Parents on Election 2012: Why I Left the Republican Party

By Aliya G. Hasan, MD, MBA

It’s interesting how becoming a parent makes you see the world so differently. Besides my view on breastfeeding in public (now I am very much for it), I can’t say it has changed my opinions so much as made me feel stronger about the very American sentiments of justice and equality.

My brother ran for political office in the last Presidential election cycle as a Republican. Since Colorado is a caucus state, he went to the state assembly to be voted onto the ballot. Long story short, he didn’t make it on the ballot, mainly for one reason – he is Muslim. Hard to believe, right? Well, we know that because we had hate speech written onto his signs, our volunteers were verbally threatened, and we personally heard the whispers that he was dangerous to the state because he was a Muslim.

Of course I was upset about what happened, but what made me feel worse was that my children were exposed to this kind of outrageous hate. Even though they were very young (one and three), I dread the day when they ask me, “Why do people hate me because I am Muslim?”

I was always a Republican because I believed in small government and private enterprise. This Republican Party had changed. It was no longer about economic issues, at least in Colorado on the grassroots level, the Party was focused on hatred – hatred of gays, immigrants, and Muslims. I had seen this change, but stuck with the Republicans because I still believed in their economic message. When I saw for myself how much their hatred of my brother being Muslim distorted their view of his candidacy, I decided I was done with the Republicans.

I remember the first time, as a kid, I went to vote with my mother. There was a democrat running unopposed, and I asked my mom why she didn’t just give him a vote. She said, “I only vote Republican.” Well, after that state assembly, now, I only vote Democrat. I don’t vote Democrat because I agree with the majority of their policies, I vote Democrat because they accept me wholeheartedly as a Muslim. I vote Democrat because they don’t believe in hate.

I haven’t been happy with the way President Obama has handled his foreign policies. He has stepped up drone strikes in my country of origin, Pakistan, to the point where certain parts of the country are under constant threat. He has not closed the Guantanamo Bay Prison, which is home to mostly innocent prisoners, like he promised. He has done very little for immigration reform.

Despite my misgivings about Obama, Candidate Romney would be worse. He has surrounded himself with neo-conservative advisors who propagate hate against Muslims, so that their defense contractor friends stay in business. Under a Romney presidency, we will see a war on Muslims like no other. I reject that vision of foreign policy. So, I will vote for President Obama.

Let’s make love, not war, right? Until the Republicans can understand and agree with that statement, I’m sticking with the Democrats.

8 comments

I was registered Republican since 1991, but I still voted for Clinton – I tend to vote for the person not the party because the party, honestly is full of whackos on both sides. I tend to always have a gut feeling about candidates but I was dead wrong on GW BUSH and in 2007 while he was in his 2nd term, I too left the GOP because of all the religious rhetoric. I got tired of religion being tied into Government and the Law especially since it was all ONE RELIGION.

I left because of the social issues- am fiscally conservative but socially a liberal. In my humble opinion, religion (especially hate spawned from certain people’s interpretation of THEIR religion) has no place in politics. I really wanted Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repealed and was sick it was enacted during Clinton, I now want Defense of Marriage Act repealed because I think all are equal under the law FOR BENEFITS so I am for allowing gays the right to enter into a CONTRACT (yes, I view it is a contract not a covenant), and of course, the big issue dividing EVEN the GOP party – pro choice or pro life? These issues make me really question how the GOP Platform even exists since it contradicts itself on so many levels (small government except when we want to impose our personal religious beliefs on women’s health issues and gays) but alas, that is my humble opinion. Thank you for sharing this and your concerns. I am not a Christian and like you, I believe too much hate is spawned from CERTAIN groups of people who belong to the GOP (not all- again, not all). These select people fear and/or hate others based on race, religion and/or gender (GOP platform is actually against women in combat roles- not kidding and it’s 2012), instead of what they really should be fearing: Themselves!

Interesting piece. I totally understand as a minority and Republican myself. I struggle with this issue often as I identify with the classic Republican party values. We are the party of Lincoln after all. But when my husband and I are out socially, and he points to me like I’m some circus sideshow for voting for McCain, it’s hard not feel defensive! I am planning to vote for Obama as well, but I am going to stay Republican. I feel like the party should have to deal with the fact that I am minority Republican who is voting the other way. I feel I owe it to the party to hold them accountable. But I contribute mainly to Democratic causes. If I have to remind the party what it stands for, then so be it. But I don’t have kids and have people walking up to my kids and spreading hate speech. Not sure how I would handle that.

Aliya,

Thank you for sharing your deeply personal perspective. I also believe that we have to stick with the party that is more inclusive. Today’s Democrats still have a lot to work on, but at least we have the correct stances vis-a-vis immigration, healthcare, civil unions, gender and reproductive issues and, most importantly to me as a father, a sincere concern for children’s issues (poverty, healthcare, education). Please keep writing, tweeting, and posting. Your words are making a difference!

I’m so glad you wrote your story, Aliya. I think it’s so horrifying that anyone, let alone a national political party, would discriminate against your culture and religion!

I find it so interesting how the two parties control so much, how the other candidates are not included in the debates, and how we basically feel we are limited by democratic and republican choices. Until changes are made, I feel we are “wasting our vote” if we vote out side of one of the two parties. But so many of us don’t feel at home with either of the major parties.
Both parties have something to offer, but it often comes down to those social issues that pull harder on our heart strings of what is right and wrong in our world.
I truly appreciate your perspective.

Aliya, as a conservative Republican, I am saddened by what your brother encountered when he ran for office. No one should be discriminated against based on their religion, race or sex, that’s just un-American. However, I will say that I also have experienced discrimination as a Christian from the left. There is almost a gut reaction from Democrats to label all Christians as ignorant, uneducated, bigots and homophobes. I don’t know any Christians that would fit that description, and yet we have all experienced the same thing. I don’t think you can escape stereotypes on either side, unfortunately.

I also hope you agree that there is a difference between American Muslims and Al Qaeda who have declared war against our nation and who we must protect ourselves from. Your family included. I don’t agree that Romney or anyone in the Republican party wants to make war on all Muslims – that is another stereotype that needs to be dispelled. I’m also not sure where you read that Romney wants war just wants to keep his defense contractor friends in business. I think if you’re going to make those kind of charges, you really need to back them up with facts.

Just to clarify, “Your family included,” I meant your family needs protection from radical Islam as well. I hope you recognize that.

Interesting piece Aliya. I was also a long-time member of the Republican party, but in recent years have switched to being an independent and plan to vote for Obama. If you haven’t already done so, you should read the book “Whatever Happened to Kansas”. It charters the history of the party. The party used to be focused on small government and the passage of legislation that benefitted the affluent. However because it is hard to win purely on a platform that benefits a small number of people, the party began to expand its scope to include social conservatives. Not only do social conservatives not benefit from many of the fiscal reforms, but in many cases they are downright hurt from them. The one aspect of our position that I don’t fully agree with is criticizing President Obama for what he hasn’t done. While there may be some things any of us wish he’d done, it’s important not to lose site of the fact that the President has had a lot to deal with and overall has accomplished quite a lot.

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