November 5, 2012
Reference: Bernadette Ellorin, Chairperson, BAYAN USA, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
As the corporate media zeroes in on the 2012 US Presidential election, which will determine who will assume the role of the main spokesperson and commander-in-chief for the largest imperialist superpower since the turn of the 20th century, people’s resistance against the US government’s foreign and domestic policies continues both around the world and within the United States itself. BAYAN-USA, an alliance of 18 Filipino-American organizations across the US working for social and economic equity, asserts that, no matter who wins this year’s US presidential election, people in the US must organize and fight for real and lasting social change and not rely on traditional Washington politics.
On US Foreign Policy
In the midst of the worsening global economic crisis spawned by imperialism’s neoliberal economic agenda, the two US presidential candidates and their political parties may represent different factions of the US ruling elite, but they both loyally serve the interests of the powerful 1%. Both have committed to intensifying the US neoliberal economic offensive abroad, through such tools as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), which would aggressively expand a US-dominated free trade zone in the Pacific Rim a la NAFTA.
At the same time, both candidates intend to maintain or even accelerate US military aggression under the camouflage of national defense. Both support US drone attacks against innocent civilians and intend to maintain brutal US military occupations in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia, while consolidating military control over the Asia-Pacific region. The two candidates antagonistically referred to China a combined 32 times during the last presidential debate’s 90-minute span, pointing to the increased importance of the Asia-Pacific region to the imperialist objectives of both parties.
For over 100 years, presidents from both the Democrat and Republican parties have used the Philippines as a reliable overseas military hub for the projection of US military might, a dumping ground for cheap surplus US goods, and a source of cheap labor and natural resources. From the Filipino people’s perspective, both candidates will perpetuate the US State Department’s goal of maintaining the Philippines as a loyal neo-colony in the Asia-Pacific. Under the guise of “military training and mutual support,” whoever wins on November 6 will still also adhere to Washington’s pursuit of counterinsurgency operations in the Philippines aimed to suppress people’s movements for democracy and genuine national sovereignty.
On US Domestic Policy
Both candidates plan to maintain a war-dependent US economy and to continue funneling billions of public funds into defense spending rather than into domestic industrial job creation, education, healthcare, housing, and other social services. In the name of national defense, both candidates remain uncritical of a growing wave of repressive and unconstitutional legislation in the US, such as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and state immigration laws such as Arizona’s SB 1070.
By pledging to continue neoliberal policies that will drive more people to migrate to the US due to economic desperation, both candidates have abandoned any pretense about overhauling the US immigration system. The system as it stands seeks to divide the working class by creating a surplus of foreign and largely undocumented labor in the US to be exploited by big business for maximum profitability.
Filipinos comprise one of the largest and fastest-growing immigrant groups in the US. Most are new immigrant wage workers and one out of four are undocumented. Many cases of labor trafficking have surfaced in the Filipino community, including stories of migrant workers who arrived in the US with H1-B temporary visas but then were forced into undocumented status by their employers. Despite the optimism surrounding President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) initiative, it still leaves out significant portions of the undocumented immigrant population, offers limited reprieve, is a long and expensive bureaucratic process, and criminalizes immigrants.
Like the vast majority of those affected by the economic crisis in the US, Filipinos are part of the 99% fighting for greater socio-economic equity. In order to create change, this fight must continue past US elections and remain primarily based on the streets.
History proves that fundamental social change is never borne out of the ballot box. Women’s suffrage, civil rights for African-Americans, and even the defeat of the 2005 Sensenbrenner Bill all came from people’s struggle in the trenches built by years of community organizing. If we want to realize our vision of all people–in the US and worldwide–having a decent standard of living, full employment, adequate and humane working and social conditions, and dignified standards for health, education and housing, we must continue the struggle against US imperialism. Let us be inspired by examples such as the Arab Spring, the Palestinian struggle for self-determination, Latin American social movements, the anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa, worker and anti-austerity strikes in Europe, and continuing people’s revolutions of US neocolonies throughout Africa and Asia. Let us also build strong solidarity ties among struggles abroad, within the US and with the Filipino people’s fight for national democracy. Let us develop a people’s platform for change that can unite our communities in the US. Let us embody the true essence of people power and keep up the fight in the parliament of the streets.