By Ryan Pangilinan
Northwest Asian Weekly
Editor’s note: Ryan Pangilinan is one of Northwest Asian Weekly’s reporters. He was assigned to report on Asian female Palin supporters. Pangilinan couldn’t find enough individuals to support a full article and thus, he reformulated his experiences into this commentary, which consists of only his opinions and is not Northwest Asian Weekly’s official stance.
I like challenges. It’s the reason why I am addicted to “Jeopardy,” trying every year to be a contestant on the show whenever they hold open casting on the Internet. That being said, when Northwest Asian Weekly assigned me to track down Asian American women who identify with Alaskan governor and Republican vice president nominee, Sarah Palin, I jumped at the chance.
Part of taking challenges, however, is accepting the possibility of failure, which is only true in a technical sense for the purpose of this article. Let me explain.
This article was a natural extension of a blog post I made in another publication two weeks ago, in which I asked the family members I know who are registered Republicans, why they were going to vote for Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin.
In the post, titled, “The Open Challenge,” I urged my family to make a list of the top 10 reasons why they were jumping on the McCain/Palin bandwagon, without mentioning their church or God. Maybe it was a little cruel, but it seems to me that McCain/Palin supporters seem to be people who forget that there’s a constitutional schism between church and state.
I think that this is particularly true of Gov. Palin, who rides on the Christian coattails more so than Sen. McCain. To wit, I didn’t think I would have any difficulty finding Asian American women who wanted to share their 2 cents on why they liked Gov. Palin. My litmus test for this was my mother, who said that she liked “Palin’s attitude.”
When I mentioned that Gov. Palin also forced women who were rape victims to pay for their own rape kits, she simply shrugged and said that she wasn’t going to vote because her church does not support voting.
Still, I thought I would have more luck with my assorted aunts who belong to a Baptist church in Lynnwood — the same ones who were mentioned in the post that spawned this idea to begin with. Yet when I spoke to one of my cousins last week, he mentioned that his mom — a longtime Republican — was voting for Obama and Biden.
Hope wasn’t completely lost, though. In researching interviewees for another article, I came across an API Republican delegate from New Jersey. Surely she would explain to me Gov. Palin’s appeal, not just to women, but specifically Asian American women. Like all the rest, those calls were never returned.
None of this made sense to me until I took a step back and looked at Palin’s platform. I thought a lot about the interviews she was giving and how she carried herself in the recent vice presidential debates. Many people call her an embarrassment, dumb or misinformed. She might be all those things, but in my opinion, I just think that she’s narrow-minded.
Gov. Palin’s platform is that she’s appealing to the so-called “average American” or “Joe Six-Pack,” as she calls them. I suppose, strategically, this seems like a good idea. Americans, in general, find intellects to be somewhat threatening because people want a leader they can relate to.
The problem with Palin’s take on the average American is that white Protestant Americans are diminishing, according to a census projection. In 2042, minorities will collectively be the majority, as the white population will fall under 50 percent.
To assume that nobody outside of the current majority exists is ridiculous. This is the reason why I feel like my search for female API supporters for Gov. Palin has been a complete wash.
While Asian American Republicans do exist, no one wants to admit that they are undermined and not recognized by one of the major leaders of their party. I’m sure that many people will read this and tell me that I didn’t try hard enough; the truth is that nobody wants to throw their support behind someone who will not consider them, party loyalty or not. At least Sen. McCain has recognized APIs, even if it hasn’t been in the most flattering of references.
The truth is that APIs have been marginalized for years, especially API women, and for all her hockey-mom charm, Sarah Palin doesn’t represent us, nor does she recognize that we’re growing in numbers — not just in terms of a population of people, but also as a politically and socially active group. Gov. Palin might be a hockey mom, but I’ll take mahjong any day, and I bet my aunts would, too. ♦
Ryan Pangilinan can be reached at email@example.com.