Show Love For Self & Others: Register to Vote by October 12th
As-Salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu
May the Peace, Mercy and Blessings of Allah (God) Be Upon You
America appears to be twisting itself in knots. Better stated, a significant number of Americans are being influenced and motivated to act with almost diametrically opposed principles or reasoning related to the direction in which this nation is headed. The reasons are many, yet some being spoken about and referenced more loudly these days are "white privilege" and "white supremacy." Media is replete with images and arguments on a daily basis featuring Trump and a cadre referred to as his "base" of make America great again collaborators following his every lead. These are not "bad" people; they are being misled. To some degree, the daily bombardment might be referred to as "Trump media" i.e., all about Trump or some dastardly conceived, ill-thought out contradiction with the mainstream of America and the majority of Americans. None of the often cited opinion polls has ever been led by Trump except with Republicans, about which 80% don't give and inch as it relates to how he is doing. If it doesn't hype up the Trump base, it isn't working for him or the GOP. If it squares with Democrats or its legislative congressional bodies of Senators and Congresspersons, whom Trump castigates regularly and recently going so far as to refer to some peaceful protesters in Washington DC as an "angry left wing mob." These were Americans, men and women who felt adverse to the confirmation of Kavanaugh. To Trump its "fake news," a "hoax," a "witch hunt," "rigged" or he knows nothing about it. For all of Trump's golfing and travel to and from campaign rallies, both at tax payers expense, at which the intelligence of more than half of the nation is insulted weekly, what real work could Trump honestly be accomplishing directly in the Oval Office of the White House? Yet, with the exit of numerous appointees who have either been fired or resigned-- individuals who might have been able to temper some of Trump's actions in the past, Omarosa excluded, Trump now has a hand-picked administration and a Republican congress catering to his insular points of view, ideas and decisions no matter how discriminatory or politically incorrect and damaging to this nation or others they may be. This is a sad and dangerous time for Americans whether they claim to be on the right or the left of the politics unfolding as constant "breaking news." At this pace, unless there is change on the horizon, America just may break. Arrogant and insensitive empires have all fallen in the past largely due to lessons they did not learn. Intemperate and selfish leaders or despots and dictators drove those governments, themselves and the people into the ground. It can happen in America; do not think it cannot.
An example of the first suggestion about "white privilege" being a driving force in today's politics is the recent confirmation of the most historically unpopular and controversial Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) selection and Judicial Committee vote within the last one hundred years. Brett Kavanaugh had the unequivocal support of a President who, seeking his own protection from the more than a year old Mueller investigation, limited what could have been a serious FBI investigation into Kavanaugh's past. Such vetting is presumably useful in terms of establishing the character of someone who will serve as a judge of others. Albeit, Kavanaugh had been vetted numerous times when facing challenged appointments in the past, new information about his actions as a young man were treated without the integrity that the issues deserved. The process was rushed and seemed unfair to both the accused and the accuser, from many observers. Nor were the majority of Kavanaugh's legal writings over the course of the last twenty years made available for a thorough review by the Judicial Committee. Both of these circumstances had the potential to threaten his becoming a member of the Supreme Court-- or did they really? It was perceived by some that the manner in which the investigation and the confirmation process was orchestrated set up Kavanaugh to obtain the position of an Associate Justice to the Supreme Court. To others, the impression was more obstruction from a President, under investigation already for obstruction that hangs over his head; or does it really? Why was it so important for Kavanaugh to be confirmed, when given all of the consternation surrounding his selection to become a member of the Supreme Court there were others to select from for a new nomination? Is it here that we find what may be a relationship to white supremacy? Interestingly, until the election of Donald Trump, white supremacy wasn't in the lexicon of the American media in general, while many Americans know what it looks and feels like quite well. After Charlottesville and the President's response, there has been or at least was a robust discussion for a while about White Supremacy.
