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The US Elections
read in Macedonian


I’m taking a break from the on-going sad saga of the European Union and its seeming inability to do anything right these days.  There will be plenty of time in the weeks and months ahead to showcase the silliness in Brussels.  What I want to turn to this week is something that will happen in a little less than one year: the US Presidential elections.   

On November 3, 2012, elections will be held in the United States for the offices of president, vice-president, the entire US House of Representatives (435 members), one third of the US Senate (there are 100 seats in the US Senate), plus thousands of local elections, including state, county and city officials.  And even though the election is a year away, the campaign is in full swing.  Unlike Macedonia, or much of the world for that matter, we do not have an “official” campaign season of a few weeks or even a few months.  Our campaign season lasts forever.  Literally.   

But with less than one year to go, things really pick up steam.  Many call this the “silly season” and with good reason – the endless campaign can often bring out the worst in people and all that you can imagine in a political election: name-calling, personal attacks, untruths, rumors, you name it.  Politicians the world over engage in this behavior.   

Why focus on this election for a Macedonian audience?  Well, for one, US foreign policy is at stake.  For another, the US economic policy is at stake and US economic policy has a major impact on the world as it grows increasingly smaller.  What happens in Washington, DC affects Macedonia.  Remember November 4, 2004?  That was the day after the US presidential election and George W. Bush had just been re-elected.  And what was one of his first acts as president in his second term?  He recognized the Republic of Macedonia by its constitutional name. 

So, with that background, let’s look ahead to the 2012 US Presidential elections. 

The first thing you must know is that our current President, Barack Hussein Obama, is running for re-election.  He was elected president in November of 2008 and at the time, he was a US Senator from the state of Illinois.  President Obama is a member of the Democrat Party, the party more closely aligned with the SDSM in Macedonia. 

On the other side, there are eight major official candidates running against him.  They are all members of the Republican Party, the party more closely aligned with VMRO-DPMNE, and they must compete against each other in a series of races around the country in the various states, to narrow their number down to one.  The victor of that contest will then challenge President Obama and Vice-President Biden in the general election in November of 2012 (on the Republican side, there will be a candidate for president and vice-president, running together). 

Currently, the Republican who will most likely challenge President Obama in the general campaign is former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.  Romney, besides being a former governor, is a successful businessman, was also the chief executive officer of the Winter Olympics at Salt Lake City, Utah in 2002. 

Now this is where it gets personal to Macedonia.  In 2008, President Obama relied heavily on Greek-American money and votes to get elected.  The Greek-American community is largely part of the Democrat Party, and one of President Obama’s top fundraisers was Alexi Giannoulias, who was then the Treasurer for the State of Illinois.  Alexi also ran the Greek-Americans for Obama campaign.  Alexi ran for the US Senate in 2010 but lost and will likely be heavily involved in the presidential elections next year. 

President Obama’s record of involvement with Macedonia is not what his predecessor’s was.  His secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, has visited almost all of the countries around Macedonia but has not visited Macedonia.  Only with a great deal of pressure from Macedonia and Macedonia’s friends did Prime Minister Gruevski receive an invitation to visit Washington, DC and Secretary Clinton and Vice President Biden last year.  George Papendreou, on the other hand, has had several visits with the President.  And Greeks and Greek-Americans enjoy close cooperation with President Obama and the White House. 

One important reason that Macedonia has not received a lot of interest from the Obama Administration is domestic US politics.  The president does not want to be seen as helping Macedonia, politically, so he does not.  The president does want to be seen as helping Greece, politically, so he does.  The reason being that helping Greece, helps him, politically, at home.  It really is as simple as that. 

Governor Romney’s position with Macedonia is unknown as there is no record on it but you can be sure that it will be better than President Obama’s.  What is needed now is for the Macedonian Diaspora to reach out to the Romney campaign and begin educating them on Macedonia’s relationship with Europe and the US.

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Jason Miko
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