In contested elections, your vote is decisive
| Friday, 11.04.2016, 01:22 AM

Michigan has long been a safe Democratic state in the presidential elections for the past 24 years, but the unpredictability of this cycle puts everything in doubt. A Fox 2 poll showed GOP candidate Donald Trump is less than 3.3 percentage points behind Democrat Hillary Clinton — within the margin of error.

Michigan is becoming a contested state, and your vote could swing it to the red or blue side.

The Arab American vote can be decisive locally and statewide, as evidenced by recent elections, including the historic victory of Bernie Sanders in Michigan in March and the win of state rep. candidate Abdullah Hammoud in Dearborn in August.

There is too much at stake to stay home on Nov. 8. Vital races can be decided by you from the top of the ballot down to the proposals.

Arab and Muslim communities are under attack. The rise of hate crime, Islamophobic media campaigns and anti-immigration rhetoric is frightening. The best way to respond to those who question Arabs and Muslims’ Americanism is to fulfill the civic duty of voting on Tuesday.

Furthermore, when Arab Americans vote in large numbers, they advance the community’s interests by creating a voting bloc that influences future candidates’ political calculations.

The Clinton campaign’s efforts to reach out to Arab Americans are the direct results of the March primaries, when the former secretary of state did not court the Arab vote and lost Michigan.

Some citizens may find the scandal-ridden campaigns and name calling nationally and locally discouraging. But voting is an act of civility. It is a means to countering to the unpleasant campaigning.

Arab Americans need to participate and make their presence known. This community is growing in numbers and the ballot box must reflect that demographic growth, or else Arab Americans’ economic and residential influence will be overlooked.

The AANews endorsed a list of 27 candidates for various races last week. (See page 13 for an official sample ballot in Dearborn with our endorsements checked off).

Because of the flaws of both major party candidates, we did not endorse anyone for president. However, that does not mean that you should not vote in this race of historic importance.

Other contests are also important. As highlighted previously, this election cycle has been unpredictable. Although Dearborn’s State House district is assumed to be a secure Democratic seat, Arab Americans should come out in large numbers to support Abdullah Hammoud, who is clearly a better candidate than his Republican opponent.

The judicial race and both the local and state school board elections are also extremely important for the community’s future and the education of future generations.

But community members should not vote based on ethnicity or religious affiliation. Arab Americans cannot further isolate themselves from their surroundings. This community has allies who have defended civil liberties and advocated for the wellbeing of all residents.

Backing candidates because of their Arab last name puts Arab Americans in a bubble.

How can the community ask non-Arab neighbors to back its causes if Arab voters blindly grant their votes to Arab candidates only?

Arab Americans should vote based on merit, experience and qualifications, in addition to the candidate’s sensitivity to the Arab community.

While The AANews has always encouraged Arab American political engagement, including running for office, it doesn’t mean that we support any Arab candidate seeking office, based on race or national origin. Qualifications are always among the main deciding factors for our endorsement.

It is true that Arab Americans have special interests and sensitivities, but candidates who are better for the broader community will always be the preferred choices.

Regardless of whom you will vote for, head to the polls on Nov. 8 and cast your ballot.

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