Friday, November 10, 2006

My Musings on the 2006 Elections: Democrats Won... Deja Vu?

Ok, I will have to admit. I am underground political junkie. I followed the build-up and the consequent landslide victory very closely. Initially, I was thrilled to see a change of guard, but for some reason, I am becoming increasingly cynical. Not that anything has transpired that is of particular concern to Muslims with the new 'regime', but its a feeling of deja vu. What do I mean by that? Let me explain…

First of all, many who know me, know my background, may be surprised by my political interest or participation (yes, I voted for the first time ever). As with many Q&S followers, I considered voting an abomination, a clear indication of being on the 'other side'. However, things change, some for the better, some for the worse. Many of the scholars on 'our side', so we found out, were not following the same line of ‘extremist’ thinking I alluded to. So, the view that is increasingly becoming most acceptable among our ilk is that if it makes a difference to the community, then the permissibility changes. Now, don't quote me on this (actually don't quote me on anything for your own good). In my humble, little-knowledge-big-mouth opinion, then, the very fact that Muslims vote makes a difference to the Muslim image. It gives them a voice, it resonates among the non-Muslims, it shows ‘em that we are part of this country. Some may say, as I used to, “if you can't take, then leave”. Well, unfortunately, many of us are just NOT leaving. Some have a choice, others don't. So, the direction of that argument is increasingly digging a grand hole for the Muslims who end up staying (like 99% of us). If we accept this premise, then we must prevent the conclusion (i.e. the big hole)… we have to do something for most of us who are here for the long run…

Expounding on the last point a little more then, when I vote, or esp. when my wife votes in her full Islamic garb, then immediately people see that Muslims exist, that they are part of the society, and most importantly, we will vote against you if you mess with us or vote for you when you represent our interests, as equal citizens of this country! I should mention, by the way, that this year my wife did NOT vote-- hey I can't force my ideology on her... as a Muslim woman, her decisions are borne out of her Islamic convictions, not mine. She did agree that when I ran, she'd vote for me. I appreciate the vote of confidence, but the chance of me running is about the same as me running the marathon under 2 or even 3 hrs, i.e. non-existent. That makes for an important point-- though I may be coming to the conclusion that its ok to vote, its a far cry from saying that one can run for office as well. The compromises that one has to make in running for an office, by itself, are enough to shun a good Muslim away, wallahu alam. So, the image of Muslims voting is itself a positive one. Then for Muslims to become a bloc vote, to force changes is another one that we can look forward to (i.e. of course if we start voting!). Think about it? If politicians didn't care about your vote (or lack thereof), then they will serve those who keep them in power. If you don't vote, then it certainly ain't you. Ok, I think that's enough of a tangent and enough of ammunition for my detractors! Getting back to the topic-- why am I becoming cynical?

I remember the year 2000: my first real year for political interest. George W. Bush was running of course for the presidency. And in that famous debate (famous for Muslims at least), he said, "'Arab-Americans are racially profiled in what's called secret evidence .... We've got to do something about that." And that created the greatest buzz you could imagine among Muslims-- the first time a presidential candidate discussed a Muslim issue on the national forum. In essence, he was talking to Muslims, saying "Elect me, I'll fix it". Of course, on the other side, you had a candidate, whose running mate was an orthodox Jew. Without mincing words, Muslims weren't prepared to vote in a candidate so directly connected to Israel. Hence, George Bush was going to be the Muslim's savior in America, the last great hope. Republicans were also against abortion and gays, both issues resonating with Muslims. A natural fit, one might argue. As the election hung by the chads on Florida ballots, it can be safely assumed, that Muslims pushed Bush over the edge, and into the Presidency. Whether by contributions, votes, or duas, the margin of victory was so small, that had Bush not made his less than honest call to Muslims, Al Gore would certainly be the President, and Allah knows best. And Allah also knows how much Muslims rued those contributions/votes, and most importantly those duas!

So, Georgie was Prez, and Muslims couldn't hide their glee. Reality, like lighting, struck quickly and painfully. Almost immediately, came the appointment of General John Ashcroft. Muslims didn't realize how 'bad' he was until after 9/11. Of course 9/11 was the watershed moment for all Muslims in the world. This tragedy was followed by another tragedy, the Patriot Act, and so on. From a Savior to the Satan, George Bush's image among Muslims is an amazing story.

A smart reader probably has already guessed where I am going with this. Over the last few years, Muslims have been changing their loyalty to the Democrats in hordes. I can't blame them. What choice do Muslims have? A party that is out to 'fix' the rest of the world, but somehow that world is limited only to Muslims, a party that will not be afraid to set up internment camps for Muslims if anything bad happens again in this country (following the example of Japanese internment camps) OR a party that doesn't agree with them in abortion, gay-rights, morality, yet is probably going to give Muslims a chance to make their case (before locking them up of course)? For those who are politically ignorant, I was referring to Republicans, and then Democrats. So, its the survival instinct, and for Muslims, Democrats provide that opportunity more so than the Republicans.

So, the Muslims voted for Democrats. I don't have the polls on me, but anecdotal evidence is quite clear that Muslims, at least those who care about staying out of prison or reducing Muslim bloodshed outside America, will probably have voted Democrat. Well, yoo hoo, the Democrats won.

Getting back then to the deja vu. Will the Democrats take Muslims for a ride too, like Bush did? Of course they won't touch Israel, unless they want AIPAC to eat them for lunch. So, will they really do anything for us? Personally, the cynical me says NO. And that's where I will leave it. If they do something good for us, then that may prevent the Muslim pendulum from swinging back to the Republicans, or may be even to the Green Party (which in essence is a waste of vote, realistically speaking). If they mess up, like Georgie, well, then at least I didn't have my hopes too high, to be dashed yet again!

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