By Dr. Aslam Abdullah, TMO Editor-in-Chief
The November 2012 Presidential election is not yet another electoral ritual. It is not just a regular contest between the Democrats and the Republicans. It is not just a showdown between Obama and Romney. In fact, it is also not about economy or jobs or recession. It is about the direction of the future of America and the world. Donâ€™t laugh and donâ€™t think it is an exaggerated observation when you read that the direction of the future of America and the human civilization would depend on how the 169 million Americans vote.
If it were a context between the registered Republicans and Democrats, the outcome is already pre-determined. Some 86 million registered voters are Democrats compared with 55 million republicans and 28 million others registered.
If it were about jobs, then bulk of the people who are out of jobs are members of the Democratic Party. The number of unemployed persons in July, 2012 was 12.7 million, 14.4 percent of them were Blacks, 11 percent Hispanics, 6.3 percent Asians, mostly Democrats and 7 percent whites.
If it were about the personality, charisma, or skills of oratory of the two candidates, an overwhelming majority of the country considers Obama a clear winner.
If it were about economy, none of the two candidates can take the country out of the crisis as its genesis lies in something other than economy itself. It is due to the corporate greed, fiscal manipulation, lies and fraud.
The coming election is about the direction of the future of America and the world civilization because America is the only superpower that is in a dominant position in the international system with the ability to influence social and political events. America is the only superpower that has well defined interests and that knows how to project power in the world to protect those interests.
America is the third largest country in the world after the Soviet Union and Canada with 9.37 million square kilo meter area. It has the largest economy in the world with enormous industrial base and a large and modernized agriculture with large volumes of exports and imports. In 2011, its nominal GDP was estimated to be over $15 trillion, a quarter of global GDP. Its per capita GDP of $48,387 is the sixth largest in the world and it is the largest trading nation in the world.
America has the highest military expenditure in the world with its navy surpassing the 13 largest navies combined. With over 500 permanent bases in 38 countries, the US military budge stands about 700 billion a year.
With a total of 700 thousand movies produced and some 2 million short films on almost every subject, the American cultural influence is beyond measurement even in the most traditional societies in Africa and Asia and Latin America.
With no other nation contributing as much as America in the field of ideas in natural and social sciences through new researches, Americans influence almost every aspect of the human civilization. How and what we eat and drink and dress is determined by the American patterns of production and consumption.
So the one who would control America would also influence the future course of human civilization at a time when old paradigms are changing and a new world is emerging in all its shape and forms.
There are two main camps in America, those who strongly believe in America being the exclusivist and those who believe in America ever changing and adjusting to newer realities.
The exclusivists want an America that is run on ideas rooted in Biblical values coupled with capitalist economy with little interference from the government to support a culture associated with European immigrants and domination. The other group believing in inclusivity wants an America where people and not ethnicities, lobbies and powerful interests run the affairs of the country.
The exclusivists are dominant in the Republican Party and its various outfits, the inclusivists associate with the Democratic Party, yet they are not in a position to influence the party in a significant way as several exclusivists control the blood line of the Party.
The coming election will sharpen the divisions between the two groups and polarize the forces clearly. Romney would emerge as the champion of old establishment and Obama would be seen as the voice of the inclusivists, even though many of his policies in the last three and a half year negate that image.
Muslims, despite having a substantial and crucial number of votes in at least 34 key congressional districts, 11 senatorial seats and 8 governor races have by and large remained non existence in the debate about the future direction of the country. They are still embroiled in issues of countries most of them migrated from. Their younger generations still view the adopted country of their parents with skepticism. The African-American Muslims are suspicious of the system and have little interest in participating in it.
Their voices on issues such as education, crime, military spending, gun control, business ethics, corporate greed and mismanagement are feeble or non existent. Their groups are focused only on issues of hijab and beard and Islamophobia in domestic affairs and on Palestine in foreign policy.
Their contribution to debates on issues that impact ordinary Americans and the future of America is almost non-existent.
This is due to a few factors. Their participation in electoral politics is marginal. There forums on political education are in embryonic stages. There is no accurate data that can identify the number of Muslim votes in each or key congressional districts. There are no organized efforts to provide civic education to new immigrants and encourage the second and third generation Muslims to get involved at grassroots electoral politics.
A few decades ago the Mormon community was not different than the Muslim community in its political outreach. They were a marginal group with less than 1.3 per cent of the total adult population. Today, they have some 15 congressional members with Harry Reid as the leader of the democratically control Senate.
Obviously, the community needs a few visionaries who can motivate Muslims to participate in greater debates about the future directions of the United States. At present, those visionaries are beyond the vision of the community.