Muslim Americans are, by and large, both socially and economically conservative. Sixty-one percent of them would ban abortion except to save the life of the mother; 84 percent support school choice. Muslims overwhelmingly support traditional marriage. More than a quarter — over twice the national average — are self-employed small-business owners, and most support reducing taxes and the abolition of the estate tax. By all rights they should be Republicans — and not long ago they were. American Muslims voted two to one for George H.W. Bush in 1992. While they went for Bill Clinton by the same margin in 1996, they were brought back into the Republican fold in 2000 by George W. Bush.
If Clinton was, as the author Toni Morrison once quipped, America’s first black president, Bush was, at least momentarily, the country’s first Muslim president. As early as 1999, he hosted a series of meetings between Muslim and Republican leaders, and paid a visit himself to an Islamic center in Michigan — the first and only major presidential candidate to do so. The 2000 Republican convention in Philadelphia was the first in either national party’s history to include a Muslim prayer. On the campaign trail, Bush celebrated the faith of Americans who regularly attended a “church, synagogue, or mosque.” After Muslim community leaders told him of their civil liberties concerns over a piece of 1996 immigration enforcement legislation signed into law by Clinton, Bush criticized it himself in one of his presidential debates against Vice President Al Gore.
The work paid off. By election day, Bush had been endorsed by eight major Muslim American organizations. He won more than 70 percent of the Muslim vote, including 46,200 ballots in Florida alone, prompting longtime conservative activist Grover Norquist — one of the few prominent movement figures to caution against the current wave of mosque demagoguery — to proclaim in the American Spectator that “Bush was elected President of the United States of America because of the Muslim vote.“
The problem for Republicans is that while fear-mongering is always good at getting the base fired up – ultimately it comes down to the demographic numbers and the votes. The party has turned psychotic – not just over the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ but even going far as saying that children born in the US of foreign parents should not be allowed to become citizens (that one aimed clearly at Hispanics).
The numbers of Latinos in the US matters more obviously and several pollsters have pointed out (see Huffington Post) that Republicans simply can’t win several states in the south (New Mexico, Colorado, Florida, California, parts of Texas) without the Hispanic vote. Get abandoned by these voters for a generation and the Republicans will stay out of power for the same time.
Also worth noting: New York Times gives context to ‘GZM’ imam’s quotes / The Wall Street Journal points out that Jihadists are loving the hate that Americans are churning out at Muslims.
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Filed in: Race politics,Religion