US ELECTIONS - BIDEN VS TRUMP & OUR PASIFIKA COMMUNITY IN THE USA
It's been all eyes on the United States of America the last couple of days as vote counting started on Tuesday 3rd (Wednesday 4th in the Southern Hemisphere) ... and is still going two days later in what has become a very close, messy and divisive race between President Donald Trump (Republican) and Joe Biden (Democrat).
As at today (Friday 6th in the Southern Hemisphere) Joe Biden appears to be slowly inching ahead in the race to 270 votes and from what we understand needs either 2 States out of Arizona, North Carolina, Nevada & Georgia OR Pennsylvania on its own to get there.
While the world watches on, there are many of us trying to comprehend the Americans electoral process, popular votes and electoral colleges while I'm sure there are also many of us who have been entertained by the memes, media coverage and by President Donald Trump himself.
We've also been wondering how our Pasifika community in the USA are feeling about the elections at the moment, whether they engage with it or if they feel like it doesn't really affect them. Many of us have family and friends who now live there so we've spoken to half a dozen or so Pasifika residing in the US to ask them what their hopes and fears are for the elections, who they voted for and why they think that person will be good for the country and their Pacific community.
LOTO LAUPUA TONGA REED
47 years old, Program specialist at Stanford University with the Division of Primary Health Care and Population Health,
Loto and her husband are also owners of i9 Sports, a multi Sport Youth program in the Peninsula area.
Samoan/Tongan, Bay Area, California
As a young child, my parents carried out their civic duty by hosting election polls at our home. My father took pride in ensuring our neighbors, community and families that were eligible to vote were easily accessible to get to voting polls. It was the highlight of the night to see the workers tally the votes and submit the final counts. With anticipation, our family would proudly await for the announcement knowing we took part even in the smallest way. With all honesty, my parents vision and sacrifice to become citizens and have a voice didn't have meaning until the first election with President Obama. That was the first time, I felt like change was gon' come (in the words of Sam Cooke).
My hope from this election, first and foremost, is for Biden/Harris to bring a more positive nation together for the betterment of the people, all people! Under Trump's administration, from day one, it felt like the morale of the country was spiraling out of control and all we could do was helplessly watch the nation's regress, from the standpoint of social unity and morale. It was embarrassing and despicable to see our this country become what it is today. I know many people, even some really close to me, feel differently, but our moral compass has been lost under this current administration.
The division of this nation has never felt so prevalent, at least in my lifetime. This is one of my biggest concerns. Additionally, should Biden/Harris win this election with the majority senate seats in favor of the Republicans, I'm not confident that critical bills and matters will pass without a fight from senate. And to be completely transparent, I'm afraid with such fueling rage, there can be civil unrest and ignorant bloodshed.
With the Pasika community, I believe Biden/Harris are more equipped to bring unity, rather than the division that Trump has promoted in his 4 years in office. Granted, there will be challenges and resistance with Biden/Harris but like anything else worth fighting for, we keep marching forward in unity. As people of Pasika, it is deeply woven into our culture to honor, respect and unite as a community. This is how we have been able to thrive and be relevant with a voice, even in the United States of America.
I am ready for change. I am ready to do my part. I am ready for our nation to heal.
Born and raised in American Samoa and moved to the USA at the age of 14
Currently works in the airline industry
I studied Political Science in college and have always been interested in and involved in the US elections in one way or another namely; voting, volunteering and helping with campaigns by making phone calls or distributing fliers door to door etc, reminding and encouraging others to register to vote.
I’m hoping for four more years of an administration that supports the following policies:
pro life, pro religious liberty, pro law and order and for the US economy to continue soaring with hopes of a better and reformed health care plan for ALL to choose what works best for their family or themself. Trump administration has been bold enough to call out China with their shady business dealings around the world and here in the US. Our Pacific nations beware!!!
Our whole household of 6 people voted for President Trump.
Born and raised in South Auckland, New Zealand, has lived in the US for 24 years now.
Corporate Executive for a Hotel company
Samoan, Bay Area, California
I'm not engaged in terms of expressing my views publicly but I do ensure we as a family vote and participate in the process. The outcome definitely affects us whether it is voting for the President or for local measures in our local community. The local measures are important to us. I found myself voting in previous years for measures that increased my property taxes and later I am like, why am I paying so much? It all adds up. Most of these measures are sugar coated to make it seem like it is to your benefit but not always.
Ultimately I am hoping for Peace and a country that will take action to resolve the racial issues here in the USA.
I am worried that after the elections that the major racial issues and Black Lives Matter movements will slowly disappear. There has been such great momentum in this country in addressing systemic and all types of racism, I just don't want any momentum to be lost.
I Voted for Biden. Neither of these candidates are good, but the other candidates don't have a fighting chance so we needed to vote Biden to avoid diluting the votes which will give Trump the win. Honestly we prayed about it and we did it for our fellow Black brothers and sisters and POC. Many of them have been hurt during Trump's tenure and it is time for a change. Before any lives matter, Black lives need to matter first.
