Letter: Beware of Righteousness

A Response to ‘Election 2016: Righteousness and Left-Leaning Progressivism’

Dear Editor:

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.

Let’s begin.

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,

Lanesboro, Pa.


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.

3 Comments on Letter: Beware of Righteousness

  1. Just quoting Reagan at the start turned me off.

  2. avatar Random Armenian // March 19, 2016 at 4:53 pm // Reply

    “Furthermore, it was a Democrat, Gov. George Wallace of Alabama, who said in 1963, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever,” not a Republican.”

    Yes but those Democrats are now in the Republican camp. Just look at the hate and vitriol coming from a large segment of the Republican party. Even those who are extreme by the traditional conservative Republican standards are choosing to run as Republicans. “Democratic” and “Republican” are just labels. There has been an inter-party migration over the decades and the two parties do not necessarily reflect the composition from the 60’s.

    As for the Supreme Court nomination, yes, the constitution is clear and everyone in the 3 branches of the government know their duties and powers and responsibilities. But that’s a red herring. The issue is *why* the Republicans are trying to block the nomination process from going forward. And that’s party politics. Not for the benefit of the country. Holding off on a nomination for a years diminishes the important job the Supreme Court has to do. Not only that, Republicans have said that the person Obama nominated would easily have been nominated at any other time. But not in Obama’s last year. Why? It’s because of today’s Republican policy of trying to fight Obama at any turn instead of actually to try and get things done. It has been absolutely disgusting and has been a disservice to the country as a whole.

    The Republicans should at least go through the nomination process, even if they’ll vote against the nominee, to set a good precedent for the future. If any president nominates a judge, the senate should vote on the nominee for the benefit of the country, specially when the nominee has a history of bipartisan support.

    Idealistic ideas? Yeah. But the closer you come to such ideals, the better it is. When you start moving away from the ideals, things start to get worse faster and faster.

  3. Dear Mr. Arzouian;

    Thank you sincerely for your truly outstanding and insightful
    rebuttal to MR. Wartanian’s 3/10/16 Armenian Weekly,”Election
    2016 _____________ Progressivism” diatribe.

    I,and several of my like-minded American-Armenian relatives and friends, totally agree with your articulate rebuttal.

    Regarding Mr. Wartanian’s statement “Righteousness and Left
    Leaning Progressivism”. Is Mr. Wartanian implying “Right
    Leaning is Unrighteous”?
    Just curious.

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