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Pure Politics: Voting Smart In 2004

Anu Chitrapu

Pure Politics: Voting Smart in 2004 Project Impact, a non-profit organization that focuses on issues relevant to the South Asian-American community, organized a three-part series focusing on the 2004 Presidential Elections.

The goal of this series of events is to educate the South Asian community on the Presidential candidates’ stand on issues relevant to them. The first part of this series was held on November 20 at the Suffolk Law School. The speakers included representatives for George Bush, John Kerry, Dennis Kucinich and Wesley Clark.

The event started with the organizers briefly introducing the representatives:Vivek Mohta for Dennis Kucinich, Dominick Ianno For George Bush, Ritry Vong for John Kerry and Andy Kang for Wesley Clark.

Each candidate was asked to name the top South Asian issue on their campaign agenda.

General Wesley Clark, born and raised in Chicago, went to school at West Point and is a Rhodes scholar. He served for 34 years in the Army and has displayed leadership on many occasions.

Top South Asian issue: Clark is anti-war and intends to work with International Communities to ensure peace. He also has a plan to support pre-secondary education.

His top 3 domestic issues are:
1. Get the Economy back on track
2. Put a stop to American misadventures abroad
3. Provide better healthcare for America
You can find more details at http://www.americansforclark.com/

Senator John Kerry, a graduate of the Law School at Yale University, entered the Navy after graduation, became a Swift Boat officer, and served on a gunboat in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.

Top South Asian issue: Reunification of families. Homeland Security and Civil Rights are issues that are important to him and he has spoken out against hate crimes and racial profiling.

You can find more details at http://www.johnkerry.com/ and at http://www.saki2004.com (South Asians for Kerry website)

Dennis Kucinich, holds a Masters of Arts degree in Communications, and has been a politician since the age of 21. Before he turned 18, Kucinich lived in 21 places – including in a car. While he is one of the lesser known candidates his “Prayer for America”, a collection of essays and speeches, is a New York Times bestseller.

Top South Asian issue: Protecting civil rights by putting an end to racial profiling and hate crimes. Notably, Dennis opposed the “Patriot Act” and war in the Middle East.

More details at www.kucinich.us

George Bush, President

Top South Asian issue: Immigration. Wants to help everyone achieve the ‘American Dream’. On the flip side, Bush believes that the Patriot Act was necessary.

Top domestic issue is to create more jobs here and around the world. According to Bush’s representative, “it is better to fight on the streets of Baghdad than on the streets of Boston”.

More details at http://www.georgewbush.com/

Some interesting facts that emerged out these discussion was that amongst American citizens of South Asian origin, the average turnout at the polls is only about 30%, which is disappointingly low. If lack of information is the main reason for this, it is now easier than ever before to find all relevant information on the web.

You can cast an educated vote for the person who is responsive to matters that matter to you. As one member of the audience pointed out, different candidates focus on different issues – weigh the issues from your perspective before casting your vote, but also remember that every issue does not reach the bill stage.

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