On November 8, Americans will elect either the corruption-laden, policy-driven first female President or the sexual-assaulter, power-driven forty-fifth male President.
Some people of South Asian descent in the United States of Immigrants are announcing piously or in exasperation that they are “voting for the person not the party!” But this is not as simple. When you vote, you are necessarily electing a party. Obviously the character, record, and commitments of individuals are relevant to how you vote. But these individuals come with parties attached, and it is the overarching policy commitments, or lack of them, of these parties which should weigh far more heavily in determining how one votes.
Few South Asians, Indians, and Sikhs as Trumpeters or Clintonites are oversimplified modalities for stereo-typical model minorities while we are witnessing racism, bigotry, and xenophobia in America. Bollywood style shows can’t change the polls showing 10-1 margins among Indian-Americans even if Hindi ad-campaign alliance with right wing Hindu nationalists are surfacing. Once the bigots have finished demonizing Mexicans and Muslims, Sikhs may be their next targets.
All voters, especially Sikhs, must examine all of the candidates programs on offer when voting. This is what I learned in my American government high school class at Shawnee Mission Northwest, KS: Candidates make commitments across a range of public policies, and the voters need to assess a party’s overall balance of policies and not simply focus on a single issue–be it immigration, aid, security, education, ethics, India, liberty, marriage, environment, or human rights. Instead the challenge to all will be taking a wider view of the common good when marking the ballot.
In voting for a candidate based on a single stance, one votes for everything else that candidate and their party stands for, whether you like it or not. Single-issue voting is simply irresponsible. Find the person unfit, then vote for candidate most likely to produce policies which align with your worldview!
The Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 (yes, that’s what it is called) outlawed conspiring to intimidate voters, and KKK’s The Crusader endorsed Donald Trump in 2016.
As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton highlighted the need for India to “not just look east, but engage east and act east.” Current Modi government subsequently adopted this policy.
Guru Granth Sahib enlightens us, when the constituency is ignorant, the leaders will be corrupt. And the “trash” isn’t merely amongst heads of states, but constituents are also filled with it. So, as nasty and deplorable 2016 elections has become, I must do my best as thoughtfully as possible, to eliminate some dirtiness and stink.
Thirty two years ago on this day in 1984, I survived a genocide against Sikhs in India. I know how hysteria develops a culture of impunity, and how it makes us something less than humans. It pains me to see it in “the land of the free” and I must do my part to confront its upward trend.
I exercise my right to vote knowing the choices are way less than ideal. I decided to walk into Somerset County Board of Elections in Somerville, NJ, and handed in my official absentee ballot.
May the Force be with Americans while they vote for forty-fifth President of the United States!
Harinder Singh is educator, thinker, and activist. He tweets at @1Force.