Clinton’s Historic Nomination Energizes Fil-Am Democrats

NAMAsian Journal, News Feature, Christina Oriel
PHILADELPHIA – Hillary Clinton formally became the Democratic Party nominee for president on Tuesday, July 26, making history as the first woman to be on the top ticket for a major U.S. political party.

In a surprise video message broadcast at the Democratic National Convention, Clinton called the nomination “the biggest crack in the glass ceiling yet.”

“If there are any little girls out there who stayed up late to watch, let me just say: I may become the first woman president, but one of you is next!” she concluded.

She addressed the convention on Thursday night, July 28 to accept the honor and outline why she would make a better president than Republican nominee Donald J. Trump.

Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, delivered a speech on Tuesday, wherein he recounted how they both met and highlighted Clinton’s rise in the political field.

“She’s the best darn change-maker I ever met in my entire life,” he said, adding “She wants to move the ball forward. That is just who she is.”

On Tuesday afternoon, the former secretary of state earned 2,838 delegate votes during the roll call vote. Her opponent, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, received 1,843 votes. He called to end the vote early to announce Clinton as the nominee.

Clinton’s nomination angered many Sanders supporters, who exited the Wells Fargo Center and held a protest, alleging that the process was “rigged” in favor of the former secretary of state.

On Wednesday night, Clinton’s running mate Sen. Tim Kaine took the stage to accept his nomination for vice president.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden also delivered remarks, praising Clinton as the right person to continue on the work the current administration has accomplished in the past 7 1/2 years.

For Filipino-Americans here at the convention, witnessing Clinton’s nomination has been an emotional experience.

“For Hillary to be the first woman president, it opens the door and sets an example that Filipinos, minorities and women can have more seats at the decision-making table,” Meriam Reynosa said. “We can be visible, whether it’s in her cabinet or really reaching out and mentoring other young Fil-Ams to continue the good work of our Democratic Party and our leaders like Hillary Clinton.”

The 33-year-old Filipina-American from Dublin, California, called it an “honor” to be a Clinton delegate.

“Hopefully another young Filipina will see me in this role and say, ‘I can do that too and I can represent…and be a voice for the Filipino-American community,” she said.

Grace Barrios, vice president of outreach for the Pilipino American Los Angeles Democrats (PALAD) and also a Clinton delegate, said that it is about time for the U.S. to elect its first woman president.

“The Philippines has had two woman presidents and in our lifetime, the fact that we can have a woman president in the US, [makes me] so proud to be part of this history and contribute to making this happen,” she said.

Fil-Am Republicans last week in Cleveland for the Republican National Convention made their case on how Filipino values align with those of the Republican Party and what a Trump presidency would mean for the community.

Philantropist and community leader Loida Nicolas Lewis, a Clinton delegate from New York, said, “Cleveland was spewing out hate, division and anger against ‘the other.’ They were encouraging violence against Hillary. It is so un-American.”

She said that though many Filipinos admire Trump for being a businessman, they must also look at his record.

“He filed for bankruptcy four times,” she said. “That’s not someone we want running our country.”

Fil-Ams here asserted that the Democratic Party is more inclusive and addresses issues relevant to the community.

“It’s about family, unity, coming together and being really progressive. We stand on the backs of our immigrant parents. We are there to fight for immigrant rights, equitable pay, education — that’s what Filipinos and Democrats stand for,” Reynosa said.

Joshua Price, a Fil-Am delegate from Little Rock, Arkansas, said that being a part of the Democratic Party “is the only way to go if you want to have a voice in politics.”

“For Filipinos, [identifying] as a Democrat is the really the only option. I attended an event that said 30 percent of Filipinos said they don’t know if they identify as Democrats or Republicans,” he said.  “To me, that just shows that Filipinos need to be educated on the issues, which affect them, and the stances of the parties.”

Leading up to November, members of Fil-Ams for Hillary are mobilizing efforts to get Fil-Am communities across the country to register to vote and look at the issues that affect them, such as the economy, immigration and education.

“The U.S. is where we live and are raising our children, so it’s important for Filipinos here to get involved with politics, not just in the Philippines. Here is where things are happening and that will influence our country back home,” Barrios said.

Another significant win for the Fil-Am community was the mention of labor leader Larry Itliong in the Democratic Party platform.

“And we know that our nation’s long struggle with race is far from over. More than half a century after Rosa Parks sat and Dr. King marched and John Lewis bled, more than half a century after César Chávez, Dolores Huerta, and Larry Itliong organized, race still plays a significant role in determining who gets ahead in America and who gets left behind. We must face that reality and we must fix it,” part of the preamble reads.

This story is part of a Dodge Foundation-funded fellowship for ethnic media reporters at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

Related story: Asian Americans, Growing in Numbers, Show Political Clout at the DNC

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