The political power wielded by Muslim voters in 2016 elections could be an instrumental force in placing Muslim issues at the forefront of the Democratic Party platform. The impact of the Muslim vote will be an undeniable deciding factor in who wins the state especially in the key battleground states like Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Every election cycle Muslim voters are encouraged and cozy up to by moderate and progressive candidates. Yet, many Muslims are left with the same questions year after year, election after election once candidates they voted for takes the office: What is your Muslim Agenda and what are your concrete plans to address our community needs?
Muslims are waiting on Biden to present the Muslim agenda. What’s in it for the Muslim People?
Muslim people tend to vote on emotion, whoever makes us feel good by taking a few pictures when visiting the Islamic Center and give some wonderful speech. I think this is the wrong way to approach. We should as Muslims identifying our issues, problems and concerns. We have to come out of this myth that we all have to agree to something or agree to disagree. so, we need to know what Biden views specific issues are.
Some of these issues are Immigration Ban, Islamophobia, economic issues, affordable housing, lower health care costs, improving water and air quality, reducing racism, mass incarceration, never-ending wars, fighting income inequity and making college more affordable.
It would be ideal for Muslims to have a consensus Muslim agenda, but it will never happen because we Muslims aren’t a monolith and are not single-issue voters. To many Muslims, there are certain international and national concrete issues that have yet to be honestly and effectively addressed such as the conflict in the holy land Muslim countries and Iran phobia.
How to forge a Muslim agenda
This fracturing of the Muslim communities on the ethnic background makes coalescing on a common agenda challenging. Muslims are not well organized and lack leadership as a community. Muslims have yet to develop upon the tactics or the strategic strategies, of great noble Prophet Muhammad who without electronic print, radio, or social media was able to spread Islam all the way to Russia and China.
Muslims need to unify and coalesce politically otherwise we will be a loser like the Ottoman Empire and be endangered species and that’s a problem. We Muslim should be coming to the table with an established agenda, platform, but more specifically, what I think we should be doing is running more of our own candidates in all manner of local, state and national elections. We do whether within the Democratic or Republican party or as an alternative party or forming a coalition with African Americans and Latinos.
However, running our own candidates with our own platforms with our own agendas would be great, but it’s not on the horizon. Surely, we can learn some lessons for other faith communities.
Muslims wait for the Republican or Democratic party to select someone for us to vote for and then we argue amongst each other whether or not we should support this or that candidate and we’re seeing that played out over again right now.
Many Muslims supported Sanders, do we cave in and go for Biden?
What that does is, it encourages an undue singular focus on the presidential race. It discourages us from realizing all the different ways that electoral politics can be made to work for us. Hence focusing on local, state and congressional races is very important and that’s what Emgage, United States, is working. Emgage has a foundation (c3) advocacy/lobby (C4) and PAC.
Emgage seeks to educate, engage and empower Muslim American communities through educational events, voter initiatives, and leadership development.
Biden campaign is supposed to have a policy team and that team is supposed to identify all the issues that would be an issue for the campaign for each individual constituency group (Blacks, Latinos, Muslims, etc.). Often times there are no Muslims on the policy team, but now we have Br. Farook Mitha on the team. Though he might not be on the team to develop platform policies or market research to find out things that are impacting Muslims.
We should convene a Muslim Think Tank of top Muslim scholars around the country to present a Muslim agenda to all candidates running for Local, State, Federal and Presidential candidates. If not an agenda than at least a questionnaire to be given to all candidates running for the office. By the way, this is what Emgage does. Emgage PAC distributed the questionnaire to all Democratic nominees running the president.
We need to create a coalition between all Muslim ethnic groups regardless of ideology or theology. So, when the time comes to write policies on immigration, education, or health care we on the dinner table and not on the menu.
We need to recognize our own power.