The Change We Need
As November approaches, the South Asian American community faces a critical choice in the presidential election. As we reflect on the past eight years and look ahead to the future, the choices could not be clearer. On one hand, we have John McCain, a candidate who has vowed to continue the failed policies of the Bush administration that have led us to our current condition. On the other, we have Barack Obama, who offers a clear vision for changing the direction of our country and getting us back on the right track.
Senator Obama is the right leader at the right time for both our country and our community. His background and experience reflect a deep and meaningful connection with the South Asian community in this country. As the son of an immigrant father who came to this country with no money but with a desire for education, and having lived in the diverse communities of Hawaii, Indonesia, and Chicago, he can relate to our story in a personal way. His mother was a pioneer in global development work in Pakistan and India. His sister is half- Indonesian and married to a Chinese Canadian. Quite simply, he is a man of the world who understands the diversity and strength of America. This is reflected in his agenda and policies, which will advance our community in the coming years.
On foreign policy, Senator Obama’s life experience and his awareness of America’s unique role in the world have led him to emphasize the need for us to lead by example. He has consistently shown the foresight and judgment necessary to guide America through the national security crises we face on the global stage. While Senator McCain has been one of the most ardent supporters of the Iraq War, Senator Obama warned in 2002 of the perils of waging a misguided war of undetermined length, undetermined cost and undetermined consequences. His early support for a withdrawal of troops from Iraq over the next two years has now been joined by Iraq President al-Maliki as well as President Bush. Instead of a prolonged Iraqi occupation, Senator Obama has consistently pushed us to shift our resources to fight the correct war – against the terrorists on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border who at-tacked us on 9/11. Unlike President Bush and Senator McCain, who offered a blank check to General Musharraf for years, Senator Obama was prescient in his warnings in the summer of 2007 against placing all our eggs in the Musharraf basket rather than supporting the Pakistani people. And whereas Senator McCain vows to continue the Bush policy of only talking to our friends, Senator Obama has called for tough and direct diplomacy with countries like Iran. Senator Obama would also strengthen our alliances and pursue areas of cooperation to advance our common interests with countries in South Asia. On issues ranging from counter-terrorism to climate change to combating the spread of disease, he would build partnerships with these countries to meet these serious challenges.
Senator Obama is also committed to fixing our immigration system,with a focus on uniting families and meeting the demand for workers in this country.He recognizes that the greatness of America lies in the ingenuity and entrepreneurship of her people, and our ability to attract the world’s talent. Senator Obama would improve the H-1B program and has talked candidly about the realities of globalization and an increasingly interconnected world.He has noted that we cannot and should not put walls up around our economy. Rather, we should give American workers the tools needed to compete. These tools include education, training, tax incentives to create jobs in the U.S.,and investing in renewable energy and infrastructure.
As president, Barack Obama would also draw upon the energy, expertise and talents of the South Asian American community – particularly in his emphasis on the development and use of new technology in a changing global environment. In addition to revitalizing our innovationbased economy, he would create a $150 billion fund to invest in clean energy technology and create five million new green jobs.Senator Obama would also use the power of technology to pursue priorities like universal health care and a high-quality education for every child.
Senator Obama’s agenda for our country and community is comprehensive, positive and forwardlooking. Moreover, his approach to government and politics is one that invites and welcomes us into the process. Indeed, his focus on effecting grassroots change from the bottom up is what has allowed groups like South Asians for Obama to emerge and thrive over the course of this campaign and to develop a South Asian voice and visibility. Over the past twenty months, we have worked to build a broad grassroots coalition across all segments of our community – working together to register voters, canvass neighborhoods, reach out to the community, raise money, and contribute ideas and volunteers in this effort to change our country. The result has been an unprecedented effort to engage South Asian Americans in all aspects of the political process. Record numbers of volunteers, organizers, donors and voters have joined this movement.
As noted above, our country is at a crossroads. We have an important decision to make. Do we continue the failed policies of the past, or do we look to the future with optimism and confidence in our ability to change our country? Fortunately, in this election, the choice is as clear as the stakes. Senator Obama offers our community and our country the change we need. Working together, we can make history this November by electing Barack Obama our 44th President of the United States.
Hrishi Karthikeyan is a co-founder of South Asians for Obama. It’s time for a change in the political landscape. Barack Obama is the clear choice for our next President. The Republicans have controlled the Presidency for 20 of the last 28 years and the House of Representatives for 12 of the last 14 years and. Most Americans are worse off than they were 8 years ago. The Bush administration has given us a costly, unjustified war, failing banks, collapsing businesses, record number of job losses and foreclosures and skyrocketing health and education costs. Yet, Senator McCain (who voted 90% of the time with the Bush administration) states that the “fundamentals” of the economy are good. We are in the midst of a catastrophic financial crisis. Taxpayer money is bailing out failed financial companies as hundreds of billions of dollars of capital have been wiped out. We are at this unfortunate point due to the excesses on Wall Street. This went on for so long, without any checks because Republicans, like John McCain, are not in favor of imposing regulations on the market. Senator Obama introduced a Bill proposing increased regulation.
Senator Obama’s proposed tax plan will cut taxes for 95% of Americans. It gives the biggest cuts to those making the least while raising taxes on the top 1%. Senator McCain’s would give the largest tax cuts to the top 0.1%.
Senator Obama’s Health Plan proposes mandatory coverage for children and creation of a national insurance program to make healthcare affordable to individuals and small businesses. Annual business insurance costs are projected to decrease by $140 billion under Obama’s plan while saving $2500 in annual costs to a typical family. Under Senator McCain’s plan, employer-paid health benefits will be treated as taxable income. An estimated 20 million people would lose their current employment- based health insurance.
Senator Obama has consistently opposed the war and favors a phased withdrawal. He proposes a measured and diplomatic approach in negotiating with our enemies. Senator McCain takes a bellicose approach. He supported going into Iraq, opposes scheduling troop withdrawal and is willing to have permanent U.S. presence in Iraq.
Senator Obama is criticized for lacking experience. He is a Harvard law graduate, and was the first African American President of Harvard Law Review. He spent three years as a community organizer – his initiatives registered 150,000 new voters, 12 years as a constitutional Law Professor, 8 years as a state Senator representing a district of over 750,000 people and chaired the State Senate’s Health and Human Services committee. He has been a U.S. Senator since January 2005 representing 13 million people; sponsored 131 bills; served/serving on the Foreign Relations, Environment and Public Works, Health, Education, Labor and Pension, and Veteran’s affairs committees.Senator Obama’s position on various critical issues makes him the better candidate. We cannot steer ourselves out of the current crises by heading in the same, disastrous direction. The billions of dollars being spent in Iraq can be better utilized to address energy, healthcare, education and aging in-