Voting as an Arab American in 2020
By: Sophia Segal/Contributing Writer for Arab America As Americans, we live in a government that was built as a democracy; it’s our right to vote and take part in who we want to represent us not only as a country and to all citizens but also the world. As a citizen, you are free to make these changes and to agree/disagree with what our president says and does. It’s very important to vote and it’s our right as citizens of the United States, yet many Americans feel discouraged to vote because the mistreatment of voting has gotten worse throughout the years. For many Americans, their skin color, religion, political views, and so much more have been taken and used against them to make them feel less than human and not an American citizen.
The Arab American Vote
In 2000, it was a great year for the Arab American communities. They were an untargeted group that was long considered political untouchables. The Arab American communities are strongly entrepreneurial, socially conservative, and fiscally cautious, in which all these qualities align with the GOP. At the time the GOP was very eager to find new voters to extend its electoral foothold in states that were usually blue like Michigan and Minnesota. This led to Bush winning the Arab American vote in 2000.
But that was 20 years ago, what’s changed? What happened to the Arab American community apogee as a sought-after Republican constituency? The relationship with the GOP has been severed, 9/11 was a huge turning point but living in a post-9/11 world has brought out more anti-immigration policies. These policies were written to be against Muslim Arabs and Christan Arabs, Arab Americans, and their families and cousins from the Arab world. For example, current President Donald Trump is fueling the anti-Islamic rhetoric in favor of his presidential campaign.
But this didn’t start with Donald Trump; although President Bush, Jr. won the Arab American vote in 2000, the votes shifted as the war on terror moved forward in our post-9/11 world.
The Shifting of the Votes
The rhetoric of the War on Terror, intrusive surveillance of Muslims under the Patriot Act, and military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq have created a noticeable anti-Muslim atmosphere in the US. Muslims perceived the War on Terror to be a war on Islam and Muslims. This led to a 7% drop in support for President Bush in 2004.
While these voters turned towards the Democrats in support of Barack Obama in 2008, increasing with 82% votes in support of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 elections, they then left the Republican party having only 10% in support from Arab Americans.
But in March of 2020, the increase of support for President Trump was at 30%. Voters believed Trump to be a good manager of the economy and unwilling to take part in wars in the Arab world.
However, there has been a decline in support for Trump throughout the year. One reason could be due to the 2017 Executive Order 13769 which banned Arabs from seven countries to enter the United States; these countries include Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia. This order also indefinitely suspended entry to the US for all Syrian refugees. This order came as the Muslim Ban and was criticized for targeting Muslims because of their faith.
Another reason could be the 2018 move of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which in effect recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. This was infuriating to the Palestinians and Arabs all over the world.
The Trump administration’s policies have disappointed Arab Americans when it comes to the Palestine issue while Biden and the Democrats prefer to wrap their deceit in rhetoric that encourages hope but little more.
What to do
Arabs represent about 1% of the United States population. But the Arab vote is very important to the US elections.
Vote for your interests, no one knows what you need more than yourself. For many elections, people didn’t understand how important their vote is so they choose not to. Their excuses could be that it didn’t affect them or that they just didn’t care about politics. That’s a very selfish view-politics are and should be important to all Americans, this is our future that hangs in the balance and we have the right to decide what happens. Vote for your future and the future of the coming generations.
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