Being an active participant in elections involves more than just registering to vote and voting. In this year's presidential race, the stakes have never been higher. Americans of all faiths or none, of all races and backgrounds, are fed up with the current administration's modus operandi and are looking for a leader who will steer the world's most powerful nation back to its position as a country that is politically and economically strong, a role model on issues like civil and human rights, and a true beacon of freedom and democracy.
But this can only happen if Americans, all of us, are directly engaged in the process of selecting this kind of a leader well before November. Here are a couple of ways to do that:
1) Participate in setting the Democratic Party's agenda
In the initiative entitled ?Listening to America: The Democratic Platform for Change?, members of the public will be invited to host and attend Platform Meetings in their communities as an opportunity to exchange ideas and share perspectives on the challenges we face. To facilitate the process, the Obama campaign and the DNC will send policy experts and DNC Platform Committee members to as many meetings as possible to serve as facilitators. Each Platform Meeting will produce a written summary that will be reviewed and considered by the Platform Committee.
Don't lose this opportunity to bring up issues? of relevance to you and the Muslim community, whether that is civil rights, global warming, the Iraq war, funding for education,? health and social services or anything else.
Registration to host an event will be open from July 7th to July 15th by going to. The Platform Meetings will occur across the country from July 19th through July 27th.
2) Communicate with the McCain Campaign: Openly speak out against Islamophobic statements and actions by party leaders or their high profile supporters
Although Senator John McCain expressed openly that he would not be ?comfortable? with a Muslim as president of the United States, he later clarified the statement, saying "I would vote for a Muslim if he or she was the candidate best able to lead the country and to defend our political values."
However, he recently met with Rev. Franklin Graham. Those of us with longer memories will recall that this is the same Christian leader who, about seven years ago said that Islam is ?a very evil and wicked religion?. Although Graham and his father, famed televangelist Billy Graham, did not endorse him for president, their meeting was cordial and Graham Jr. heaped praise on the presidential candidate.
Muslims can play a role in this regard by contacting Senator McCain's campaign and expressing their concern that he is aligning himself with those who seek to divide Americans on the basis of faith. Just as in 2000, he called the Revs. Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell "agents of intolerance", his latest rapprochement with Rev. Franklin Graham indicates that a certain level of intolerance is fine with him. If that's not true, he needs to once again clarify his statement.
3) Don't rule out third parties
The Green Party recently selected Cynthia McKinney (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynthia_mckinney), a former member of Congress from Georgia. McKinney has spoken out against the first Gulf War in 1991,? racial profiling, secret evidence and is a strong defender of civil liberties.
While many may consider the top priority of this year's election to rid the nation of the current leadership, the Green Party's pro-civil rights platform, among other things, may endear it to a number of Muslims fed up with the ongoing assault on civil liberties in the Unites States.
Photo Attribution: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Obama_watches_Clinton_nomination_speech_at_2012_Democratic_convention.jpg