Brett Kavanaugh, besides already being a Federal Judge, built his career as a member of the Federalist Society working within Presidential administrations. The ideology of the Federalist Society is founded upon the Constitution as it was originally written with a starkly conservative view to counter what is perceived as "liberalism". Since its origin in 1982, started on college campuses around the country, this network of conservative and libertarian lawyers has become one of the most powerful groups in America today. It is considered a right-wing group (to the extreme some might say), in terms of political conservatism. The Trump presidency has provided impetus for it to become even more conservative. Kavanaugh, who was sworn in on Saturday with a hand uponn his family's Bible, is now the fifth out of nine Supreme Court justices who are members of the Federalist Society. Not only has Trump successfully maneuvered Kavanaugh into the vacancy of former Supreme Court Justice Kennedy, Trump has also been actively filling 107 vacant federal judicial appointments with the assistance of the Federalist Society. These selected judges bring conservative ideas, also defined as "originalism" into the courtroom that do not welcome a diverse society that is constitutionally supposed to be for and by its people. Contrary to what are held to be democratic ideals, the Federalist society believes its leaders (and those who look like the Founding Fathers) are to be the elite leaders of society. It also espouses that the courts decide "what the law is, and not what it should be" from a perspective of the Founding Fathers (see: https://fedsoc.org/frequently-asked-questions). There is a measurable absence of concern for an America that looks and is very different from what it was in 1788, amendments excluded as the people of this country and earnest, costly struggle brought them about. Of the twenty-seven amendments, it appears that Federalists focus on those that sustain the status quo. It is of necessity to add that the Federalist Society would likely welcome a constitutional convention that can come about with thirty-four states requesting it, by resolution, so that the constitution can be changed for the benefit of a segment of America. In 2017, a resolution was on the ballot in New York State calling for this convention. It was defeated, however twenty-seven states out of a required thirty-four i.e., two-thirds of the nation's fifty states have approved the resolution thus far. It could happen in the not too distant future as these resolutions continue to appear in state elections.
Looking back as opposed to looking ahead is what the Trump administration and "make America great again," is all about. Demographic projections that reflect America is becoming "brown" and that white, rather Caucasian people will become the "minority" by 2050 (or earlier) terrifies some people. Out of a sense of insecurity or selfishness, some appear to find blaming others for what they lack or feel threatened to lose as the answer to their discontent. As a result, we are witnessing attacks on immigrants living in the US and bans to block more from coming to America. More so, the loss of privilege i.e., white privilege, feels compounded for some as people of various languages and ethnicities around the globe, most of them non-white, have come to the fore in financial resources and talent that competes with the US on the world stage. Trump and his "base" dislikes competition. Trump just wants to win and it doesn't seem to matter how. We have observed episodes of this behavior when Trump travels to other nations and the manner in which the US is currently operating at the United Nations by "taking names." Unfortunately, the GOP has found its figurehead in Trump. It demonstrates its commitment to an unprecedented inept national leader not by acquiescing to his whims, but by promoting them and him as the nation approaches what are called the "mid-term" election. The oath upon taking office as a US Senator and Congressman/woman is to swear or affirm that they will "support and defend the Constitution." The oath is required by the Constitution; the wording is prescribed by law. The interpretation of the "law" is what occurs within the Supreme Court. A partisan conservative SCOTUS is expected to change America from what we know it as currently after the last fifty years of efforts to create positive social change.
The last month, dominated by the Kavanaugh selection and confirmation to the Supreme Court, is a textbook lesson in why exercising your right to vote i.e., being an eligible registered voter who votes, truly matters. We say "eligible voter" because one has to, at minimum, be an American citizen and meet the voting age in order to qualify to vote (please see other qualifications below). Voting is a right to participate in the direction in which your country will take, and in some instances can make or break a nation, your community, you and your family. From the look and recent history of the US, there are many questions that will be coming before the Supreme Court starting this week when Kavanaugh takes the bench on October 9th. These concern how Americans will live as well as who will be able to become an American citizen in the future. Presently, there is concern about a "citizenship" question appearing on the 2020 US Census. Why is this being raised for this census if it may reduce participation AND when the census, by law, is to count the "residents" in the US, not the "citizens" in the US?
Here are just a few more questions to consider a conservative majority on the Supreme Court deciding about or ruling against current statutes - or - the US Senate creating laws about that will impact you or those you love:
1) How women are treated in the workplace and in the courtroom moving forward?
2) What happens to children who can be taken away from their family over immigration issues and more without due process?
3) When America creates conditions in other nations that result in refugees seeking safety, should they be permitted to enter America? Should immigration continue or should it be mitigated?
4) What Muslims, from where can enter the US to be joined with family members who can support them? Is it discriminatory to limit the movement of people because of their religion, ethnicity, race?
5) Should families with low-incomes, given the high rent and cost of food, health care and transportation lose their ability to become a US citizen at some time in the future because they used a public benefit?
6) Should the question of citizenship be included on the 2020 US census?