Tongan, living in the Bay Area
What do I hope for?
I hope for freedom and that’s what Trump is about. Biden’s wants more lockdowns. We need to get back to work and open up America. Biden wants to mandate masks. That’s not freedom. Biden will stop kids from going back to school. He’s a puppet for the Dems. They are trying to cheat/rig this election. They will stop you from praising god if you're religious like my parents and me a little.
The left is evil and it’s showing. They are using this virus for political gain. Look at how many days it’s taking to count votes. The are trying to rig this election. Also Biden wants to defund the Police who keep us safe. They are out of control with their restrictions and trying to ruin holidays. You can’t get together with your family and sing. Your can’t have more than 2 or 3 families together. Our kids are hurting because of the Democrats and their stupid lies and restrictions.
Remember they said 15 days to flatten the curve? Lies! Okay I’ll stop
Has lived in the US for 22 years and works in the Medical Industry.
Samoan, Los Angeles
I have been engaged in the US elections enough to remain informed and find candidates and initiatives that not only benefit the Pasifika community here on the mainland but also show tolerance, inclusivity and sensitivity to the needs of all people.
My hope is that this election reminds the masses that more good resides in this country than bad and we each have an individual responsibility to quell the damaging effects of extreme views and inflammatory insults that only propel us backwards within our own households and communities.
My concerns are that we have created an environment that fuels tolerance for hate and resistance to common sense without an option for discussion. This has now set a dangerous precedence of normalcy for this behavior that will take years to reset and recover from the pain it will cause our country.
I voted for Joe Biden because we need unity, we need to refocus on recovery rather than division and specifically for our Pasifika people we need stronger positions around the environmental impact on our tiny island nations that contribute the least to the world's pollution but face the greatest threats because of them.
Born and raised in Samoa, moved to California when he was 8yrs old. Has lived in California, Samoa, NZ, American Samoa and back to Cali over the years.
Entrepreneur and Educator, Currently living in Hawai'i (last 10 years)
I'm always engaged with US politics and elections because it has a direct affect on our daily lives here.
I'm a proud supporter of President Trump. I've supported him since the 2016 elections. One of the main reasons was the constant abuse and corruption in Washington DC by our politicians especially when Obama was in office. Obama was a disappointment, high taxes, Obamacare - doubled the cost of my health insurance, alot of regulations. More people were on welfare (Dole in NZ) which includes alot of Pacific Islanders.
Trump was an outsider and as an informed American Voter the first thing I researched on him was his policies. His policies on cutting taxes and regulations appealed to me. I'm a father and his daycare tax appealed to me. Also Trump is a strong Constitutionalist he sticks with the American Constitution and not try and change it like what Obama tried to do. I liked what he brought to the table about Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal,which he got America out of and saved the Canneries in American Samoa from moving elsewhere. That saved those peoples jobs back in the Islands. Losing the Canneries there would have had a great affect on American Samoa but also Independent Samoa for those workers and their families.
This past election I Voted for Trump to maintain and enhance his America First policies because we need to fix our country first. We're sending our tax payers dollars to the UN and foreign Aid to help other countries and our homeless population has increased, our infrastructure needs upgrading, crime and drug abuse are there. Our education system is failing our kids. I like what Trump did for prison reform, where he has released most minorities like blacks and hispanics that were given harsh prison terms for minor offenses and for first time offenders. Due mostly to the Crime Bill brought by Joe Biden and Bill Clinton in 1994. I have a couple guys I grew up with that were caught up and now have a real chance of seeing their sentences reduced. There are also Pacific Islanders in prison that will benefit from this and have a shot at a second chance in life. I support School Choice that Trump is bringing which gives parents the choice to send their kids to a better school outside of their zip codes. If their local school is failing them academically the parents can send them to a better school. We have alot of Samoans and islanders who live in inner cities and having worked in a couple of school districts here in the US, this would be beneficial for our people.
19 years old, full time college student,
2nd generation Tongan, American
Despite what most people may think, I think elections have a big impact on us. I think voting is how we get our voices heard and elections are just one of the many places we can use our voices. We not only vote on our leaders, but on social issues present that we believe need to change. Once I began to get a better understanding of elections and politics in the U.S., I began to pay more attention to the elections. Like the elections in 2016, 2018, and this year 2020. However, this election was a special one for me. Since I turned 18 last year, it was the first election that I would actually get to vote and be able to use my voice.
This election like any election, I’m hoping the outcome is a step in the right direction. While the country still will have a ways to go, I’m hoping it’s a step forward in the long fight that has been fought. By that I mean where basic human rights are no longer debated and considered a “political issue”, but rather what they are, human rights. I hope the outcome of the election is a step towards dismantling systems of oppression that have been upheld in this country for so long.
