Moving forward as we, the people
By Hassan Jaber
Last week, we awoke to a new America,
one in which the voices of the people had been heard. President Obama was
re-elected by those who represent the American story; those who used their
treasured right to speak up and to vote. Lower middle class, young, urban,
women, immigrants, minorities and people of color determined the outcome.
These communities overcame
significant, well-funded efforts to marginalize them. Throughout the election,
immigrants were portrayed as a national threat; minorities were targeted with
voter suppression efforts; the rights of women came under assault; and education
was attacked through budget cuts and privatization.
After such a divisive campaign, one
in which so much money and rhetoric was devoted to separating us according to
our religion, gender, age and economic status, it is heartening to see that
inclusiveness, not divisiveness, won the day. In spite of the billions of
dollars thrown into negative campaigning, the majority of voters chose hope.
We, the people who re-elected Obama,
have found common ground in a set of strong, universal values that include access
to affordable health care, fair and humane immigration policies; an end to
racial and ethnic profiling; quality education; a clean environment; the right
to organize; and safe, supportive, inclusive communities.
The results of the election have
become our foothold – a firm stepping stone along the path to a stronger, saner
nation. The challenge now is to continue along that path as partners, to
continue to find the strength of our commonalities and to work together on the
road to recovery and transition.
The campaign season pulled back the
curtain on a multibillion-dollar conservative agenda that appears willing to do
anything to retain power. Although the election is over, the conservative
agenda will not go quietly. It’s imperative that the communities that worked so
hard to hold on during this divisive campaign join forces as Americans faced
with problems we can solve together and a future we can build together.
The message of this election is that
we want the same thing – for ourselves and our neighbors. Let’s use this
grassroots energy, this youthful, cross-cultural enthusiasm, to build our
communities; improve our schools; figure out how to provide affordable health
care; and make America a welcoming place for the immigrants.
As this election has shown, that
which divides us is not nearly as strong as that which unites us.
Hassan Jaber is
executive director of ACCESS, the largest Arab American human services
nonprofit in the United States.