The Reform Party: All that glitters is not gold
For Muslims, the thought of having the option of a viable third party come election time is indeed enticing. Like other more marginalized groups, Muslims have long sought alternatives to the status quo political machine that offers relatively few choices, often resulting in a "lesser of two evils" selection process at the ballot box.
As election fever spreads throughout America, it is important for Muslims to begin to formulate opinions concerning prospects for important elected offices, especially that of the presidency. And now that the Reform Party seems to be the launch pad of choice for disenchanted, yet reasonably popular individuals, Muslims will have one more major player to evaluate over the next 12 months.
But with reference to the Reform Party, Muslims must be wary. All that glitters is not gold and all that attracts media attention is not worthy of elected office. And if things unfold as predicted by some, the Reform Party could walk into its primary with an ex-wrestler, a girl-crazy millionaire and a limelight hog all with strong potential of becoming the Reform Party candidate for the presidency.
Of course the three aforementioned characters are none other than Jesse Ventura, Donald Trump and Pat Buchanan, respectively. There is some talk of Ross Perot entering the fray once again, but there is a growing consensus that his star has all but faded. Ventura and Trump are still in the process of evaluating their prospects, so that leaves Buchanan as the main contender at this stage of the game.
Buchanan does well in front of the cameras. With experience working under previous presidential administrations as well as time in the trenches at CNN, Buchanan has a seasoned understanding of professional politicking. He can be more abrasive than your typical politician, but he is seasoned nonetheless, and this gives him an advantage. Trump could outspend him, Ventura could top him as a novelty attraction; but Buchanan comes out in front as a true player who knows the game.
The unknown quantity for Buchanan will be his ability to "tow the party line." And this is something to which Muslims should pay close attention.
People change, but how does a diehard, dye of the wool Republican fit into the Reform Party scheme of politics and policy? Buchanan is guy who clings to the romanticized view of Reagan-era policy, which for the most part resulted in devastating consequences for poor and lower class citizens while Voodoo/Trickle Down Economics lined the pockets of the rich. How does this appreciation fit into the Reform Party's projected image of being more the party of the common citizen?
The answer is that it doesn't fit. At present, Buchanan doesn't really fit. Therefore Muslims should observe the push and pull that takes place over the next few months as Buchanan tries to win favor within the party. Will he begin to change his tune, or will the Reform Party allow a neo-Republican faction to infiltrate its ranks?
In either scenario Muslims will need to pay close attention. If the Reform Party is to become a viable alternative to the log-jammed U.S. political process, then it will have to prove that it is more than a platform for eccentric characters, conservative or otherwise. It will need to put forth a candidate that not only has a chance to win, but who remains true to the people of America longing for change. Buchanan may not be that candidate.
Ali Asadullah is the Editor of iviews.com
Topics: Government And Politics