Why Pakistani-Americans (and all other Americans) should vote for Bernie Sanders
At a time when America finds itself at a crossroads, the importance of a Democratic presidential candidate who can unite the country behind a single message is the need of the hour. Given the political and moral decline America has witnessed under President Donald Trump, the Democrats desperately need to field a candidate who can rise above the divisive politics which have dominated the discourse and appeal to people from various walks of life. Over the course of his political career, Bernie Sanders has made it evident that he is prepared to fight for these very principles and is committed to ensuring a better life for the common American. He talks about the “common dreams and aspirations” which unite American citizens and how the ability to actualise those dreams should not be afforded only to a privileged few. Hence, it is not surprising that Sanders’ policies are resonating with many Pakistani-Americans.
Last week Sanders’ campaign team released a poster which was in Urdu and highlighted his “Medicare for All” promise. The gesture definitely illustrates a readiness on part of Sanders and his team to reach out to various communities and ensure that everyone, irrespective of what language they feel most comfortable with, are aware of what Sanders stands for and feel included in the discussion he hopes to begin. That desire for inclusivity is an integral prerequisite for any national leader to have. Additionally, Sanders was one of the few American politicians who called out India’s “unacceptable” actions in occupied Kashmir, and it resulted in him winning over many fans in the Pakistani-American community. However, it is important to note here that Sanders’ stance on the issue does not stem from an active desire to reach out to those who may agree with him. He has made it evident over the years that he will stand for what he believes in regardless of whether or not it wins him any admirers.
Hence, not only Pakistani-Americans but all Americans should realise that Sanders’ vision for the US is one which has a place for each and everyone of us; and it is a vision which we can all be proud of. The foundation of Sanders’ campaign is rooted in ensuring a provision of equal opportunities to all regardless of ethnicity, religious belief, or economic status. As he stated in a recent tête-à-tête with Hasan Minhaj, it is immaterial to him where people come from – what matters to him is whether or not they are ready to get the job done. Therefore, unsurprisingly, Sanders’ campaign manager, the highly accomplished Faiz Shakir, is the son of Pakistani immigrants and earned his place at the head of Sanders’ based purely on merit. That is the American dream Sanders believes in.
In these dire times when people of colour and certain faiths feel alienated and are progressively apprehensive of the Trump administration’s attitude towards them, Bernie is not afraid to extend a hand of support. This was made evident during the Iowa caucus, in which Sanders received overwhelming support from the Muslims in the state. The sitting president has wrecked the social fabric of this nation, and if Bernie is elected president he will certainly have his work cut out for him. But one can rest assured that Sanders will strive to make America a nation which welcomes people from all walks of life, and also create circumstances to help immigrants thrive.
Many Americans have been told that Sanders’ socialist democratic beliefs are too radical and out of step with what America stands for. Not only is this narrative false but it is also being actively rejected by many across country, especially the youth, who are turning out in great numbers to support the senator from Vermont and his political and economic philosophy.
However, one of the problems is that just like in 2016, the Democratic party establishment may choose to sideline Sanders in favour of a candidate who is more towards the centre. His status as the enfant terrible of the party only makes his bid for a nomination even more challenging. For the moment though, his popularity is surging, and although it is still early days, he appears to be firmly in control.
Even at the ripe old age of 78, given his steadfast resolve and current momentum, Sanders can prove to be the voice which attempts to unite this disenchanted nation as the primaries kicks off. But Sanders and the Democrats are well aware that a Donald Trump reelection could be on the cards. As Trump’s popularity continues to grow, it’ll take a herculean effort on the part of any Democratic nominee to muster enough support to defeat the current president. This is precisely why Americans can no longer afford to turn a blind eye towards Sanders’ campaign promises and need to back him.
There is an exhaustive list of influential Pakistani-Americans and it is time for them to understand that Sanders needs their full support since out of the current crop of Democratic presidential hopefuls he is the only one who can truly go toe to toe with Trump. The simple truth of the matter is that this has become a ‘now or never’ situation. We have to act now if we wish to safeguard our democratic institutions, the constitution, and the country that has welcomed and embraced us with open arms. Either we rise to the occasion by supporting Sanders, or we remain in our slumber and let Trump rule like an autocrat for another four years.