For years, while in the minority, Democrats claimed the moral high ground as defenders of Armenian American community and champions of Armenian Genocide recognition. They attacked Republican presidents and Congresses for failing to act, promising to set the record straight once in office.
Now, two years after the historical election of 2008 which gave the Democrats control of the White House in addition to both houses of Congress by wide majorities, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been handed a golden opportunity to come through on the repeated promises that she and a generation of other Democratic leaders have made to the Armenian-American community.
In the wake of the election in 2008, many Armenian-Americans were overjoyed to have in Barack Obama, a president who not only repeatedly and strongly pledged to properly recognize American history and the Armenian Genocide, but also work to strengthen America’s relationship with Armenia and ensure the right to self-determination by the people of Nagorno-Karabagh. Since his election, President Obama has not only broken every promise made to Armenian-Americans but has also forced Armenia to accept the failed Protocols, and nominated an obviously biased ambassadorial candidate, Matthew Bryza, to serve as ambassador of Azerbaijan. Having been so sharply let down by the new Democratic President, the Armenian-American community looked to its many Democratic friends in Congress to do the right thing.
After all, on so many occasions, most notably when attempting to regain control of the House of Representatives in 2006 and become Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi has pledged to recognize the Armenian Genocide, stating: “I have supported legislation, including H.Res.316, that would properly acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. It is imperative that the United States recognize this atrocity and move to renew our commitment to eliminate genocide whenever and wherever it exists. This effort enjoys strong bipartisan support in the House, and I will continue to support these efforts in the 110th Congress.”
Fine words, but today, four years into her term as Speaker, the Armenian Genocide Resolution has moved no further than it did under Speaker Hastert. That’s not to say that Dennis Hastert, now a lobbyist for Turkey, is a friend (he clearly is just the opposite), but it does say that Speaker Pelosi has not, as a practical matter, delivered any different results.
The current Armenian Genocide bill in Congress, H. Res. 252, has 143 co-sponsors including both Democrats and Republicans. A bipartisan majority supports the measure. Combat operations in Iraq have been declared officially over, diminishing Turkey’s importance in the region. Turkey’s recent actions in the Middle East, including their role as provocateur in the Mavi Marmara incident as well as their recent warm relationship with Iran have shown the world that Turkey is neither a friend of the U.S. or Israel. Turkey’s stock in DC has never been lower.
The time for Congressional action has arrived.
The Democratic Party, if it seeks to maintain its bragging rights as a friend of Armenia and its claim on the loyalties of Armenian American voters, needs to deliver results, namely the immediate passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution.
It is simply not enough for Democrats to claim to be supportive of the Armenian Genocide resolution, but then, despite holding all the reins of power, blame others, including the Republican minority, for preventing them from taking a step fully within their abilities. It’s time for this resolution, which has already been passed by the Foreign Affairs Committee, to actually pass an up or down vote on the floor of the House of Representatives. There is no one left to blame.
This is the chance for the Speaker and her lieutenants to prove that their words do not ring hollow and they have not been taking our community for granted. This is the Speaker’s opportunity to bring her support to the national stage and not only for statements to her Armenian constituents in San Francisco and in key swing districts with Armenian votes.
If the House of Representatives can pass major overhauls of healthcare, financial regulation or cap and trade, it is hard to believe that the Speaker cannot ensure 218 votes to pass an Armenian Genocide Resolution that enjoys broad-based support, that is, if this is a priority for her and her party.
The Speaker’s actions will speak far louder than her words. And Armenian voters, Republicans and Democrats, will all be listening.
The National Organization of Republican Armenians (NORA) advocates for Armenian American issues within the Republican Party and among Republican office holders and organizations as well as encouraging support for Republican positions and candidates within the Armenian American community. NORA also promotes Republican Armenian American candidates and elected officials. NORA recognizes that the Republican Party best represents most issues of importance to the Armenian American community and NORA will continue to work towards further aligning the positions of the Republican party and the Armenian American community.