Getting All Voices In The Vote

Recently on TLH we have had many posts around the 2008 Presidential Campaign. How these candidate make us feel and their policy positions are equally important when deciding, which candidate to support. The qualities and values he brings to the table for organizing support around what he thinks are critical issues is important for identifying which man will make the best key leader in America. We have listened to them debate, create campaign ads, and talk on campaign trails to their supporters. At the end of the day, I personally want to know how McCain and Obama will stand on issues important to me as a Sikh. The economy, healthcare, foreign policy, and civil rights are important to all Americans regardless of ethnic or religious background; however, the nuances of how each ethnic/religious community is effected by these larger issues is important when their members vote for a Presidential Candidate. Many Sikhs may want to know:

What is John McCain’s stance on racial profiling? How would an Obama administration address workplace religious discrimination?

In an effort to answer some of these questions, the Sikh Coalition sent questionnaires to both McCain and Obama campaign offices many months ago. The intention was to have this information available when organizing Sikhs to vote at local Gurdwaras. However, only the Obama campaign responded. In an effort to provide bi-partisan information to the Sikh constituency, the Sikh Coalition is now petitioning McCain to respond, particularly when there are less than 30-days left until election-day. Sikhs deserve to hear his voice when making their decision at the ballot box. In addition, as a non-profit organization, the Sikh Coalition can not solely release Obamas responses.

Personally, I think actions always speak louder than words and the McCain campaigns actions are loudly and clearly speaking to me what they think. I think it is a sad state-of-affairs when we have to petition a Presidential candidate to get his opinion on important issues affecting a segment of the American people who he promises to serve. However, I think this petitioning effort is commendable and will show the McCain campaign that we as a Sikh community are engaged in American politics and want to equally weigh his opinions with those of his opponent.

Yes, we could all go do the research and find out what both of them think, but many times you just want a direct answer to a direct question; rather, than trying to become the number #1 research assistant. In addition, the literature doesnt always have all the answers. If you agree and want McCains perspective on issues effecting the Sikh community, while also increasing the chances of reading what Obama had to say, please sign the Sikh Coalition petition here.

If any of our readers, have particular opinions on either candidate’s policies, please share! If you have made your decision to vote for one of the candidates, please let us know why you decided as a Sikh.

P.S. Dont forget to register to vote in Cali by Monday, October 20th, 2008 (that’s this coming Monday)! You can go here to register. For those of you residing out-side of my Cali-bias, please check your local governmental voting website.

P.P.S. Exercise your right to vote on November 04, 2008! :)


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17 Responses to “Getting All Voices In The Vote”

  1. As long as we keep thinking "either candidate" instead of "one of the candidates," then we will forever lose to the giant corporate beast of which the democrats and repulbicans are the left and right fists, beating the American people into submission and slavery.

    We have running a genuine American hero, somebody who has ceaselessly fought for the rights of American citizens, and given us such important things as the freedom of information act and seat belts/safety standards.

    I don't think it's that important how they make you feel. It's what they've done that counts. Obama makes everybody feel like he stands for change. Unfortunately most black people we see on t.v. act sub-human, and most politicians we see are old-whitey, i.e. "the man." So just Obama's looks and speech are enough for many many Americans to think he is something different. He's not! Read his website, he's more of the same. They're all out to make a profit on human suffering.

    A real politician would state the reality which is that if we don't change our lifestyles as individuals we are in for a rude awakening. We are hugely indebted to China, who also happens to make all of our "stuff." What happens when they decide that they want to live like us? hmm…. Well the politicians aren't telling you that.

    I may be fringe now, but I want to learn how to grow my own food, so that I'm not a slave to a sold-out government and corrupt "democracy."

    Sikhs have historically been farmers and political activists, who've consistently stood up for the rights of the down-trodden. That is the paradigm I wish to follow. I consider my lifestyle the most important factor in following that and that is why I'll use my vote to show support for a real change, a real choice, and an honorable man, Ralph Nader.

  2. As long as we keep thinking “either candidate” instead of “one of the candidates,” then we will forever lose to the giant corporate beast of which the democrats and repulbicans are the left and right fists, beating the American people into submission and slavery.
    We have running a genuine American hero, somebody who has ceaselessly fought for the rights of American citizens, and given us such important things as the freedom of information act and seat belts/safety standards.
    I don’t think it’s that important how they make you feel. It’s what they’ve done that counts. Obama makes everybody feel like he stands for change. Unfortunately most black people we see on t.v. act sub-human, and most politicians we see are old-whitey, i.e. “the man.” So just Obama’s looks and speech are enough for many many Americans to think he is something different. He’s not! Read his website, he’s more of the same. They’re all out to make a profit on human suffering.
    A real politician would state the reality which is that if we don’t change our lifestyles as individuals we are in for a rude awakening. We are hugely indebted to China, who also happens to make all of our “stuff.” What happens when they decide that they want to live like us? hmm…. Well the politicians aren’t telling you that.
    I may be fringe now, but I want to learn how to grow my own food, so that I’m not a slave to a sold-out government and corrupt “democracy.”
    Sikhs have historically been farmers and political activists, who’ve consistently stood up for the rights of the down-trodden. That is the paradigm I wish to follow. I consider my lifestyle the most important factor in following that and that is why I’ll use my vote to show support for a real change, a real choice, and an honorable man, Ralph Nader.

