BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
A number of races across the U.S.A. are grabbing a lot of attention. Not only are they high level, but they are ideologically charged (whether in reality or strictly campaign purposes is not entirely clear) and/or tight races manifesting a lot of the features of the current condition of American electoral politics.
Obviously, the race for president between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama (we don’t even hear about the other, minor party, candidates) is at the top of the attention grabbers. Unfortunately, neither of them have been particularly receptive to Armenian concerns. Four years of broken promises by the sitting Democratic president are matched by the aloofness and disinterest of the Republican challenger who has essentially spurned Republican Armenians’ offers of cooperation and, when he was governor of Massachusetts, was not close to our very significant community in that state. But the presidential competition alone will probably shatter the one billion dollar mark, more than doubling the record set in 2008. Already, the Obama campaign has raised over $300 million, and Romney is catching up very quickly (now that his Primary competitors have been effectively dispatched). There are still three months left to the campaign, very intense months, so don’t be surprised if these two raise close to the one billion I mentioned. Now add to that the tens of millions being spent by secretive groups, mostly funded by mi/bi-llionnaires who want to keep their identities masked, that will conduct independent expenditure campaigns of their own. These efforts are usually the nastiest, dirtiest ones, so prepare your stomach.
Three races for U.S. Senate are getting a lot of attention. While two of them are probably easy wins, they are still interesting for other reasons. In Ohio, Sen. Sherrod Brown is in a tight race because he has been targeted by the right wing of the political spectrum. As of the latest numbers I recall, some $13 million has been spent against him, much of it from out-of-state big money interests. This has been enabled, at least in part, by the infamous Citizens United ruling handed down by the Supreme Court two and a half years ago that enabled corporate giving to political campaigns. Let’s see who wins.
In Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren, who has almost achieved folk hero status among some political circles, is running against incumbent Sen. Scott Brown, who achieved the “unimaginable” by winning in a special election to replace deceased Sen. Ted Kennedy. He did this as a Republican, in a state that leans very heavily Democratic. Of course he came across as a “regular Joe”, his opponent ran a superbly terrible campaign, and he had lots of outside money. Warren will probably win, but once again, huge amounts of money are being raised by both sides. Plus, the race is ALL about money, because Warren was the person whom the banksters and other big money interests blocked from becoming the first chief of the newly created agency that is to watch out for people who are dealing with big financial institutions. So, there’s a lot riding on this race.
Texas hosts the other interesting Senate race. Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz just won the Republican nomination, and will probably cruise to election in that heavily Republican leaning state. What makes this interesting is that he beat the party establishment’s favored candidate who had lent some $25 million to his campaign out of his own pocket. The really interesting part of this race though, is how Cruz is perceived. His supporters see a principled, constitutional strict constructionist. Those on the left end of the political spectrum see… there’s really no other way to put this, a nut-case and predict that his inevitable election, coupled with shifting demographics, will make Texas a much less Republican state within the next decade. We’ll see who’s right.
Perhaps the most interesting race, though not quite as “glamorous” as the ones I’ve touched on so far, is the “erman” race. Two Democratic members of the House of Representatives have been thrown into battle against one another after redistricting put them in the same San Fernando Valley (California) congressional district—Howard Berman and Brad Sherman. This is another race that will see huge amounts of money coming in and being spent. Expenditures in the primary were around $4 million, and that just by the candidates! Expect this to top the $9-10 million spent in the neighboring district in 2000 when Adam Schiff first won election to Congress. Their positions on issues are extremely similar. So, the only way to differentiate them will be an ugly campaign. Expect lots of independent expenditures here, too.
But, the “erman” race is differentiated by one factor from those above. There is just enough of an Armenian community in the district for both candidates to court it. If you don’t believe me, this should convince you. In the primary, I had recommended voting for Berman. In my article, after explaining why, I had mistyped the conclusion and instead of “Berman”, written “Sherman”. This prompted an immediate call to Asbarez from the Berman campaign. Of course the error was corrected, especially in the on-line version. Once this happened, the Sherman campaign contacted Asbarez, expressing its dismay! I hope this convinces you of how important your vote will be, at least if you live in a district such as this one, or California’s 43rd Assembly district (Greg Krikorian) where EVERY ballot will matter a lot.
You’ll notice the scary role of money in all these races. Unfortunately, instead of being a necessity, money has, in most cases, replaced substance as what gets candidates elected or defeated. It’s as if screaming louder makes any point more correct! Instead of hearing where candidates stand in detail and making an informed choice, now, it has become a matter of which candidate can grab more of your attention!
Please follow these and your home area races closely and vote! If you’re not yet registered, contact the ANCA and they’ll help you take care of that process.