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Elections, Strategy and Turks

Cemil Ozyurt - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. -
In one of our previous issues our Washington, D.C. correspondent Ali Günertem flagged a largely overlooked topic. Ali pointed out that Turks resident in the USA had to review their usual strategy in light of the upcoming November elections.
He held the view that Turks ought to drop supporting the Republicans through thick and thin, and instead, join in the Democratic side, thereby investigating the possibility of altering the preconceptions on Turkey in general and accusations of the alleged Armenian genocide in particular.

Following Ali’s statement, I had the opportunity to talk with many Turkish-American voters who had persistently voted Republican. Most agreed on this point: It was the Democrats who championed the Armenian Genocide Bill and therefore they themselves were going to support the Republicans. None paid much attention to the political mistakes the Republicans had been guilty of recently, both on the domestic and the international stage.

So how much longer should this support continue? Even if the Republican candidate John McCain defends staying in Iraq, our next-door neighbor, for another hundred years, if ‘necessary’? Despite Turkey’s commercial losses exceeding tens of billions of Dollars? Even if he continues to champion for more corporate rights in this USA, where you live, raise your children, and pay taxes until you hurt? Even if he continues to upend the USA and the world with ill-conceived policies, flying in the face of all reason?

Some Turkish voters ought to reconsider their decision to blindly support the Republicans. This support that appears to consist of nothing more than a narrow desire to hit out at allegations of an Armenian genocide does need more valid substantiation. I have no bones to pick with anyone who supports the Republicans based on their party program, the values they defend or their proposals for the country. Yet I struggle to reconcile the Republican profile of largely conservative, more patriotic and less tolerant of migrant communities -such as ours- with the support it enjoys from migrants.

If Turks are solely interested in the support Republicans offer against the Armenian genocide claims and are thus prepared to overlook any other shortcoming, I have a huge problem with this attitude. Do not forget that the people who will lead the country in which you raise your children, and where you’ve placed all your hopes, hold the power to shape your own future in the first place. Know that if your own future begins to look bleak, the very same prospect applies to your home country too.  

Following the same reasoning, should Turks resident in France support the ‘ultra-nationalist leader Jean-Marie Le Pen simply because he doesn’t support the Armenian Genocide Bill’ or those resident in the Netherlands vote for Jan Peter Balkenende, the Christian Democrat Appeal leader on the same pretext? What if those very same candidates support resolutions that break Turks’ backs on social security, health, education and justice?

Turks living abroad must obtain voting rights before they are able to exercise political power effectively. They must join parties closest to their own political beliefs and work within to alter, if needed, any preconceptions. Their first priority ought to be the political agenda in Turkey itself. (I’m not proposing they ignore the problems of their own country, obviously.) any who wish to spend more time and effort on these subjects ought to give serious consideration to entering the political arena in Turkey themselves.

What I’m trying to say is that party politics ought to be different from fanatically supporting a football team. Turks in America should join Republicans or Democrats on national, state, or city level, play active roles and demonstrate how they are an integral part of the system.

Siding with the Republicans simply on the basis of perceived Democrat support for the Armenian Genocide Bill is nothing more than taking the easy way out. It’s akin to stating, “Why should we Turks try to change these policies, when there already is someone out there doing our work.”

The Washington-based non-profit organization Turkish Coalition of America indicates that Representatives sympathetic to Turks number 73 in Congress. Of this number, 41 are Democrats and 32 Republicans. It is clear, therefore, that Democrats no longer ignore us. Excluding some exceptions, it’s not all that hard to see that Democrats are not necessarily all prejudiced against Turks. If all you do is oppose without making a single attempt at explaining your own position, you naturally create an action-reaction mechanism.
It would be unreasonable to state that political interests founded solely on action-reaction would enjoy healthy longevity. In other words, you would be trusting your own fate not into your own hands, but between the lips of some other person. Don’t entrust your own fate to someone else…
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07