U.S. President Barack Obama attends a campaign rally at Cornell College in Mt Vernon, Iowa, October 17, 2012. Obama is campaigning in Iowa and Ohio on Wednesday following the second presidential debate against Mitt Romney on October 16. REUTERS/Jason Reed
Muslims votes were decisive in many states in the 2008 presidential election, especially in the so called â€œswing states.â€ Analyzing state by state election results, it doesnâ€™t take much effort to figure out that all states are crucial and can indeed be considered as â€œswing states.â€ Sometimes the vote difference in certain states is fewer than 5,000 votes, enough to swing the result decisively. In this election the Muslim vote is going to be as decisive as ever.
Here is a brief review of both presidential candidates and their stands on important issues.
On Human Rights and Foreign Policy issues:
President Obama has redefined the words â€œterroristsâ€ and â€œwar on terror.â€ He objected to torture, in accordance with the Geneva Conventions, and believes in upholding universal human ideals. His current drone-driven policy is a blot on otherwise well thought out and clearly articulated foreign policies. He extracted US from the costly Iraq war, set a date of departure from Afghanistan and restrained Israel from her reckless and foolhardy action of attacking Iran. He let the European countries take a lead role in Libya and has adjusted US foreign policies to a changing world. His support to democratic changes in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and elsewhere is laudable. As the democratic political power in these countries take firm root and strengthen these democracies, it will bring goodwill and better future relations with Western countries.
Comparing this to Romneyâ€™s foreign policy the latter appears hawkish and war-orientated. His foreign policy advisers are all neo conservatives and extreme right wingers. If they have their say they will dwarf president G W Bushâ€™s War Era and will mark the return of â€œMcCarthyismâ€ and the â€œwar on terror.â€
His utterances like, â€œPresident Obama has thrown allies like Israel under the busâ€ are counterproductive and biased. He has not shown any empathy for the people of Palestine. While speaking to wealthy donors at the luxurious King David hotel in Jerusalem, he said that the low per capita income of Palestinian people was a cultural phenomenon. He completely ignored the fact that he was talking about a subjugated people.
On one occasion he said, â€œI look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and these thorny issues, and I say thereâ€™s just no way.â€
A few weeks ago in a foreign policy speech he said: â€œA Democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel.â€ A sharp contrast to a video made public earlier in the campaign that showed Romney telling a group of donors such negotiations had little chance of success. In the light of such contradictory talk it is difficult to believe that Romney is a credible candidate.
The passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as â€œObama Care,â€ is a major accomplishment for President Obama. The hallmark of this legislation is that it covers preexisting conditions and will provide mandatory health coverage practically for all.
While Romney has openly said that he wants to repeal â€œObama Care,â€ he does not offer any comprehensive plan to replace it. In fact his health reforms in Massachusetts during his tenure as a governor were more or less in line with the current ACA.
We all have heard about â€œFiscal Cliffâ€ but few have grasped what actually it means. We have lost our economic superiority and we are the greatest debtor nation in the world. The dollar has lost its standing as a reserve currency. Invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq accelerated our already deteriorating economy.
History is replete with examples of war leading to economic decline and loss of a countryâ€™s stature in the world.
War and Economy:
The Roman Empireâ€™s external wars with Attila the Hun started the empireâ€™s decline in the 5th century. The Roman Empire fell because its leader bankrupted it.
The Ottoman Empire fought many wars with Russia. But it was the Crimean War in the nineteenth century that weakened the Ottoman Empire.
The war against the independent Boer republic of South Africa from 1897 to 1907 led to setting of the sun of the British Empire.
The Soviet empire bankrupted itself and disintegrated because of its war in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989.
Our war in Vietnam (1965 to 1973) led to severe economic decline. And the invasion of Afghanistan on Oct 7, 2001 and in Iraq on March 20, 2003 accelerated that decline.
The resiliency of US economy, so far, has withstood the brunt but we already see the unraveling beginning.
We have spent trillions of dollars after the witch hunt (like WMD) and raising the bogey of Islamophobia for political expediency.
It is heartening to see Obamaâ€™s commitment to pulling out of Afghanistan. He has resisted all attempts to go to another war, specifically with Iran. If Romney is elected there is a strong possibility that he may get us embroiled in another war, with disastrous economic and human consequences.
Neither the economic policies of Obama nor Romney are likely to cure the current deficit of over 15 trillion dollars.
Neither policy is a panacea; neither is likely to improve the USâ€™s existing economic status. Because, except rhetoric, it doesnâ€™t address the fundamental issue that the Gross National Product (GNP) measures the prosperity of a country and not Gross National Consumption (GNC).
The economy will take its own long course before it stabilizes.
The world envies the US advanced educational system and its research programs that attract the best brains of the world.
Obama favors the â€œNo Child Left Behindâ€ policy. His â€œRace to the Topâ€ competition evaluates and encourages teachers and promotes charter schools. 45 states have adopted his standards in reading and mathematics. To encourage college education he recommends affordable plans in repayment of loans.
Romney also supports â€œNo Child Left behindâ€ and supports charter schools. The major difference is that Romney believes the education control should be with the state government rather than with the federal government. The other difference is that he favors voucher programs for those students willing to attend school outside their district. He has no concrete plans for the college studentâ€™s loan repayment program.
On Social Security and Medicare:
Democrats believe that the current status is nonnegotiable and is against privatizing social security.
While Republicans are also against privatization, unfortunately they see Social Security and Medicare as opportunities to reduce the deficit by cutting these programs. It will cost financially strapped elderly dearly.
The other major difference is that Republicans want to increase the retirement age to 67 from 65 years. And they want to link benefits to â€œpricesâ€ rather than the â€œwagesâ€ (current practice). Indexing with the â€œpriceâ€ formula means lesser future payments to social security recipients.
Republicans also want to introduce â€œvoucherâ€ system for Medicare. Individual will receive set priced voucher for health insurance. One will shop around for the best available health plan. The drawback of this plan is it will leave Medicare recipients to whimsy of private insurers who would choose whom to insure.
Immigration is a hotly contested issue.
The DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act favored by Democrats is more humane and is consistent with long standing immigration policies. Republicans want to hunt down any one looking â€œforeignâ€ asking proof of residency.
Despite all the policy differences the issue of integrity and honesty is paramount. Obama has admitted that he did not accomplish all he had promised four years ago. In fact there has not been a single president who can claim to have accomplished everything he had promised as a politician. But Obama sounds more credible than Mitt Romney. Romneyâ€™s infamous 47 percent comments behind the closed door is a living testimony that he is not an honest man. He says something and does something else. We deserve to be assured that we have a president who is not deceiving us.
These are the major differences on important issues.
Our votes are precious. Complacency has no place in a vibrant community. If we want to uphold our religious liberties and dignity then it is the duty of each and every individual to exercise their vote. Let the politicians know that we do vote and our votes are crucial in making a difference. This will help bring a change in politicianâ€™s perception of the community. It will also help change the perception of Muslim worldwide and will go a long way in countering the prevailing Islamophobia.
Reviewing the stand of both presidential candidates on major issues, we endorse President Barack Obama.