Yegparian: Misdirected Vengeance


Nov. 8 treated the U.S. and the world to quite the earthquake, shock, upset, headscratcher, statistical outlier, unexpected outcome.  Lots of analysis has been devoted to this outcome, and I’ll add my own brief take on the still-unfolding results (as of this writing, Donald Trump is the president elect with 306 Electoral votes to Clinton’s 232, but Clinton leads the popular vote with almost 63 million to Trump’s 61.5 million, and millions more to be counted).

Donald Trump (L) and Hillary Clinton (R)
Donald Trump (L) and Hillary Clinton (R)

First, a few words about California and local elections.  From an Armenian perspective, the most important election was in the 43rd Assembly District.  That ended up as a disaster and will take some serious analysis, over time, to decipher.  By all accounts, it was an eminently winnable race.  It didn’t help that one small faction of the community endorsed against our community’s “home-town” favorite, Ardy Kassakhian.  Other Armenian-wise important elections had positive outcomes resulting in soon-to-be State Senator Anthony Portantino and re-elected Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian.  Plus, the majority of the Armenian National Committee of America’s (ANCA) endorsed candidates won.

Turning to the propositions (please see the tables in my piece two weeks ago), at the statewide level, twelve of the seventeen measures had outcomes that matched my recommendations.  Four (Props 60, 61, 62, and 63) went in the opposite direction, and one (Prop 66) has a very small chance of not passing, as I had recommended.  On the local ballot measures all but one (LA City’s SSS) went as I recommended.

Back to the presidential election which, coupled with wins in the House of Representatives and Senate have put the Republican Party in control of the federal government since George W. Bush’s time in office.  Now, instead of being obstructionists with the singular aim of destroying any chance of a president’s (Obama) success, this party’s members will actually have to learn to govern.  If they don’t, any negative outcomes in the economy and every other field of the public interest will be blamed on them since the have full control.  That could lead to disastrous election outcomes two years from now.

But how did this happen?  Based on all the polling and common sense, Donald Trump “should have” lost.  He was extremely disliked.  But, so was Hillary Clinton. Paradoxically, with millions of votes left to count, Clinton is already the second-highest vote-getter among all candidates for the office of president in all of American history.  How is all this possible?

In addition to the typical dilemma faced by voters—the who-do-I-dislike-less as a basis for choosing—this year there was something more.  There was disgust with political elites.  There was disgust with the media.  There was disgust with the tightening economic noose middle-class citizens have experienced for close to four decades.  All of these led to a desire for revenge against those seen as responsible for the misery. There was, as a friend relayed from a conversation, a “heedless desire for change” that drove people’s voting decisions.

Bernie Sanders was able to tap into this sentiment in an affirmative way, but was (likely) cheated out of the nomination.  Trump was also able to tap into this sentiment.  But, his shady business background and wheeler-dealer ways led him to play to the darker side of human nature as well, attracting racists and other reactionary segments of the voting public.  While by no means the majority of his supporters, this led to the now-indelible image of Trump as a racist/misogynist/immigrant-hater/etc.  This gave Clinton a battering ram with which to cudgel Trump.

You probably see the perversity in all this.  A billionaire who cheats the “little-guys” he has worked with is perceived as the guardian of the “little-guys” who have lost their jobs to very poorly structured international trade agreements made by the billionaires of the world.  The let-down his supporters are likely to experience will be massive.  This sense of being misled will lead to more chaotic, unpredictable, results in future elections.

Internationally, this presidential outcome is being seen as the continuation of an anti-establishment trend.  Some have labeled it a “nationalist” trend, with a negative connotations attributed to nationalism.  We will see if this is true in upcoming European elections.

A truly worrisome outcome of this election is the reaction of the winning side to the losing side’s demonstrations/protests.  Forget about the likelihood that if the outcome had been reversed, there would have been protests, too.  But now, there is a wave of anti-protester sentiment, with one senator proposing to make certain minor offenses into major ones, with criminal consequences.  People are forgetting how fundamental the right to assemble is.  That’s why it’s included in the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution as part of the Bill of Rights.

