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.
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.