Vote 2020!

Election day is fast approaching, and today (October 27) is the last day to register for a mail-in ballot in Pennsylvania. Make sure you get out and vote in whatever way feels safest to you. 

A few weeks ago, I worked with my friends at Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, as part of their “Sawwit: Engaging Artists for Civic Engagement” initiative, to produce this PSA to encourage Arab-American voters to make their voices heard. But voters of all ethnicities need to do the same. We can all imagine a better future and need to vote for it. 

It may sound extreme to say that the fate of American democracy is at stake in the 2020 election. But I think there is plenty of evidence that American democracy is under threat from the incredible amount of disinformation that flows through the veins of social media. We all need to be careful about the media we consume. We all need to ask ourselves why we choose to believe one thing over another and weigh the evidence and the sources for that evidence.

When the President of the United States is a major source and/or vector for the spread of disinformation, it is clear that we are in trouble. The years of his misleadership have politicized nearly everything from the post office, to the census, to whether we can trust the election results, to whether masks work to stop the spread of Covid-19, to what is actually factual. And you have to hand it to him — he has done a remarkable job at discrediting anyone who disagrees with him. He has used social media as tools to disseminate his disinformation, hate, and fear-mongering. And that is the danger — he is really good at all of this. 

And, since he became the Republican nominee in 2016, most of the party has gotten behind him, despite his bigotry, his lying, his shredding of democratic institutions, his incivility, and his malignant narcissism. What inspires these Retrumplicans to support this man? Is it fear that if they don’t support him, their political careers will be destroyed? Is it opportunism that they can get bits and pieces of their agenda passed while this man burns the country down? Or do some of them share his authoritarian/white supremacist worldview? 

The Democratic Party has its faults, and I’m not a huge fan. But at this point in American history, there is no comparison between the two parties. One believes in fact, science, racial equality, gender equality, equal rights regardless of sexual orientation, economic dignity, sensible gun reforms, and the promise that we can create a better future for all people, regardless of their background, their ethnicity, their immigration status, their pre-existing conditions, or their religion. The other party believes in denying science, spreading conspiracy theories, suppressing votes, gerrymandering, cutting taxes for the ultra-wealthy, discriminating against non-whites, discriminating against non-Christians, discriminating against people who identify as LGBTQ+, separating immigrant families, allowing corporations to mistreat workers and pollute the environment, allowing their leader to get away with high crimes and misdemeanors, and taking America back to the 1950s. 

To me, the contrast couldn’t be more stark. The choice is clear. So, I implore you this election season to get out and vote at every line on the ballot for candidates who want to move this country forward. Vote for leaders who acknowledge the humanity and dignity of people, rather than try to take away the humanity of certain groups. Vote for leaders who will acknowledge the challenges and imperfections our country and planet faces and who will work to overcome those challenges. Vote for leaders who will stand up to demagogues and corporations and fight for everyday Americans who may be struggling financially. Vote for leaders who believe that science is our only way of really understanding the world, the universe, and our place in it. Vote for leaders who believe that white supremacy and systemic racism are and have been major problems since the founding of our country — ones that need to be dealt with. Vote for leaders who really want to want to make the country better for all people, not just their corporate and billionaire buddies. Vote for America. Vote for democracy. Vote for humanity.

Credits

Thanks to (in order of appearance): Elvira-Marie Mikhael, Nashid Ali, Engy Khoshit, Omran Muhtadi, Sharif Esmael, Ahmed Zaki, Rasha Shreim, Majed Al Jundi, Alaha Manassra. 

Music composed by Kinan Abou-afach, soundtrack “On the Road” from “Of Roads and Homes” CD.

This video was produced by Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, with funding from the National Network for Arab American Communities.