Finally, our community’s seeming preference for Trump is worrisome.  A bellicose world leader with no real governance or diplomatic experience could be become a real headache for Armenian issues.  Plus, the rationales for selecting him over Clinton are specious or shaky.  We know nothing about his stances on Armenian-related issues.  Assuming he will clash with Turkey as some have, is not a very strong argument. Far too many of our community members have been imbued with the knee-jerk Clinton-hating that has poisoned the election.  None of this is to argue that Clinton with her flip-flopping on the Genocide and close ties to the Turkish government and Gulen movement is any better.

I suppose we’ll see how things turn out.  Of course, as Harut Sassounian has already recommended, we should be reaching out to Trump, and others we did not support, to begin relationships with him and them.  Let’s get busy.  We’re going to have a long, trying, four years, both as citizens and Armenians.

Garen Yegparian

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.
Garen Yegparian

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  1. I learned something with the Trump election. For years those people on the “left” using their lying apparatus known as the “Main Stream Media” who were calling those on the “right” names like “extremist nutcases” or “intolerant bigots” or “right wing radicals” etc. – are themselves the real extremists, nutcases, intolerant bigots and above all, radials that put the KKK to shame. That’s one of the reasons why Trump was elected, to put a stop to this loony, out in space, leftist rampage that gripped the nation in 2008.

  2. Initially I thought that I shall not dignify this column by commenting on it. On further reflection, I thought a response is imperative.
    – Mr. Yegparian like all those who voted for Hillary, is a sore loser.
    – Presidents in the U.S. are elected by Electoral votes. Popular vote is meaningless. The reason we have Electoral votes system is not to give undue influence and weight to heavily populated states like New York, California and Texas. Each state has Electoral votes as per their Congressional Districts.
    – It is true that we know nothing about Trump’s stance on Armenian related issues. But we know plenty about Hillary’s. She ended up being a liar and double faced. After asserting during her first campaign for President that she will support the Resolution on the Genocide,
    she totally reversed her position, basically denied the Genocide by alleging that it is a matter for historians to decide. What a whimp!!!
    – To state that Trump attracted ” racists and other reactionary segments of the voting public”
    is deplorable and a totally unacceptable insult to all Republican, and possibly Democratic,
    Armenian- Americans that voted for Trump.
    I strongly believe that Mr. Yegparian owes an apology .
    – Finally, we are in a transition period. Trump has been elected and now we can only wait until his Cabinet is nominated and see what happens after January the 20th. Until then, the Yegparians of this world need to come to their senses and be objective and not blindly biased.
    Vart Adjemian

  3. {Finally, our community’s seeming preference for Trump is worrisome.}

    What is more worrisome is that a community leader such as yourself would endorse Hillary Clinton.

    ANCA wisely chose not to endorse any POTUS candidate, but apparently at least one traditional Armenian political party – Hunchaks – and other Armenian-American orgs and community leaders did endorse her.

    How is it possible for _any_ Armenian-American to endorse Clinton?
    Are you guys that disconnected from geopolitical reality?
    The Obama administration – led by Hillary Clinton – is responsible for the destruction of Syria, and by extension the destruction of ancient Syrian-American community. Wealth accumulated by many generations of enterprising and hard working Syrian-Armenians was simply looted and taken to Turkey. Businesses built over many generations turned to dust. My own relatives still living in Syria, an unable or unwilling to leave lost everything.

    It’s been Turks’ dream since the AG to wipe out and scatter the Syrian and Lebanese Armenian communities, direct descendants of AG survivors, so that the claimants won’t be so close to their ancestral lands.

    Yes, I voted for Trump for the simple reason that if Hillary Clinton became POTUS she would ratchet up the death and destruction in Syria. She promised as much.

    Syria’s destruction and takeover by Neocon supported cannibalistic Islamist terrorists would mean the end of any remaining Syrian-Americans in Syria. And Lebanon would be next.

