Neither Obama Nor Romney Deserve Armenian-American Votes


Harut Sassounian

BY HARUT SASSOUNIAN

During my recent trip to Armenia, journalists repeatedly asked me which U.S. presidential candidate I would support in the Nov. 6 elections. My answer was clear and unequivocal: I supported neither President Obama nor Governor Romney. Upon my return to the U.S., I was pleased to learn that the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) had made the same decision by not endorsing either candidate.

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.

Here is Obama’s long list of unkept promises on Armenian issues:

1. During the 2008 presidential campaign, he repeatedly pledged to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, and broke his promise after the election.

2. Furthermore, the Obama Administration opposed the adoption of a congressional resolution on the Armenian Genocide.

3. Obama significantly reduced the amount of foreign aid to Armenia and Artsakh (Karabagh). Moreover, his administration did not spend the full amount of aid Congress had allocated to Artsakh.

4. He pressured Armenia to sign the infamous “protocols” with Turkey in 2009.

5. He did not press Turkey to lift its blockade of Armenia.

6. He remained silent in the face of repeated saber-rattling by Azerbaijan’s president against Armenia and Artsakh, and ignored his campaign pledge to support Artsakh’s self-determination.

7. In late December 2010, circumventing the “hold” placed by U.S. Senators, Obama unilaterally appointed Matt Bryza as ambassador to Azerbaijan. Bryza’s candidacy had been overwhelmingly opposed by the Armenian-American community.

8. Breaking another promise, Obama failed to promote trade with Armenia.

9. He and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did not respond to repeated requests to meet with Armenian-American community leaders to address their concerns.

Armenian-Americans do not need to beg Obama to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, since President Reagan issued such a statement in his Presidential Proclamation of April 22, 1981. By not acknowledging the Armenian Genocide, Obama simply undermined his own credibility. Most Armenian-Americans trusted him in 2008. They no longer trust him in 2012! As the popular saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me!”

Those who think that such an assessment is too harsh and too narrowly focused on Armenian issues should be advised that Obama has not kept 86 other promises on national and international issues, according to politifact.com.

Romney has not fared any better with Armenian-Americans. He has avoided any contact with the community, making no attempt to seek their support and votes. The concern is that if he shows such callous disregard when he desperately needs every single vote to get elected, he will most definitely not pay any attention to Armenians and their issues after the election.

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 and a handful of votes could mean the difference between victory and defeat. However, it is still not too late for the two candidates to sit down with the leadership of the Armenian-American community and address their concerns. This will not be an easy conversation. As it would be practically impossible to trust Obama’s new promises, his only credible response would be to take a positive step on an important Armenian issue before Nov. 6! Romney, on the other hand, has more of an uphill battle. Being a candidate, he can only make promises that would not be taken too seriously at this late hour.

To avoid being fooled again by false promises, the Armenian-American community needs to adopt a new election strategy. Only those candidates who have fulfilled their campaign promises during their first term in office should be supported for re-election. Promises made by new candidates or those with no solid record of accomplishments on Armenian issues should be simply ignored.

Finally, not voting for either presidential candidate does not mean sitting out the elections. One third of the U.S. Senators are up for re-election, 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! Please consult ANCA’s ratings of all congressional candidates at www.anca.org.

7 Responses

for “Neither Obama Nor Romney Deserve Armenian-American Votes”

  1. danoog says:

    I don’t believe Armenian-Americans should base their vote for president on Armenian issues. Let’s face facts. They are all politicians and will do what is politically expedient. I know for a fact that Obama hasn’t done diddly squat for Armenia after promising to recognize the genocide while campaigning for the job of president. But more importantly, he has been the worst president this country has ever seen. That’s why I have already cast my vote for Mitt Romney.

