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May 12, 2016

CONFESSIONS OF A LIBERAL

I have been voting on every level since the days of Harry S Truman and have over the years voted for Christians, Jews, atheists, agnostics, women, black and brown candidates et al. Where or if they went to church or temple or what color or gender they were had nothing to do with garnering my vote; I voted on the issues based on my experiences during the Great Depression and the New Deal years in which I saw Keynesian economics work and a World War II (in which I participated), all of which made me into what I am now and have always been, an unapologetic liberal Democrat.

I think the economy should be made to work for all Americans but am not ready to elect a socialist machine in order to enforce it. I think an enlightened capitalism can still work if we adopt policy positions that allow it to happen, but that it is increasingly clear that such policy positions are not going to be adopted by the Republican Party and hence the need to stay with my history as a voting Democrat in the hope that reform can be had peacefully and fairly in the distribution of the fruits of our economy as (I hope) both wage and wealth inequality fade into the mists of history.

I felt impelled to write this piece because of the recent election of a Muslim as mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, of Pakistani background. I have never voted for a Muslim not because of any prejudice one way or the other; there simply haven’t been that many Muslims around running for office. Had I lived in London and voting, I would have voted for Khan. We are both liberals; he as a member of the Labour Party and I as a Democrat.

Our economic situations are likewise similar. His Pakistani father was a bus driver and his mother was a seamstress. He became a lawyer, became active in the Labour Party, and is now mayor-elect of London. My father was a coal miner, we were dirt-poor during the Depression, and I trained as a lawyer after World War II. Khan was born and raised a Muslim; I was not. So what? None of that matters; what matters is his stand on the issues of the day. The sister of the Conservative Party’s candidate for mayor (Goldsmith, a billionaire and Khan’s electoral opponent) happened to have been married to a Pakistani and criticized her brother’s stands on the issues and his attempt to insert race and religion into the election for mayor. Khan won by over 300,000 votes. It is likely that Goldsmith’s own sister voted for Khan.

We have had other men of color who trained as lawyers, at least one of whom is quite famous, one Mohandas Gandhi, a Hindu, who was assassinated by a Hindu ultra-nationalist in 1948. He was largely responsible for Indian freedom from British colonialism and is a towering figure in history.

Following the San Bernardino tragedy, Donald Trump has said that if elected he will keep Muslims out of the country. Mayor Khan has subsequently announced that he will visit America before our election in case Trump is elected. Trump has answered that there will be exceptions, implying that the mayor may come afterwards. The mayor has rightly said that he will not come if Trump is elected since he is not welcome, apparently with a view that if Muslims generally cannot come into the country, he will not come as a Muslim by mere virtue of his office. As I wrote at the time of such an interchange, let’s hope that the mayor does not retaliate by excluding Christians from visiting London since travel agents and tourist sites on both sides of the Atlantic would be livid with such a massive loss of tourist revenues.

Exclusions breed exclusions and are bad for business, as Trump will discover if elected. I as a liberal feel closer to Khan than to Trump, who doesn’t feel like a fellow countryman at all.   GERALD     E

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