The hot-button issues rising to the forefront of American political discourse, as emphasized by the Democratic presidential candidates during the recent debates, have not been what many observers in the Arab world expected. Indeed, we were truly far off.
While we were expecting the focus to be on the explosive events unfolding now in the Arab Gulf, the American voter seems more worried about the threat posed by North Korea’s burgeoning nuclear capability, both in practical and theoretical terms (i.e., its potential to launch a missile at American soil). Assuming that this threat in the east did not exist, the Arab viewer might then conclude that the issue of Jerusalem and the proceedings of what has been termed the “deal of the century” would constitute the most important matter. But in reality, American voters appear to be more concerned with questions concerning its southern border and illegal immigration. The move of the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem did not even merit a passing mention.
On the topic of nuclear threat, American voters pay no notable attention to what has happened, and what is happening, in the Arab Gulf, particularly compared to how much attention they pay to news of Moscow’s interference in the presidential election, described as a “destruction of democracy”. Likewise, President Donald Trump’s attempts to “strip” or “freeze” North Korea’s weapons program completely overtook news bulletins, as well as his attempts to “accommodate” or “placate” its neurotic leader Kim Jong Un.
As for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, American voters have not shown any remarkable interest in this matter either, which is contrary to what we would have expected from the proximity to the critical issues of the Middle East and from our constant exposure to the topic in local media.
Instead, Trump’s notorious “zero-tolerance” policy commands all the attention, particularly his recent statements regarding plans for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement units to deport every immigrant who is present in the country illegally. Never mind the fact this group is estimated to number more than 1 million, some of them long-time residents who have even participating in federal and local elections.
To a large extent, fear of voter fraud and manipulation is behind Trump’s calls for a “citizenship” question ahead of next year’s presidential election. On the other side of the aisle, the most important immigration issue for the Democrats is the status of migrant children being kept in detention centers (i.e., cages) along the southern border. At the moment, they continue to suffer from overcrowding, and lack even the most basic of necessary sanitary conditions. On top of all that, some of these children and adolescents remain separated from their parents.
If we observe the true priorities of the average American voter, we can correct for the misconceptions so apparent here in the Arab world. God willing, the mirror of Washington will continue to reflect the true facts so we can stay informed.
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