The state of democracy after the less than Super Tuesday | Inquirer
Emil Amok!

The state of democracy after the less than Super Tuesday

Donald Trump’s dominance among Republicans is undoing a half-century of policy gains from affirmative action to voting rights to abortion rights
/ 04:46 PM March 06, 2024

As a Filipino Asian American, I took to heart what Nikki Haley said on the morning after Super Tuesday.

“Just last week, my mother, a first generation immigrant, got to vote for her daughter for President,” Haley, of Indian descent, said to supporters. “Only in America.”

And with that opening remark, Haley suspended—though not ended–her campaign on a not so super Wednesday for her.

She could still come back if something unexpected occurs, but her announcement dashes hopes of an Asian American president. Or at least the spectre of a unique campaign sideshow: a Haley vs. Harris, Asian vs. Asian debate.

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Unfortunately, when it comes to immigration and the border, Haley wouldn’t have been much better than Trump. She’d be better on standing by allies like Ukraine and Taiwan. But as a small government conservative, Haley was barely a better alternative for Republicans or Democrats.

At least Haley believed in the rule of law and the Constitution, and that was enough for now.

That will be Joe Biden’s challenge in his State of the Union address on Thursday—to build a solid coalition among all Americans who actually believe in democracy.


Trump’s Tuesday

On Super Tuesday night, Donald Trump was so excited he reverted back to his racist ways referring to COVID-19.

“I call it affectionately the Chinese virus, the China virus which is a lot more accurate term,” Trump said. It’s not accurate, but the MAGA types assembled applauded anyway at a Palm Beach victory celebration.

Donald Trump speaking, looks angry

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a primary election night party at the South Carolina State Fairgrounds in Columbia, S.C., Feb. 24, 2024. FILE PHOTO (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Did they stop for a second to think of a single victim in the AAPI community who was attacked or killed by the violence toward Asians during the pandemic? Many of those victims were Filipino Americans.

And it was all because of the way Trump gave the villainous virus an ethnicity—like us. As a group, we paid the price.

Among other things in his speech, Trump wanted credit for doing such a good job on COVID, like suggesting that people actually drink bleach as a cure. This is the problem with Trump’s habitual nature of spewing out lies, forcing reporters to fact check him in real time. Or maybe he should have a label on screen, “Unverified, unsubstantiated.”

This is the problem with the man who is famously untrustworthy. We all know it. But after Tuesday, it’s clear. millions of Republican voters are comfortable with his lies. Comfortable with how he mishandled COVID and most everything else, like the southern border strategy that saw infants and toddlers separated from their mothers. No one cares, and now Trump has a new, more horrid anti-immigrant policy that is sure to bring out the xenophobia in America.

That’s what made Tuesday so super in a degenerative way. In one day, we saw the greatest nation in the world declare its real intention to destroy the greatest democracy of the world by making Trump the presumptive Republican nominee for the presidency.

Trump’s dominance among Republicans is powering the great pendulum swing in our country, undoing a half-century of policy gains from affirmative action to voting rights to abortion rights.

If you hadn’t quite felt it or articulated it yet, America on Super Tuesday made it clear.

We are America going backwards, with Trump driving us in reverse.

Normally, a person even accused of multiple criminalities wouldn’t dare show his face in public. He’d be shamed, sent back to the woodshed.

But Donald Trump is not normal. Four criminal cases? Guilty of sexual assault? A multi-million-dollar business judgment? Yes, yes, yes, it’s the fuel driving his campaign march.

Trump’s greatest good may be as a role model for cons and ex-cons. You can be president someday!
GOP primary voters spoke loudly: “The indicted one. The lawless one. That’s our guy!”

Even in California, the most Asian American state in the nation– where among the leading Republicans are Asian American women–the exit polls are scary. Sixty-eight percent of California Republicans say Trump would be fit for the presidency even if convicted of a crime, according to CNN exit polls.

