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Election 2020: A Pakistani-American Tells Us Why He Voted Against Donald Trump

More than 20-million naturalized citizens voted in the 2020 US elections. Much larger number than 1995 when I was naturalized, aged 30 years; and originally from Pakistan.

I felt lost for several years confronting my lack of deep knowledge and understanding of the country in which I was not raised. I tried to sit down and have conversations with those who  had the privilege of being born and raised in US, but could not carry on for too long, when the discussions somehow trended toward certain cartoons or TV shows or movies or songs or local stars about which I had no clue. I did fine with my duties as a physician and despite the cultural gap, I was able to connect with my patients.

This year is the first election in which I participated with full intensity and passion. Just before the pandemic peaked in February, I was picked up by an African American cabbie from the JFK and taken to Stony Brook for an hour long journey. He was a passionate Trump supporter: “I have a job; both me and my wife are working and doing well. I will vote for Mr. Trump.” His logic made sense, but I wasn’t completely convinced, nodding half-heartedly, like a hypocrite. Being a New York Times reader, I had some understanding of how the impeachment case against Mr. Trump had played out and even though it was a complex mix of legal and constitutional jargon, I was not convinced that Mr. Trump wasn’t guilty.

When I travelled in March 2020 from Islamabad to Los Angeles, the United States was trying to lockdown and I was queried in Abu-Dhabi where US Customs and Immigration asked me whether I had traveled to any other countries where Covid-19 cases were peaking within 14 days of traveling to the US. When I landed in LAX, I entered the country without even a temperature check.  I was shocked as I had learned that Covid-19 could; in fact, be a serious disease, much more lethal than flu and posed formidable risk to even young, healthy people; and even to a premature death.

The pandemic spread like wild fire among unsuspecting people: from super-spreaders in a New York synagogue to the Connecticut birthday party. As these stories came to light, I thought that US has the resources, creativity and education to learn from this experience and soon the United States of America will guide the world on how to survive this pandemic with little mortality while livelihoods remained a priority. Unbelievably, the US led the world but at the other end of the spectrum. For weeks the incidence and mortality from Covid-19 was the highest in the developed world. I am not a public health expert, nor an infectious disease giant, I am just a physician who follows some medical journal and newspapers items on a daily basis and could not believe how Mr. Trump’s spinal reflexes elicited responses with sheer audacity in claiming that country will be roaring back after Easter. Or that Chloroquine and Azithromycin were magic bullets against Covid-19. Or just before the election when he caught Covid-19 that US was rounding the corner of the pandemic.

While Mr. Trump’s dictatorship and highhandedness is clearly to blame, biased newspaper items, shallow opinions, misguided ideas and playing politics in emergent times, have brought the country to the brink. Now hospitals are already filling up with corona cases and the spread of outbreak in the winter appears worse than any horror movie created by Hollywood.

I voted against Mr. Trump, even though I am an independent. I made decision about 10 days before the elections, after watching the two debates, witnessing how Mr. Trump displayed his ignorance, crass racism, “Proud boys stand back and stand by”; and he never really convinced me that he was not a racist. I was confused also because I felt strongly that Black Lives Matter movement was overplayed, and the entire police force was unfairly displayed in a bad light. As a physician, I am not in favour of socializing medicine! Finally, I liked what Mr. Trump wanted to do for the blue-collar workers throughout the country.

I still have hope as I have seen that the African American vote swung the elections in key states – Michigan, Philadelphia, Atlanta to name a few – where they overwhelmingly voted against Mr. Trump. I witnessed how Latino vote gave Mr. Trump Florida because they could not imagine US to become communist Venezuela or Cuba. The US allows expression of free speech, gives rights to its citizens without discrimination and keeps learning from its mistakes. We have survived and learned from the World Wars, the Vietnam tragedy and public-health crisis like AIDS. We don’t live in the Utopia and world will never be ideal, but we keep struggling to do the best in the emerging new world. Free expression and our legal system will get us through this crisis.

Mr. Trump should and is going to face the law and time will decide his place in the US history.

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