Presidential Election 2020 – Voting decision for Sri Lankan Americans in the USA.
Posted on October 31st, 2020

Anjalika Silva

With a Sri Lankan American population in the United States now lingering between the third and fourth generation, the time has come to face one of the most decisive elections experienced by native and naturalized citizens with voting rights in the USA.  The choices are easy and plain to those who follow the facts and closely examine priorities for the country and its people.  Above all, we have a responsibility to uphold higher values than what we have experienced in the last four years.  It is imperative to pick the right reasons for making choices because this election is unique in the use of twists in the truth, vindictive actions and false unproven allegations, personal financial motives, and plans to destroy democratic rights of the people that can take the country on a journey of no return.

Fascism is staring in the face of the United States with the growing lean towards dictators, and the expanding empowerment of race based heavily armed white supremacist militia dragging the country back to dark ages.  Nothing said to the country can be withdrawn as sarcasm or jokes after it is spoken.   Words are also to be spoken with responsibility in public speeches spoken to the country.  Their words translate to assumed approval of action whether good or bad, whether it kills people in the process or incites violence.  The ultimate responsibility must be with the leaders whose words incite.   The mantra of white supremacy is frighteningly Neo-Nazi type and endangers nonwhite minorities including immigrants like us.  Even one life lost is one too many.

The anti-immigrant sentiments are so strong that it seems like the established policies to welcome diverse groups to the country  with a welcome from the Statue of Liberty and, accountability to all international conventions are on the brink of being ignored.  The FBI has warned that the greatest security threat faced by the US is not from foreign terrorism but more from domestic terrorism that defy factual truths. The number of armed militia groups have grown rapidly in the last four years.  They are free to carry assault weapons that belong in wars, in public places because Trump has the support of, and approval of the gun lobby.  With elections, weapons have been banned at polling stations due to the fearful threats that have crept into politics.  Weapons can be carried only by law enforcement. We have yet to see what happens on Tuesday, November 3, 2020, a historic day.

Priorities in a democracy is to evaluate whether the democracy is preserved by our voting choices.  Any country with democracy is aware that democracies are hard fought.   In doing so, one must examine the value of the ability to vote and how it can be preserved for future generations. On top of this basic value to be preserved is the peoples wishes and choices made for the better good of the country and its people who elect representatives to steer the country in the right direction.  The United States cannot survive with an isolationist policy that is the mantra today.  We live in a global community that requires participation of all countries. Biden advocates bringing back unity within the country and with international allies. This is in shreds in these four years with citizens and allies in friendly nations worldwide no longer able to look at the US as a beacon of hope and a leader.

Four years of a Trump administration saw some destructive policies that do not sit well with reasonable and intelligent voters.  The Trump base was supported mainly by non-college educated white men who did not consider or understand important factors that played a part in the global standing of the United States. Understanding global interaction between countries is beyond the understanding of some of the base that drove the agenda. Policy decisions were made mostly by Twitter and with abuse of Executive orders.  Basic needs of humans as citizens can be funneled to include healthcare, education, jobs and equal racial status, equal justice. 

With immigrants like us, race relations are critical, and so are other basic values tied to administration determined policies.  Currently policy takes shape determined by future votes for re-election and not the needs of the nation. Encompassing all of this is respect for human life and acceptance of all beings regardless of color, creed, national origin, or religion.  With the Trump administration, those of us who brought value with our choice to emigrate to the US were dismissed with disparaging name calling.  Our skin color was denigrated and what was not visible in the form of our education and value was ignored.  We were stereotyped and our homelands disrespected using language not permitted in the public domain as s**t hole countries.  We came from countries that invested in us and benefited the United States, but we were insulted as if it was a one-way street scraping the bottom by immigration.  America gained from us too.  We the Sri Lankan American citizens bring solid values and work ethic, education, assets and we abide by the law as a community with exceptions of some violations of the Patriot Act by supporters of terror who were dealt with the law to some extent when criminal activities were proven.

The choice to support Biden is not because he is a Democrat alone.  The basic choice of a leader for a country that is a democracy is human decency.  The US has lost its footing internally in terms of race relations and respect for the ordinary citizens who pay taxes and work hard to keep the wheels turning.  The treatment of racial, economic, political, and other diverse groups with lack of respect and decency has been the hallmark of the last four years.  Speaking the truth, acknowledging education, knowledge, and expertise like world renowned scientists received arrogant egotistical insults when they served humanity.

