The corporate media has many voters believing this a contest between Bush and Kerry. But there is a third candidate in this race, a man who does not bow to special interests -- domestic or foreign. A man who is not reluctant to take controversial stands against the Iraq war or to speak up for the Palestinians.
That man is Ralph Nader.
All Americans should give some serious consideration to Nader - if only to deflate the power of the media barons and vandalize their political machines. But Arab-Americans and other minorities must be the first to line up behind Nader.
If he had a chance to win, Nader would put together an administration that would provide a healthy political environment in which all Americans, no matter their heritage, are encouraged to participate.
Even though Nader will lose, his support will not go unnoticed. A new party will be born - one that will welcome Arab-Americans and other ethnic minorities with open arms as the equals of every other Americans.
Nader has served us all well as a consumer advocate and as a champion of the environment. He is an unimpeachable civil libertarian. He is the only candidate who has the courage to distinguish between American national interests and Israel's interest. He promises campaign finance laws that will take the government out of the hands of the corporate elite and restore it to the people.
Nader is about serious change. He will pay attention to the middle class, the homeless and the vast underclass of working people who are not making a living wage. If you are searching for the most decent man in this race, you will find no better value for your vote. A little exposure to Nader clears the mind. He leaves a distinct impression as a man who has genuine concern for our country and our planet. He inspires us to believe that we can take back our government any time we want.
Every American should pay attention to foreign policy. But Arab-Americans should be the first to understand that our foreign policy effects our domestic well-being. What the government decides to do to foreigners over there eventually ends up influencing our life and liberty as ethnic Americans over here.
If you want to understand how American foreign policy is constructed, pay a little attention to this election -- because this is where politicians cook the poison they force feed to the people of the Middle East. This is where they decide whether Palestinians are tormented or Iraqis are invaded.
To gain votes and finance their campaigns, both Bush and Kerry have pledged their loyalty to Israel, right or wrong. Both have given unequivocal support to Sharon’s incessant assaults against the Palestinians. Both support escalating the war in Iraq. And both have recruited their foreign policy teams from the ranks of the Likudnik neo-cons. Only Nader has been willing to pay the political price of taking on the Israeli lobby.
As a result of their lethal policies – both major parties end up making America a target for terror. The whole country suffers the consequences. But Arab Americans are twice victimized. Like our fellow citizens, we pay the price of living in a permanent state of insecurity. We pay our fair share of the blood and treasure that is wasted in the Mess on Potamia. But we also get the additional bonus of being labeled suspect nationals.
Isn’t it amazing that Americans of Arab heritage are rarely counted among the ranks of Middle East ‘experts’? What could we possibly know compared to Bush - who has spent less than a week of his entire life in that troubled region? As an ethnic group, we are rarely invited to contribute our talents to shaping foreign policy. Is it not the cruelest of ironies that we end up paying the stiffest price for the consequences of the colossal mistakes of the State Department and the Likudnik neo-cons?
Arab-Americans should be wary of any illusions that the Republicans and Democrats will stop shunning us anytime soon. They have cast us aside and made us feel like stepchildren in our own country. We have been defamed in public and labeled unworthy of full civil rights. Both Democrats and Republicans meet our concerns and our aspirations with disdain. Only Nader stands for clean and accountable government that will not pander to one ethnic group and shun another.
At times like these, when our community is under political quarantine, the American dream fades a bit. It’s easy to feel let down and left out. We are definitely worse off than we were four years ago. And it’s not the economy, stupid. It’s the erosion of the quality of our citizenship.
We have been collectively demoted to second-class nationals. When we cast our votes, that should be our number one concern. As a group and as individuals, we didn’t do a damn thing to deserve any of this Patriot Act nonsense. So, maybe this is a good opportunity to let our political aristocracy know that we are mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore.
This election, we have been left with two choices. We can vote for Nader or not vote at all. We can let Bush and Kerry treat us as like outcasts or we can vote to cast them out. Tuesday is a great opportunity to snub both major parties and see how good it feels to be Americans again.
Wherever you are living in these United States of America, whatever your ethnicity, vote for a candidate who will make our country a better and stronger union -- a union that does not have an ethnic underclass. A union in which all our children will be treated as equal and worthy citizens before the law and the lawmakers. We are all ethnic Americans, part of an unbelievable experience in the annals of human history. We Americans are children of every race and every culture. Let us vote for candidates who understand that Arab-Americans should not be treated as an orphan constituency.
This coming Tuesday, let our voices ring loud and clear for Nader. Let us join a movement that will revitalize this great democracy and make it truly inclusive. Let Arab-Americans and Muslim Americans join the millions of their fellow citizens who will vote for a political renaissance by laying the foundations of a sane third force on America’s political landscape.
Take a stand and honor America’s tradition of liberty. Be patriotic and vote for Nader and the dignity of your children. Now, more than ever, we need a government that answers to all and is accessible to all.
Vote early and vote often.
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