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U.S. Election 2016: Trump, Clinton, and the Trolley Problem

Written by M Baqir Muhyedeen

Dear fellow Muslim Americans,

The 2016 election cycle is coming to an end. This election season can be described as not only emotionally tiresome, but dramatic and hectic. Tuesday evening, as all Americans and the whole world watch for the results of this election, will be as if we are watching the season finale of America. The Trump vs. Clinton election fiasco seems to be more of a perverted reality television show than the typical election cycle that we experience here at home.

The Trolley Problem:

Most of us are facing an election that can be related to the trolley problem. The trolley problem is a thought experiment in ethics. The problem goes as follows:

You are walking down a street, and you notice a trolley heading towards five people who are tied down to the tracks. If the trolley is not stopped those five people will lose their lives. You notice a lever near the tracks and you have the option to redirect the trolley onto another pair of tracks. If you do redirect the trolley, it will head towards a solo person that is tied down to the tracks as well.
In ethics, this problem is studied heavily. If you do redirect the trolley, you will save the lives of five people at the cost of one life. The argument is that the blood of the person who dies will be on your hands since you helped redirect the trolley, as compared to initially you were not involved with the outcome of the deaths of the five people.

To many of us Muslims this election seems to be very similar to the trolley problem; however, for us it seems that the trolley can either run into our family that are outside of the United States or our family that resides in the United States.

Should we vote this up upcoming election?

During the primaries, the vast majority of Muslims voted for Bernie Sanders to become the Democratic Candidate for the race of the presidency. Unfortunately, he did not make it on the ballot, though. After the results of the primaries the opinions amongst our community varied. There are those who decided that their vote will be cast for a third party candidate, Jill Stein. Others decided that they will abstain from voting for any of Presidential candidates in 2016 due to ethical reasons. The third camp decided that they will cast their vote for Hillary Clinton. Our vote, and lack of, does count. If one decides to cast their vote for Jill Stein, or Hillary Clinton, or not cast a vote, will all make a statement. Due to the democratic nature of our nation, the statement that we make will affect our life in this nation. Ultimately our vote does count; our votes will make a difference in this election, and PARTICULARLY to those residing in a swing state. According to Politico, this election season’s swing states are Virginia, Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, Florida, Indiana, Nevada, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

What will a Trump Presidency look like?

Does this question really need to be addressed? For the past months, we have been painfully listening to Trump spew hatred, and bigoted speech, that is fueling the fire of Islamophobia in the United States. Over the past few months there has been a drastic increase of hate attacks onto Muslims around the Nation. From random attacks against our sisters who wear hijab, or those who speak a language other in English in public, to even more cynical actions like random murder of innocent Muslims. It has painfully become normal to see these headlines on the news regularly.

Trump is campaigning that he will stop allowing Muslims to enter the United States, and that the current Muslim Americans here will be under surveillance to the point that he will even put those who he deems dangerous into internment camps as was done to Japanese Americans during World War II. Trump has also spoken out against African Americans, Latino Americans, made degrading statements against women, made fun of people who are physically handicapped, and even attacked the uber liberal Pope Francis. Do we really want to sleep on Tuesday evening knowing that Trump will be our President in a few months?

Why we should cast our vote for Hillary Clinton:

Hillary Clinton has reached out to all communities within America, including Muslims, and has offered us a chair to voice their opinion during her Presidency. Although her track record is not easily digestible, she has publicly stated that she does regret past decisions like voting for the Iraq war in 2003. Hillary Clinton is a Politician. Her decisions are based off the interests of those who elect her. Since Hillary has acknowledged that the Muslim vote will be crucial for her to win the election on Tuesday, she will work with our communities once she is elected to hear our voices and concerns as she runs the nation. We can make a statement by voting for Jill Stein, or by abstaining from casting a ballot; however the implications of those statements will simply help a Trump Presidency become a dangerous and unbearable reality. A Trump victory on Tuesday is not a victory for the Republican Party, nor a loss for the Democratic Party, rather it would be a victory for hate, ignorance, bigotry, and racism.

My sisters and brothers in faith, let’s make a statement on Tuesday to our fellow American citizens, and the world, that we are against hate, ignorance, bigotry, and racism by casting our vote for Hillary Clinton.

Regards,

A fellow distressed American Muslim

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