Election 2000: No more of the "any port in a storm" mentality

Category: Nature & Science Views: 766

The old sailor's saying, "Any port in a storm," is often used to describe the necessity of choosing even the least ideal scenario in a difficult situation as long as it provides temporary relief from imminent danger. One runs the risk of walking from one hostile environment into another. But as the logic goes, with feet on dry land, one is better able to meet whatever new and unforeseen challenges lay ahead.

This logic might work well when faced with an ocean tempest while aboard a diminutive sea-faring craft; but this line of thinking is not recommended in choosing elected officials. Unfortunately however, American Muslims have used this "any port in a storm" mentality in their choice of nationally elected leaders.

In the past few election seasons, some Muslim organizations have attempted to be politically proactive by issuing recommendations for the various seats contested. Such engagement is indeed commendable and it is positive to see Muslims actively participating in the future of U.S. government and policy-making.

It is now however, time to take being participatory to the next level.

It is not enough to look at a candidate and, based on moral conservatism, toss votes into his or her camp. It is likewise inappropriate to send endorsements to a candidate based on his or her woefully short record of quasi pro-Muslim stances on international issues. Yet this is often the paradigm under which American Muslims work when choosing candidates for various national-level offices.

"Wow, Candidate X is against abortion, against gay marriage and domestic partnership, plans to be tough on crime, says he'll work for a tax cut and supports private time for individual prayer in schools," says an eager Muslim voter. "Let's vote for him."

As well-intentioned as a candidate with such stances and concerns might be, these issues are election-year points of polarization that have little bearing on the nitty-gritty, day-to-day life of a national level politician. And when it comes to Muslim concerns, these issues tell nothing of a candidate's leanings on issues of foreign policy, social justice and other elements of what might be deemed a more involved and realistic Muslim agenda. And if Muslims let a candidate slide away from the more contentious issues that do come to bear on a daily basis, then Muslim voters have not really differentiated amongst contenders; six of one, half dozen of the other.

With American Muslim political awareness on the rise, Election 2000 will be an important testing ground for the ability of Muslims to press candidates on real issues.

"Excuse me Candidate X. Are you going to support the paring back of civil rights and civil liberties all in the name of irrational anti-terrorism hysteria? Are you planning to support interventionist policies in Muslim countries? What's your opinion of the IMF, World Bank and their operations? Are you willing to entertain an overhauling of the tax system to redistribute financial burden more equitably amongst all U.S. citizens? Will you turn down special interest contributions and instead court true popular support at a more grassroots level?"

The list goes on.

Ali Asadullah is the Editor of iviews.com

  Category: Nature & Science
Views: 766
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