Tom Ellis TOM ELLIS

Greek Americans at every level of US gov’t

COMMENT

The Hellenic presence in the American political landscape continues to be apparent at both the federal and the state level, which is also important considering that some of this economically mighty federation’s 50 states are bigger than a lot of countries and have their own bilateral trade agreements with other nations. Our interest, therefore, should not be restricted to the US administration, Senate and Congress, as state-level political offices project their own power and, thus, the election of any Greek American to them increases the community’s influence.

These thoughts were prompted by former Illinois treasurer Alexi Giannoulias’ reported decision to run for Illinois secretary of state in 2022. His election would put him center stage in a very important state and would also serve as a stepping stone to an even higher office on the federal level.

The prospects of the 44-year-old Greek American – who hails from Kalavryta on his father’s side and Hania on his mother’s, and who has also lived in Greece, playing basketball for Panionios at the age of 22 – look very good, as he also has the support of several influential members of the Democratic Party. Illinois Congresswoman Robin Kelly, who served as Giannoulias’ chief of staff when he was state treasurer, described him as “progressive, ethical and reform-minded.”

The day after losing the race for Senate in 2010, Giannoulias had also shown rare political class by going out for a beer at a Chicago pub with his rival, Republican Mark Kirk, who won the seat.

With experience in the private sector and a successful record as treasurer of America’s fifth biggest state, as well as a painful loss which undoubtedly served as an educational experience in the tough arena of Illinois politics, Giannoulias has what it takes to go even higher. In this sense, he deserves and will get the support of the Greek-American community.

A day before Giannoulias’ candidacy was leaked to the media, we had learned that another Greek American, Jen Psaki, had been named White House press secretary in the incoming administration. And, of course, the Greek voice in Congress was also strengthened in November’s elections to six and it is just a matter of time before we’re represented in the Senate too.

Influence acquires depth and durability when it takes root at the local level, which is how the foundations for the Greek-American presence at the federal level are built. Simply put, the presence of diaspora representatives at every level of political life in the country with the biggest economy and strongest military in the world enhances the power of Hellenism in so many ways.

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