AHI President’s Op-ed: Obama or Romney: Does it make a Difference?
WASHINGTON, DC — The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) released an op-ed written October 22, 2012 by AHI President Nick Larigakis titled, “Obama or Romney: Does it make a Difference?”
Larigakis’ op-ed examines where each presidential candidate stands on issues of importance to the Greek American community. However, each campaign has not issued a statement to the community despite repeated requests by AHI. This leaves President Obama’s track record as president, Governor Romney’s debate comments, and a review of the 2012 Democratic and Republican Parties platforms as the only evidence from which a conclusion can be drawn on where the candidates stand on Greek American issues.
In addition, President Larigakis presented for reference excerpts from previous Democratic and Republican presidential campaign statements that AHI has on file to provide readers with a sense of what is absent from today’s engagement with the two presidential campaigns.
To date, the op-ed received placement in the following publications: The National Herald, and The Hellenic News of America.
To read these and all op-eds written by AHI, please visit www.ahiworld.org.
The American Hellenic Institute is a non-profit Greek American think tank and public policy center that works to strengthen relations between the United States and Greece and Cyprus, and within the Greek American community.
For additional information, please contact Georgea Polizos at (202) 785-8430 or at [email protected]. For general information about the activities of AHI, please see our website at http://www.ahiworld.org.
Obama or Romney: Does it make a Difference?
By Nick Larigakis, President, American Hellenic Institute
Well, here we are again. Another four years have passed and the entire nation is gearing up for another presidential election.
Ultimately, does it make a difference to the Greek American community who wins?
As American citizens with the right to vote, we have a responsibility to review and analyze the candidates’ policies on domestic and foreign issues to understand how they may impact the national interests of the United States. To this degree, the Greek American community is no different than any other civically-engaged community. After all, issues of the economy, healthcare, taxes, national security, among others, affect us all.
However, I also believe the Greek American community should have a vested interest in understanding where the candidates stand when it comes to advocating for a strong U.S. relationship with Greece and Cyprus because this too serves the national interests of the United States. But just where do the 2012 presidential candidates stand on this topic?
We have a track record for President Barack Obama because he is an incumbent seeking reelection. In October 2008, the Obama campaign issued a favorable statement to the Greek American community (see addendum to this op-ed). However, despite repeated attempts by the American Hellenic Institute (AHI), including phone calls and emails to campaign staff, and I’m sure outreach by other Greek American organizations, the 2012 Obama campaign has yet to issue a campaign statement to the community. This is disappointing.
Nonetheless, an examination of the 2008 Obama campaign statement compared to where our issues are today will reveal that:
Therefore, one cannot point to any significant advances on any of our core policy issues.
However, the Obama Administration has been better than the Bush Administration with rhetoric. For example, the Obama Administration publically supported Greece as Greece has endured its unprecedented economic crisis. In addition, several high-level administration visits to Greece have occurred, including Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Philip Gordon. Secretary Clinton and Assistant Secretary Gordon also visited the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the latter toured Halki Seminary.
And where does Governor Mitt Romney stand on our core Greek American issues?
The simple truth is that we just don’t know. I have written to Governor Romney on behalf of AHI asking him to issue a statement to the Greek American community. So far, there has been no response. Governor Romney has made a number of off-the-cuff comments about Greece. For example in the second debate he said, “If the president were re-elected, we’d go to almost $20 trillion of national debt. This puts us on the road to Greece.” For the record, Greece’s national debt is approximately 330 billion Euros ($432 billion).
Searching for additional clues will find that the 2012 Republican Platform did include a reference to Cyprus in its foreign policy section. To compare, the Democratic Platform did not mention any Greek American community issues.
One striking difference between Republican and Democratic presidential candidates through recent history is the noted absence of a Republican presidential candidate’s statement. The last campaign statement issued by a Republican presidential candidate came from President George H.W. Bush on July 7, 1988. To the best of my knowledge, no other Republican candidate has issued a public statement to the Greek American community since 1988. To compare, the Democrats have been more consistent with issuing statements as demonstrated by the Clinton-Gore campaigns of 1992 and 1996 and the 2008 Obama-Biden campaign.
I’ve included as an addendum to this op-ed excerpts from previous Democratic and Republican presidential campaign statements that AHI has on file for your review to provide a sense of what is absent today.
From all of this we can draw the sad conclusion that it makes no difference which political party occupies the White House when it comes to advancing policies that will resolve the outstanding core issues of the Greek American community. Their campaign statements are used primarily for fundraising purposes and for getting votes. Once in office, they are forgotten at the presidential level and instead relegated to third tier bureaucrats and lost in the bowels of the State Department.
Ultimately, the onus lies squarely on the shoulders of the Greek American community to become involved with our elected policymakers in the executive and legislative branches of government. It is crucial to engage them on the issues. If we work together toward the same goals, we can realize positive developments with the next president and the new Congress going forward.
If we continue to be disinterested, I can simply re-issue this op-ed again in four years without changing a word.
Previous Democratic Presidential Candidate Statements
AHI President’s Op-ed: Obama or Romney: Does it make a Difference?