A Political Game

Ali Günertem -
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In my previous column I expressed my thoughts regarding the so-called Armenian Bill in the American Congress. I also shared my opinions on how an issue that is so historically central to Turkey was so easily manipulated by the internal politics of America.
The year 2008 will be an important year politically due to the US presidential election, to be held in November 2008. The platform is confusing for both parties. Hillary Clinton for Democrats and John McCain for Republicans are likely to be the nominee now, and both candidates are largely talking about large-scale change.

I hope that this change will prove beneficial for humanity and the world because the deep wounds left by the last eight years will not easily heal without a huge effort. Avoiding mention of the issue of foreign policy, I'm going to discuss the role that Turkish-Americans living the US may play during this period.
The biggest difference between immigrants who have citizenship and those who hold green cards is the right to vote, which green card holders do not have. Within the unknown numbers of Turks in the diaspora, Turkish-Americans are known to vote in larger numbers for the Republican Party, who have a better reputation in terms of relations with Turkey.

Even though their ideologies may line up quite nicely with the Democratic Party, relations with Turkey sometimes becomes a more pertinent issue for Turkish-American voters. This mode of thinking has proven to be a tremendous setback for the Turkish diaspora. This group overwhelmingly gave their votes to Republicans over the years, whereas, in my opinion, most people should vote according to the domestic dynamics and what would be in their self-interest. Living in the US but voting based on Turkish interests is unnecessary and the wrong political game to play.

This is what should be done: voting should be based on the various lifestyles, beliefs, and world-views of
the citizenry. If it should happen that there are anti-Turkish sentiments within that party, efforts should be made to convince party members otherwise. In the long-run, this political strategy is the best. In recent elections, there have been many Turkish-American voters drifting towards the Democratic Party and Bill Clinton is largely the reason why. If we examine this phenomenon closer, we see that there are many Turkish-Americans working for Democratic candidates, contributing to campaigns, and taking a more active role in the party's inner dynamics.

Even if these efforts are a bit slow in coming, within time the Democratic Party's negative attitudes towards Turkey will change. If a candidate with close support from Turkish-Americans happens to make it to the White House, he or she will undoubtedly lend a more sympathetic ear to Turkish issues. That has been the longtime strategy of the anti-Turkish Greek and Armenian diaspora.

The most important part of this strategy is to insert Turkish-American citizens into the political machinery. Bringing a Turkish-American representative or senator to the Congress within the next 15 years should be the primary goal of the Turkish diaspora. The Turkish community took a big step towards this eventual goal in 2007 with the forming of the organization “Turkish Coalition of America.” This organization is poised to come to the assistance of any Turkish-American living in the US and wishing to enter the world of politics.

Knowledge and desire are the beginning of any political strategy but organizing and providing background strength lies in the realm of coalitions and teams. Turkish-Americans living in the US should rid themselves of institutional and petty personal squabbles, join forces with the TCA, and enter the American political realm. When it comes down to it, the future belongs to all of us and triumph can only be attained through unity and cooperation.

(March 2008, 28th Issue)
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07