Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Voting Out of Spite: The American Serb No-Choice Ballot

I live in the United States and I voted in yesterday's general election. I'm concerned with the dilapidated economic conditions, high unemployment, increasing trade deficit, increasing debt, increasing income gaps, decreasing personal freedom, finance-controlled state subduing popular dissent, lack of preparedness and response to Hurricane Sandy, high cost of living and many other social, political and economic issues that should concern a member of a particular society. But, I am a Serb in the United States. And I don't vote on issues. Not on the domestic policy issues, at least. Now, it's not like either President Obama or Governor Romney would care about issues of common people outside the campaign rhetoric, but a participant in a democratic process should, I guess, pick a candidate who is closest to what he or she cares about, in simplest terms. An American Serb generally doesn't vote FOR anyone, but AGAINST a Biden, a Clinton, a McCain, against whoever Madeleine Albright supports, against whoever bombed Serbia, recognized Kosovo...

I really hate the fact that the bridge tolls in my area cost me an arm and a leg, but even if I have a choice of voting for someone who swore not to rob me blind, I'd still vote based on his or her position on Kosovo. True, no U.S. presidential candidate stood with the Serbs since Woodrow Wilson, and no matter how hard an American Serb looks, he'd be hard pressed to find a candidate with no affiliation to anti-Serb agenda. Does that leave us with no choice but not to vote at all?

In 2004, calls within the American Serb communities to vote for George W. Bush took on a dimension of a campaign. Websites, newspaper ads and internet debates really engaged the American Serb Diaspora. Wait, was Dubya a friend to the Serbs? Didn't his administration pounce to recognize Thaci's Cartel State in 2008? Didn't the worst act of ethnic cleansing in the 21st century occur on his watch against the Kosovo Serbs in March 2004? All true, but in 2004, it was John Kerry, his opponent, who inexplicably promised to recognize Kosovo during the campaign, although Kosovo was far from being a foreign policy priority or a campaign issue. It was John Kerry who received more than half a million dollars in one evening from the Albanian-American community led by Florin Krasniqi, a well-known arms dealer, via the notorious Serb-haters Richard Holbrooke and Wesley Clark, who took the money over in the Cipriani ballroom in New York. Of course Serbs were going to vote for Kerry's opponent. The movement in the Serbian community was not ignored by Kerry, who wrote a letter to the Serbian community in Pittsburgh, addressing the issues Serbs held him in contempt over.

In 2008, the campaign in support of John McCain's opponent was not that vigorous, but a lot of Serbs did clamor for Ron Paul, a man whose Congressional voting record was clean of anti-Serbian activity. Barack Obama was a political novice and his anti-Serbian record was acceptable, but having selected another notorious Serb-hater Joe Biden as his VP choice, it was no surprise that many Serbs abstained from supporting either of the major candidates. Today, faced again with Obama, with Biden and the Clinton family by his side, it's no surprise to hear the American Serbs calling for a Mitt Romney vote. I won't be the Serb who voted for Romney, the epitome of the financierism devouring the world, just because Biden is the alternative. It is increasingly difficult for the American Serbs to find a place on the ballot to circle and not to feel guilty.

I left half of my ballot empty. I considered going "white ballot" and leave the entire ballot blank, but I felt it is my right to at least write a name in. If I wasn't a Serb, I'd weigh the issues. I'd weigh a Wall Street bankster against a sketchy lawyer for South Chicago slumlords. I'd weigh which of the two politics would provide me with less of a reason to move back to the even greater uncertainty of Serbia. I'd weight which of the two groups of very similar campaign donors is less hostile to a common man. But with financial feudalists behind Romney, with Joe Biden plus the welfare state next to Obama, it was really not a choice for me. But since I vote with the Serbian heart rather than with an American mind, if Romney extended an appropriate message into Serbian communities, Serbs like me, despite the disgust towards financierism, would be swayed.