  3. Singh says:

    If they actually spoke to McCain's camp they would learn that he doesn't fill these out – not even for larger more influential groups.

  4. Singh says:

    If they actually spoke to McCain’s camp they would learn that he doesn’t fill these out – not even for larger more influential groups.

  5. Kaur says:

    Hey Singh –

    I knew I'd seen a McCain questionnaire out there before. I found these through a quick google search.

    League of Conservative Voters…..

    Scientists and Engineers for America

    Voice of Agriculture

    Aspen Institute

  6. Kaur says:

    Hey Singh –
    I knew I’d seen a McCain questionnaire out there before. I found these through a quick google search.

    League of Conservative Voters…..
    Scientists and Engineers for America
    Voice of Agriculture
    Aspen Institute

  7. kanyesingh says:

    What makes the SC think they will respond to the questionnaire now, just a few weeks before the election? Sikhs are not such a vital voting block such that either Mccain or Obama would spend time and energy to court their votes.

    Heck, I think Sikhs are still subsumed under the broader umbrella of asian-americans – I don't think it's realistic at all to expect them to respond.

  8. Sikhs shouldn't be listed as "asian-americans." I'm not an asian American, but I'm certainly a Sikh.

  9. Publius says:

    I agree completely.

    I worked for a certain presidential campaign in 2004 and pleaded vigorously with the Asian-American policy director to reach out specifically to Sikh-Americans or at least "South Asians-Americans" in part because of identity issues and in part because of the backlash, which I thought deserved extra attention. Sadly, I was unable to convince her.

  10. kanyesingh says:

    What makes the SC think they will respond to the questionnaire now, just a few weeks before the election? Sikhs are not such a vital voting block such that either Mccain or Obama would spend time and energy to court their votes.

    Heck, I think Sikhs are still subsumed under the broader umbrella of asian-americans – I don’t think it’s realistic at all to expect them to respond.

  11. Sikhs shouldn’t be listed as “asian-americans.” I’m not an asian American, but I’m certainly a Sikh.

  12. Publius says:

    I agree completely.

    I worked for a certain presidential campaign in 2004 and pleaded vigorously with the Asian-American policy director to reach out specifically to Sikh-Americans or at least “South Asians-Americans” in part because of identity issues and in part because of the backlash, which I thought deserved extra attention. Sadly, I was unable to convince her.

  13. Phulkari says:

    Kanyesingh,

    Yes, McCain may or may not respond, particularly since he hasn't so far. However, this petition will make a statement that we hold expectations of our political leaders to respond to our needs, regardless of how "small" of a voting block we are as a community. As a political candidate McCain has the responsibility to respond to these needs and we have the right to hold him accountable to this expectation. In my opinion, answering a simple questionnaire doesn't require that big of "game-plan" of weighing a community's voting block capabilities. We aren’t asking for language/community-specific ads or his attendance at ten Sikh-specific events. Just some answers to direct questions that will be distributed by a non-profit organization using their own resources.

    By the way, Obama responded a while back, Sikh Coalition just can't distribute his responses without also having McCain's.

    kaneysingh; Prabhu Singh Khalsa; and Publius,

    South Asians and Sikhs being subsumed within the Asian-American category is highly questionable. I understand that earlier South Asians and Sikhs (i.e. Sikhs of South Asian background) were subsumed under this category in order to build a larger power-block in politics and social services. However, I think it's time to disaggregate this category. There is far too much communal diversity in languages, cultural practices, and experiences embedded in this category, which do not lend to effective outreach and allocation of resources. Furthermore, the dominate groups within this category are those of East Asian background, for example, from China, Japan, and Korea. Thus, more energy and resources are devoted towards assisting these communities. However, we are seeing some of this disaggregation happen. "South Asians for Obama" is a large group outreaching to South Asian groups. For example, in Minnesota and Nevada, they have developed campaigns to specifically reach out to the South Asian population. Furthermore, “South Asians for Obama” has called Barack Obama out on several issues concerning the Indian American community, such as his position on America’s relationship with India. Obama has responded. In addition, on their website you will find further information on Obama’s stance on how issues around immigration, healthcare, and the economy affect the South Asian community and his agenda for the South Asian American community. Lastly, I appreciate this group has not completely abandoned it’s affiliation with Asian Americans, but just created its own space to have South Asian-specific issues and concerns addressed that were not given equal attention as part of AAPI groups. We are still connected in some ways as an Asian immigrant group and need to build off of our history of working together, even though it is time to move in our OWN directions. McCain also has a South Asian group campaigning for him.

