US Elections: The Armenia Effect

A small portrait of the translator

November 2, 2008 @ 22:48 UTC

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Countries:
none
Candidates:
Barack Obama, John McCain
Issues:
Diaspora, Civil Rights & Ethnicity, History, Human Rights, International Relations
 

With the world anxiously watching the U.S. presidential elections, a tiny country in the former Soviet Union with a small voice may have a strong vote. Excitement about the election among Armenia’s 3-million residents, though, is not showing through local blog posts. That’s even after, according to a Gallup Poll, Armenian citizens back Barack Obama 4:1. But more Armenians live outside their country, and enough of them in the United States to actually make a difference. This could translate a marginal voice to a decisive vote.

While most Armenian-Americans live in Democratic strong-holds like California and the East Coast, there are some in battleground states. In my Blogian, I write that there are approximately 3,000 registered ethnic Armenian voters in the swing state of Colorado. The state has 9 electoral votes – enough to make a difference if the election turns to be close. But there are, perhaps, as many Armenians in Colorado who are not citizens yet. I mention in Blogian that my mother, proportionally speaking, is a top Obama donor. She makes very little money working very hard and going to school at the same time, but she wants to invest in the process. As a green card holder, she cannot vote at this time.

Capitalizing on the Armenian-Americans, The Armenian Economist raises the question that maybe there is no “Bradley,” but an “Armenian” effect in US elections, at least in the 1982 California race:

The Bradley effect is a proposition advanced to explain the “discrepancy” between opinion polls and the outcome of California's gubernatorial elections in 1982. Tom Bradley, an African-American, lost the race to George Deukmejian, an Armenian American, despite being ahead in some polls. The story here is that some voters may have told pollsters that they will vote for the black candidate, but on election day, in the privacy of the voting booth, voted for his “white” opponent.

The blog further argues that the 1982 wasn’t that black and white:

As Armenians we may see things a bit differently, and that the Bradley effect may take on a totally different meaning. Indeed, the 1982 race was between a non-white man and a white man who belonged to an ethnic group that once was legally considered non-white in the US. It was not until Halladjian vs. the United States on December 24, 1909, that Armenians were classified as white and eligible for citizenship. However, varying judicial interpretations remained an obstacle for many would be citizens. Indeed, the United States government challenged the citizenship of one Tatos Cartozian in 1924. The government's prosecuting attorney argued that “It is the contention of the government that it makes no difference whether a man is a Caucasian or not or what the racial and language history of his people may be if the man on the street does not recognize him as white.” The case was dismissed in favor of Cartozian.

Now, in 2008, most Armenian groups are mobilizing behind Barack Obama. There is an Armenians for Obama blog registered on the official Obama site. While the Blog only has 179 members, its Facebook version has over 2,800 subscribers. The majority of the Facebook group members are U.S. citizens, but there is a number of Armenians from around the world. And one of the admins of the group, Aram Hamparian (who is Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of America), sometimes updates his Facebook status by rhetorically asking “for an Armenian American argument in support of the McCain-Palin ticket.”

Caucasus Pictures gives voice to the overwhelming Armenian support for Obama. It cites news sources quoting Obama on the issue of the Armenian extermination as saying, “The Armenian Genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence. The facts are undeniable.”

While there is no “Armenians for McCain” group on Facebook, there is the inactive website of Republican Armenians - www.nora-dc.org.

But even supporters of Obama are cautious.

Ditord, an Armenia-based blogger, posted news that Turkey’s president has sent two officials to the United States to talk to both Obama and McCain campaigns. According to the post, the topic of the Armenian Genocide will be on discussion.

Obama’s support on Armenian issues is spelled on the ArmeniansforObama website, and even as a conservative US site has written about “McCain’s Armenia Problem,” there are Armenians outside the United States who support Obama over McCain not based on the candidates' stance on Armenian issues.

A London based Armenian professor, Hovhanness Israel Pilikian, writes in his “The Dusk of McCain versus the Dawn of Obama” on Keghart:

The first and last words John McCain spoke at his Convention included “fight”, and in between he used the word over 30 times … Who did he remind me of? No other than mad Hitler, who was obsessed with the verb kämpfen – the exact translation in German – even included in the title of his blood-soaked book Mein Kampf – translated as My Struggles – it should be My Fights, in McCain-speak.
John McCain’s CV declaimed endlessly by a bulky Hollywood Senator Thompson (?) sounded (to our European mind-set) like a tale told for the private pleasure of a Sadomasochist Mac-brigade in a porno movie-house … and to the great credit of the Republican Convention participants, they looked bored to death!

[…]

The reason I am hopeful that America shall wake up and claim Senator Obama as President, is because in my own life-experience, there seems to be an ultimate Force of the Good – and I have experienced it not as a religious person, but as an Agnostic (and a ‘methodological atheist’ being a social scientist) – when all is said and done, and the worst evil is survived, the Good somehow emerges and saves the day=life from the clutches of total evil=untimely-death, very much symbolized by the metaphorical depths of the Old Testament Book of Job.
It is what makes me confident to prophesy that Senator Obama shall win the day to bring about a new American dawn, and send Senator McCain with his Bushist lies packing into the dusk, and dustbin of history.

The unconventional professor even finds prophecy in Obama’s name:

Young men, like Senator Obama, and wise men like Joe Biden live for the future and build it with their own hands. People grow into their names – and Obama’s first name, Barack, derives from a triune Semitic root [B-r-ck] meaning God’s Blessings [berachot/barackat] – exactly what America needs more than ever.

Interestingly, as a reader of my Blogian writes, “Barakat” is sometimes used in Armenia.

The word Barakat is not Armenian (I think it’s used by Arabs, Turks, and Persians), but we sometimes use it in Armenia for “good luck” or “blessing.” Maybe Obama will bring good luck to the United States, Armenia and the world?

UPDATE: The Stiletto has just published a post titled, “As The Armenian Vote Goes, So Goes The Nation?”.

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  • 1 comment

    1. The Stiletto Says:

      As The Armenian Vote Goes, So Goes The Nation?
      Blogger News Network, November 2, 2008
      http://www.bloggernews.net/118447

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