Ethiopian political activism in US elections
In 2008, a group of young Ethiopian-Americans travelled to a number of states including Ohio to campaign for a young African-American Presidential candidate in Barack Obama. He was then competing against Hillary Clinton, who was to have been crowned the nomination of the Democratic Party easily.
A Harvard educated lawyer who had made an impression at the Democratic Convention four years ago when he was given a speaking slot to appease the African American elector who might have been slighted by the choice of John Edward as a running mate, the 43 year old became a standout sensation and gave the Democrats its future President.
Obama, young, smart and representing a new generation of leaders who most whites felt safe with, not guilty in the candidacy of Jesse Jackson who forced them to embrace white guilt – in a room full of liberal elites from the South and the Eastern States, Obama made many look beyond the eventual defeat of 2004 and a new beginning for those who felt they needed to end the Bush era, who many felt he stole the Presidency with the help of the Supreme Court.
By the time the first term Senator announced his Presidential candidacy, his looked a far-fetched dream, perhaps a candidacy of the future, post the Clinton era, but to the likes of Mike Endale and Teddy Fikre and others, alumni of the rare Ethiopian-American political engagement of 2008, it was to be a road-map for other Ethiopian-Americans to continue to be engaged and even for few to even attempt a run for office.
For many, 2020 is shaping up to another year of Ethiopian American political activism with a number of prominent Ethiopian-Americans, including Mimi Alemayehu, the highest Ethiopian – American ranking official appointed by George W. Bush and Barack Obama, founder of Teshai publishers, Elias Wondimu, the first Ethiopian-American elected to a state level position, Assemblyman Alexander Assefa and others coming together to influence the result of tonight’s election result.
To each, Trump stands accused of among many protectionist views in immigration, race relations, his stand against the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and his urge for Egypt to potentially bomb it has made him a target of the Ethiopian-American vote, in parts of Virginia and Colorado where Ethiopian Americans have a potential mighty political power as block voters.
Alexander wrote an urgent letter to the President calling his comments “uneducated” and “reckless”.
“I write to you with grave concerns regarding your recent uneducated comments about the Great Renaissance Dam of Ethiopia (GERD). It is reckless to suggest Egypt should, “blow up the dam. Your remarks are divisive and anti democratic in the course of an ongoing diplomatic conversation among the parties involved”, his letter continued.
The current President who is running for re-election is competing against Joseph Biden, who once served as a two term Vice President under President Barack Obama.
For Elias Wondimu, the comment the President made is something that incites violence and something that is criminal-like.
“For the 45th President of the United States, from the start, African Nations were shithole countries”, so we don’t expect much from his foreign policy, however, inciting a conflict between two sovereign counties is outright criminal, worthy of the highest penalty of the international criminal court”, he told The Reporter.
Tonight’s result will be something worth watching!