Primary Time! Part Two

Last week, the discussion focused on California and Los Angeles county. If you missed it and want to read about the major changes in the voting system, please see the piece in either Asbarez, The Armenian Weekly, or California Courier. This time, it’s a much wider field that will be the locus of our attention: March 3, Super Tuesday and its 14 jurisdictions. Given that the Republican side of the partisan divide has a sitting president, it’s a foregone conclusion who that party’s nominee will be. Hence, the Democratic side will be covered exclusively in this piece.

Before moving on to the Presidential Primaries, one down-ticket election is of special interest to Armenians—Simon Maghakyan’s candidacy for Colorado’s House of Representatives, District 7. Maghakyan has been active in our community’s life for some time now, through the ANCA and otherwise. You probably heard about him most recently in the context of his efforts to inform the international community about Azerbaijan’s heinous and barbaric destruction of Armenian cultural sites in Nakhichevan. While few Armenians will actually be able to vote for him in this district just north of Denver, it is possible to support Maghakyan financially by going to his fundraising page or by mailing a check to “Simon for Colorado, PO Box 39129, Denver, CO 80239.” By law, the check must be accompanied by your full name, occupation (or retired, unemployed), employer’s name, phone number, email address and residence address (if different from that on check).

Alabama, American Samoa, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Democrats Abroad, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia—that’s who’s voting on Super Tuesday. While two of those are not states, they still have citizens who have the right to participate in the selection process of a party’s eventual nominee, despite not being represented in and by the archaic, and un-democratic, electoral college that ultimately determines who will become President of the United States of America.

These jurisdictions comprise over 35-percent of the country’s population, so it should come as no surprise if after that day, it’s possible the final outcome of the nominating process will be a foregone conclusion. The winner of 17 out of 18 Super Tuesdays (combined Democratic and Republican primaries) between 1984 and 2016 won his or her party’s nomination.

In order of preference, from an Armenian perspective, I think the candidates worthy of our vote are Tulsi Gabbard, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. I recognize that Gabbard is a long shot, especially given how poorly she did in the Iowa Caucuses, but considering how strongly she has supported our issues, it is worth giving her a perceptible bump in votes wherever large numbers of Armenians live. This will convey the message we support those who support the issues we care about. Two of the states voting that day have significant Armenian populations and can help make this point. So if you live in California or Massachusetts, and if you are registered to vote as a Democrat, please be sure to vote. In fact, you still have time to re-register as a Democrat in both states so you can vote in that party’s primary (you can change back to whatever other party affiliation you had after the election). In Massachusetts, the deadline is 20 days before an election to do this, meaning you have until February 13. In California, it is only 15 days, giving you until February 18. To a lesser extent, this same urgency applies to Virginia as well, where we have a small but somewhat concentrated presence in the vicinity of Washington, DC. The deadline to register in Virginia is 22 days before an election, giving you until February 11. Hurry.

The Iowa Caucuses were held on February 4, the first place that people actually engage in the process of selecting delegates to the national party conventions where candidates are officially and finally chosen to run for president on behalf of their party. Sanders and Pete Buttigieg tied for first place as far as delegates earned (11 each), with Sanders leading by less than 0.2 percent of actual votes as of this writing. Warren got five delegates and the remaining candidates none. It’s still early in the process, with roughly 2551 delegates total to attend the convention. The next contest is the New Hampshire Primary election on February 11.

You may wonder how I can support “socialists” for office (Bernie Sanders is avowedly one, and Gabbard and Warren are too, effectively, if not explicitly). For the moment, I’ll not get into a substantive discussion of that. But if that is your concern as a “centrist” Democrat (I do not pretend that the following argument will be convincing or even of interest to those of the political right), then I’ll ask you to consider this: the U.S. in its post-World War II heyday had arrived at something of a balance of power, and attendant societal benefits, between its moneyed elites and the vast majority of its people. Over the past half century or so, extensive, effective and successful efforts by the right and extreme right in the United States have shifted political discourse, policy and laws quite far to the right. Just take a look at what the roles of government, people, laws and moneyed interests were then versus now, and you will be struck by that shift. If that balance is to be restored, it will take a period of governance by those whose policies are more left-leaning in the U.S. Senate and House, along with the state legislatures coupled with like-minded people serving as governors and president. That is the only way to get back to the “center” that you prefer.

The heated Republican/Democratic battle for control of the House and Senate should be seen in this context—the after-effect of the acquittal of President Trump in his impeachment trial, the ongoing shrinkage of the middle class, the impoverishment of ever larger portions of society (as painfully evidenced in the homelessness crisis) and the decline in the international stature of the U.S.

Finally, correcting omissions from last week’s article: there is Proposition 13 on Californians’ ballot. It is a bond measure for school, community college and university facilities. I suggest voting YES on this one. Also, two other Armenians who have been active in our community and are incumbents up for reelection: Adrin Nazarian for 45th Assembly District and Paul Krekorian for LA City Council District 2. Like Elen Astryan in the 43rd Assembly District, whom I discussed last week, John Harabedian is running for Democratic Central Committee, too, but in the 41st AD – vote for him if you live in that jurisdiction. Finally, two Los Angeles County measures, Fire District 911 Firefighter/Paramedic Emergency Response and Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission Ordinance deserve YES votes.

After all this, the most important thing to remember is still that you should VOTE, VOTE, VOTE, regardless of for whom you ultimately vote. Believe it or not, people study who votes, and seeing more ian/yans (or other Armenian connected name endings) leads to more credibility and influence for our communities and interests. Please check out the ANCA’s list of endorsements for specific references.

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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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