Thursday, February 7, 2008

Why Super Tuesday Was Important to Caribbean Nationals


I pay attention to current affairs. Being in the Caribbean, I am particularly attentive to happenings in America. A popular saying in Jamaica, and possibly in some of the other islands that make up the region is, “When America sneezes we catch a cold”, hence anything that happens in American politics tends to have some repercussions for us here. Super Tuesday was especially important to me for three main reasons:

*Immigration
*A woman is a top contender for the highest office in the US
*A black man is making serious inroads in the bid for the White House


With twenty states voting in the primaries a lot was at stake and each party’s frontrunner should have become clear, but as you all know by now, the Democratic waters have become even muddier and for the first time in years – at least for me – American politics is exciting.

Being a woman, and a black woman at that, the race between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is intriguing to say the least. This one has me like many others, regardless of color or nationality, spellbound. Just a few years ago it would have been unimaginable that a black man and a woman could even remotely have the chance of winning a presidential race.

I must confess to not paying much attention to the Republican race, except to see where the candidates are, and Senator John McCain is on a wave and seems more than likely to be his party’s candidate on the big day.

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton’s bid for the Democratic nomination has been an interesting one. The wife of a popular former President, Bill Clinton is riding high and was it not for Obama, would have been a shoe-in for her party’s nomination. She has experience on her side, which is not to be overlooked.

Barack Obama

Although not the first African American to run for president in the US, he has certainly shown where race relations have reached. The first to hold that distinction was Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm; although she was never a serious contender when she ran in 1972. Jesse Jackson’s attempts in 1984 and 1988 were more impressive, even though it was known he wouldn’t win he made an impressive showing. In the 1988 bid he garnered 1200 delegates, almost more than three times the 450 he got in 1984.

Although not a political pundit, the first thing I called right was that Barack Obama would not garner the majority of votes from Hispanics and Asians. I know that this statement may sound controversial, but it isn’t. These two groups are not ready for a black man to attain the highest office in the land. No matter what he does right, racism will come into the picture and the main biases will be from these groups. Senator Obama won thirteen of the States to Senator Clinton’s nine (which included American Samoa), but she got some big ones – which resulted in her gaining the edge, but the race is still on.

Immigration

Whichever person ends up in the White House, whether Democrat or Republican, it will have serious implications for immigration. The Caribbean region and Jamaica in particular has a high migration rate to the USA.
Funny enough, both Obama and Clinton seem to have the same stance on immigration. I do like Obama’s floor statement on immigration reform on April 3, 2006. As he said, “Today’s immigrants seek to follow in the same tradition of immigration that has built this country. We do ourselves and them a disservice if we do not recognize the contributions of these individuals. And we fail to protect our Nation if we do not regain control over our immigration system immediately.”

Like Senator Obama, Hillary Clinton is welcoming of immigrants and their contribution, “We are all immeasurably enriched by the contributions of immigrants who have come to this country to find the American dream through their hard work. Our immigration system is broken, and it is past time that we came together and implemented an effective policy which respects our immigrant heritage, the rule of law, and human dignity.”

The Caribbean and Latin America depends a great deal on the inflow of remittances from relatives living and working in the USA, some of whom are illegal immigrants. For instance, Jamaica and Haiti receive millions each year from these remittances and the reduction would have a major economic impact.

As for November’s election, it is possible that another Republican may end up in the White House for one simple, and as yet, little debated reason – the top-running candidate is male and white. I hope that the American public proves me wrong by voting on issues rather than gender and race when it really matters – but time will tell.

-Jessica McCurdy Crooks

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