There are many other issues related to housing, education, voting rights and numerous issues around immigration that are at risk of being eliminated or significantly changed by the current administration or the Courts in ways that will be adverse to populations of need. The recent change to the Supreme Court may impact the decisions that will be reached. Some questions are also turned down i.e., not heard by the Supreme Court that can also leave some issues in limbo such that lower court rulings stand. The opportunity in the mid-term election is for the tide to be turned by a change of leadership of either, preferably both, the US Senate and the US House of Representatives. With Democratic or split leadership, Trump will not just have his way with a severely partisan agenda (the GOP remaining in charge of both of these legislative bodies) that is harming, it seems intentionally: poor Americans, children, undocumented residents, green card holders, public schools, workers, health care and the environment.
Since April, 2018 the South East Queens Muslim Collective has been encouraging and conducting voter education and voter registration in various areas in the borough of Queens, specifically South East Queens. These efforts are specifically to educate community residents to register to vote in the upcoming mid-term election on November 6th of this year. However, upon attained awareness and knowledge abut the impact of voting, once exercised at the voting booth, inclines registered voters to vote for a lifetime. SEQMC has registered voters, al-hamdulillah (all Praise Be to Allah (swt). We have also encountered many individuals who have stated that they cannot vote because they are "not citizens." Given the current political climate, will these individuals-- our neighbors, friends and family members of neighbors and friends, continue to live in an America where the hope or dream of becoming a citizen will remain within reach?
In early September of this year, while listening to a WNYC radio program, The Takeaway, the topic "Why Don't More American's Vote? was of particular interest (please see: https://www.wnycstudios.org/story/why-dont-more-americans-vote). The program included a discussion with President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Sherrilyn Ifill, who talked about the existence of specific tactics in place that keep different types of people from voting. She also discussed the history behind the Voting Rights Act and the Supreme Court case decision Shelby County v. Holder, which has since had significant impact on the right to vote in numerous states around the country e.g., Georgia, North Carolina. Also included was a conversation with Barry Burden, professor of Political Science and Director of the Elections Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, discussing what it takes to transform non-voters into voters. I was particularly interested in this segment. I have always voted since turning eighteen decades ago. Why are eighteen year old adults now so dis-interested in voting, I often ask myself? Far too many have told me "it doesn't matter." I could hardly wait to turn eighteen so I could vote. My response to many young people when I hear this reply is that some of the votes I have made since I was eighteen (not having missed any elections) have helped America to become the nation it still is, notwithstanding it was better for some time prior to the election of the current President and before September 11th, which dramatically changed this nation-- but this can change we are presently experiencing can become worse without their participation. I cannot deny that after the last three years, the 2016 presidential campaign included, in terms of what Americans have witnessed of this government and its candidates, some of its elected officials, etc. kind of validates what young Americans feel. However, a defeatist attitude will change nothing. Change in this nation has always come about by the people's participation and often as a result of protest. The African-American community especially knows this having waged protests after protest in the era of civil rights which abated for a time, but has not ended.
Of all that I heard that afternoon on The Takeaway radio program, I was most effected by the story of Tolu Aleshinloye, a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient living in New York City who cannot vote due to her citizenship status. I later found her story and many more on the website of The Love Vote i.e., https://www.thelovevote.org. The website, created to provide exposure to the plight of many in this nation whose voices we do not hear often enough for numerous reasons, highlights the need for people who CAN vote to do so not just for themselves but also for others who lack this privilege and right. For Tolu's story please see: https://www.thelovevote.org/campaign/tolu/.
To share a little of it, she found out in high school that she was undocumented. It made ger feel that her life was in somewhat of a standstill. With the threat of DACA being eliminated by the Trump administration, it is not hard to imagine how the lack of not knowing what one's future might entail is quite scary. Tolu, whose family arrived in the US from Nigeria, knows nothing about the land of her birth in real terms. Yet, she has been able to move forward in her life. Her appeal for others to vote, while she can't, is poignant and very relevant. I hope you can identify with it and will share it with others.
Another story on The Love Vote is that of Nour who is from Syria and in the US seeking asylum. The Trump administration is threatening to close asylum to individuals for reasons that have to do with safety or security. Syria and many nations are undergoing severe conditions including war, famine and political upheaval.
Alex, was granted Temporary Protection Status after the destructive earthquake in Haiti that the nation has yet to recover from. The Trump administration has announced an end to this protected status and many may have to soon return to Haiti without homes or opportunities for employment. Haiti is not the only nation in which individuals have temporary protected status. If forced to leave, how will they be able to adjust to such unsettled lives. Sad to say, they were the fortunate ones who made it to the US.
