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Why Ethiopian-Americans should vote for Obama (opinion)

By Mamo Berhan (berhanmamo@rocketmail.com)
Tigrai Online Oct. 31, 2012

President Obama has done a lot to change the foreign policy of the United States and worked hard for the development of Africa including Ethiopia.

President Barak Obama
President Obama has done a lot to change the foreign policy of the United States and worked hard for the development of Africa including Ethiopia. President Barak Obama is also good for world peace. Ethiopian-Americans should be greatful for him.

I recently read an article titled, "why I will not vote for Obama again' in one of the so- called opposition web sites. I feel guilty for visiting such web sites.  I feel the same guilt whenever I watch Fox News because of the lack of a semblance of common sense, impartiality and depth in such media outlets.

The writer said he is not voting for President Obama because Obama failed to change the economy and because Obama refused to punish EPRDF, the Ethiopian ruling party, as the writer had hoped so four years ago. The writer also agreed with the Republican activists that President Obama is 'a food stamp president'.  As converted Republican would do, the writer added that 'a God fearing Ethiopian' cannot vote for a president who supported same sex marriage.  Basically, the writer is pushing Ethiopian Americans to vote for the Republican Party.

I respect anybody's desire to vote for the Republican Party. But I could not understand what a 'God fearing Ethiopian' has to do with the Republican Party? The current Republican Party was shaped largely by the civil rights movement. All these southern and mid-western states, which strongly support the Republican ticket currently, became a stronghold for the Republican Party as a result of their contempt for racial equality of black Americans.

Some call the Republican Party ‘the party of Abraham Lincoln’, thus historically crediting it for ‘emancipating’ salves.  But the Republican Party was not the same after the civil rights movement.  This trend continued to this day. I am not suggesting all republicans are racists, but one must wonder why the Republican Party remained overwhelmingly only white. Just to give you an example, Dick Cheney voted against a resolution for the release of Nelson Mandela. Mr. Cheney walked out when Mandela came to speak to the US Congress later after his release. Mr. Cheney also opposed the naming of a holiday in honor of Martin Luther King. Mr. Cheney is an influential leader and an opinion-maker in the Republican Party to this day.

Our good writer invokes religion and asks American-Ethiopians not to vote for Obama because of the same sex marriage issue. I have also heard an Ethiopian Protestant Pastor in Washington DC, who believes Ethiopian Christians should vote for Republicans because of the abortion issue. Personally, I wish marriage was only between man and woman and also want to see a world without abortion.   But what baffles me about Christians who stand for Republican politics (they do overwhelmingly in the United States) is when they act as if Christianity is all about abortion and same sex marriage. What about standing for the poor and immigrant, for racial equality and over all fairness?  This is the hypocrisy Jesus spoke about in the New Testament. We know that Romney said the poor are not important and he spoke about 'self-deportation' and other anti-poor and anti-immigrant slogans. We know why they oppose 'Obama care', which aims at benefiting an uninsured Americans, a demography that includes immigrants from poor countries.   

The 'God fearing Ethiopian' or the atheist one for that matter, better vote for his/her interests rather than hypocritical social issues which are beyond our control.  This is not even about voting for Obama because he is ‘black’. There is no doubt the Democratic Party has its own shortcomings. But the platform of the Democratic Party at least inclusive of minority and immigrant interests. The Democratic Party attempts to balance the evils of capitalism by creating opportunities for the disadvantaged, investing in education, health and elderly care.

The more important reason for the writer of "why I will not Vote for Obama again' is the fact that Obama did not help the hateful and extreme Ethiopian Diaspora in their fight against EPRDF. First of all, the foreign policy of the Obama administration cannot essentially be different from the reality of international politics, i.e. national interests dictate all foreign policies.  Secondly, there is no basis to punish the EPRDF, a party that have placed Ethiopia on the map of the fastest growing economies of the world.

As an Ethiopian who is not affiliated to any Ethiopian political party and the ruling party, I am thankful that the Obama administration did not side with the embarrassing Ethiopian Diaspora opposition.  Case in point, I would not cite any better testimony other than David Shinn's recent disgust with Ethiopians who came to oppose or disrupt Church ceremony held the in honor of the late PM Meles. (http://davidshinn.blogspot.com/2012/10/meles-zenawi-memorial-service-at.html). One has to be happy that the Obama administration recognized the late PM Meles as able and effective leader, whatever reservations he or she might have about the EPRDF as I have. President Obama has done a lot to change the foreign policy of the United States and worked hard for the development of Africa including continuing the much admired HIV-AIDS assistance to Africa started by Ex-president Bush.

Calling on Ethiopian Americans to vote against President Obama without good reason is another sign how the extreme Ethiopian Diaspora is driven by hate and bias. If we are to learn from our Ethiopian root and culture, as the writer suggested, it is standing for the truth. If we have to support any movement or cause let's do it with principles and oppose based on facts and reason.

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