In November of 2004, Ohio Republican Senator George Voinovich expressed gratitude to Ohio Serbs for voting Republican and helping Bush win in this swing state in which Serbs were traditionally voting Democratic due to their strong union affiliations. He even went as far as to hint at the Serbian support being crucial in communities where Serbs reside in large numbers. In 2012, no one will thank Serbs, as Serbs are politically non-existent in the United States. Now, Bush did recognize Kosovo in 2008 and the U.S. foreign policy was still strongly under the paw of the remnants of the Clinton State Department, but the mobilization momentum was very important for the gain in political weight the American Serbs carry. Perhaps influencing the presidential elections is far fetched, but there are Congressional districts where Serbs could significantly affect election outcomes, if they were organized into voting blocks.

While the election of 2004 appeared to have increased Serbian community's participation, bolstered by the hope that its choice may aid a Serbian cause, or at least prevent a greater evil, the momentum thus gained hasn't been capitalized on. The government of Serbia hasn't reached out to the American Serb community with initiatives to further utilize its voting power. The Serbian Unity Congress, for a while the most promising American Serb organization, appeared to have been completely co-opted into its leaders' personal political ambition, detached from the American Serb interests and interest of Serbdom. Serbs live in large numbers in such swing states as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, even Florida. In Ohio, President Obama won by 100,000 votes last night. There is a lot more than 100,000 Serbs in Ohio to cajole, if they presented an organized voting block worth sucking up to. There is a voting potential vastly unappreciated and neglected out there.

The American Serbs do have numbers to posit themselves in voting blocks that could demand their voice to be heard, but the power of their numbers hasn't been shaped into a political movement nor has their voice been articulated into a message that could produce an electoral demand. Voting AGAINST a candidate, on any level, is an inadequate effort at a spiteful personal satisfaction, which is fine but largely futile, but voting FOR a candidate who promised even the slightest gain for the American Serb communities in exchange for our vote is a political engagement on a more serious level, even if the results are not seen immediately.

Meanwhile, I'll continue leaving half a ballot empty and throw dice on the rest of it as no candidate will do anything for me. And I can't blame anyone since I haven't asked any candidate to do a thing for me and my community.


Meezer said...

I also voted in the elections. My first choice, Ron Paul, was not on the ballot. I ended up voting for Gary Johnson of the LP.

The leaders of the American Serb communities for the most part, are sellouts. They would be perfect in a Tadic regime.

About 20 years, when all the crap started with the break up of Jugoslavia, they did nothing.

Meanwhile, the ustashi & their islamofascist cousins hired Ruder Finn, bribed congress, etc.,& did a full scale offensive aiding their brethren.

Srbo said...

I found Gary Johnson not to be a true libertarian in the mold of RP.
I can't disagree with you when it comes to the American Serb leaders. In the 1990s they were impeded by the fact that the Milosevic state didn't utilize the Diaspora as well as the Tudjman state, which grew out of the Ustasha movement in the Croat Diaspora. After October 5th, the dog and pony show between self-promoted leaders of the Diaspora and the Serbian government took on a new dimension. Neither side seriously undertook to organize the American Serb communities for the purpose of aiding the Fatherland in any way more serious than random humanitarian actions. The Fatherland itself still hasn't found a direction in which the American Serb Diaspora can help. Even if we organize into voting blocks, what exactly can we ask for?

Meezer said...

Yes, Gary Johnson is not in the mold of RP. But at least, he wouldn't launch any attacks against Serbia were he the president.

The "leaders" of the Diaspora are a joke.

They need to answer Aleksandr Konuzin's question:

Are there no Serbs in this room?"

The problem is they have NO clue as to what a true Serb actually is supposed to be.

I actually believe that quite a few of them are ashamed & trip over themselves apologizing for being Serbs.

You know the "We're not that type of Serb" types.

Srbo said...

I agree once again on Johnson. Another difference between him and Paul is that Paul is a symbol while Johnson is not and even writing in Paul's name is more meaningful than voting for Johnson - neither will affect the outcome, but the symbolism is on Paul's side.
Serb leaders in the American Serb Diaspora can't garner any real local support because they do not represent any local interest, in my view. Being embedded, or trying to get embedded, with the Serbian government for the wrong reasons moved them away from the real strength of the American Serb Diaspora.