A Response to ‘Election 2016: Righteousness and Left-Leaning Progressivism’
To quote Republican Governor Ronald Reagan in his presidential debate against Democratic President Jimmy Carter in 1980: “There you go again!”
Once again Raffi Wartanian has offered a leftist polemic disguised as commentary on the 2016 U.S. presidential elections (The Armenian Weekly, “Election 2016: Righteousness and Left-Leaning Progressivism,” March 10, 2016). Once again Mr. Wartanian’s comments are fraught with a lack of context, reasoning, and logic. Once again I have been asked to compose a rebuttal.
First, let me offer that I get very concerned when someone opens their argument by telling us they espouse tolerance but concludes by stating we should support their cause on the basis of its “righteousness,” as does Mr. Wartanian. Which is it, righteousness or tolerance? The two are usually difficult to combine.
The diatribe on “Righteousness and Left-Leaning Progressivism” wandered about tangentially with little focus so that makes it difficult to succinctly address it in a unified argument. Therefore, let me offer something of a point-by-point rebuttal, not in any particular order of priority or importance.
With regard to this idea of denying President Obama his constitutional right to nominate a Supreme Court Justice, Mr. Wartanian doesn’t seem to have read the entire relevant constitutional article. It goes on to say the president “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Councils, Judges of the Supreme Court…” Did you note the “by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate” part? President Obama can nominate whomever he wants. Let him do so. Nobody will stop him. The Senate does not have to give their consent. That is their constitutional right.
On the idea, again, that somehow the U.S. must be less corrupt to offer some shining example to Armenia to overcome Russian influence and that somehow the U.S. “left” is less corrupt than the U.S. “right” makes absolutely no sense any way you look at it. There is no proof that one side of the political spectrum is less corrupt than the other. I’m sure everyone can point to dozens, even hundreds of examples on each side, left or right, Republican or Democratic, at every level of government. Sadly, no party has a monopoly on corruption. Furthermore, does Mr. Wartanian seriously believe that just because the U.S. may provide a better example of governance the Armenian government would follow suit? That is preposterous.
Now for a short history lesson. Assigning “left” or “right” to the politics of the U.S. southern states of the mid-19th century is completely flawed; it is revisionism at its worst. Such language, or distinction, did not exist in the U.S. at the time. But if you want to play that game, I’d remind Mr. Wartanian that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican!
Furthermore, it was a Democrat, Gov. George Wallace of Alabama, who said in 1963, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever,” not a Republican.
If you want to move forward to the present (June 17, 2015) and the unfortunate shooting in the South Carolina, again, I’d remind Mr. Wartanian that it was a Republican, Governor Nikki Haley, that called for the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse grounds after the shooting.
Also, it bears mentioning that in addition to being a Republican, Governor Haley (Nimrata Nikki Randhawa Haley, born to Sikh parents from Punjab, India) is a woman and of immigrant decent; I’d say that completely disproves Mr. Wartanian’s sweeping, yet erroneous claim about, “The American right’s intolerant rhetoric towards Muslims, women, and immigrants…”
I could go on, but I think you get the point. The flaws in the left-leaning “progressive” argument of Mr. Wartanian are more than obvious. His commentary amounts to unsubstantiated wishful thinking. I’m not going to claim any “righteousness” in my rebuttal, just ask the reader to apply some common sense and refer to fact rather than sweeping, biased, misleading generalizations.
That being said, and in conclusion, we can turn back to the U.S. presidential elections of 2016, ostensibly the original topic of this series of comments. What we are witnessing this election cycle in the U.S. is nothing short of a political revolution on both sides of the political spectrum, left and right. Bernie Sanders has energized the left, though not necessarily the Democratic Party. Donald Trump has done an even better job of energizing the right, but not the old guard Republican Establishment. This is good for democracy (small “d”). Perhaps we will see voter turnout top 60 percent for the first time in almost 50 years. It should not be left unsaid that the “right” appears to be more open-minded to change and the will of the voters than the “left” with its super-delegates. Trump has all but locked up his nomination while Sanders and his progressive supporters will probably be denied by Hillary and her “left.”
Does that sound right to you?
Ed Arzouian is a second-generation Armenian American, born in New York state. He is a graduate of McGill University in Montreal. He works in Binghamton, N.Y. for a third-generation, Armenian family-owned business. Arzouian lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and son, where he is currently a Pennsylvania state constable and a former borough councilman. His writings and photos have appeared in publications across the United States and Canada for the last 30 years, including the Armenian Weekly.