Why support Kerry by default? [Archives:2004/784/Viewpoint]

October 25 2004

It saddened me greatly to realize that the Muslim community in the USA, which is more than 3 million, has received little attention by the two main US presidential candidates.
Leaders of the Muslim community complained recently that both George W. Bush and John Kerry have refused to meet them even go get some idea of what their needs and demands are. This has shown quite clearly that both men are not concerned about Muslims' issues, and are avoiding meeting with Muslim leaders, possibly to not offend American Jews.
The other day, Ralph Nader, the presidential candidate of Arab origin contending for presidency in most US states had clearly expressed outrage to the neglect shown to Muslims and Arab Americans by the two main candidates. In a statement to Al-Jazeera Channel, he said that by backing democratic challenger John Kerry, Muslims have degraded themselves and gave him a prize for not doing anything and not even promising anything.
“I am really amazed to see that Muslim voters endorsed a candidate who openly said he would support Israel and not even refer to the struggle of Palestinians. I urge Muslims to consult their conscious before voting for either candidate.” he said.
It is a fact that Muslims in the USA disliked the way Bush managed his affairs concerning foreign policy, and specifically the two wars waged on Afghanistan and Iraq. Nevertheless, they also realize that Kerry would not do any better when it comes to those two issues, but they would prefer him over Bush just for the sake of expressing their dissatisfaction with the latter's policies.
Is this a healthy decision? I personally believe that Muslim communities were not effective during the campaign and for most voters, whether they support Bush or Kerry is not of significance. But what one needs to think about is how Muslims can have a say in the policies of the country. They are Americans and deserve to be respected and listened to. But they also need to be united and outspoken about their concerns and demands.
It is indeed quite shameful to see that Muslims have had to vote for Kerry just because they disapprove of Bush, and not for the message the Democratic candidate conveys about his policies concerning American Muslims.
In fact, some suggested that it was a humiliation for Muslims to endorse Kerry through the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections despite the fact that Kerry and his vice president nominee John Edwards pledged to be “an even better friend” with Israel.
It is also unfortunate that Muslim voters don't seem to get their message out that they may play a vital role in swing states such as Ohio and Florida, in which they can cause some trouble for either candidate.
In brief, Muslims in America need to have a stronger stance on their issues and a more aggressive approach in calling upon candidates to respect their civil rights and think about their needs and concerns. I am optimistic that in the long run, that Muslims will have a better say in US politics. I hope that this will be more respected by candidates, especially as their numbers and influence increases.
It is only a matter of time before US politicians realize the increasing importance of Muslims in the states.