,” Tsurumi said.

“Here was Bush, wearing a Texas Guard bomber jacket, and the draft was the No. 1 topic in those days. And I said, ‘George, what did you do with the draft?’

He said, ‘Well, I got into the Texas Air National Guard.’ And I said, ‘Lucky you. I understand there is a long waiting list for it. How’d you get in?’ When he told me, he didn’t seem ashamed or embarrassed. He thought he was entitled to all kinds of privileges and special deals. He was not the only one trying to twist all their connections to avoid Vietnam. But then, he was fanatically for the war.”

Tsurumi told Bush that someone who avoided a draft while supporting a war in which others were dying was a hypocrite.

“He realized he was caught, showed his famous smirk and huffed off.” Tsurumi’s conclusion: Bush is not as dumb as his detractors allege.

“He was just badly brought up, with no discipline, and no compassion,” he said.” And for all this, he has been rewarded with the presidency of the U.S.

Send your comments to _Rodel50@aol.com.

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