    Just as the diversity within the Asian American category calls for disaggregation; how about the South Asian American category? Yes, it’s more specific, but does it really meet the needs of the communities subsumed under it? Just as the Asian-American category often denotes, for example, Chinese American or Korean American, I find that South Asian American means of Indian and Hindu background. I may be stretching it here, but also Guajarati and South Indian. Therefore, for example, Muslims, Sikhs, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, and Panjabis issues are not always given equal attention and resources. Another issue is Sikhs who are subsumed under Asian-American and South Asian labels, but are not of these backgrounds. How do others feel about that?

    Yes, we do have religious, regional, and country-specific groups arising and doing great work, but in general for policy issues and allocation of resources for social services we are generally under the “South Asian” label. Is that effective?

  14. Phulkari says:

    Kanyesingh,

    Yes, McCain may or may not respond, particularly since he hasn’t so far. However, this petition will make a statement that we hold expectations of our political leaders to respond to our needs, regardless of how “small” of a voting block we are as a community. As a political candidate McCain has the responsibility to respond to these needs and we have the right to hold him accountable to this expectation. In my opinion, answering a simple questionnaire doesn’t require that big of “game-plan” of weighing a community’s voting block capabilities. We arent asking for language/community-specific ads or his attendance at ten Sikh-specific events. Just some answers to direct questions that will be distributed by a non-profit organization using their own resources.
    By the way, Obama responded a while back, Sikh Coalition just can’t distribute his responses without also having McCain’s.

    kaneysingh; Prabhu Singh Khalsa; and Publius,

    South Asians and Sikhs being subsumed within the Asian-American category is highly questionable. I understand that earlier South Asians and Sikhs (i.e. Sikhs of South Asian background) were subsumed under this category in order to build a larger power-block in politics and social services. However, I think it’s time to disaggregate this category. There is far too much communal diversity in languages, cultural practices, and experiences embedded in this category, which do not lend to effective outreach and allocation of resources. Furthermore, the dominate groups within this category are those of East Asian background, for example, from China, Japan, and Korea. Thus, more energy and resources are devoted towards assisting these communities. However, we are seeing some of this disaggregation happen. “South Asians for Obama” is a large group outreaching to South Asian groups. For example, in Minnesota and Nevada, they have developed campaigns to specifically reach out to the South Asian population. Furthermore, South Asians for Obama has called Barack Obama out on several issues concerning the Indian American community, such as his position on Americas relationship with India. Obama has responded. In addition, on their website you will find further information on Obamas stance on how issues around immigration, healthcare, and the economy affect the South Asian community and his agenda for the South Asian American community. Lastly, I appreciate this group has not completely abandoned its affiliation with Asian Americans, but just created its own space to have South Asian-specific issues and concerns addressed that were not given equal attention as part of AAPI groups. We are still connected in some ways as an Asian immigrant group and need to build off of our history of working together, even though it is time to move in our OWN directions. McCain also has a South Asian group campaigning for him.

    Just as the diversity within the Asian American category calls for disaggregation; how about the South Asian American category? Yes, its more specific, but does it really meet the needs of the communities subsumed under it? Just as the Asian-American category often denotes, for example, Chinese American or Korean American, I find that South Asian American means of Indian and Hindu background. I may be stretching it here, but also Guajarati and South Indian. Therefore, for example, Muslims, Sikhs, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, and Panjabis issues are not always given equal attention and resources. Another issue is Sikhs who are subsumed under Asian-American and South Asian labels, but are not of these backgrounds. How do others feel about that?

    Yes, we do have religious, regional, and country-specific groups arising and doing great work, but in general for policy issues and allocation of resources for social services we are generally under the South Asian label. Is that effective?

  15. "Is that effective?"

    It will never be effective for me to be labeled as Asian when I'm not.

    Really the Sikh vote is diverse enough. I think politicians should stop trying to group people into categories and then "win" those categories. They should just state their positions and we can all make our own choices. I know most Sikhs will vote for Obama or McCain, but neither are good enough for me, so I voted Nader (I already voted). Even if every other Sikh in America was voting for McCain or Obama, I would still choose to vote for who I think is the best, in this election that is Nader.

  16. “Is that effective?”
    It will never be effective for me to be labeled as Asian when I’m not.
    Really the Sikh vote is diverse enough. I think politicians should stop trying to group people into categories and then “win” those categories. They should just state their positions and we can all make our own choices. I know most Sikhs will vote for Obama or McCain, but neither are good enough for me, so I voted Nader (I already voted). Even if every other Sikh in America was voting for McCain or Obama, I would still choose to vote for who I think is the best, in this election that is Nader.

  17. […] an UPDATE to my post a couple weeks ago, the Sikh Coalition released the 2008 Presidential Elections Voter Guide For […]