Posted by on March 05, 2012 in Blog

By Michael Akrouche

Michael Akrouche was a member of the administration of former Ohio governor George Voinovich

As Super Tuesday and Ohio’s Republican primary approaches, the Republican field offers few good options for Arab American Republicans. Though I have supported President Obama in the past, a sensible Republican with a strong economic message would have earned my vote in the primary and in November’s general election. Unfortunately, such a Republican is missing from the field of candidates this year. Mitt Romney has the potential to be that candidate. His experience in the private sector and his time as governor of Massachusetts have demonstrated his understanding of the economy and his ability to work across party lines to solve problems. Unfortunately, Romney has found it necessary to pander to his party’s most extreme elements during the primaries. Romney’s need to burnish his right-wing credentials by wading into culture war issues has distracted from his emphasis on job creation and the economy, the real strength of his candidacy.

Though Romney has been far from perfect, his opponents have been much worse. Rick Santorum said last week that President Obama was a snob for hoping all Americans could have a college education. This type of thinking mocks the hard work of millions of Americans who strive to send their children to college and will make it more difficult for America’s children to compete in a competitive and global world. Santorum’s focus on issues like contraception and abortion have distracted from the Republicans’ efforts to make this election about the economy and job creation. Even more distressing, especially for Arab American Republicans, have been the candidates’ views on foreign policy. With the exception of Ron Paul, the candidates are unanimous in their willingness to attack Iran in an effort to preempt its nuclear weapons program. Such a war would have disastrous consequences for America’s reputation in the Arab world and threaten the economic recovery by causing a panic in global oil markets. In addition to their dangerous positions on Iran, none of the candidates has pledged to approach the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with any measure of balance. Newt Gingrich even doubted the existence of Palestinians, calling them an “invented people.” These issues are not just important to Arab Americans, but to all Americans, since a strong and respected American presence in the Middle East is vital to American foreign policy.

Rhetoric like that of Gingrich and Santorum leaves Arab-American Republicans like myself wishing for a reasonable candidate who doesn’t pander to the fringes of the Republican Party. This primary race has put the Arab-American Republican community in the impossible position of deciding between voting based on crucial economic issues or instead based on concern for foreign policy and national security. Mitt Romney remains the only contender capable of addressing both of these issues in a way that protects both the interests of Arab-Americans and the entire Republican Party. If Romney can shift his focus back to the economy and away from social issues while outlining a more reasonable foreign policy, he will gain the votes of many Arab American Republicans in Ohio and around the country.

comments powered by Disqus