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OPINION | The Power of One: How Alex Balekian's Campaign Is Awakening the Armenian Community

Updated: Apr 18


Alex Balekian
Alex Balekian

Opinion piece by Ani Torosyan


In the vibrant mosaic of American democracy, Armenian-Americans have long strived to weave their unique heritage and values into the fabric of this great nation. Yet, despite their rich contributions, the quest for political representation beyond local levels has been an uphill battle. This struggle underscores not just a quest for influence but a deeper yearning for recognition and a voice in the halls of power. Today, this journey takes a promising turn, as the Armenian community has a golden opportunity to rally behind a candidate who embodies our aspirations: Dr. Alex Balekian, the self-proclaimed "Deukmejian" Republican, in his historic run for Congress against Laura Friedman, a self-described "Progressive" Democrat.


Laura Friedman
Laura Friedman


Seizing an Unprecedented Opportunity


Adam Schiff
Adam Schiff

For the first time in over two decades, the seat long held by incumbent Adam Schiff in California District 30 is up for grabs. Dr. Balekian's remarkable advancement past the March 5th primary elections heralds a pivotal moment for Armenian-Americans. This is our chance to send an Armenian representative to Washington D.C., to speak on behalf of the largest Armenian diaspora community in the world. The significance of this moment cannot be overstated; it's a testament to the resilience and potential of our community to shape its destiny in the American political landscape.


The Importance of Community Support


Anthony Portantino
Anthony Portantino

The journey of Dr. Balekian, who dispatched heavily-favored Anthony Portantino despite being out-raised more than 15-to-1, is a narrative of authenticity, strategic acumen, and the power of grassroots mobilization. His campaign's success in the primary is a clarion call to every Armenian-American to awaken to the power of collective action. It underscores why our political organizations, particularly the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), must throw their full support behind his candidacy. ANCA's endorsement and mobilization capabilities can be a game-changer, amplifying Dr. Balekian's message and rallying the community at a scale never seen before.


The Alarming Apathy: Low Voter Turnout


A critical symptom of the disconnect between Armenian political organizations and the community is the alarmingly low voter turnout among Armenian-Americans. In numerous districts with significant Armenian populations, participation rates in elections are consistently 10-15% below the district average. This apathy towards the ballot box is a silent crisis that not only undermines our community's potential political clout but also signifies a broader disengagement from the civic processes that shape our lives in America.


Voting is the most basic expression of a citizen's voice in a democracy, yet many Armenian-Americans remain on the sidelines, either disillusioned by the perceived irrelevance of the political process or unaware of the power of their vote. This collective inaction weakens our ability to influence decisions that affect our community, from education and health care to foreign policy issues that directly impact Armenia and Artsakh.The reasons Armenian voters have expressed for their reluctance to vote reveal deep-seated fears and mistrust. Some fear retribution through the loss of social services if they vote for the "wrong" person, reflecting a mistrust in the system's fairness. Others hold onto the mistaken belief that voting will put them on the jury duty radar, a concern that is misplaced and untrue, yet can significantly impact those who are the primary breadwinners in their families. There's also a pervasive belief that voting is futile, that it's all rigged and their vote doesn't matter—a sentiment rooted in the historical experiences of Armenians who fled systems of oppression, such as the Soviet Union or Islamic Revolution. These fears highlight a broader issue of government distrust and the perception that elections are fixed, which is a significant barrier to civic participation.

(Note: Last month, the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church published an extremely helpful public service announcement video, “How to Vote”, in an attempt to help increase the Armenian community’s civic engagement and voter turnout.)


A Critical Moment for Engagement and Action


Alex Balekian
Alex Balekian

Our reflection on the causes of Armenian-American underrepresentation in politics—ranging from disengagement and low voter turnout to a misalignment of our political organizations with core community values—finds a beacon of hope in Dr. Balekian's campaign. It exemplifies how adherence to our heritage and values, combined with genuine engagement with voters and strategic resourcefulness, can overcome seemingly insurmountable odds.


This is why the Armenian community, both individuals and organizations, must unite like never before. The call to action is clear: donate to Dr. Balekian's campaign, host a fundraiser, volunteer, and spread the word. Every contribution counts, and every voice that joins this chorus amplifies our chance for historic representation. It's a moment to transform our disengagement into a powerful collective action, ensuring that the largest Armenian diaspora has its voice heard in the corridors of power.


Toward a Future of Representation and Influence


As we stand on the cusp of potentially sending an Armenian to Congress, let us remember that this is more than just a political campaign; it's a milestone in our community's journey in America. Dr. Alex Balekian's candidacy is not just a testament to what is possible with authenticity, strategic ingenuity, and community solidarity; it's a blaring call for Armenian-Americans to reengage with the civic process that shapes our lives.