  2. Vahe says:

    It’s important to note that Armenian-Americans should not vote for any given candidate solely based on that individual’s views on Armenian issues. Beyond the issues of genocide recognition and aid to Armenia–which are of the utmost importance, of course–are issues that directly affect Armenian-Americans and that are at stake in this election. Armenian-Americans, much like other American citizens, pay taxes, work in the public and private sectors, reap government benefits, rely on healthcare, social security, and medicare, value fundamental women’s rights and social liberties, etc. It’s understandable for any voter to be disillusioned with the unfulfilled promises of the Obama camp and the neglect by Romney regarded Armenian issues, but what’s at stake in this election is far greater than the amount of aid that Armenia receives or the words in the president’s speech in April. While we understand that, sadly, no single presidential candidate will advance the Armenian cause more than the other, we must also realize that the decisions the candidates make once elected regarding other issues–healthcare, tax rates, medicare–will in fact have a profound impact on the largely middle-class Armenian-American community. It is imperative that each and every Armenian-American does in fact vote for a candidate in this election; true, neither will promote the advancement of Armenian causes, but the decisions that he makes in the coming four years will determine the standard of living and prosperity of our community at home.

    • hagop hagopian says:

      It’s important to note that Armenian-Americans should not vote for any given candidate solely based on that individual’s views on Armenian issues. Beyond the issues of genocide recognition and aid to Armenia–which are of the utmost importance, of course–are issues that directly affect Armenian-Americans and that are at stake in this election.

      How absurd and demeaning of a statement. Why is it that you don’t criticize the self proclaimed “chosen people” (The Khazars) for casting their votes solely to the betterment or benefit of their occupied lands?

  3. George says:

    American thinking is; Armenia is friend of Russia so let Russia help Armenia, Azerbaijan is our friend even though it is a Fascist Government, run by a Corrput President and his Corrupt family, Make heroe the man that axes an innocent NATO soldier while in sleep, Azerbiajan is our OIL friend, Is this the Values that America stands for?, Have in mind why when you do not vote

  4. HARRY D says:

    Harout I always read your political articles, and I really admire and congratulate most of you thoughts, but
    this election is not justice to ask others not to vote, Let Armenian voters have their own choice to vote,
    after all, you don’t know one day we might need president’s help, You are a good Tchanak Gousaktsagan
    If one day you have the chance to run for presidency election, and if you win as an Armenian how much you can help the armenians or the armenian cause.You too has to go to Congressional and senators approval.
    So, lets keep our relationship with this government politician and then our voice can be heard,
    let us promote you or other individual to run for governmental position.
    Having this opportunity,let me give my advise,you can work on it. and you are the best candidate
    may be you should be the one the start organizing a new non sectarian or political committee
    and have one agenda, to file law suit against turkey for Genoside recognition and punitive damages
    campaign to all armenians around the word to contribute minimum of $ 10.00 per person
    see if all Armenians will be interested and then file a lawsuit in international court in GENEVA OR BRUSSEL by law we can win our rights thru supreme court only. U.S. accepting Genosde is not going to help there are over 18 countries that have accepted the Genoside. SO WHAT?

  5. Beth Hayes says:

    While I too disagree with your assessment regarding Obama’s lack of integrity on this important issue, it seems to me that encouraging people to abstain from voting on a presidential candidate as a block is to miss the point of a democratic election: each perso gets one vote and should always use that vote to vote their conscience. People should be encouraged to look into the facts but never encouraged to not participate in the democratic process…it is vital that everyone use their voice.

    • hagop hagopian says:

      You actually think that my vote counts? How native of you! How can you guarantee that my vote counts? Can you tell me who transports those ballot boxes? Who is counting them? Or while they are being transported how many are lost or unaccounted for? Who oversees the counting of the votes. The media, reports and predicts the winner way before all the ballots are counted. Get real, living in the states you assume that there is no vote rigging? If the Armenian vote really mattered, anyone from either party would have met with any of the Armenian organizations.
      Please, living on either coast my conservative vote doesn’t count.
      I’m glad Harout has taken the right position, and that right position is being NEUTRAL in this election.

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