That’s more than Republicans in North Carolina and Virginia.

Even in California, criminality is OK for the presidency.

Did people need a reminder this wasn’t a vote for who would head up some crime family?

Or maybe that’s a positive: In America, someone indicted of crimes can rise above and be elected to the highest office of the land?

Of course, Trump being white helps him–a lot.

Would this happen if it were Tim Scott or any other BIPOC person in Trump’s shoes and draped with all his legal issues? Don’t count on it.

That’s political white privilege in action. But Trump plays all that down, saying he’s the victim of some nasty witch hunt. It’s a handy excuse that provides cover.

So on Super Tuesday, Trump voters turned out, not really forgiving or forgetting the past, just voting for someone they think can win for them. Criminality? Just win, baby.

It’s the kind of election that threatens to rip our country apart, since a win for Trump threatens many of our basic rights.

And then there’s the hypocrisy of the law-and-order party being led by a guy charged with 91 felony counts.
In spite of it all, I hope you all still voted wherever you are registered, by mail or in person.

The act of marking a blank rectangle or dropping off a sealed secret ballot is what we do in a democracy. We vote, even if the state of our nation may seem bleak.

Seventy percent of California voters said they were angry or dissatisfied about the way things are going in the U.S., according to CNN exit polls.

But if we can use our power and exercise the right to vote on election day, there’s still hope in the greatest democracy in the world.

The system beat Rep. Barbara Lee

In California, the vote to replace the late great Dianne Feinstein as senator for the majority of the nation’s AAPIs was the marquee contest.

Barbara Lee

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., speaks during a televised debate for candidates in the senate race, Jan. 22, 2024, in Los Angeles. FILE PHOTO (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

And in many ways, Barbara Lee’s loss was as inevitable as Trump’s win.

More money was spent on the Senate race in California than the presidential race—more than $71 million according to news reports and

In Lee’s race, the top fundraisers were Democrats. Rep. Adam Schiff with $31 million dollars; Rep. Katie Porter raised $29 million.

Lee came up with nearly $5 million. That’s why when I visited Los Angeles all through January and February, I saw no ads for Lee.

It was like she wasn’t in the race.

I only saw Porter in ads holding up her white board. And Schiff choosing not to attack Porter or Lee, but to raise up Republican Steve Garvey as his preferred opponent.

Garvey, the baseball hero, was more like Forrest Gump. Not ready for prime time. But with Schiff mentioning him in ads, Garvey benefited. He only had to raise $2 million because Schiff gave the retired athlete a boost.

Schiff was handpicking his straw man Republican in a state where Democrats outnumber the GOP by 2-1.
And it was all determined by money. It wasn’t policy advocacy, beliefs or accomplishments.
It was the barrage of ads. Porter nearly raised as much as Schiff. But Lee was outraised in the money game 6-1 and had zero chance.

Schiff’s manipulation prevented Democrats from a necessary soul searching.
Schiff’s main calling card is that he led the impeachment in the House. Look at how effective he really was. The impeached president was making history on primary night.

Instead of a Schiff v. Garvey race, Dem Dems vs. Dem Dems would have helped California understand itself.

Porter is a consumer-oriented progressive. Lee is an anti-war BIPOC progressive. She’s the only candidate with the common touch. She knows what it’s like to be unhoused; to have an abortion; to stand up alone against unauthorized war. She also has the integrity and record to be a great African American female senator, of which there have only been three in our history.

She tried to tell her story on the handful of televised debates. But the repetition of TV ads drives politics, not one-hour shows.

The count won’t be final for days in California. But when Lee lost the money race, she lost all chance. And now because she had to give up her seat to run, we’ve lost a progressive voice in Congress.

That’s politics in America in 2024. Still a democracy, but more dependent on money than ideas than ever.

Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. He writes a column for’s US Channel. See his micro-talk show on

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TAGS: democracy, Democrats, Donald Trump, President Biden, Republicans, US democracy, US elections
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