2008: Obama inherits a nearly 10 trillion-dollar deficit and two ongoing costly wars from George Bush. The U.S. faces economic meltdown at home, throwing the country into a 1930s Depression-like crisis. He tries to deliver despite obstructionism by the other side. Republicans question his citizenship, his name, his religion and his agenda. They call him a socialist, a Muslim and a weak leader. He tries to be polite, civil, and works hard to reach out to the other side. They reject him. They use every means to undermine him, viciously and mercilessly.
They want Obama out of office, not today, but yesterday.
I am an Iranian American. In November 2008, my 94-year-old ailing father who had never voted in a U.S. presidential election, asked me to take him to a polling station in Virginia to vote for Barack Hussein Obama. I did not question his wisdom. "Obama looks decent," he told me. A few months later, in April 2009, my father, the former mayor of Tehran and personal attorney to Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh, who had experienced firsthand the result of a Republican administration's meddling in Iran, passed away. Ever since, life has not been the same for me. But I can say one thing with certainty; since moving to the U.S. in the 1970s and living under different administration -- Republicans and Democrats --- I differentiate between what the two parties represent both in terms of foreign and domestic policies.
Ever since the 1953 coup, Republican administrations' policies have been harmful to Iran -- from Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, to George Bush.
To the dismay of some Iranian Americans -- mostly followers of the deposed monarchy in Iran, I posted a comment on Facebook saying that I am ashamed of those Iranians who support Romney. Their reply was swift: Obama does not deserve our vote. He did not support the Green Movement. They were belligerent. Some were even rude and ridiculed the president. They want regime change at any expense even if it means Iran is cut into pieces.
"War is beneficial at times," some said. A look around the Middle East proves otherwise.
In their narrow-mindedness, they think that it is one person or one president who can make or break things, regardless of the general policies. They still assume it was Jimmy Carter's human rights policy that brought the Shah down. They hate Obama as much as they hated Carter. I wonder if the Romney camp consulted with the Iranian monarchists on this issue!
Here is Obama's record on Iran:
- He has stood up to the right-wing exhortations of Romney, Gingrich, Santorum and the AIPAC folks (who toe Mr. Netanyahu's line) to attack Iran.
- He has tried to use diplomacy to bring the Islamic Republic in line.
- He has eased up visas for thousands of Iranians especially students.
- He has spoken directly to the people of Iran expressing respect for their traditions and their desires.
- He has put pressure on the IRI with sanctions -- something I do not necessarily agree with but he has been more than accommodating to find a resolution to the nuclear issue through diplomacy.
- Even under a sanction regime, he allowed funds to be delivered to the recent earthquake victims in Azerbaijan.
What do our friends on the other side want? Total disengagement with Iran, a unilateral strike on Iran's nuclear sites, unconditional support for Iran's pro-democracy activists 00 something a U.S. President cannot do overtly (though Obama has repeatedly mentioned Iranians' quest for democracy) and more sanctions even they harm the Iranian people.
On the home front, Obama has rescued the auto industry. His health care plan, rejected by the Republican majority, is helping millions of Americans who otherwise would be in dire straits. He has curbed the power of mortgage companies, allowing many Americans to stay in their homes; he has helped save Social Security -- a must for the elderly. He has helped millions of students from having to repay high-interest loans. He has cut taxes for the middle class while proposing to tax the rich (something some of the billionaires, including Bill Gates, want). He has provided incentives to employers who hire veterans of the two wars.
Compared to Republicans who want fewer regulations and the continuation of Bush's failed policies, who want lower taxes for the rich and who have zero compassion for ordinary Americans, Obama has been proactive in finding ways out of a monumental impasse.
But most Americans are impatient. They think a system put in place by Bush, and whose origins go back to the Reagan administration, can be overturned in less than four years.
For me and the rest of Iranian Americans, Obama may not be the best choice. I, too, want changes immediately and I, too, demand a resolution to all my problems here or in my country of birth.
But Obama has delivered much that he promised. He ended the war in Iraq, a war he opposed all along. As planned, by 2014, all U.S. troops will be out of Afghanistan, leaving it responsible for its own fate.
Most of all Obama has integrity. By contrast, Romney and Ryan do not hesitate to twist the truth, to manipulate numbers and statistics (math does count) and to flip-flop on many issues. Yesterday, they voted against women; today they are for advancing binders full of women. And so on...
Voting for an Obama/Biden ticket in November will help the United States polish its badly tarnished image. Obama rejects the Republican mantra: "We are strong, we are mean and we will do it alone." As Joe Biden said correctly, "We have a fundamentally different vision for America."
While the people of the Middle East must start taking responsibility for their own actions or lack of action, try to build their countries instead of destroying them, an alternative to Obama in the likes of Romney would be catastrophic for America, for the Middle East but especially for Iran.
Peace and not war will save all of us.
A great philosopher once said, "It is not enough to win a war; it is more important to organize the peace."
Aristotle was right.