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I will never forget the sense of euphoria I experienced at President Obama's election victory in November 2008 and his inauguration in January 2009. Who can dispute the powerful symbolism of Barack Hussein Obama, son of a Kenyan Muslim, attaining the presidency of the United States, a nation which had enslaved Africans--many of them Muslims-- for centuries? Despite his absence from his son's life, Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., gave his son a beautiful name and certainly would have been proud of his achievements.
For me, symbolism was quite enough to give then-Senator Obama a chance in 2008. However, my decision was not ultimately about what I thought Barack Obama represented. At the end of the day, I did not vote for him because of his skin color, name, or his father's Muslim background. I voted for him because he promised to close Guantanamo and end the Bush administration's policies of unrestrained militarism and violation of the Geneva Conventions regarding treatment of detainees. I voted for him because he promised hope and change and assistance for the poor and the shattered middle class.
Today, however, symbolism and potential are not enough. In 2012, I know what this president can do. He is, to quote someone on PBS, the only Nobel Peace Prize winner with a kill list. His policies of targeting America's perceived enemies without charge, trial, or any type of judicial oversight are appalling, especially for someone whose training was in constitutional law. American citizens, like Anwar Al-Awlaki, have made the kill list. And while I'm no supporter of Al-Awlaki's views, didn't he deserve to be brought to trial before being executed? And what was the crime of his teenaged, U.S.-citizen son who died with him?
Then there are the drone attacks. Let me say this: I care about Pakistan. This is a nation that has incredible human potential yet has found itself in the crosshairs of America's "war on terrorism." Why should innocent Pakistani women, men, and children have to live with the daily threat of drone attacks on their towns, villages, and homes? How is this going to stop terrorism? It's not. All the targeting of Pakistan will do is create more people who despise America.
So, no, I will not be voting for the man whose kill list and secret drone attacks are making life miserable for Muslims overseas. My world is one world: an interconnected world where the suffering of people in distant nations will inevitably have an impact on our condition at home. The president's attempts to overhaul health care and preserve social welfare programs, though important, ring a bit hollow when poor people overseas are dying because of his policies.
Postscript: The author voted for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, during early voting week and regrets that the Libertarian Party is not more viable in general elections.
Zaynab Ansari, an Atlanta native, spent nearly a decade studying Farsi, Arabic, and traditional Islam in Iran and Syria. She is currently pursuing an M.A. in World History at Georgia State University while contributing to an online Islamic educational portal and writing for Azizah Magazine.