No Greek Choice in 2004
October 11, 2004
The DC in DCGreeks.com can't ignore that we are less than a month away from electing the man who will be occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the next four years. From the Greek-American perspective, the run-up to his election has been pretty uneventful, with an absence of any Greek-American candidates like a Dukakis or a Tsongas or even a Greek-American advisor a la George Stephanopoulos to follow. So without blind ethnic loyalty to make the decision for us, who's a Greek-American to vote for?
The 80s and early 90s are long over and the natural assumption that Greek-Americans are naturally going to vote Democrat no longer holds true. The last significant wave of Greek immigration took place with our parents' generation, and we really don't see ourselves as a traditional immigrant group with issues and concerns that traditionally have been defended by the Democratic party. A friend of ours asked a few weeks back if our dad was voting for Kerry or Bush. He figured that like many people who achieve their version of the American Dream, conservatism sets in, in the hopes of protecting what it took so much hard work to achieve. But Greek-Americans, even of our parents' generation are still able to separate their financial politics from their social politics, making the vote not that obvious.
With no real domestic policy to bind us, Greek-Americans are still united in the concept of improving U.S. relations with Greece and Cyprus and reducing the United States' seeming dependence and resulting favoritism towards Turkey, with the hope of resolving the Cyprus problem. The sad thing is that neither of the major parties have made Greek foreign policy issues even a splinter of the parties' platform. Just today, Kerry after pressure from Greek-American leaders issued a two-page statement on issues pertinent to Greek-Americans, notably on relations with Greece, and resolving the Cyprus problem.
Curious after having stumbled upon this news today, I decided to run a Google search for "Greek-American and Kerry" and "Greek American and Bush." The most significant stories that this search revealed was some confusion over a letter that the American Hellenic Institute sent to the Kerry campaign with its hope that Kerry would support a host of pro-Greek policies. Other ethnic groups, namely those from Skopje (FYROM) were up and arms thinking that Kerry actually supported these policies. (Another interesting result was an interesting message board of Serbian-Americans who were adamantly against Kerry.) On a Democratic-based online campaign store, under constituencies, you can find buttons and bumper stickers for Greek-Americans for Kerry/Edwards, as well as buttons for the Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders, Jewish, Sportsmen, and Veterans & Bikers constituencies. There is even a website out there, GreeksforKerry.com. Running the same search for Bush revealed even less campaign related information, although real estate tycoon and owner of San Diego Chargers, Alex Spanos, is mentioned as a huge Bush supporter. Given the anti-Americanism in Greece after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, if not before, it's not surprising that there isn't a GreeksforBush.com or widespread organized Greek-American support for him.
In the end, when we vote on November 2nd, our Greek-American heritage will be present in our democratic participation in voting, if not how we come down on the issues or the candidates. For those of you out there who have the opportunity to vote for a Greek-American for Congress, you'll get a chance to show that blind loyalty and at least have one easy decision in the voting booth.