I am proud to have voted for President Obama, both in 2008 and again this past Tuesday. I’m proud to be a part of his legacy of promoting equality, access to resources, and justice for all. I recognize his flaws, but in the face of the Republican Party’s candidates propagating Islamophobic fear-mongering, I certainly had no interest in voting for the Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, as Commander in Chief. Coupled with Romney’s flip-flopping stances on almost every issue and his inability to relate to middle class Americans, there was little left for me to consider supporting him.
I’m not the only Muslim American who voted for Obama, however. Muslim Americans overwhelmingly supported the re-election of President Barack Obama. In fact, minority communities like ours were one of the biggest reasons why Obama was re-elected – our voice made all the difference.
But not all minority communities who voted for him were entirely pleased with Obama’s performance over the past four years. Latino Americans are frustrated with lack of promised immigration reform – and many members of our Muslim American communities have called Obama the “lesser of two evils”, citing his inability to act on Syria, drone strikes in Pakistan, wiretapping phone lines, and the lack of closing Guantanamo, among many other concerns.
I agree – these are issues that should have been better addressed and resolved.
But by whom?
Finger pointing aside, we all play a role in accountability. The President and his Administration must be held accountable to his promises, primarily by his own integrity to maintain the promises so many of us relied on in deciding to give him our vote. Even more importantly, our community should hold him accountable simply because it is in our best interest to do so. Unfortunately, we just don’t have the political infrastructure to do so quite yet – we individually contribute to candidates and hope for the best, but we have yet to build a mobilized, collective voice to endorse candidates and hold them accountable if elected.
Over the next four years, it is imperative that the Muslim American community create a political advocacy system to hold leaders accountable, mobilize our community and our voice, and empower our very own leaders to be at the decision making table. Without it, we will continue to spiral into a future of voting between the lesser of two evils.
Read other perspectives here.
Sarah Moussa is a young Arab and Muslim American community leader in Sacramento, CA. She is currently Health Policy Advisor to Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, working to implement the Affordable Care Act across California. Sarah has worked on local, state, and federal campaigns – and even ran as a local candidate herself! Sarah can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org