The November midterm elections produced mixed results, with the Republicans (nearly) taking over the House of Representatives and the Democrats retaining control of the Senate. The “red wave” turned into a “cold shower,” forcing the GOP to wonder why — amid sky-high inflation and a slew of domestic troubles — it couldn’t have done better.
Election night proved lucky for the Greek-American community as all of their congressional candidates were re-elected. And perhaps most importantly, it helped Dr. Mehmet Oz – a compatriot and personal friend of Turkish strongman Tayyip Erdogan – in the race to defeat the US Senate in Pennsylvania. dr Oz, a popular television personality, had struggled through the Republican primary with support for former President Trump.
The irony is that the GOP would likely have won the seat had Mr. Trump not insisted on actively supporting someone widely viewed as an outsider by Pennsylvania voters. Democratic candidate John Fetterman was still not fully recovered from a recent stroke that became evident during a debate, making his eventual victory an even clearer indication of how wrong Mr. Trump was in this race.
Fortunately, Mr. Fetterman has shown support for Hellenic affairs, among other things, and has called for Aghia Sophia to cease functioning as a mosque. The Senate’s democratic control also means Senator Robert Menendez, a philhellene, is likely to retain his position as chairman of the powerful Foreign Relations Committee, which bodes well for Greece.
The loss of the House of Representatives to the Democrats could also likely be attributed to the extreme positions espoused by the party’s far-left candidates in traditionally “deep blue” New York state. The home state of Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez turned red in several key congressional districts. Despite winning the closest gubernatorial race in years, Democrats have lost significant ground on serious issues like rising crime and over-taxation that they are ideologically ankylosed to discuss.
According to many analysts, these key issues were enough to propel several Republican congressional candidates to victory. Given the tenuous balance of power in the House of Representatives, the Democrats’ lost seats in their New York stronghold undoubtedly contributed to their loss of the majority.
With the midterms now over (with the exception of Georgia), politicians and voters are turning their attention to 2024. The unexpected resilience of Democrats and “the red wave that didn’t exist” leaves questions about who will emerge as the face of the GOP — especially after Gov. Ron DeSantis’ election cake in Florida. With Mr. Trump already officially declaring his candidacy and making his first jabs at his possible main challenger, all signs point to an imminent GOP “civil war” that will leave no one unscathed. Meanwhile, President Biden proved “hard to kill,” comfortably outperforming his Democratic predecessors, Messrs. Obama and Clinton, in the midterms. Although his age and questions about his mental capacity raise serious doubts about re-election plans, by avoiding lame-duck status he manages to retain significant political clout and influence in his party.
Meanwhile, the Greek-American community cannot afford to be a spectator as developments unfold. Their success in opposing the sale of F-16s to Turkey — despite opposition from the White House as well as some Republican lawmakers — proves undoubtedly that exercising political influence and forming alliances with figures who hold key positions in the state apparatus can be a powerful weapon to protect Greece and advance Hellenic affairs.
Along with the strengthening of Greece’s armed forces, which have been largely overlooked during a decade of austerity-based memoranda, the strengthening of Athens’ geopolitical position is proving to be a key factor in securing Greece’s territorial integrity and fending off threats from regional thugs like Turkey. All indications are that the die has been cast and Greece is preparing to exploit the vast hydrocarbon reserves it claims to have in its exclusive economic zone. This prospect could radically improve the outlook for the country’s economy and geopolitical status. In fact, this could prove to be one of those rare defining opportunities for generations that could leave an indelible mark on the rest of the 21st century.
The ability to take advantage of this historic opportunity requires further delineation of the Greek EEZ and expansion of its territorial waters. Turkey will certainly do everything in its power to prevent that prospect and might even resort to the use of military force if it believes its “window of opportunity” is closing and the balance of power is shifting in Greece’s favor from now on .
Now is the time to be extra cautious about the political friendships and alliances that the Greek-American community will forge. Fortunately, there are supporters of Hellenic issues in both parties – just as there are opponents who are pro-Turkish. Times will require sobriety, hard work, and unity to ensure Hellenism can increase its influence in US politics.
Regardless of political affiliation, it is ruthless for a Greek-American citizen to contest the candidacy of Dr. Having supported Oz, knowing full well that he would have served as an uncompromising advocate of Turkish interests. Ideology and personal friendship have their limits; especially when it comes to the fate of Greece.
Likewise, the absence of a Greek-American in the Senate is a deficit that should not exist. Senator Menendez is a staunch supporter of Hellenic affairs (in some cases he may serve Hellenic interests more effectively than a Greek-American or even some politicians in Greece); However, the community has every reason to support him not only financially, but also by electing native candidates who can work with him to advance Hellenic affairs.
The Greek-American community must carefully scrutinize the candidates it supports from both parties and avoid becoming part of the tragic irony that emerged in the midterm elections, in which powerful Republicans and Democrats swatted away golden opportunities and bolstered their opponents through poor decisions.
Follow me on Twitter @CTripoulas