Victims of Success

Here’s a paradox.

In areas of the country where there’s a large and strong Armenian presence (both are not necessarily simultaneously true or false, and one does not necessarily imply the existence of the other), we’ve mostly done well in securing the support of our elected representatives.

This achievement has led to something of a political malaise in the electoral districts that fit the above description. What is one to do in Adam Schiff’s district? Or Frank Pallone’s? Or in Michigan from a senatorial perspective (with A and B+ grades given by ANCA)?

Sure, one can maintain contacts, attend events, give money, write letters, and generally be a presence. But, the fire of a good hot election is absent. So is the urgency of trying to improve a given elected official’s level of support, e.g. moving him/her from merely a yes vote to an early co-sponsorship on genocide resolutions or a leading role on Artsakh.

We end up getting lax. Taking things for granted. Perhaps this is the next step required in our political maturation process as an effective community in the United States. And, just so no one misses it, the same concerns apply to state-level legislators.

From these doldrums, I suspect there’s a trickle-down effect to the local level where members of our community could otherwise be getting important experience in the electoral arena. Especially in our ghettos, the best people don’t run for office or otherwise get involved in political life. That leads to insufficient appreciation of and attendance to specific needs of Armenian communities. This perpetuates the insufficient understanding of Armenians by our neighbors, leading to needlessly tense relations. Each misstep and lack of positive action exacerbates the consequences of the existing situation even more.

In short, we do well, register some progress, and then get lazy. This has to stop. There are countless arenas of sustained political activity. I’ll name the ones that come to mind, hardly an exhaustive list: write letters to the media; organize public lectures and gatherings that target key players and the general public outside of our community; volunteer or otherwise get active in service and other organizations; use the platform of business ownership for broader outreach; and get on municipal and state-level boards (some even pay for this service).

The idea is, become ever more involved in civic and political life. Our successes open doors; let’s go through those portals and engage with whatever lies beyond, not close them in our own faces.

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Garen Yegparian

Garen Yegparian is a fat, bald guy who has too much to say and do for his own good. So, you know he loves mouthing off weekly in the Weekly about anything he damn well pleases to write about that he can remotely tie in to things Armenian. He's got a checkered past: principal of an Armenian school, project manager on a housing development, ANC-WR Executive Director, AYF Field worker (again on the left coast), Operations Director for a telecom startup, and a City of LA employee most recently (in three different departments so far). Plus, he's got delusions of breaking into electoral politics, meanwhile participating in other aspects of it and making sure to stay in trouble.
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