In a letter to Democratic National Committee Chairman, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, Armenians for Obama discusses the negative impact the Obama-Biden Administration’s failure to support Armenian American concerns will have on Democratic candidates in the 2010 elections. Below is the complete text of the letter.
Dear Governor Kaine,
We are writing, as leaders of Armenians for Obama, to share with you, as a longtime friend of Armenian Americans in Virginia and across the United States, our concerns
regarding how the policies of the Obama-Biden Administration are undermining our community’s support for the White House. This situation seriously threatens the
support of Armenian American voters for the field of Democratic candidates seeking office in 2010.
As you know, with the help of our leadership, the Obama-Biden Administration came into office with energetic, nationwide grassroots, electoral, and financial backing from our over one and a half million-member community. The Democratic national ticket’s strong record on Armenian issues and their repeated pledges of support empowered us
to mobilize an unprecedented grassroots campaign among Democrats, Independents, and moderate Republicans that helped make the difference in favor of an Obama-Biden victory in key battleground states.
On the financial side, our fieldwork and research of FEC filings shows that Armenian Americans, by a very conservative estimate, contributed well over $2 million directly to the Obama campaign and other Democratic presidential candidates last year. In addition to this figure, the Lincy Foundation, run by Armenian American Kirk Kerkorian, donated $1,500,000 to the Denver 2008 Convention Host Committee. Of the overall amount of well over $9 million in Armenian American federal election contributions that we have tracked during the 2008 cycle, a majority went to Democrats.
Today, all the support we generated during the campaign, and, more broadly, much of the good will fostered among Armenian American voters over many decades for the Democratic Party and countless Democratic candidates is at serious risk.
As you know, since taking office, the Obama-Biden Administration has broken a number of vitally important pledges to Armenian American voters, opposed several issues of concern to our community, and even pressured the Republic of Armenia to make onesided concessions to both Turkey and Azerbaijan. We have listed, here, three particularly troubling examples:
— The President very publicly broke his repeatedly stated and crystal clear pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide, choosing instead to pressure Armenia into accepting a set of Turkey-Armenia protocols that establish a “historical commission” that effectively calls into question this very crime against all humanity.
— The President promised to “maintain our assistance to Armenia” and “help foster Armenia’s growth and development,” yet, in his first budget, proposed a 39% reduction in assistance, by far the sharpest cut to any of the former Soviet republics.
— The President promised to work for a Nagorno Karabakh settlement “based on America’s founding commitment to the principles of democracy and self-determination,” yet has pressured Armenia into accepting terms, known as the Madrid principles, based primarily on territorial integrity.
Neither the President nor his Secretary of State, despite repeated requests, has agreed to meet with the Armenian American leadership to discuss these matters. Their staffs, while cordial, have been essentially dismissive of our community and its concerns.
As a result of these actions and attitudes, we have witnessed a truly dramatic drop in favorable ratings for the President among Armenian Americans, and an associated decrease in overall support for Democratic candidates as we approach the 2010 elections. We fear that these trends will continue and sharpen in the months ahead.
The sharp sense of disappointment in our community was reflected, on September 27th of this year in a protest by more than 10,000 Armenian Americans in Southern California against objectionable elements of the Turkey-Armenia Protocols, which are energetically supported by the White House but rejected by Armenian Americans at both the leadership and grassroots levels. Many tens of thousands of others have expressed their profound reservations, notably regarding the clause establishing a commission that casts
doubt on the historical reality of the Armenian Genocide, at community events, online town-hall meetings, blogs, and other forms of internet activism.
As leaders of the Obama-Biden movement among Americans of Armenian heritage, we turn to you, as a friend, with our concern that unless a fundamental reversal of policy is undertaken, the Administration’s actions will, despite the best efforts of its remaining backers in our community, inevitably and materially end up harming the prospects of
Democratic candidates at the ballot box next November.
We look forward to working with you to address this problem and would welcome the opportunity to meet to discuss how we can make progress toward our shared aims.
Areen Ibranossian, Chairman
Babken Der Grigorian
CC: The Honorable Chris Van Hollen, DCCC The Honorable Bob