There are more diverse stories at the Love Vote. All of the participants, some of whom cannot vote due to prior imprisonment, as another example-- want to vote but are not eligible. The circumstances that render them ineligible to vote hang in the balance so far as their ability to either remain in the US or live without the anxiety of how they can be productive residents in a country that espouses freedom, liberty and justice for all. Many organizations like the ACLU, Muslim Advocates, The Brennan Center for Justice, etc. are working to protect them from systemic harm and make sure their voices are represented, politically. In my interactions with individuals whose circumstances were not so far removed from those I read about on the Love Vote, I have been able to positively state to them that I will vote for their concerns and in their interest. I think and hope that made a difference during our conversation.
What the Love Vote is attempting to accomplish with some success, is to influence and motivate individuals who are eligible but who have not registered or voted in the past, to CHANGE and become voters. As a nation, we can collectively come to understand how critical issues really effect others as well as our communities. Think about climate change as an issue: it impacts every human being on the planet! Visitors to the Love Vote become educated to a need that they, hopefully, can directly relate to and actually assist by exercising their ability to vote, commit to registering to vote and voting in behalf of that Love Vote profile. At a time when we hear quite a bit of hate spewing out of the mouths of everyday people perhaps because the ugly rhetoric coming from so-called high offices (that may be perceived as giving license to it), we must remember that LOVE TRUMPS HATE!
There is a hadith (a Muslim tradition or example) that was recorded during the life of Prophet Muhammad (SAWS; Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) that is as follows: "One does not truly believe until he wants for his brother/sister what he wants for himself." People of faith can connect with these words. We are one human family. In Surat Al-Hujurat from the Holy Qur'an, it reads: "O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). That we were born in different parts of the world was not anyone's choice, nor did any of us select our parents. We are from different nations and we have different ethnicities albeit the construct of race is confusing: there is one race: human. No matter which religion, creed or belief we hold, we are the creation of a Creator. When we are in harmony, we understand and connect at our hearts with love. When we are in dis-harmony, we must challenge ourselves to search and find a balance. We can rise above negativity and even hate-- with the help of each other which comes from the Help of Allah (God).
In this final week in which individuals in New York State can still register until OCTOBER 12 to vote on November 6, 2018 and potentially make a difference in this nation's future, we hope you can reach to extend beyond yourself by sharing this blog with others. Please listen to these stories and others on the Love Vote website, and/or share them with someone who may become moved to take action. What can happen as a result of increased voters and voting is that a collective outpouring of voters will demonstrate a more sensitive and compassionate electorate-- one that will not want to see asylum seekers and family members who want to join their family in the US turned away; that allows people from Syria, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Somalia seeking to migrate or visit family in the US to not be broadly denied entry into the US (as nations selected for the Muslim Ban (2.0), and that the more than 800,000 individuals with DACA distinctions will not be faced with having to leave their lives in this country.
The time frame in which to register to vote continues through October 12, 2018 the LAST day in which the voter registration form can be postmarked for the mid-term election. Address changes also need to be reflected on new registration forms by this date. If you cannot change your address in time, go vote at your former voting location!
Please use this information to register NOW, if you are not already registered:
THOSE ELIGIBLE TO VOTE IN THE NOVEMBER 6, 2018 (MID-TERM) ELECTION MUST MEET THE
· be a United States citizen;
· be 18 years old by December 31 of the year in which you register (note: you must be 18 years old by the date of the election in which you want to vote);
· resident of New York State and the county, city or village for at least 30 days before the election;
· not be in prison or on parole for a felony conviction (formerly incarcerated citizens no longer on parole CAN VOTE!)
· not be adjudged mentally incompetent by a court;
· not claim the right to vote elsewhere.
YOU MAY NEED TO RE-REGISTER TO VOTE IF THE FOLLOWING APPLIES TO YOUR CURRENT CIRCUMSTANCES:
· You have changed your name or address since you last voted (update registration no later than 20 days prior to the election);
· You have not voted in any elections over a number of years (best to check than to have a problem on 11/6/2018)
Check your registration status online:
Download a Voter Registration Form:
Register online with valid DMV information:
If you'd like to join our voter education/registration efforts please contact SEQMC at 718-663-4644 or contact us via email at email@example.com.