An Eye Witness to History
By Tahir Ali

Copley Square, Boston, Massachusetts: The night that turned out to be the last night of elections, thousands of excited and hopeful Democrat activists from all over the country had come together and waited into the wee hours in the hope of seeing John F. Kerry give his victory speech. A small delegation of Muslim Americans was also at the scene, dreaming the same dream and hoping for the same outcome.

Senator John Kerry pauses in the midst of his concession speech, acknowledging his defeat by President George W. Bush in the 2004 Presidential election
While ballots were still being tallied in some of the battleground states, Parwez Wahid, Farooq Mirza, Owais Awaisi, Shahid Ahmed Khan, Asim Ghafoor, Lutfi Hassan, Noomi Hussain, Karim Ali and I, were all engaged in random conversations with fellow Democrats. Everyone was in a festive mood, including Phil Johnston, Chairman Massachusetts State Party, as he expressed his optimistic view to Azim Mian and Shahnaz Aziz of Geo television and Voice of America respectively.
Some of us were there as representatives of national organizations. I was representing the American Muslim Alliance (AMA) and by extension the American Muslim Taskforce (AMT).
The long wait gave us a chance to mingle, chat, and be exposed to various current and undercurrents in the Democratic Party. Before the night was over, the mood of the party went from exuberance and certitude to doubt and apprehension. The “impossible” seemed to be happening again but somehow it was too early to acknowledge it. Yet, there was an anticipated sadness in the room.
Conversation started to flow in all directions as the uncertain outcome of the electionsbecame more pronounced.
It was close to 2A.M, and I had just finished talking to a reporter from Dubai TV, when a reporter from London Telegraph came over to ask my opinion about who would be the winner. Then he asked me about American Muslims and it astonished me to no end that he knew about AMT’s “qualified” endorsement of Sen. John Kerry. He knew immediately what I was talking about.

He did not ask me what is AMT? He knew it stands for American Muslim Taskforce. Muslim unity was already having its impact beyond the boundaries of the Unites States. Earlier, I had talked to Italian newscaster Marco Lancilo of Andrkronos News. He too had heard about the AMT endorsement. The European press, it seemed, was also as attentive, if not more than the American press.
It was close to 2:30 when an entourage of police officers started pouring in to the Copley Square. I asked one of them whether that meant Sen. Kerry was coming out to the stage. I got my answer later, when I joined my friends in the Westin Hotel.
When it became quite clear that the outcome of the election depended on who wins the state of Ohio, and the Ohio vote count will not be known for another day, Sen. John Edwards emerged on the stage around 2:30 A.M. and told the rain-drenched nail-biting crowd, “It’s been a long night, but we’ve waited four years for this victory. We can wait one more night.” Edwards continued, “John Kerry and I made a promise to the American people that in this election, every vote would count and every vote would be counted. Tonight, we are keeping our word and we will fight for every vote. You deserve no less.”
It was around 4:30 A.M. when we got home. The rest is history, but as I told my colleagues, we were there to witness an important moment.
That night led to an eventful morning in which, I am afraid, Sen. Kerry’s role will be too quickly forgotten. Regardless of all other considerations, we must pause to give due credit to John Kerry for his political maturity and decisiveness. It is rumored that John Edwards wanted to contest the Ohio vote count and fight on as long as it was possible to fight on.
But having made a realistic assessment, John Kerry decided to save himself and the rest of the county the pain and anguish of another drawn out legal battle. Kerry had almost single-handedly restored the respectability of America’s electoral process. This was his parting gift to his fellow citizens.
After Kerry’s momentous decision, the whole process was put on fast-forward. By Wednesday afternoon, Sen. Kerry had conceded and President Bush had asserted the Republican victory. Karl Rove had proven himself a peerless strategist by enabling President Bush to score an impressive victory against a hugely mobilized Democratic Party. Clearly, Karl Rove had out-strategized, out-organized and out-mobilized the Democratic Party.
One needs much more time to fathom all the changes that took place in those 48 hours. But it is evident that America’s political map was redrawn and the blue states were relegated to America’s coastlines. Those 48 hours also marked the (relative) decline of the secular intelligentsia and the rise of the religious intelligentsia.
In the huge flux of the presidential election, the American Muslims made their mark again. Preliminary reports from AMT members (CAIR and AMA) indicated that, in keeping with the AMT endorsement, 93 % of American-Muslims voted for Sen. Kerry. The second Muslim bloc vote had become a reality. It was much larger than the first Muslim bloc vote in 2004. It was also much more consensual. A bloc vote takes place when majority of people in a given community together for a common purpose and in accordance with a negotiated understanding. This time 93% Muslims had voted together for AMT’s civil rights plus agenda.
The AMT has done for the Muslim community what Karl Rove has done for the Republican Party. By connecting its ‘qualified’ support for Kerry with its demands for restoration of civil liberties, the AMT has once again placed Muslim voters on America’s political map. While Sen. Kerry has lost, the American Muslim community has succeeded in defining a coherent agenda, developing an effective strategy and maintaining its unity in the voting process.
However, we still need to answer many questions: Will the American Muslims have any better luck with the religious intelligentsia than they have had with the secular intelligentsia? It is too early to tell. But we should not make the mistake of thinking that the party is over, and hereafter the Democrats will not be playing any meaning role. The news of their political death is highly exaggerated.
(Tahir Ali is the author of the book “The Muslim Vote: Counts and Recounts” published by Wyndham Hall. This Book is available at (search under ‘Tahir Ali’ or ‘Muslim Vote’)



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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