Election season has begun. Primaries will soon take place, and on No.vember 5, 2024, about 170 million voters will have the opportunity to elect the next President, 435 House of Representatives, 35 Senators, thousands of state assembly and senate, and local council and board members. Among them, some 1.5 are Muslims.
Every political party will approach Muslims during election time, especially in toss-up states and districts. Muslim activists and groups will bargain for some appointment in a congressional office or the White House, and then life will go as usual until the next election cycle.
Can Muslims take a principled stand in the upcoming elections? Can they focus on issues relevant to the people, such as education, efficient and less expensive health care, crime prevention, clean energy, and renovating the old and worn infrastructure with control over unemployment and inflation?
No candidate will oppose these ideas. But each would say that with the $33 trillion gross federal debt, financial resources will be scanty to support new projects.
One way the U.S. can focus on domestic issues is to prioritize its foreign aid based on its values defined in the Constitution and upheld by its people.
The President's Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Request includes $60.4 billion for the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), $1.9 billion or 3 percent above the Fiscal Year 2022 Request, and $7.4 billion or 14 percent above F.Y. 2021 enacted levels.
The U.S. gives the top 25 following countries annual assistance: Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, South Africa, Congo, Syria, Lebanon, Kenya, Colombia, Uganda, South Sudan, Somalia, Ukraine, Mozambique, Bangladesh, Yemen, Columbia, Sudan, Philippines and Malawi. India and Pakistan get 300 million annually.
Most of these countries are undemocratic and follow apartheid policies. They flagrantly violate human rights and run despotic rule. Minorities in many of these countries live in perpetual fear, and state instruments often persecute opponents based on the interests of the ruling elites.
Suppose Muslim voters pledge that they will not support a candidate that validates and sponsors apartheid policies of any foreign government that receives U.S. aid. In that case, they will make a moral and political statement.
Through their organizations in each state and congressional district, they can send a questionnaire asking the candidates if they support or have supported funding for regimes and countries that follow apartheid policies.
Regardless of the outcome of the results, they can choose a candidate that upholds the U.S. Constitution on issues about human rights and apartheid practices. They may probably not find many candidates taking a moral and constitutional position. Still, Muslims will be able to add a new dimension to the country's electoral politics.
Muslim groups have pursued different strategies during elections, but none has outlined their moral and political positions in the context of U.S. ideals and ideas of its founding fathers.