Essay: How the Republican Party alienated the once reliable Muslim voting bloc
Believe it or not, Muslim support for the Republican Party did not waver in the face of its gradual Christianization. On the contrary, Muslims saw common ground with Christians on most social issues. While the topic of abortion is not nearly as cut-and-dried for Muslims as it is for many Christians, the Muslim community certainly agreed with the goal of limiting them as much as possible – and more to the point, in limiting unwanted pregnancies in the first place by stigmatizing casual sexual encounters. Muslims shared with their Christian neighbors their belief in the sanctity of the nuclear family, and their belief that a household headed by a married mother and father was the best household in which to raise children.
By 2000, the Muslim community in America was several decades old, and had started to mature as a political entity. Muslim organizations almost unanimously endorsed George W. Bush. I voted for Bush that year. I would have voted for Bob Dole in 1996 if I weren’t so busy with medical school that I forgot to vote; I would have voted for Bush Sr. in 1992 if I weren’t still 17-years-old.
In the 2000 election, approximately 70 percent of Muslims in America voted for Bush; among non-African-American Muslims, the ratio was over 80 percent.
Four years later, Bush’s share of the vote among Muslims was 4 percent.
What happened? Well, a lot.
It would be easy to say everything changed on 9/11 – because everything did change on 9/11. But 9/11 was a chance for America to show off the better angels of its nature, and as a nation, by and large, we did. A week after the World Trade Center came crashing down, President Bush spoke before both houses of Congress in one of the defining moments of his presidency. He did not disappoint, and while he outlined the need to attack al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, he was scrupulous not to point the finger at Muslims in general.