Arab Americans and the Obama’s Legacy: Between Rhetoric and Reality

Lanouar Ben Hafsa


Although they constitute a tiny minority of the overall American makeup (less than 0.5 percent), Arab Americans have become an increasingly visible community over the last few decades. Their emergence as one of the most successful minorities in the United States could be explained by a bunch of achievements they have made in different domains: education, jobs, and politics. But, many would equally attribute their success to a strong belief in the American dream and a manifested will to assimilate.

The paper aims to assess Arab Americans’ support for Obama in the 2008 and 2012 presidential face-offs. It is especially an attempt to fathom the degree of political engagement and collaboration between the community’s component groups, namely Christians, Muslims, native-born and immigrants. It analyzes their voting patterns, examines issues of concern that mobilize their vote, and scales the extent they are likely to reach in galvanizing support around a common Arab agenda.

Another important goal of this study is to investigate the gap between Obama’s rhetoric and action regarding issues that mobilize the Arab constituency. It tempts to demonstrate how the massive Arab rally behind the Democratic candidate, in both contests, was more than a question of faith placed in what many referred to as the “black Kennedy.” It was rather the corroboration of a process that began in 2002, and that drifted away form the Republican Party sizable numbers of Arab constituents who felt exceptionally targeted by George W. Bush’s security measures, in the aftermath of 9/11, and repulsed by a hard line anti-Arab and anti-Muslim rhetoric that started to dominate the GOP.

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International Journal of Social Science Studies   ISSN 2324-8033 (Print)   ISSN 2324-8041 (Online)

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