BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
The election in the 43rd California State Assembly district for its delegates to the California Democratic Party’s convention yielded very positive results for the Armenian community and everyone else who is sincerely engaged in politics in the district. The “Democrats United” (DU) slate of candidates won.
You may recall that the sitting Assemblymember had used his influence to force these elections to be held after his slate lost in January. This caused much waste of time and resources for the Party and local activists. But the results were gratifying. Not only did the same people win, but they won by even bigger margins.
It was gratifying and hope inspiring to learn that many otherwise impartial party activists found Gatto’s actions, and the Party’s bending to his typical imperious petulance, to be inappropriate. Interestingly, no one could recall seeing Mike Gatto at this election that took place because of his machinations. either he didn’t deem it important enough to attend, or, anticipating the loss, he couldn’t bear to show his face.
It was gratifying to see the number of valid votes increase by 100, meaning more participation, which is always a good sign. Interestingly, despite the increase, the Gatto-supported slate’s vote tallies DECREASED by about 50.
This decrease, too, is gratifying because it tells me that many people stayed away because they found this exercise distasteful. They probably did not feel comfortable supporting the DU slate because of various reasons (very legitimate, different people have different preferences and mindsets), but could not in good conscience come out to support the “Progressive” (Gatto’s) slate under these circumstances, so they stayed home.
Finally, this outcome is gratifying because the Armenian community has made it emphatically clear that it wants to take its rightful place in the political life of the Democratic Party in the district. It has made it clear that it is willing to work with any and all decent, civic minded constituencies to further the best interests of all involved. Party leadership now has to take note or risk losing a huge segment of the district’s population’s support (Armenians constitute at least 25%).
This is a very important moment for the Armenian community. But the hard work of actually electing representative, inclusive, non-divisive candidates still lies ahead. This unnecessary election was nothing but a minor blip on the big screen of work to be done.
Hopefully, the example set by the huge turnout of, and consequent success of the people supported by, the Armenian community will serve as an example and inspiration. It is not only on April 24th that we need massive, 160,000-strong, participation. We need that engagement and presence on varying scales for different purposes at different times. On July 19th, it was the roughly 400-500 Armenians who voted. Come June 7, 2016, it will probably be necessary to have some 20,000 Armenians turning out to vote in the Primary election in the 43rd district. People in other districts can benefit from this example. People can be more energized and go to demonstrations and rallies in larger numbers, such as when Turkey or Azerbaijan try to use their money and public-relations hacks to mislead our fellow citizens.
You get the idea – just do it. Always participate. Numbers, votes, energy, and principles matter.