How midterm elections could impact PH interests

By Paul Henson, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Oct. 30, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO – It’s been said that all politics is all local. And analysts say that it is no truer than in next week’s midterms polls. But the results may have some influence on Asia-Pacific, including the Philippines.

Celebrities turned out for this Rock The Vote video, from rapper Lil John, Whoopi Goldberg, Lena Dunham, and Filipinos Darren Criss and Gab Valenciano.

“It’s to attract voters and encourage them to show up and vote on November 4’s midterms polls,” said Valenciano.

That’s because voter interest and turnout are usually low when it’s not a presidential election year.
But with Senate control up for grabs between the Republicans and Democrats in the midterms, voters are reminded of the issues important to them.

“The impact will be on issues like income and equality, minimum, wage, immigration,” said Rene Ciria-Cruz, a political analyst, “which would be of interest to Filipinos who have relatives here who are undocumented. If the Republicans take control of Congress, you might want to say goodbye to immigration reform.”

The results of the U.S. midterms may be of interest to the Philippines and Asia-Pacific for other issues besides immigration reform.

In recent years, the Obama administration has touted its pivot to Asia policy, flexing its military muscle in Asia and beefing up ties with allies to counter China’s growing strength.

Journalist and political analyst Rene Ciria-Cruz believes if Republicans take control of the Senate after the midterms, the GOP will focus on other countries outside of East Asia.

“The Republicans look at Russia as more threatening power, and they seem to have been vindicated because of Ukraine,” said Ciria-Cruz. “I doubt if Obama will propose new spending to back it up, and even if they control and exert any influence at all on foreign policy, I predict they will concentrate on Europe, Russia, the Middle East and Israel.”

Still, with foreign policy within the powers of the executive, little will change based on the outcome of the Senate race, and existing agreements of the U.S. with allies will likely remain the same.

This includes the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the Philippines, which allows for the presence of more troops on a rotational basis.

For now, as celebrities try to bring more voters into polling centers, what’s at stake for most Americans is who is going to best represent their interests.

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