Bernie Sanders was expected to lose the state of Michigan and get trounced in the state of Mississippi. While Sanders was demolished in Mississippi as expected, he was miraculously lifted to victory in Michigan 50% to 48%. The thin margin of victory compels an analysis of what communities drove the razor thin win. The United States has long been a nation that defied common wisdom, transcended division and overcame the stumbling blocks of past conflicts. Tonight, the Muslim community in Michigan contributed a new chapter to our collective story of triumph over tribalism. In the first serious attempt to seek the Presidency by a Jewish American, Muslim Americans in Michigan supported Bernie Sanders by overwhelming margins. It is important to note that Muslims were merely a factor in a multi-variable calculus that caused Sanders to succeed (such as an over-performance among African Americans and under-performance by Clinton). Michigan is one of the few states that hosts a significant Muslim and Arab population. Throughout the Middle East, antisemitism in the Islamic World is not rare. Conflicts like the Israeli and Palestinian struggle for statehood have helped foment strife between the Abrahamic communities. A multitude of terrorist organizations and even some duly elected governments in Islamic states have called for the extermination of the state of Israel and of Jews in general. The cantankerous relationship has resulted in a global stereotype of strife between Jews and Muslims that lead many political observers to presume that Bernie Sanders would be roundly rejected by predominantly Muslim communities. And yet, online periodicals like The Arab American News endorsed Senator Sanders. The Arab American News wrote:
“With the senator from Vermont, we have a historic opportunity to elect a principled politician who has remained true to his message from the days he was protesting with the civil rights movement to the day he proclaimed himself a democratic socialist on national television while running for president.
Most Arab Americans are hardworking, middle class families. The concentration of wealth in the top 1 percent of the nation’s richest people impacts this community directly. Sanders’ tax reforms and promised social programs would level the playing field for Americans to realize the American Dream.
Sanders stands for racial justice and has unequivocally condemned Islamophobia.
Sanders is a Jewish American. This newspaper and the community at large do not have a bias against anyone’s ethnic or religious affiliation. Ideas are what matters.
The newspaper does not trust Clinton’s interventionist inclinations. As secretary of state, she was a leading force behind the bombing campaign in Libya in 2011. There is no doubt that Muammar Gaddafi was a dictator who abused his people. But the hasty war on Libya, which was dubbed as humanitarian, led to that North African nation becoming a failed state. Now, two governments and countless militant groups, including ISIS, rule the once-stable country.
A CNN poll revealed this week that Sanders would beat Trump by a bigger margin than Clinton. According to the poll, the former secretary of state would top Trump 52 to 44 percent; Sanders would beat the real estate mogul 55 to 43 percent.
Even if Sanders does not succeed in winning the nomination, it is important for our community to vote for him, so he can promote his platform and communicate his ideas to the American public, taking his campaign all the way to the Democratic Convention. Between now and then, anything is possible.
Arab Americans need to stand for principles. In Sanders, we have a principled politician who is showing strength and courage in his campaign.
True to the history of America, American Muslims defied the conventional wisdom and at a ratio of 64% to 36% supported Bernie Sanders, who describes himself as proudly Jewish. Some have called the Michigan victory, the most stunning upset in recent political history.