is good for us
in American politics
By Abtin Assadi
May 27, 2004
First a full disclosure, I did not vote for Arnold and many of
my friends will disown me if they see the article's title
followed by my name. But hear me out; you might also be surprised
at my recent epiphany.
It all boils down to political influence. Take Cuban-Americans
for example. They wield extraordinary powers over the political
establishment given the size of their community. Every president,
regardless of party, has to go to Florida fifteen times during
their presidency and kiss many Cuban-American babies. To top that
off, they also feel compelled to punish Fidel Castro by yet additional
sanctions to appease this community. The latest example is President
Bush's orders to tighten U.S. sanctions on Havana on Feb 24, 2004.
the question is what do Cuban-Americans possess that Iranian-Americans
don't? I don't recall any presidential candidate, let
alone a president, descend on an Iranian-American event and declare,
if elected I'll fix all of your problems like good candidates
always do. You may think I am just jealous; damn right I am.
Not even once has any major candidate gone through our community,
our vision and conviction. Not even once was any of our children's
cheeks slightly bruised by a camera-loving candidate squeezing
them too tightly too many times. That's cold.
Venting aside, there
must be a number of reasons for such undue influence. Let's see
if we can compare obvious characteristics
of the two communities for a clue or two, so here goes nothing.
my research, I was looking for points of contrast, but conversely
I found more similarities. Cubans have a saying, "Next year
in Havana!" that sounds very much like "Two more years" to
me. Large numbers of Cubans have gazed toward their native island
from American shores since 1959, when Castro deposed Batista and
thousands of middle-class Cubans fled to the United States. This
is very similar to our own story. Exchange Batista with Shah and
change the year to 1979, voila.
Cubans much like us are not voluntary
immigrants, but exiles forced by the rise of a brutal autocrat.
Whereas immigrants typically try to forget their pasts and forge
exiles try to remember their histories and recover
what they have lost. Immigrants want to assimilate because,
by and large, they have brought with them unhappy memories of their
Additionally, Cubans have assumed the look
of a remarkably accomplished immigrant community; they enjoy
levels of income, employment, and home ownership, among other
of success. It sounds awfully familiar does it not? I refer
you to the latest report on Iranian-Americans by Iranian Studies
Group at MIT.
So the deeper I dug, the closer we looked. So where
are the differences? There are a few, for example they started
this process 20 years
ahead of us. It's a difference but that does not explain
it. Cuba's geographical proximity has created important defining
moments in American history like "The Bay of Pigs" and "The
Cuban missile crisis".
These important events have caused
a tight linkage between the Cuban community and Washington
insiders at the highest levels. Well now, this is plausible.
But in my
humble opinion the most important difference is the state's
political leaning. The state of Florida is a swing state.
Arguably, W owes
his presidency to Cubans, besides Katherine Harris of course.
California, on the other hand, is Democratic all the way.
Republicans did not win a single office in California in
the 2002 election.
We voted for Dems in the last four presidential elections
and both of our Senators are Dems. So, in short, in the
parties had no reasons to care about groups that are mostly
concentrated in a safe state.
That leads me back to Arnold. For the first time in a long
time Republicans feel they might have a slight chance in
California. The terminator has rejuvenated a party that
was left for dead
after Pete Wilson left office. So, if California's politics
a bit more competitive, we'll have a chance to play the
kingmaker. Of course that's contingent upon our level of
and participation. How to engage and participate you ask?
Well that will be my next article.
May is Mamnoon
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