America is a nation of immigrants. If there is any facet of life that this statement rings true, it would be in the way Americans vote. it is a fact that since the first phase of settlement in the New world until thecivil war, every wave of immigration afterwards have produced consequences in the political circles that reverberate for years after it peaked. Amongst these waves of immigration were those of the Italian Americans, the Irish-Americans, Jewish Americans and more recently the Mexicans. More than any other group the Jewish American group is by no doubt the most politically and economicallyinfluential today, but this should not in anyway befuddle the power of the Italian Americans in business or the viability of the Irish American lobby in politics that have directly produced one President (J.F Kennedy) and indirectly many.
It is often the case that for new immigrants in America, after being faced with the early days of economic certainties and devising various means of surmounting these problems, they are faced with the inevitability of the connection between politics and economics and no sooner joins the fray by participating in one of the two major political parties in America: the Republicans or Democrats. Of course, history reveals that more first generation immigrants tend to vote for the FDR inspired anti-poverty Democratic Party over the right leaning Nixonian Republican Party; perhaps this voting record inspires the current right wing Republican Party to be at the fore-front of opposing the huge wave of immigration from their Hispanic neighbors: this is a topic for another day.
The first serious wave of Nigerian immigrants did not begin to flood into the US up until the mid-eighties. Perhaps as a consequence of their saturation of every space available in the United Kingdom, or the bastardization of the Nigerian economy by a succession of military Kleptocrats, America beckoned to Nigerian immigrants for the past twenty five years and this should definitely have its own political ramification sometimes down the road.Certainly, the political consequences are unlikely to be seen until the immigration count reach a critical mass (some put it at 1 million currently) but it is not too early to start examining how Nigerian-Americans ideologically lean considering the fact that the early wave of these immigrants are either just obtaining their full citizenship or just realizing the political capital inherent in being citizens.
Based upon conversation I have had with green card or American passport wielding Nigerian Immigrants, there is no doubt in my mind that this group is unlikely to vote uniformly; indeed how this or does not affect their capacity to form a critical voting bloc that will sway votes in the future is yet to be seen. Quite interestingly though, there is quite a right leaning tendencies in Nigerian immigrants unlike the Hispanic, Jewish, Italian or Irish I have mentioned before. May be this is due to the social conservative issues that appeal to their cultural sense or the economic message of low taxes and pro business legislation of Republicans that appeals to most of them who tend to be either well educated or business owners – time will tell.
Furthermore, when one factors in the effect of the Diversity Visa lottery program that infuses more educated Africans into the country or the large number of young African students that come to study and eventually stay by virtue of employment or “paper marriage” as it is called, the capitalistic right leaning sympathies of the newly Nigerian-American should not be underestimated. What I have been more interested in however is the effect of the message of “social conservatism” is having on this group. More than any other country- Nigerians at home and abroad are church (or mosque) going bunch; and whose stance on divisive conservative issues including abortion and homosexuality is unmistakably conservative. It is because of this I have entitled this piece: How will Jesus Vote? Being the caption under which evangelicals and right leaning Christiancrats have propagated the message of ideological conservatism for the past two decades in America.
An immigrant new to the toxic political environment no doubt will be torn apart. How bad can it get? You are asked to either be conservative or liberal: choose between a party that claims to be pro-life (and supports war and killing of young men around the world) and another that supports the rise and economy of middle and lower class (yet punish business with high taxes that kill the very employment, it seeks to create for the poor to work and live well). These contradictions of course do not end here. No sooner are you introduced to the minefield of right wing hypocrisy, where a leader can condemn gays (your position I guess), yet goes around sexually molesting young boys and sleeping with men prostitutes in the dead of the night. Which brings me to the question; “how exactly will Jesus vote? How will your Jesus navigate the political minefield of the new world?
When confronted with the alternatives, will Jesus vote for the party that supports some limited form of gay marriage or the one that opposes it, yet have its upper echelons of leadership enmeshed in one homosexual relationship or the other? Will Jesus vote for any one of the two parties that virtually see nothing wrong with divorce and adultery at least up to the extent of seeking a constitutional amendment to nip these social behaviors as much as one of them wanted to secure the institution of marriage and family they equally threaten? Will Jesus support a party that collect kickbacks and bribes and allows perfidy to reign in the name of lobby and PACs in the halls of lawmaking? Which of the parties will Jesus support- one that asks for your taxes or the other one that spends it on building a war machine to kill his children regardless of country of origin or religion? Will Jesus support a party that kills young babies in the womb, or the one that kill young men in war? Will Jesus support the party that side with those who destroy the environment or the ones that preserve it? Will Jesus support the party that look out for tax cuts for the wealthy or the one that care about the welfare of the very least amongst us? In short, what is the greatest law and how will it affect how Jesus vote?
The more I ponder upon these questions, the more I clearly conclude that perhaps Jesus will either stay away from the polling booth or become a write in candidate: if he can. What his manifesto might be is still a question of conjecture, but I have no doubt in my mind that he will neither be a democrat nor a republican. My advice of course to the immigrant Nigerian this election season is simple: don’t vote your religion or conscience, vote your wants and immediate desires because this vote will take place in another two years and if it were heaven then why should we all strive to go there- that is an awful short time to be in paradise. Remember, Jesus has no term limits or may be I am wrong: does God even care about politics?