Every occupation is a necessity whether it requires education or only skills and desire to work.  Healthcare is an issue that has become the foundation on which fear has grown in the richest country in the world.  With dismantling the Obamacare that provided affordable healthcare to a third of the population that had no healthcare, the battle for four years has been to remove Obamacare by using the Supreme Court that is also politicized with the long term plan to defer decisions against that of the people to the divided court.  Favoring appointees who must pledge loyalty to the leader who put them there and not independent decisions guarantees a one-sided, self-driven agenda that moves away from a democracy to a dictatorship style.

The vindictive threat of removal of healthcare from 20 million people is preposterous.  Education and educated opinions have been dismissed in the last four years.  With the Biden-Harris ticket, there are some rough edges that need to be worked on, but people live in hope that they will listen to the people’s wishes and weigh decisions with input from those who bring knowledge and experience.  One such area that we must work on is a review of the Foreign Policy toward Sri Lanka that has resulted incomplete knowledge that has not done justice to Sri Lanka.  We must take responsibility for criticism over action that has resulted in less than favorable views except when firsthand information is shared by us.  Work to be done in this regard is staring in our faces and we must move forward.

Taxes are another issue.  It is known that the top 1% hold about 90% of the wealth in this country and they manipulate financial markets that almost throttled the small investor planning for retirement.  They used to pay 28% in taxes that the super-rich wanted reduced to 25%.  Self-serving Trump reduced it further to 21% giving them a 7% drop in 2017 serving himself and his wealthy friends, while he had not paid taxes and cheated the country for 10-15 years.  How can one respect this kind of individual to make serious decisions for We the people” as stated in the Constitution of the United States? 

This gap to give a 7% reduction in taxes was filled with deprivation of people like me by taking away tax deductions that ordinary middle class workers and retirees were able to claim at the end of a financial year in tax filings.  This meant piling a further 7% taxes to be paid by working and retired middle class to bridge the gap.  We felt duped to lose 7% of the tax exemptions we had prior to Trump.  With Biden-Harris, he has recognized an immediate need to remedy the tax structure and restore healthcare. Biden has vowed to and will ensure that those earning wages higher than $400,000 pay their fair share. Biden will reduce the burden on the middle and working class with tax reform that will make the rich pay a fair share.  Prescription drugs have increased 300% for some of us while the President claims he gave us the lowest drug prices which is not the truth.

Covid 19 has been the test for most American voters.  The callous politicizing a pandemic with selfish motives to use it for election vote winning, misleading the masses and calling world renowned scientists and doctors idiots” hit home to those of us who are educated in advanced science and exposed to biotech environments in our careers.  Biden understands the value of contribution from the experts who know more than a state leader.  He respects science and we as citizens have the confidence that when it comes to major issues he will respect the collective opinion of experts and not be afraid to make unpopular decisions, enforce policies with explanations that citizens can trust.  Bidens desire to encompass the input of experts in all areas to get the best of the better brains is a sharp contrast to Trump who is poorly informed, hardly educated and had to pay someone to take his college admission SAT tests.  Respect must be earned and not demanded.  Biden served one of the most popular Past Presidents, Barak Obama giving a sense of security to people.  His inability to fulfill some of his policies was due to partisan and deliberate blocking by an opposing Republican Senate that vowed to obstruct him even before he started.  The falsehood about Obama’s birth on US soil was Trumps birtharism lies that took more energy away from productive action with proof that was ignored to promote lies.  Not only have we lost respect within the country, but the USA has also lost respect worldwide among leaders and even ordinary citizens of other countries.  Biden was Vice President of the country.  He knows the norms and the accepted conduct we expect from our leaders.  He knows what is good for the country and people and will not be self-serving. His morality is above board.  He has lived by the laws of the land. 

When immigrants came to the USA, it was based on voluntary choice.  We are Sri Lankan in origin and familiar with our democratic right to vote and make choices.  Although many do not value what our home country provided with the freedom to choose, the free education, free healthcare with built in choices that are available according to affordability, it is comparable to the desires of Americans too.  However, in the USA education is not affordable, healthcare is unaffordable and until Obama stepped in, it was tied to the employer who had the choice to not offer health insurance.  The government took its share of taxes and social security but there were few guarantees of job security or protection from healthcare costs.

