An Election of No Choice: March 2016

Daiyaan, my twenty year old, is getting ready to vote for the first time in 2016; recently, she texts and asks why and how I am voting in the primaries, and I am delighted to help her with her thinking; her best friend Kimmy, is voting for Bernie Sanders and Daiyaan and I have already discussed Hillary Clinton.

I can tell that Daiyaan is not satisfied with her choice and wants more from her candidate. Welcome to adulthood, my beautiful daughter. I certainly wish we had a “lovable” candidate the first time you are ready to vote.

I have boiled my entire election choice in 2016 down to a simple litmus-test; who will protect my civil liberties and those of my children?

Typically, one looks at US elections from 3 vantage points:

  1. Who will protect my pocketbook (who will protect me from higher taxes)?
  2. Who will be a strong world-leader (who will be respected)?
  3. Who will ensure our freedom (protect Social and Civil liberties)?

If the thought was to just make a ton of tax-free money, I would migrate to Saudi Arabia or Singapore; but I chose to live in America because of its ability to re-invent and re-shape itself, over and over again. I chose the US simply to be the best I could be; to choose my own freedom, and define my own identify, on my terms. I have done the best I could – with what was available to me.

If I wanted Socialistic taxation structures (and extreme winters), I would move to Canada or Sweden. I like the balance of creativity, entrepreneurship and hard-work based independence that the US offers. At this mid-life juncture, I have accomplished what I wanted (and more); now it’s really about the future – and most importantly, the future of my two daughters.

Future cycles of elections are all about protecting their rights, liberties – to choose – to be women – to be educated and successful on their own merit and fill their lives with joy.

It’s not because Hillary Clinton is a woman.

I agree she is a flawed-imperfect candidate. However, given my choices – she is much better than anyone I have seen on the Republican side. Also, under a Democratic President, I feel my personal civil liberties and those of my children, are more likely to be protected, and possibly enhanced.

If you have a daughter, I am not sure, how you tell her that she should make 70 cents-on-the-dollar of what your son may make; or that she doesn’t have a right to choose what happens to her body, or to decide when to have children and that the state she lives in, controls this.

Under the Democratic Presidency of Barack Obama, my personal and professional goals have been enhanced; unemployment is significantly lowered  (<5%), the US Stock-markets are stable/growing and we have climbed out of a really bad recession. I don’t think the world is any safer (or more risky) than what it was when he took over – or for that matter – twenty or even fifty years ago. I was 4 year old when Bangladesh fought a bloody civil war – I have accepted that there is evil in the world, and it manifests itself in terrorists (US or elsewhere); how we stand up to them is the key.

Another thing I am especially grateful for: we haven’t declared a war on someone else in seven years; we have not militarily intervened in Syria or Libya. In my 3 decades of living here, we have had a propensity to utilize military power to police the world; I just don’t want that responsibility for my children. 

I can’t imagine Daiyaan fighting a war somewhere, for no reason; I don’t want any US parent to feel this level of disconnection toward wars they don’t understand.

If Obama was on the election ticket this year, I would vote him back into office.

However, since that’s not an option, my vote, this cycle – and probably for a few coming cycles, is now locked in the Democratic camp – however imperfect their candidate.

As divided as this nation is, at this point of history, and likely to remain this way in the foreseeable future, my main focus is the US Supreme Court.

I have complete confidence in the SCOTUS to adjudicate sound, solid legal direction based on the constitution . It’s not perfect, but it’s a much better way to upholding/rejecting laws, versus by the fickle public opinion. This is apparent from the Civil Rights laws of the 60s or the Gay-Rights promulgated in the last few years.

I am very much interested in the appointment of feminists to the court. I love both the Justices confirmed during the Obama period. I want more justices who will enhance a woman’s right and equality in this relatively biased society. Men have had their way in the US system of Government for over 300 years. Women need stronger protection and better checks and balances.

I have more confidence in the Democrats to nominate feminists to the Supreme Court.

One major frustration during this election cycle, is the feeling of helplessness from considering my options. In a country as smart as ours, I should be torn between two brilliant minds, competing on ideology, versus theatrics. Why can’t we get Collin Powell or Cheryl Sandberg to run on a ticket? 

Maybe when Shania gets ready to vote in 2024, she will have options of leaders we will love, respect and want to follow; at this point, we don’t really have a choice.

Fractured, or not, this time, Hillary it is.

Madame President, we look forward to you in the White House.

Hillary Window

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2 thoughts on “An Election of No Choice: March 2016

  1. Dear Zain, as a kindred spirit with two daughters of my own, I concur with the passion of your essay. I, however, will quibble on a few points. Firstly, I don’t believe Canada or Sweden quash creativity or restrict freedom. In fact, both countries (especially when considered per capita) have made their respective contributions to human progress, and I feel have been more progressive in regards to issues of gender equality. Both countries also tend to lead the U.S. on happiness surveys- both consistently listed in the top 10. Secondly, we both know that there is no comparison between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia in regards to personal freedoms. Even if one wished to maximize their tax free income, few of us could live under a suppressive, patriarchal, monarchy guided by Wahhabism (and clearly would not want our daughters in such an environment). Thirdly, the SCOTUS does not make law as you have stated but rather interprets. I do agree that the most important aspect of this election cycle will be the replacement of likely three justices. The philosophy based on interpretation of original intent (championed by the late Justice Scalia) borne in a bygone era is clearly debatable. Thomas Jefferson clearly felt that the constitution needed to be re-assessed intermittently based on societal evolution- that is the constitution should be a “breathing document.” The concept which I support is associated with the view that contemporaneous society should be taken into account when interpreting key constitutional phrases as previously espoused by Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. and Louis D. Brandeis and more recently by Justice Gingsburg. In my opinion, the legislature has been gridlocked in partisan bickering devoid of common sense that practically speaking hinders any meaningful amendments to the constitution pushing the Court to activism. For me, this election boils down to judicial philosophy (based on the anticipation of disparate judicial candidates from the two parties), separation of Church and State (where Cruz gives me heartburn), qualification for the position (HRC clearly has the most experience), and not having a candidate who advances misogyny and bigotry (you know who). I think most Americans, myself included, want a society that provides upward opportunity for hard working individuals. Most believe in the concept of “live and let live”. Most believe that individuals should have equal protection by government and be able advance on their merits as eloquently promulgated by Thomas Paine in the “Rights of Man” and his polemic pamphlet “Common Sense” (not based on pedigree, gender, race, religion etcetera). Unfortunately, I do think the deck is stacked. For example, why have we not emphasized alternative sources of energy as a longterm benefit from a political, ecological, and even defense perspective? Why is it that the Wall Street executive is allowed to gamble recklessly only to be rewarded by a public bailout? For these last points, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, and I dare say Donald Trump are a breath of fresh air. They are fighting the status quo. Unfortunately, in my opinion, Trump and Cruz are too despicable and/or not qualified for the office of POTUS. Bernie seems to be the most earnest and untainted but his policy proposals will never reach maturation, and I think unfair from the other end of the political spectrum. Hard work should be rewarded and ~ 70% tax brackets quash the entrepreneurial risk taking American spirit. Anyway, for these reasons I have come to the same conclusion and will likely vote for HRC (again assuming she wins the primary). Cheers!

    1. Great thoughts Surit! Really glad chimed in with logic, intellect and sense. I am just disappointed that a country as talented as this cannot afford us better choices! We should be torn between two amazing choices… Think Colin Powell … Sheryl Sandberg… Someone we will be inspired by, not just put up with. Please let your voice be known. For our children’s sake. We just cannot remain silent.

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