In most elections, I’m always worried about how the outcome may negatively affect the minorities of this country, who are not always thought of. Again I’ll bring up the fact that they do not benefit from any of the oppressive systems in place right now. In the past we’ve seen how dangerous an outcome of an election may be to many communities such as people of color, LGBTQ+, immigrants, etc. the list of communities negatively affected goes on.
Born in Calfornia, first generation and have lived in California for the last 33 years.
After submitting my ballot a week ago, I've been following the outcome of this presidential election pretty closely. Generally I feel like this is an important election as there have been economic and social repercussions from dealing with COVID in 2020. Specifically, COVID has been disruptive across many industries and also disrupted my family's ability to socialize/interact in the same way that we did before COVID. Samoans and Pacific Islanders have been affected disproportionately by COVID in the Southern California area.
Thus, I definitely would like to see an improvement in how the overall response is managed and how to successfully implement these improvements to help to improve the plight of our Samoan/ Pacific Islander communities here in the states job-wise and health-wise. Selfishly, I'd love for work and social life to get back to normal as soon as possible!
My biggest concern prior to the elections comes from seeing how the escalation of hardship, stress and fear creates division which then results in violence and more division. I'm curious to see if the election (regardless of the outcome) results in resolution or more division.
As I know there are many Samoans here in the states that gravitate toward different ends of the political spectrum, my hope is that we learn and grow from this experience. While the presidential election is extremely important, most Samoans i know will not be walking alongside the president of their preference for the next four years. Therefore, I think it's actually more important that we pay attention to how we conduct ourselves and treat each other in our daily lives. I recall a few weeks ago hearing the passage from Matthew chapter 22 where Jesus spoke:
"Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments."
My hope is that we find a way to use this passage to reset ourselves and reprioritize this above and beyond political identity.
So whether we cite "Samoa Muamua Le Atua" or "Fa'avae I Le Atua Samoa" we need to remember that and then act accordingly.
Born and raised in the Cook Islands. Has been living in Hawai'i for the last 9 years and was naturalized in 2015.
He works inTech Operations, University Administration at Brigham Young University, Hawai'i
I have been a political enthusiast and have paid attention to the US elections for years since the Bill Clinton days right up to now. I also pay close attention to elections in the Pacific area and also NZ. I was heavily involved in Cook Island politics when I was living there and returned there. I was a policy analyst for the Cook Islands Party and was an Executive Member and was involved at the 2010 General Elections when CIP returned to power and have since remained in power today. Politics has been in my blood since the Albert Henry days. My grandfather, Tiakana Numanga was part of the first CIP Government and was a Minister in 1965.
I’m hoping for a change in the Presidency and also for a few senate seats to be flipped by the Democrats. Democrats have a majority in the House and are looking to retain that majority. Republicans have the majority in the Senate but that majority is very slim. If Biden becomes President and there’s a Democratic majority in both the Senate and House, that gives Biden and the Democrats the full mandate to do more in Washington. If the Republicans hold on to their senate majority and there’s a change in the Presidency to Biden, Biden will have to work with the Republicans to pass legislation and get things moving.
With Biden’s 47 years experience in the Senate and 8 years in the White House with Obama, I’m confident that he has the temperament to reach across the political aisle and work with the Republicans to move things forward.
My worry for this election is that Trump could try and drag things out using the legal challenges that he’s already launched to try and undermine and discredit the election results. What he doesn’t realize is that he is challenging a democratic process. So far his legal challenges have come up with nothing. He is claiming voter fraud and irregularities but has so far produced no evidence. I see Biden as a person that will hopefully unify America.
Unfortunately, the election result is a referendum on Trumps presidency. People have spoken and voted for change. His policies and priorities have appealed to certain factions and groups in American society but as an immigrant and minority, I feel that his immigration policies have been very concerning. America is a land of immigrants. But if you look at Trumps policies, he has been listening to his base. Look at his rallies and pay attention to who is attending. Look at how he has handled the pandemic. His attitude towards Covid and his perceptions has unfortunately resulted in over 250k lives lost. If you pay attention to his rallies, people who attend also don’t wear masks and social distance.
I voted for Biden because I believe he can reunite America especially at this time. I am also hopeful that he can restore confidence in the political process and approach things in a more bipartisan way. I also know that the perception of America and how it is viewed negatively in the world especially outside of the US. I’m a strong believer in building bridges of cooperation.
For our Pasefika community, I personally believe that a Biden presidency and a Democrat administration will be better although my Republican Pasefika friends may disagree. I think Trump’s immigration policies have a negative effect on us and he wanted to tighten things up and restrict immigration to the US so that would affect potential immigrants especially Pasefika. Trump and the Republicans have also threatened to repeal Obamacare. As a person that has lived in New Zealand and the Cook Islands, I am familiar with and support universal healthcare.
For Pasefika people, I think we are at the lower end of the business spectrum or in other words, the economic policies that Trump has been pushing will “trickle down” to us as Pasefika people. I personally think our Pasefika people are over represented in the lower social economic and middle class so some of Biden’s entitlement policies like healthcare will benefit us also.