August 21, 2004
Why I will vote for John Kerry?
Syed Mansoor Hussain
I will vote for John Kerry on November 2, 2004, not because I hate President Bush but because I prefer to see a Democrat in the White House. Here, in the interest of full disclosure I want to state that I am a Pakistani and a Muslim by birth, a physician by profession and an American by choice and that I voted for Al Gore in 2000. That said, I would like to explain what these different parts of my background have to do with my choice in the upcoming election. First about being a Pakistani immigrant in the US. This puts me in a special category as an American. I am both a minority voter and a recent immigrant. As such, what make it possible for me and my children to live and prosper in the US is important to me. One of the most important factors is a lack of institutionalized discrimination against the likes of me. Discrimination based upon country of origin and religion is against the law. Unfortunately as we all know, it is not so much the law but how it is enforced that matters. It is well known that Democrats are much more sympathetic to the rights of minorities and immigrants than are Republicans.
Being a Muslim makes things a little bit difficult. For most Muslims the personal freedoms espoused by the Democratic Party, including gay rights and a woman’s right to an abortion on demand, are distasteful. This antipathy towards particular personal freedoms conflicts with other freedoms that the Democratic Party stands for. Many of us have, therefore, been forced to make a choice between our religious and cultural fear of an excess of personal freedom and our political and social need for such freedom. In the past many Muslims felt that the Republican Party represented their social values better than the Democratic Party. The Patriot Act and its asymmetrical application against Muslims have forced most of them to reconsider their traditional support for Republican candidates.
On November 2, elections will also be held for 33 Senators, the entire US House of Representatives and for many state governors and legislators. From my perspective, it is perhaps more important for the Democratic Party to win control of the Senate and possibly the House of Representatives. One of the major problems for the last four years has been that the Republican Party controls both the US Congress and the Executive. As such they have been able to pass laws and appoint federal judges at will. Another victory for Republicans will weigh the Federal Judiciary, especially the US Supreme Court heavily in favor of conservative positions that could be inimical to the rights of minorities and immigrants in the future. More so, if the US Congress passes any laws that restrict individual rights then the federal courts that are in line with such points of view are more likely to let these laws stand.
As far as being a physician is concerned, I will personally benefit from a policy of lower taxes and increased control of malpractice cases that can be filed against me. But this advantage is at best temporary. I also have to think about my children and even their children. Because of my economic position I am able to enjoy much of what America has to offer. But my children and their children might not be in such a position. They will be a minority and as things are, not a very welcome minority in their own country. As such they will need the protection of the laws and systems that prevent discrimination against them while assuring equal access to opportunity for them at the same time. I believe that Democratic governments and a liberal judiciary are necessary to make this possible.
Now a little bit about what is more important to the rest of the world. There is the war in Iraq and the war against terrorism. As far as Iraq is concerned, the Democratic Party was opposed to it from the beginning especially when it became obvious that President Bush was going to go ahead with it even without any proof that Saddam Hussein was connected to the attacks of 9/11 or that he was a threat to the US. Now that the war has been won and the peace is in jeopardy, the leaders of the Democratic Party, including John Kerry would like to see greater international involvement and find the best way out for all concerned. Unfortunately the unilateralist policies of President Bush have made it extremely difficult to bring around the rest of the world to support the US position at this time.
As far as the execution of the war on terror is concerned, the two parties differ little except the way in which the laws designed to combat terrorism might be implemented. However an important philosophical difference is that Mr Bush, like Ariel Sharon, would like to build a fence around the US to keep undesirables out, and as a matter of fact is in the process of doing so, even though it is an invisible fence. Most Democrats on the other hand would prefer to keep the borders open and engage the rest of the world to try and control the scourge of terrorism at its source.
Finally, George W Bush had the chance of being one of the most popular American presidents of modern times. After 9/11, not only the American people but almost the entire world was behind him. Unfortunately for him, and for America, he squandered that opportunity by pursuing policies that pandered primarily to his conservative base of support. He disavowed his campaign promise of being a uniter and not a divider and has ended up being one of the most polarizing figures in modern American politics. Worse, he is today almost universally disliked for his war of pre-emption against Saddam Hussein, and in the process has dealt a severe blow to the prestige and good name of the United States. All good reasons for regime change in the US.
The writer, a cardiac surgeon, has practiced and taught medicine in the US.
Very Interesting, and well said, however John Kerry did not oppose the war with Iraq he supported President Bush on this issue. About the discrimination, there would alway be a discrimination. It started 2 century ago and still being maintained through minorities. We just have stand up for our rights, just like any other ethic group. On contrary, Jews are minority too.
August 23, 2004