  4. {Presidents in the U.S. are elected by Electoral votes. Popular vote is meaningless. The reason we have Electoral votes system is not to give undue influence and weight to heavily populated states like New York, California and Texas. Each state has Electoral votes as per their Congressional Districts.}

    This is an amateur, detached from reality statement. The reason this country still has Electoral College is to give influence and weight to less-populated states where there is white majority. It’s been founding fathers’ intention in the 18th century and it remained unchanged in the 21st. America should be ashamed for having Electoral College, an outrightly undemocratic body which violates the very notion of democracy: rule by the majority of popular vote. How can popular vote be meaningless and the vote of a bunch of “electors” from each state pledged to vote for a party’s candidate be decisive in a democracy? Electoral College resulted in that five times in the history of the United States—in 1824, 1876, 1888, 2000, and now in 2016—the elections produced a president and vice-president who did not receive a plurality of the nationwide popular vote, read: were elected illegally. Is this called a democracy? But when next year elections will be held in Armenia, “America the Beautiful, America the Great” will most probably rush to criticize the results as “undemocratic”. Indeed, as the Bible says, “why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?”

  5. I never vote. Elections in this country is a big circus. But had I voted, I’d vote for Trump only to vote out Clinton, a Neocon and a member of infamous Council on Foreign Relations.

  6. The intent is not to create a polemic discussion, but state the facts:
    – The U.S. electoral college was established by Article Two of the U.S. Constitution ordained and established on September 17 1787.
    – To amend the Electoral College system requires a constitutional amendment , which has very low probability to pass.
    – The Electoral college system has been in place, for 229 years and
    on few elections has become an issue when the winner of the popular vote did not win the electoral votes.
    – Currently there are 548 electoral votes, based on the representation in the House of Representatives and Senate, i.e the Congress.
    435 Representatives- Based on 435 Congressional Districts as per Census figures.
    100- Senators
    3 District of Columbia ( established by the 23rd amendment ).

    If you are interested and have time, you can find of lot of explanations on why the Founding Fathers established the Electoral College system.

    For those who decide never to vote, you are definitely entitled to your decision, but you are giving up the right to vote and express your voice.

    Vart Adjemian

  7. Excellent point about Clinton and Syria. I don’t know how ‘patriotic Armenians’ can vote for Hillary and live with themselves. And sorry to say many (recently mentioned) ‘prominent’ Armenians voted for Hillary, many of whom who show up here at the weekly touting ‘human rights’. I often wonder who these people really are and what their objectives are, even though I know their names, but no need to mention them.

  8. Although its existence is proof that the US is not a real ‘democracy’, the “Electoral College” is actually a brilliant trick and I am awe inspired by its power to make the nation look like something its not. I see it as a “learning tool” where Armenia/Artsakh might be concerned.

    Incidentally, regarding Trump losing the Popular Vote. The ‘explanation’ was that if the popular vote is the deciding factor for POTUS, (and its not) then the candidates involved would campaign differently, largely ignoring the less populated states and fighting for the larger ones. Yet Trump’s ‘Electoral College Campaign’ proved to be effective and worked out for him.

  9. {The U.S. electoral college was established by Article Two of the U.S. Constitution ordained and established on September 17 1787 and […] has been in place for 229 years.

    And? That there exists an article in the U.S. Constitution means the document is flawless? Or the fact that the article has been in place for 229 years justifies the most undemocratic practice of electing presidents and vice-presidents? Or maybe the writers of the Constitution were faultless human beings?

    {If you are interested and have time, you can find of lot of explanations on why the Founding Fathers established the Electoral College system.}

    I’ve spent considerable amount of time to understand the origins and the nature of the electoral college, and I think I now better understand the many American academics and politicians, who criticize this body as being a sheer violation of the very notion of democracy, in that in a genuine democracy plurality of popular votes determines the winner. That during 229 years five times the POTUS were elected illegally demonstrates that Article II of the U.S. Constitution is outdated and imperfect, but American Establishment still keeps the Article for some domestic considerations. When founding fathers established the presidential election system in this country, they had two major factors in mind: one was slavery; the other was that they believed that ordinary Americans would lack sufficient information to choose directly and intelligently among presidential candidates. Posters like you most probably believe that the founding fathers chose the electoral college over direct election in order to balance the interests of higher populated and less populated states. But in America the deepest political divisions run not between bigger and smaller states, but between the north and the south, and between the coasts and the interior. In the 21st century, there is no slavery and the people are informed and intelligent enough to choose directly and intelligently among presidential candidates. What, then, prevents the Establishment to set up a referendum and have that discreditable Article removed from the Constitution? If the US considers herself a ‘democracy’, why won’t let the people decide what is best for them?

