Yegparian: What We Do Wrong

This article is the child of an interesting mating of notions I encountered over a span of just three days: a comment I heard at the ANC-WR banquet, an ANC Burbank meeting discussion, and two pieces on the Huffington Post.

We’ve come a long way from the days when we got political traction in the halls of federal, state, and local halls of power only out of the kindness of people’s hearts—throwing us a bone, Cold War considerations, and sometimes even sincere belief.

But we’re missing something. Somehow we get close to the prize (think of two years ago and the genocide resolution passing committee muster), but never quite get it. We don’t close the BIG deals. We get relative pennies for Armenia and Artsakh. And this happens at all levels of government. We are not yet in a position to get what we reasonably need and are equitably entitled to.

Besides obvious cases of weakening our political presence through outright foolishness—as manifested through the ego and personal-gain considerations driving the fiasco that was Glendale’s 2007 and 2009 elections—there’s something else art play.

When someone who is otherwise a “friend,” as the jargon goes, does something damaging to our interests, we don’t rip ‘em a new one. We play by the rules, participate in the process, yet we don’t get commensurate returns. Sometimes this is because we fail to ask, to lay out clearly what we want, but even that’s not always the case.

Those currently in power do not take us sufficiently seriously. Yes, we’ve mobilized votes where it matters. Yes, we’ve improved (though we still have a long way to go) when it comes to political fundraising. Yes we’ve even elected our home grown candidates, sometimes under very adverse circumstances. So why aren’t we getting a fair shake?

I think Machiavelli may point us to the right answer. In his famous The Prince tract, he poses the question, from the perspective of the ruler: “Is it better to be feared or loved?” His answer, after very interesting analysis, is “feared.”

We are not yet feared as a community/interest group. We are respected, loved, cooperated with, encouraged, and supported by some, and opposed, for whatever reasons and on whatever basis, by others. But no one fears us.

We are not alone in this, as evidenced in the postings from Monday’s and Tuesday’s (Nov. 9 and 10, respectively) Huff Post pieces quoted below. The specifics in each case don’t matter, so please try not to get hung up on them. It’s the same position two other constituencies find themselves in.

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Jean Hamsher wrote:

“But let’s be clear about this. The only reason that we are in the position where the price of passing health care reform is allowing even liberal Marcy Kaptur to sneeringly dismiss choice activists as narrow class warriors who don’t care about working women is because Planned Parenthood and NARAL have allowed it to happen. They collect millions of dollars in revenue each year. They’ve exacted no price from the Marcy Kapturs of the world, who actually have to care what liberals think of them, and focused instead on anti-choice Republicans who are only empowered by their ire. They have no scalps. There is no price for crossing Planned Parenthood and NARAL. It isn’t a fight that the Democrats want to spend “political capital” on, and these groups insure that they don’t have to.”

Emma Ruby-Sachs wrote:

“I think the freeze in fundraising is a great idea… Threatening the fiscal base of the Democratic Party is an important tactic. But threatening their voter base by floating a truly liberal candidate in districts with close races would be an even better strategy. Have someone run on an equal rights, populist platform with support for social services  and equality under the law and see how quickly the Democrats start racing around for  ways to fold in the left vote they have ignored for so long… Ralph Nader tried this and managed to strike fear into the heart of major political parties for many years to come. Let’s play on this fear.”

Both advise, in effect, becoming feared. That’s what we have to do. Someone has to lose their election, ideally an incumbent. And that loss has to be attributable largely, if not exclusively, to us and our efforts.

So start thinking about how much time and/or money you can spare, then go further than that when the time comes. Give your heart and soul to that ONE race that will clinch things. All it takes is once, and for a very long time, people in office will think long and hard before crossing us.

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Garen Yegparian

Asbarez Columnist
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 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. His is a weekly column that appears originally in Asbarez, but has been republished to the Armenian Weekly for many years.
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4 Comments

  1. Yegparian is right on the mark again.
    This is exactly what I was thinking of in that same Machiavellian context.
    Its time to show some fangs.
    No more Mr. Nice Gullable Armenian.
    Fiscal fear is the name of the game and we must be well versed in delivering such
    does when required.

  2. I suggest Mr. Yegparian should start his “No more Mr. Nice Guy” approach, by looking 30 miles down the road from his Burbank front-door step, where the estranged wife of the most ruthless American-denier of the Armenian Genocide, is running for Congress. That’s right. Mattie Fein, the wife (the last 4 years) of Turkish Legal Defense Fund head Bruce Fein, has moved across country…to the Beach Cities…to run for Congress.  There are rumors she might call for Genocide Recognition. Really? How foolish the Armenian-American community would be to take her at her word. She has shared a bed with a man who boasts a Harvard Law degree and no conscience. He has done everything in his power to cast doubt on the Armenian Genocide,  along the way being paid fez-fulls of money. He was most recently sitting side-by-side with Congresswoman Jean Schmidt in Ohio, as they trashed Congressional candidate David Krikorian.  Mattie Fein says Bruce Fein,  is still a close friend and a close adviser. Why, if she believes there was an Armenian Genocide, would she hold the vile Bruce Fein in such high esteem. I suspect David Duke and Tom Metzger are friends of hers, too. Mattie Fein should be destroyed and disgarded. No one should give her the time of day.

  3. Mattie Fein’s credentials to run for Congress in the 36th District are dubious.  For one thing, she does not have the interests of the district at heart. Besides, she & husband Bruce Fein (The Lichfield Group) represent the world’s most vicious terrorist group, the Tamil Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).  This group perfected suicide bombing, used child soldiers, killed thousands of civilians, and is known to have links to Al Qaeda.No wonder Bruce Fein wants Fusion Centers closed down. The Fusion centers are where Homeland Sec. & other agencies exchange information to catch terrorists. Bruce Fein is accused by one faction of the LTTE operatives in the US of disappearing with monies he raised under the pretense of getting the LTTE off the terrorist list. Very dubious people.  Armenians, don’t be fooled!!

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