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The best man
I would vote for Gore

October 30, 2000
The Iranian

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 national interests.

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.

More information:

* Candidates' biographies

George W. Bush
Al Gore

* Current Endorsements
* Election Issues
* Analysis of what's at stake
* Glossary of American Politics for Foreigners
* Electoral Process Explained

Comment for The Iranian letters section
Comment to the writer Ramin Tabbib

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