Yesterday, right-wing House Republican Allen West finally conceded in his race against Democrat Patrick Murphy. West had made himself notorious for his anti-Muslim attitude. He argued that Islam is “not a faith” but a “totalitarian theocratic political ideology,” and that terrorism is inherent to Islam. He even said that Muslim congressman Keith Ellison (D) of “represent(ing) the antithesis of the principles upon which this country was established.”
But in an America that grows increasingly progressive and tolerant, bigotry can be a major electoral liability. Murphy’s margin of victory is roughly 1,900 votes. I talked to Imran Siddiqui, who is a Board Member for the organization Empowering Motivating Educating Resourceful Grassroots Entities, which registers Muslim voters in the area. He mentioned that his organization had 2,500 Muslim voters in their database in the district and that they witnessed 80 percent turnout. That means roughly 2,000 Muslim-American votes — a little bit higher than Murphy’s margin of victory.
West’s loss should be a lesson to all those in Congress who would try to use bigotry to their political advantage. Sometimes the targets of your ire get out and vote, and when they do, you lose.