By Appo Jabarian
Executive Publisher/Managing Editor
USA Armenian Life Magazine
Most Armenian Americans barely control their anger, frustration and exasperation in the face of utter disrespect hurled at them by both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates.
As if the Obama administration’s gross failure in keeping campaign promises made to Armenian Americans wasn’t enough, now the victims of the Armenian Genocide and of illegal occupation by the perpetrator Turkey of their homelands in Western Armenia and Cilicia must deal with the insulting disregard by both Pres. Barack Obama’s and Governor Mitt Romney’s presidential campaigns.
It is lamentable that Armenian Americans along with many Americans are being disenfranchised by Republican and Democratic presidential campaigns.
“Clearly, it is unwise for both presidential candidates not to court the support of Armenian-American voters in crucial swing states, at a time when the race is so tight that a handful of votes could mean the difference between victory and defeat. … Finally, not voting for either presidential candidate does not mean sitting out the elections. One third of the US Senators are up for reelection as well as all 435 House Members. Armenian-American voters should reward candidates supportive of their issues by voting them back into office, and should punish their opponents by voting them out of office!” wrote Harut Sassounian, Publisher of The California Courier.
In the days running up to the November 6 U.S. presidential elections Armenian National Committee of America decided not to endorse neither Pres. Obama nor Gov. Romney. A number of key individuals in the Armenian American community such as Sassounian took the same decision. He stated: “This was not a difficult decision. Both candidates have been disappointing. The President has not kept his word on many Armenian and non-Armenian issues, while his rival has not shown the slightest interest in the Armenian-American community and its issues.”
Armenian Americans are not the lone segment of American society that is shortchanged. The majority of the U.S. population in most of the 50 U.S. states feel being taken for granted because of the outdated and dysfunctional Electoral College system. The time has come to overhaul the system to allow the American populace to cast its electoral votes, district by district, as outlined in the congressional districting map in each state. Let each presidential candidate earn his electoral college vote not through the elite club but directly from the people of each and every congressional district across the United States.
As many voters are aware, under the present Electoral College system a U.S. president is not really elected by popular vote like it’s done in many European countries such as France and Armenia.
The present formula violates the sacred principle of one-person, one-vote. “Our Electoral College system is weird — and not in a good way,” recently pointed out Eric Black of The Minneapolis Post. “Winner-take-all Electoral College pushes most states to the sidelines,” indicated Steve Rose in The Star of Kansas City.
Presently Nebraska and Maine are the two exceptions to the winner-take-all Electoral College system. These twin states disallow that. Instead, they split the electoral votes according to the number of votes each candidate receives.
The time has come for Americans as a whole to reclaim their electoral process by creating a counter-balance to the corporate-controlled twin political parties — Republican and Democratic. The mega corporations and their neocon (neoconservative) lackeys have hijacked for far too long the U.S. domestic and foreign policy.
Armenian Americans should actively join forces with thousands of reformist Americans in demanding that the “winner-take-all” electoral college system be modified in their individual states and be converted to district-by-district system. They should push for appropriate propositions in each state instituting such methods of granting electoral votes, thus giving the people the real power of choice.
I know, it’s easier said than done. But the process must start from somewhere.
In the meantime Armenian Americans stand to gain by positioning themselves as independent voters in all 50 and especially the swing states of the Union.
By casting their votes in favor of a third party candidate they can make important contributions to the establishment of a viable third wing in presidential elections.
In the absence of any outreach by the two candidates to Armenian Americans to address their concerns, the latter has no choice but to deny their votes to either “corporate” candidates, and vote for a third-party candidate even if that candidate has zero chance of winning.
In response to Sassounian’s article on ArmenianWeekly.com, many bloggers posted pro and con remarks.
Lydia T. responded: ” Neither of the candidates deserve even one Armenian vote. I want to send a message to the candidates and vote on Libertarian presidential ticket. Let them know if they are not supporting the Armenian American community, then we will not support them either. … If we were smart, then we would make sure every Armenian in US is registered voter, so that we can show numbers and that would make a difference, it would make our votes count for the presidential candidate.”
Sangria Time wrote: “Plainly stated, Obama is a liar. … USA is a one-party system, and ‘Democracy’ is an illusion. The ‘media’ masterfully exploits and coerces the unsuspecting lazy public into identifying themselves as ‘Republican’ or ‘Democrat’ when in fact, in the end they both do the same thing, taking slightly different approaches to accomplish the same thing. … Also, … I completely reject the excuse that U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide ‘is contrary to our security’ like these ZIONISTS claim. ”
While one blogger, Juliet, claimed that “voting for neither candidate is the worst decision,” another — Suren 2 underlined: “You know there are other political parties in America besides Republican and Democrat as much as the media likes to pretend there aren’t. Go vote for them.” A third blogger — Voskanapat pointed out that “Republicans and the Democrats are just the two wings of one party of the ruling elite. It’s brilliant. They are in power and selling death no matter what.”
Recent political developments have illustrated how the Armenian American community’s political clout has its limitations under the current status quo.
The fact that neither Obama nor Romney made any campaign promises to Armenian Americans may eventually become presidential blessing in disguise.
The time has come for Armenian Americans to reinvent themselves as an influential component of reformed American democracy — and in the process, assist America in re-inventing itself as a once again fully functioning democratic nation.
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