Too Much? Or Not Enough?

BY GAREN YEGPARIAN

November 2 was a decidedly mixed bag as far as election results go. Some states stood firm while others fell to the Republican/Tea Party assault on rational, self-interest defending voting— more on this later.

From an Armenian perspective, things went fairly well. As the ANCA has reported, 152 of 158 of its House and five of six of its Senate endorsees won. Of course, that’s just over one third and under one fifth, respectively, of the seats up in each of those chambers. But it’s a solid beginning. Over time, our reach must expand to become active participants in all the races. Other good news is that opponents of ours LOST. Finally, with the new alignment of power in the House of Representatives (i.e. Republican now are the majority), it strikes me as a good opportunity to build relationships with them that might have gone un- or underdeveloped because the Democratic party held sway recently and before that the Republican leadership (think Dennis Hastert) was ill disposed towards our issues.

From my perspective, i.e. the recommendations I made over the last several weeks for California, things went well for elected office, but not so well on the propositions. Seven of the eight statewide officials I recommended have won. The eighth, Kamala Harris vying for Attorney General, leads, but by a very small, and fluctuating, margin— under 9,400 votes —with hundreds of thousands of ballots still to be counted as of this writing.

Of the propositions, I was very disappointed by the passage of Prop 26 that lets polluters off the hook and the failure of Prop 21 that would have funded state parks fully. I am baffled by the failure of Prop 24. The combination of these three results is truly enigmatic. I can see that people might have been afraid some of the fees covered by 26 would apply to them, and voted to make it more difficult to implement such charges. I can even see people not wanting to pay the extra $18 for vehicle registration envisioned by 21. These are, after all, tough economic times. But how can we explain, in this light, people rejecting 24 which would’ve saved the State of California, meaning us— Californians, $1.3 billion annually? The other three which went the “wrong way”— 19- marijuana legalization, 20- citizens commission to do congressional redistricting, and 22- preventing the legislature from using money allocated to local government and transportation— I didn’t have very strong feelings about. I’m thrilled that 23 (upending the greenhouse gas law) failed and 25 (making budget passage easier) passed. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, there are already three ballot measures qualified for the February 2012 California Primary Elections.

My recommendations for LA County Tax Assessor, Board of Equalization, and the Armenian ghetto districts also bore fruit. However, I was rightly chided for not including in the latter zone the San Gabriel Valley. It won’t happen again. Of course Harry Reid also won. The one explicit judge recommendation I made lost. Overall, not bad!

But, I am displeased at the country-wide results. Clearly, voters were angry, worried, and disgusted. We’ll get to that last category in a minute. But the first two voted against their own best interests by putting the Republicans in charge of the House of Representatives and strengthening them in the Senate. This is the party whose policies and actions brought the U.S. to its current economic plight and later, prevented the Democratic Party from taking sufficient action to create the jobs needed to get the country going again. The “party of no” is crowing about all the things it will “undo”, already it is, in effect, promising to do nothing constructive.

How did this happen? We’ve just seen the largest shift in party affiliation in the House since the 1950s. The interpretation propounded by some is that the Democratic Party and President Obama, went too far left, acted as “socialists”. That’s outright laughable and contradicts the real explanation suggested by who didn’t vote— the “disgusted” category I mentioned above. Among those were the young and Latinos who turned out in large numbers in 2008 and helped secure the Democratic gains of that election year. These are the people who expected a lot MORE of the people whom they got into power. They didn’t get it and stayed home this time. This might even be true of many in our communities who are dismayed at the insufficient progress made on the Genocide Resolution. Also, among the Democratic Party’s legislators, many more of the “Progressive Coalition” (96%) won than the “Blue Dog (conservative) Coalition”.

Couple this with the anger engendered by the right wing media in the country, and you get the results we’ve witnessed. But one more thing was necessary, and available. Money! Unprecedented amounts of disguised corporate money made it into the electoral system. This was enabled by the “Citizens United” decision handed down by the Supreme Court in January (see my “Stupid Supremes Support Silencing” published in February). Guess whom this money supported? The same candidates who got elected because they were “opposed” to the powers that put all of us in the straits we’re in. People just didn’t see and make the connection. I have to wonder what the level of disappointment in these phonies will be, and if the right-wingers and/or independents who propelled them to success will open their eyes and see what they have wrought. I’m inclined to predict another big reversal in 2012 since the economy is unlikely to have improved and the Republicans who now have more leverage have little experience in legislating and leading having for years busily dismantled the infrastructure that propelled U.S. economic prowess, instead of building on it.

Let’s develop relationships with the new legislators in pursuit of the Armenian Cause. But let’s also advocate just and economically sound policy from our federal representatives.

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