It must be the invisible hand of God directing our fortunes, progressing as much as we have in this blessed country.
Once, when we first came here, we didn’t even know what a senator or congressman was so that we could wish our children could become one some day.
Over time, as our standard of living has improved, as our emphasis on education has strengthened, our children have distinguished themselves in American society and claimed their share of power and responsibility.
There was a time, not so long ago, when Greek-American Spyros Agnew was elected governor of Maryland and then became Vice President of the United States of America.
There was a time when Michael Dukakis was elected governor of Massachusetts and then was the Democratic Party’s nominee for President.
There was a time when 2 out of 100 senators were Greek-Americans: Paul Sarbanes and Paul Tsongas – later to be joined by Olympia Snowe.
There was a time when we had two mayors in San Francisco, George Christopher and Art Anagnos.
There was the time when John Brademas – from Indiana – came to be second in command in the House of Representatives.
And today, we’re not doing too badly either – but we’d be doing much better if we had a support mechanism for today’s young women and men who aspire to be public office.
Specifically, we have six (6) Greek-Americans in the House – and for the first time, one is from New York, Nicole Malliotakis. There are now four Democrats and two Republicans; and, no doubt, there are many up-and-coming Greek-Americans in local offices and state legislatures from across the country.
Today, in the Senate, we have one important ally … he is not Greek, but a great Philhellene whom we deeply appreciate, Bob Menendez, from New Jersey.
The conditions in our American homeland have ripened and we can expect even greater representation in the highest political positions.
However, in this critical area, as in so many others, we lack basic organization.
There is no mechanism or structure which exists in order to support a young Greek-American. An organization or an institution to which he or she can turn to for help, especially when they are taking their first steps in politics.
Something similar to what the Jewish-Americans have, or the Indian-Americans, who, through the Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Victory Fund discover capable candidates of Indian descent and support them financially.
A couple of days ago, the New York Times had a front-page article on the rapid rise of Indian-Americans in the political life of the country.
The mass immigration of Indians to the United States began in 1965 with the change in immigration laws and, like us, they emphasized education and business.
Indians – like us – are elected not only in areas where they predominate numerically, but also in black neighborhoods, writes the Times.
All of their congressmen are Democrats and almost all of their local politicians are Democrats like, Kamala Harris, who is of African-American and Indian descent and who is now Vice President of the United States.
The exception is Nikki Haley, the Republican former governor of South Carolina, ambassador to the UN, and now a candidate for the U.S. presidency, who was born to immigrant Sikh parents from Punjab, India.
And according to a survey cited by the Times, Indians support their own candidates, even when they belong to a party opposite to their own.
Something we do, too.
In conclusion, it’s not that we don’t support homegrown politicians from the Community. It’s that we don’t support them as much as we can. We rely on the generosity and philotimo of a few Greek-American businessmen.
It’s time we created an organization charged with this crucial responsibility.