The best man
I would vote for Gore
October 30, 2000
I was too young to cast a vote in Iran, and here in the U.S., I spent
many years as a resident alien before becoming eligible to vote. Next week's
presidential elections will be my initiation into the democratic process,
and I suspect it will be the same for many Iranians who hold U.S. citizenship.
Like many of you, I have watched the preparation for the upcoming elections
with a sense of awe and befuddlement. The year-long campaign by the candidates
across such a vast territory and toward such a ethnically and politically
heterogeneous population is an experience that is unique to American society.
Nowhere else does the democratic process involve such a broad range of
electorates voting basically for only two candidates who purport to be
all things to all people.
It is after a year-long contemplation that I have decided to vote for
Al Gore, and I hope my reasons would convince some you to do the same.
First, let's compare the two candidates based on experience, education
and personal life. In terms of experience, George W. Bush has a spotty
and often vague history prior to his ascension to the governorship of Texas,
while Gore's life has encompassed more than 25 years of government service.
Consistency breeds trust and Gore's years of service are worth more trust
than his opponent's.
In terms of education, Gore's formative years have included time as
a graduate student of theology. Any person with theological background
could be suspected of being one-dimensional and absolutist, but Gore's
years as a student of theology seems to have had the opposite effect. It
seems to have instilled in him at least two visible traits: A sense of
humility and a penchant to view concepts in a larger scope than ordinary
politicians. His 1992 book on the environment attests to this grand cosmology.
So does his views on abortion, minority rights and lending assistance overseas.
Furthermore, in terms of family life, the respect and admiration expressed
by Gore's wife and children seem a good measure of his success as father
and husband. Gore's balance in his profession, education and family, therefore,
will make him a better president.
Secondly, Gore's views represent a continuation of an American shift
toward inclusive politics. By inclusive I mean a view toward accommodating
and even empowering minorities - of which we are a part of. At this moment
in American history, no other political group (with enough influence) is
as much an ally to Blacks, Hispanics and newly arrived minorities than
the Democrats are. This has been evident in Clinton/Gore's support of Affirmative
Action, minimum wage increase, workplace safety and immigration issues.
While Republicans repeatedly push for a an end to minority-favored programs,
and while the likes of Reform Party's Buchanan slowly gain ground by scaring
the public about immigrants, Gore, and Democrats in general, have steadfastly
stood against the political right and prevented inroads by the conservatives.
There is no doubt that the Republican candidate is less of an ally toward
immigrants than Gore is.
Among Iranians, there is an often resurrected myth that a Republican
administration is better for Iran than a Democratic one, therefore Iranians
should support Republicans. I personally do not think that any administration's
foreign policy, particularly toward Iran, is decided by the president's
party affiliation. Democrats and Republicans will both do what is in America's
The Democratic Clinton Administration has made a number of overtures
toward Iran, as much or even more so than the previous Republican Bush
administration. To think that the Republican Party is pro-Iran is simply
a false generalization carried over from the 1970s when the Republican
Nixon was viewed as pro-Iran and the Democratic Carter as anti-Iran.
Thirdly, Gore, from what I have observed, appears to be a candidate
who listens very carefully to issues that are before him. Clinton was a
master listener, and Gore seems to have acquired the same trait. Either
Gore or Bush will sit in the highest political office in the world, and
one of them will yield enough influence and power that can obliterate nations
or raise fallen people from the brink of catastrophe. Iraq and Kosovo are
examples of these. As such, electing a candidate who listens carefully
and is willing to reevaluate unpopular alternatives is crucial.
I think that given the choice of two candidates, Gore is the one that
would pay the most attention to the issues at hand and will be the one
that will reconsider and even change his course of action if he believes
either he or the general opinion is on the wrong path. This is important
in the context of the Middle East because when opportunity arises to normalize
relations with Iran or take military action in the Middle East, Gore seems
better poised than the Republican candidate to make judgments that affect
other peoples lives.
In addition, the next American president will preside over a number
of important domestic matters in the next four years. Chief among them
is the U.S. Supreme Court. As many as four new Supreme Court judges may
be nominated by the next president. If conservative judges are nominated
by a Republican president, there is a good chance that many programs that
favor minorities and immigrants may be challenged. Moreover, a conservative
Supreme Court will be more in favor of foolish lawsuits brought against
foreign governments including Iran.
A final note: While Gore's past reveals a stoic and reserved persona,
the Republican candidate, before entering politics, seems to have led a
life of reckless indifference. Perhaps the Republican candidate would be
a great person to hang out with, but combine his nonchalance with the power
of the presidency and the result can only cause anxiety.
* Candidates' biographies
of what's at stake
of American Politics for Foreigners