Thursday, October 30, 2008
Obama Expected to Carry Pakistani-American Vote
Though polls on Pakistani-American voters are non-existent, all of the anecdotal evidence from various sources, including Pakistani-American periodicals' opinions, conversations at community events, news coverage, interactions on social networks such as Facebook, suggests that Barack Obama will sweep the Pakistani-American vote on coming Tue, Nov 4, 2008. While none of them like Obama's rhetoric on attacking inside Pakistan, most seem willing to give him a pass for other reasons unrelated to Obama's Pakistan stance. After eight disastrous years of Bush-Cheney administration which have seen perpetual war, shredding of the US constitution and the Bill of Rights, and the recent financial crisis, Pakistani-American voters are joining forces with the mainstream voters to punish all Republicans. Even John McCain, a moderate and maverick Republican, is being tarred and feathered as another George W. Bush or Dick Cheney. While John McCain did vote for the Iraq war (as did Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden), he has been very critical of the extreme Bush policies including Americans' surveillance, prisoner torture and the conduct of Iraq war.
At a recent Eid Reunion in San Francisco Bay Area organized by Pakistani-American Cultural Center, Charlotte Buchen of PBS Frontline World talked to a number of attendees about this Tuesday's election. Here is how Charlotte reported the conversation I had with her at the event:
"Pakistanis are extremely sensitive now about the U.S. role there," said Haq. "The situation seems to be escalating dangerously right now. We talk about Iraq War -- I think this situation could get far worse very quickly. And it could actually become a regional war."
A registered Democrat who has never voted for a Republican presidential candidate, Haq is voting for John McCain because of his concerns about U.S. policy in his fragile homeland.
"McCain is handling the situation in Pakistan gently. He understands not to make open statements, and he has been around for a long time," Haq said. "To me, Obama is a novice like GW was back in 2000. And it's still an imperial Presidency so Obama can make mistakes as Bush has."
Here's the link to Frontline's coverage of the PACC event, including a video.
The latest financial crisis has clearly added to the Republicans woes. Based on all of the polling data, it appears that a super majority of of 60 or more Democrats in the US senate and Democrat Barack Obama in the White House together will enjoy absolute concentration of power, unhindered by the fear of fillbuster or the veto pen of the president to stop misguided spending and legislation.
Can the US afford total control by Democrats at a time of huge national debt and large budget deficits? The history tells us that Social Security and Medicare, the two massive entitlement programs, were created during Democratic administrations of FDR and LBJ. Now, more than half of the $3 trillion budget is allocated to these programs. Another $250b pays for interest on the national debt, but it is growing rapidly with the debt. The rest covers everything else. The discretionary spending accounts for less than one-third of total US spending. Such figures limit any reasonable options open to the incoming administration. However, given the absolute control over both the executive and the legislature, will Democrats exercise restraint? Given their past record, the chances are that Democrats will go for big spending programs, including new, popular entitlements such as a massive national healthcare program for all. Cutting discretionary spending will not free up enough dollars for it. Ending Iraq war or cutting military budget will not do it either, particularly if Obama makes the expensive mistake of following through on his hawkish statements to send troops in to Pakistan. Of necessity, Democrats are going to have to dramatically increase taxes or heavily borrow from foreigners. Either of these two options will hinder economic recovery.
Democrats, like Republicans before them, will likely abuse their power in the executive and the legislature to enrich themselves and their friends at the expense of ordinary Americans. After having given George W. Bush almost a blank check for most of the last eight years, Americans appear ready to make an even bigger mistake: Give Democrats total control of the U.S. government for the next several years.