Sunday, September 7, 2008
Can Muslim Vote Swing US Race?
The presidential contest between Barack H. Obama and John S. McCain is now even at 42 percent for elections 2008, according to a new CBS News poll conducted Monday-Wednesday of this week. Twelve percent are undecided according to the poll, and one percent said they
The Race Tied:
The two main presidential candidates remain tied in the polls, in spite of the fact that the polls also show George W. Bush and the Republican party are deeply unpopular in the United States about two months prior to US Elections 2008.
Poll after poll shows that the American people continue to express deep dissatisfaction with Republicans' performance on almost all fronts: Economy, Iraq War, Education, Healthcare, Environment etc. It seems almost certain that the Democrats will have a sweeping victory in Congressional elections and take both the House and the Senate with large majorities.
Why Is It So Close?
So, why is it that the overwhelming advantage Democrats enjoy over Republicans is not reflected in the presidential race? Here are a few possible reasons why:
1. There is genuine and deep concern among many Americans about Barack Obama's lack of experience, and growing unease about some of his statements on national security and foreign policy matters. McCain is far more experienced on handling critical national security issues in an uncertain world.
2. John McCain has a well-established reputation as an independent and a maverick, a reputation he and his campaign have continued to highlight to attract the independent and swing vote. In fact, it can be safely said that McCain is neither a George W. Bush clone, nor a traditional Republican.
3. Republican base has begun to rally around McCain-Palin ticket, closing the enthusiasm gap with Obama. The evangelical voter turn-out, in particular, will be essential for a McCain win.
4. Many white Americans, particularly the traditional blue-collar white Democrats, continue to be uncomfortable with the idea of a Black man in the White House.
In all likelihood, this coming presidential election will be hard-fought and close. It may turn out to be a repeat of the 2000 controversial election of George Bush against Al Gore. So, even small voting blocs in the swing states such as Michigan, Ohio and Florida can make a big difference. It should be recalled that Muslim-American political action committees encouraged support for George W. Bush, and proudly claimed credit for his controversial 2000 win.
Can Muslim-Americans Swing It?
By various estimates, there are about 1.5 million to 2 million American Muslim voters in the United States, with significant concentrations of Muslim vote in Florida and Michigan. If, as the anecdotal evidence suggests, Obama gets the lion's share of the Muslim American vote, then he could win the presidency by a thin margin of Muslim votes.
Is an Obama win good for Muslim-Americans or Pakistani-Americans? To answer this question, let's look at a couple of recent events:
Mazen Asbahi Departure:
What happened recently when the Obama campaign quickly dumped Chicago attorney Mazen Asbahi as director of Muslim Outreach raises serious questions about how genuine Obama's "Change" message is. Asbahi and James Zogby, president of Arab-American Institute, are not radicals by any stretch, and yet they were targeted because of who they are: Muslim-American and Arab-American. The speed with which the Obama campaign caved in to right-wing Islamophobes was really shocking.
Obama's Pakistan Policy:
Senator Barack Obama has been very hawkish in dealing with Pakistan. He has threatened to "bomb Pakistan" and send ground troops into FATA. Recently, without offering any evidence, Mr. Obama accused Pakistan of preparing for war with India. He has shown a total disregard for Pakistan's friendship and assistance in the US war on terror, and ignored the fact that Pakistan has made real sacrifices by losing its soldiers and citizens to terrorists in this battle.
According to Gary Leupp, a history professor at Tufts University, Pakistan has provided more assistance to the United States than any other nation as it pursues its goals in southwest Asia. No country has been more dramatically destabilized as the price of its cooperation.
“But not only does the U.S. political class take this disastrous compliance for granted, it wants to further emphasize Islamabad’s irrelevance by attacking the border area at will,” he writes.
Vote for McCain:
I continue to have and express serious reservations about an Obama presidency for Muslim-Americans, Pakistan-Americans, and Americans of all faiths and ethnicities. Obama has shown a tendency to bend over backwards to satisfy anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan lobbies, in his bid to distance himself from the "Muslim" label. American Muslim support for Obama seems to be based mainly on their negative experience with the Republican administration under George W. Bush during the last seven years. What Muslims and Pakistanis need to realize is that John S. McCain is not George W. Bush, nor is he a traditional, conservative, right-wing Republican ideologue. Unlike George W. Bush in 2000 and Barack H. Obama now, John S. McCain is far more experienced, well tested, and proven as a leader with a lifetime of real world experience of war and peace.
As a life-long registered Democrat, I intend to vote for John McCain for President, and I urge my readers to do the same. However, I will vote for Democrats running for the Senate and the House seats in my district. This will ensure that we have the presidency in safe, experienced hands and we have a forward-looking agenda on economy, healthcare, environment and education in the US Congress. I believe a divided government in Washington, with John S. McCain in the White House and Democrats running the US Congress, is the best recipe for all Americans, and the world at large.