Posted by on August 31, 2011 in Blog

The 2012 election will be different.

The Arab world is different, with dramatic new developments reshaping the political map of the region. Across the Middle East, Arabs have risen up demanding change. No longer satisfied with the status quo, they are holding their governments and ours accountable. As a result, America can no longer afford to ignore the aspirations of the Arab world.

The politics here at home are different, with the Tea Party and religious fundamentalists being incited by a dangerous anti-Arab and anti-Muslim fringe. We saw this hate campaign at work in 2010, and all signs point to it growing as a political wedge issue in 2012. It may be dangerous to the social fabric of our country, but when crass politicians find an issue that mobilizes their supporters, they are prone to say "the country be damned."

And overall, the mood in the country is different, with the prolonged recession having shaken confidence in the American dream. As a result, the hope many felt in 2008 has evaporated, now replaced by cynicism or anger.

This 2012 election will be different. For many Arab Americans, it will be a contest between a candidate who has disappointed them and a candidate who scares the hell out of them.

Let's face it, this is different.

And that's why we need you to join us in Dearborn, Michigan from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2, for a different kind of conference. It is our quadrennial National Leadership Conference—the one we hold the year before the Presidential elections. But this one is different. This year we won't promise you speakers who will talk at you. Instead we are inviting you to a series of Town Hall conversations (on the economic and social problems we face, on the challenges to our civil liberties, on Islamophobia, and on our response to the Arab Spring). At these sessions, we want to work with you to define our positions and lay out our community's strategy to "make a difference" in 2012.

There are a few things we know for certain:

  • this election will take place with or without us;
  • the challenges we face won't go away by themselves;
  • our community can make an invaluable contribution to the national debate on every issue facing our country; and
  • we have to be prepared and organized if we are to play our part.

And that's what this year's NLC is all about—a different kind of conference, more like a convention, to help us prepare for a different and difficult election year.

I hope you'll join us. I also hope you'll be able to sponsor some young activists in your community, so that we can prepare our next generation to take the lead. We need your voices at this year's NLC.

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