With Biden, he understands the basic needs of people.  As a Sri Lankan American I feel very strongly about the foreign policy toward Sri Lanka after ending the war on terrorism.  There was not enough force to set the tone that Sri Lanka was victorious against the terrorists who were labelled by the US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) as the most brutal of all terror groups.  The Mackenzie Institute of Canada in a study determined that Sri Lanka’s terrorists stood among the top three most brutal in the world that included Al-Shabaab and Hamas.  Yet, the US took a hard line to march our trained military that lost 29,000 lives in uniform for Human Rights Violations.  Having been vocal about this discrepancy needs more support from Sri Lanka.  The elimination of over 70,000 civilian lives of all races has only been portrayed in half truths.  With a Biden administration, Sri Lanka’s foreign relations can be reviewed by educating a new administration with truth and facts that give a balanced picture.  It will not come by default.  We, the voters of the American system must use our avenues of input to follow up on requests to honor the independence to defend our home country from the same terrorism that is on the radar of the US government.  Terrorism is terrorism.  The tactics are the same.  Only the cause” varies and sometimes, with closer look at the so-called cause, it is evident that the cause is only an excuse that is hardly honored.

With a Biden-Harris administration, we as Sri Lankan Americans must do our part for the bridge building between our countries.  When we leave Sri Lanka and become citizens, we must not forget that it is not only the affluence and economic success that we enjoy.  We must also remember that some of us brought a high level of education, assets, and our values that we contribute to the American System.  We have added value.  It is disheartening to note that some Sri Lankan Americans look at the two countries and condemn Sri Lanka as all bad.  Some Sri Lankans condemn the US as all bad.  There is no such pure and clear-cut classification.  We the people of this world have individual responsibility to contribute with a balance of good and bad for the better good of humanity that stretches beyond the labels by country, politics, race, religion, and economic standing.  The world of humans must be built on values good for humanity and not personal gain. 

In this decisive time of the US Presidential elections referred to as the most important in history, each of us bear responsibility to make the world work and drive it in the right direction.  It takes effort beyond words and contempt.

3 Responses to “Presidential Election 2020 – Voting decision for Sri Lankan Americans in the USA.”

  1. Ratanapala Says:

    Biden comes from the Clinton Camp. We Sri Lankans cannot easily forget how Hillary Clinton took money from the LTTE fronts in the US and declared the LTTE as Freedom Fighters. This thinking is still there in the Clinton Camp. The Sri Lankans in the US have a responsibility to lobby the Biden- Harris group for a change of attitude towards the Tamil Diaspora and show them in the proper light – that they are only fronts for the once most deadliest Terrorists organisations in the world the LTTE and that their modalities haven’t changed.

    Looking from Sri Lanka it really does not matter very much whether Biden- Harris wins or Trump – Pence wins. The American militaristic and predatory attitude towards world, the exceptional status for the US and the end goal of world domination are the same in both camps!

  2. dingiri bandara Says:

    Hilary Clinton said to be a typical American was duped or however it happened, sided with the LTTE. The problem for Sri Lanka is,being a very much a Tamil although she calls herself a colored person, how she feels about the Tamils separatists of Sri Lanka and the disruptive and racists Tamil Diaspora.

  3. Outspoken Sri Lankan Says:

    Thank you for the feedback comments. I am the writer and I wish to emphasize that we have a responsibility to do our part to speak and spread the truth. I hear nothing but blame that the US administrations and Clinton was partial to the LTTE. Why? How many of those who know the brutality suffered by Sri Lanka not only for the Sinhalese but all the races, the killing of a popular Foreign Minister was not pointed out. My strong opinion is that Sri Lankans must take a more active role to set the record straight before picking on things that were not done for which we all need to take responsibility. I have spent over 30 years fighting the truth. I have exposed myself at gatherings and challenged wrong information. We need more people to do so with their representatives in the US. There is no money in doing so. It has to be voluntary patriotism. When the government throws money people come. Even then they do little or nothing. Without money, no one likes to give time and effort. At least pay back your education. We got so much from the country and very few care.

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