    Wait and see what howl the U.S. State Department will set up calling next-year elections in Armenia ‘undemocratic’. But to worry about a log in your own eye? No…

  10. I am sorry about your relatives in Syria, Avery.

    You stated that you voted for Trump. Did you do so thinking/hoping that he would not follow through on his campaign promises against certain ethnic and religious minority groups in the US?

    Also, to Mr. Adjemian, it is a fact that the Ku Klux Klan endorsed Mr. Trump. They did not endorse Romney, McCain, Bush Jr. or Bush Sr. But they endorsed Mr. Trump. Moreover, just yesterday the “alt-right” National Policy Institute think tank had a rally celebrating Mr. Trump’s victory, during which attendees gave the Nazi salute. The L.A. Times posted videos of it. So to deny that Mr. Trump attracted racists is to be willfully ignorant.

  11. {[…] a rally celebrating Mr. Trump’s victory, during which attendees gave the Nazi salute.}

    During a pro-Hillary rally in Washington D.C. outside Trump’s new hotel. an anti-Trump protester was holding up a “Rape Melania” sign.

    I don’t know whether giving a Nazi salute has problems with U.S. laws, but holding a sign and/or shouting “rape someone” is clearly a hate speech. But, guess what, in this ‘democratic’ country her “valiant” police did NOTHING against the protester.

    So, how would you call Hillary who attracted rapists, I wonder?

  12. {…thinking/hoping that he would not follow through on his campaign promises against certain ethnic and religious minority groups in the US}


    Please specify which ethnic and religious minority groups _against_ whom he made promises to do something and what that something was, specifically, then I can answer: not clear to me which of his campaign rhetoric you are referring to.

  13. { But when next year elections will be held in Armenia, “America the Beautiful, America the Great” will most probably rush to criticize the results as “undemocratic”.}

    The manipulations, machinations, and outright cheating (e.g.Iowa caucuses) that the Establishment was engaged in to make sure that the Anointed One was selected POTUS is clear confirmation that “America IS the Beautiful” and “America IS the Great”. The Democratic Party openly sabotaged Bernie Sanders’ run (e.g. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s emails.) And that is just what came to light. Who knows what else went on behind closed doors.

    Corruption and vote rigging (at least at the Federal level) has been elevated to an art form here in the US. Yet any minor, inconsequential irregularities in RoA’s voting are endlessly shouted about from rooftops by US-inspired/sponsored RoA SorosaNGOs and RoA SorosaCadres as “evidence” of RoA votes being allegedly ‘rigged’.

    And unlike in RoA’s nationwide, simultaneous elections, the Electoral college sequential primary system gives overweighted importance to early-voting states. Even minor irregularities can dramatically affect the outcome of POTUS election. Example, Iowa. Who knows had Crooked Clinton’s cheating machine _not_ sabotaged Bernie Sanders – would not have resulted in Sanders running against Trump, instead of Clinton? But the same people who never miss a chance to criticize RoA and RoA’s elections, inexplicably endorsed Cackling Clinton.

    One last thing:

    Bill and Hillary Clinton had maybe a few 10s of thousand dollars to their name in Arkansas.
    Both have been earning their income at US taxpayers’ expense since then.
    Both have spent their professional lives in the public sector, aka public trough.
    The salary of POTUS was, I believe, $200K or so when Bill was POTUS for 8 years.
    If we add up the salaries of both for the years, they could have saved at most $3-$5 million.
    Yet the net worth of Clintons is estimated at about $100 MILLION (!) today.
    Now, how do you accumulate ~$100 million net worth while being salaried public employees, even earning a high salary?
    Absolutely, positively no corruption or influence peddling, Right?: None at all*.
    Compared to (institutionalized) corruption** in US, the little crooks in RoA are amateurs.

    But it is RoA that gets the non-stop lectures about ‘democracy’, ‘rule of law’, ‘oligarchs’, blah, blah, blah,…..from the same people.

    * WikiLeaks: Qatar Wrote Clinton Foundation a Million Dollar Check for Bill Clinton’s Birthday.
    ** Bill Clinton meeting privately with DoJ AG Loretta Lynch _while_ Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation are under criminal investigation by DoJ and FBI: nothing to see here; move along.

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