My daughter, the Republican [Archives:2004/792/Opinion]

November 22 2004

By Shaker Lashuel
Yemen Times
New York correspondent

As a father, I expected one day to engage my grown children in political dialogue. This day came much earlier than I had expected. Several days before the election, my daughter, Sarah, who is in second grade proved that she was ready for such a conversation.
In my naive ways I thought it would be I who will pass my knowledge to her, but she proved to know enough for me to realize how people think. Sarah, who has heard a lot about the election, enquired about who I was going to vote for. I declared proudly that I was going to vote for Senator John Kerry. Sarah jumped out of her seat.
“Kerry?” she screamed in objection. In the conversation that followed, Sarah explained to me that I should vote for President Bush because “he will keep us safe.” Sarah heard the message in one of the many political ads we were bombarded with over the past several weeks, but that small message resonated with her.
Sarah's thinking highlighted for me the logical basis for voting for President Bush. Her focus on security showed that this is the simplest, most basic need for humans. Both republicans and democrats who chose to vote for President Bush followed that logic.
A teacher, a registered independent who usually votes Democratic, told me that she will be voting for President Bush because he will “protect Americans.” “He took us into Iraq and he's going to take us out,” she added. For those obsessed with security concerns the other issues were not enough for them to make them consider Senator Kerry.
On November 2nd, I took Sarah to the polling center on Cypress Avenue to practice my most basic right in this country, to vote and to educate her about the process. As we were walking, I wanted the walk to be longer, the road to be treacherous, the wait to be longer; it was a most enjoyable experience. I was feeling a distinct sense of pride, my spirit was high, and I was engulfed with optimism and hopefulness.
It is an experience that revisits me every time I walk to my local polling center. My conversation with Sarah was simple and I do not know how much she understood, but I wanted her to register that experience in her memory.
The past four years began to move in front of me as a newsreel. The unbelievable tax cuts for the rich, the corporate loopholes, the refusal to allow the importation of drugs, the loss of civil liberties, the war on Iraq, the faces of the American soldiers dying every day, and the images of destructions, characteristic only, of the Israeli army.
When we reached the voting booth, I explained to her how I used the machine to select John Kerry. My vote for Senator John Kerry was not a vote for a less secure America; on the contrary, I was comfortable enough to realize that the safety of our American society is non-negotiable, and that Senator Kerry will vehemently protect and preserve our security as much as anyone else.

The day after
Having voted, I went home to watch the election results and hoping for a Kerry win. Twenty four hours later, I was initially dismayed by the news of President Bush's reelection for a 2nd term.
My disappointment did not take over, and I quickly began to look at the cup as half full. It is difficult for me to predict what the next four years will be like, and what President Bush will do, but I have to be hopeful. My hopefulness is also based on the fact this is a nation whose greatness comes from a system that is inherently self correcting.
As a citizen of this great nation, I am hopeful for a better tomorrow, a safer tomorrow, a tomorrow where the elderly do not have to spend their social security checks on medication, a tomorrow where the departure of American jobs does not leave many jobless, a tomorrow where the U.S. regains its credibility and unquestionable leadership in the world, a tomorrow where I, as a Muslim American, live free of the suspicion and doubt that has been cast on me, a tomorrow where every human being is entitled to a fair due process.
The American people have spoken and President Bush is now my president. My expectations are high and President Bush has a lot of work ahead of him to improve the economy and deliver on his promises for a better, more accessible healthcare system. Hopefully, the change in the cabinet is the first sign of a positive change in attitude and outlook for the next administration. I may be naive to be this optimistic, but for my Sarah's sake, I have to be. I have to continue to be positive and hopeful for a better America for all.