By rallying behind Dr. Balekian, we can turn the tide of low voter turnout and political disengagement. We can send a message that our community is a force to be reckoned with, capable of mobilizing effectively to support one of our own. This is our time to make history, to ensure that the Armenian voice is not only heard but also respected and represented in the national political sphere. Let us seize this moment with all the might, passion, and commitment that define our community.


About the author :

Ani Torosyan
Ani Torosyan

Ani Torosyan brings a refreshingly unconventional perspective to the political arena, marked by a journey that diverges from the typical pathways into campaign management. With her academic and early career roots planted in the field of biomedical engineering, Ani is a serial entrepreneur and tech startup founder whose first foray into running a political campaign has proven to be more of an asset than a liability. Her expertise in innovative, out-of-the-box thinking, honed through her experiences in the competitive tech industry, has infused the campaign with a strategy centered around data-driven decisions. Ani's knack for building and scaling ventures with limited resources has translated seamlessly into her leadership style, crafting a campaign ethos that is both scrappy and impactful. This approach has not only demonstrated the power of leveraging technology and analytics in political campaigns but has also showcased her ability to lead a team effectively under the constraints of tight budgets and resources. Ani Torosyan's unique blend of skills and experiences has thus redefined what it means to run a successful political campaign, emphasizing that innovation and resourcefulness can indeed triumph in the complex world of politics.

8 comentários


A campaign that fosters division and self-hate is not an awakening. 


Ani Torosyan is the chief architect of spreading the hate that has created hate within our community, terrorizing thousands of Armenian Americans, and fueling discrimination from 

non-Armenian communities directed toward us. 


The narrative that pits members of our community against each other only serves to hinder our collective progress and cultural enrichment. 


It's essential to move forward with the aim of securing genuine representation in Congress that embodies the rich heritage and aspirations of Armenian Americans and all communities,  something this campaign has failed to do.

Curtir

I’m disgusted to see this article published by you written by Ani Torosyan of all people, the woman who cofounded an extremist parent group “GUSD PARENTS VOICES” which regularly harasses Armenians, teachers, and students. Ani has spent years helping insane extremists like Jordan Henry (who she promoted over an Armenian candidate) and causing issues in my school district. She actively targets and works against policies meant to also help Armenian students.

Curtir

GUSD Parents
GUSD Parents
21 de mar.

Ani Torosyan has spent years attacking our Glendale Public Schools, including going after specific teachers and harassing families who have LGBTQ+ students. We wouldn't take her political opinions seriously, and neither should anyone else. "Dr. Balekian" also seems to have lost prestigious medical assignments and appears to have a very shady record as a physician. (Oh, and he also thinks being trans is "mental illness" and loves to criticize public education, despite having zero children and zero connection to the public schools that he graduated from over 20 years ago. Things change.)

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Nora K
Nora K
20 de mar.

The fact that you would publish such a poorly written, minimally researched (where the hell are the facts and citations?), biased piece of political propaganda is a clear indication that this publication is a joke. Extremely disappointing. No legitimate news source would publish something like this unless it was the editorial team’s own endorsement of a given candidate. Is The Armenian Report just some random person’s private diary/blog? DO BETTER.

Curtir
GUSD Parents
GUSD Parents
21 de mar.
Respondendo a

The problem is that it is an opinion piece promoting an extremist, written by an extremist.

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Vic Gerami
Vic Gerami
20 de mar.

I can write an essay about this op-ed, but I won't. Unfortunately, what stands out to me most is although Alex Balekian is gay, either the author, Ani Torosyan, or the editor of The Armenian Report chose to use a photo of Senator Anthony Portantino during LA Pride. Why is this problematic you ask. Because the author is clearly not impartial. In fact, her 'article' reads more like an advertorial for Balekian's campaign than an intelligent story. Using a photo of Portantino, she is tapping into the homophobic members of our community, clearly demonstrating that Portantino is pro-LGBTQ+. This fact is not only ironic, but sad too. It also contradicts the author's call for social cohesion and unity in the…

Curtir
Respondendo a

Dear Vic, thank you for your comment. We welcome Opinion pieces here at The Armenian Report. Given that Dr. Alex Balekian won the Primary election as an Armenian, we welcomed an opinion piece. As for the photo of Senator Anthony Portantino, that was the only copyright photo we could find to use. If a photographer has another photo of Portantino that we could use copyright free, we will gladly swap out the photo. The photo was purely chosen because of copyright purposes and not the reasons you assume. Sincerely, The Armenian Report Team

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