US Election: Are There Any Reasons To Be Hopeful?02 Nov 2020
Some conspiracy-theorist Trump supporters think the “deep state” will steal the election, while Trump opponents who’ve endured four years of bad politics feel despair at the state of the opposition. Despite these things, there may be a few things to be hopeful about.
Many voters, rightly or not, may fear a repetition of the 2016 election: that is, a candidate representing the “system” and deeply embedded with the previous Democratic administration before Trump will not be able to rally voters enough to make a difference.
That is an especially valid concern for left-leaning American Muslims who were encouraged by the growing presence and popularity of Bernie Sanders and, perhaps, hoped that the unfairness he faced at the hands of the Democratic Party in 2016 would not be repeated.
A CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) poll from February showed that American Muslims overwhelmingly supported Bernie Sanders by a margin of 38.73%, handily beating Joe Biden who only received 26.59% of support.
In general, Sanders had been scoring consistently highly among American Muslims.
The results are even starker when you look at the 2016 election where CAIR found that Hilary Clinton had a much wider share of support among American Muslims compared to Bernie Sanders, getting a share of 52% against his 22%.
Does the fact that Clinton lost against Trump spell badly for Biden? While there are a number of different challenges, there are many glimmers of hope in the path ahead.
In contrast to 2016, it seems that the Democratic opposition have gotten their act together.
Perhaps the sheer transgressions of the past four years, from caging refugee children to talking up the far-right, not to mention the sheer incompetence in government, played some part in getting all camps in opposition to realise what was at stake.
Similarly, it was under Trump that many Americans finally woke up to the growing threat of the far-right. Although the attention that groups such as the Proud Boys have gotten recently is alarming, this might finally get many Americans who were otherwise politically disengaged to take a stand against the far-right. Especially as the excuses and justifications Trump supporters made back in 2016 about the far-right support for his presidency have rung increasingly hollow.
The Democratic Party’s increased embrace of American Muslims is also encouraging. As recently as Obama’s then-Election campaign activities, the Democratic Party held Muslims at an arm’s length, soliciting their support but not really expressing solidarity.
While some might recognise the fears that openly reaching out to American Muslim voters played into the ridiculous conspiracy theories pushed by the far-right at the time – such as the one that Obama was a secret Muslim – it should be embarrassing for the Democratic movement that it took an arch-Republican, Colin Powell, to publicly say “what is wrong with being a Muslim?”
This is in contrast to Biden’s current campaign that goes to great lengths to gain the endorsement of American Muslims while speaking out against the injustices they face.
“Muslim communities were the first to feel Donald Trump’s assault on Black and brown communities in this country with his vile Muslim ban… That fight was the opening barrage in what has been nearly four years of constant pressure and insults, and attacks against Muslim American communities,” Biden said.
Biden has gained the support of prominent American Muslim politicians and political groups, including the Emgage PAC, as well as Sanders loyalists such as Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison.
Ellison, in particular, reportedly spoke warmly about Biden and his willingness to take on-board many of the ideas that Sanders advocated.
That racism was also a subject of both the Presidential and the Vice Presidential debates is also encouraging. Indeed, it was one of the topics that VP candidate Kamala Harris had VP Mike Pence on a backfoot. In fact, the whole debate was a refreshing change both from the shambolic Presidential debate as well as last year’s VP debate where Democratic candidate Tim Kaine was, frankly, boring.
Lastly, it is encouraging that American Muslims have become much more politically active in the run up to this Election, and more so with younger American Muslims becoming more civic-minded and politically-engaged generally.
Similarly, American Muslims appear to be increasingly active at the ballot box, with both the 2018 midterms and the 2020 general elections seeing record numbers of Muslims registering to vote.
There is no denying that things look pretty bleak right now, but there are a few reasons to be hopeful.