Image of a Politically Active and Relevant Community
Until recently, it was a small piece of the American and Canadian political discourse. A few members from the Bosnian/Herzegovinian Diaspora had attained influence in US politics, but they were more effective as individuals rather than as a community, with the possible exception of one or two long established communities.
While we were interested in and committed to the progress of a Bosnia & Herzegovina away from communism and toward the Euro-Atlantic family of democracies, the Diaspora did not form a substantially large voting block. Croat, Serb and Albanian Americans were a considerably larger and more visible block. However, even those who originated from Bosnia & Herzegovina tended to meld into the far more numerous immigrant blocks originating from Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro or Albania and Kosovo. Since Bosnia & Herzegovina’s 1992 independence, this has changed. Bosnia & Herzegovina is understood as deserving its own focus. There is also substantially larger block of immigrants who directly trace their roots to and motivations to the war for BiH. Bosniaks now form a nucleus of potential voters who have origins and ties to Bosnia & Herzegovina and the region as a whole.
Now is an opportunity for Bosniaks to project themselves as politically motivated, informed and active as Americans and Canadians with respect to those countries’ policies toward Bosnia and Herzegovina. Now, Bosnia & Herzegovina can be discussed not as a purely humanitarian or moral issue, but as one whose future and integration into the Euro-Atlantic family sways the vote of thousands of Bosniaks in the United States or Canada. In this way, we can also seek to participate with and encourage coordination with Croats, Serbs, Montenegrins, Slovenes Albanians and others, (particularly with origins from within BiH, but also more broadly) who share a vision of a progressive multiethnic and open society in BiH and the region as a whole. Coalition building is one of the essential strategies as well as tenets of North America’s political melting pot of economic and ethnic interests.
Vote for a Better America and Canada
Participating in their political systems is primarily about affecting your future in America and Canada, and not just for Bosnia & Herzegovina. It is everything from the efficacy of schools to preserving the freedoms and openness of American and Canadian society. Looking out for the interests of our broader community, the United States and Canada, as well as of our more specific considerations is the way to go.
A Candidate for US Congress or Parliament of Canada Could Influence BiH’s Future More than Almost Any BiH Politician
It may be an unfortunate statement on BiH’s political independence, but a US Senator or Congressman, or Canadian parliamentarian may be decisive in helping forge Bosnia & Herzegovina’s future. Vote for those who will support BiH’s aspirations as a partner to the Euro-Atlantic family, United States and Canada. It is not just about the future of where we originate, BiH, but it also reflects the perceptions that a US or Canadian politician or official has of us, who now live in North America, and our culture. We should demand nothing else for BiH than those principles/rules by which we live in the United States and Canada.
Participating in the Political Process:
Register to vote;
Go to vote, (even if you do not cast a vote, or ballot, by going to your voting booth on election day, this will re-register you for the next election and identify you as a political observant individual);
Contribute financially or your time/work to a campaign of a candidate or ballot proposition with which you feel committed;
Join a political party or become part of an “independent party” movement;
Join or establish a “PAC” or political action committee which allows you to coordinate and amass contributions on behalf of a candidate or particular political issue or movement;
Host an event for potential voters and candidates within your home, business or “community center,” (especially during primaries when candidates are anxious to seek out the support of a well focused, even if relatively small, concentration of potential voters).
Become part of a “voter initiative” regarding matters that may be placed on the ballot;
Become part of a candidate’s campaign, local or national office;
Consider becoming a candidate yourself: (generally start local even if your ambitions ultimately may be much broader).
BiH Diaspora Has Already Effected US Election Results
The BiH Diaspora community is not large, but it is concentrated in a few critical election jurisdictions. While impossible to prove, it appears more likely that the BiH Diaspora new voters around St. Louis were the decisive votes in the election for the US Senate seat from Missouri, which in turn effected the whole shifting of the US Senate and Congress in favor of the Democrats. If this is not true, then see the below.
Take Credit for Success
Election results are ultimately much clearer than the reasons for the success of a particular candidate or initiative. Take credit for your success. This will breed respect for our capacity to mobilize the electorate and affect results, which in turn will actually affect our impact on future elections.
Form Coalitions for Success and Principle
Political success can only occur on basis of broad support. We must find our political partners within the American and Canadian electorate. We must find political common ground with the other Diaspora communities that share similar visions for Southeast Europe and Bosnia & Herzegovina. The views may not be entirely the same or ideal, but if we cannot build common ground in the United States and Canada then how could we expect a single country of Bosnia & Herzegovina to function. We do have one principle to our advantage: We want for BiH the same principles of a democratic, pluralistic and open society upon which the United States or Canada is founded. Coalition building though must go well beyond just other communities who are connected to the region or other Diaspora communities, period. The relevance of BiH is important to only a relatively few potential voters. Bosnian & Herzegovinian Americans and Canadians, particularly Bosniaks, as we are identified with Muslims, must not be trapped by closed mindedness. Rather, we must identify our political future with those who could also be singled out as “outsiders.” The best of what America offers is not based upon what is not permitted by social conformism, but rather on the openness of this society and its ultimate commitment to inclusion of all. Bosniaks are but just one of the last immigrant waves to be adopted by America.
Bosniaks Are an Asset to the Western democracies as well as to The US and Canada, to be Promoted Rather Than Potential Threat to be Controlled
Bosniaks have allowed others to define them, mostly those who either do not wish us well or do not care to know us. Even some of the “Bosniak” political leadership has sold itself to a new set of masters as those who would control the “white terrorists” on their behalf. Others have more spoken of the dangers rather than opportunities. If Bosniaks, “Bosnian Muslims” are primarily projected as a potential threat then the prospect for Bosnia & Herzegovina will be addressed in terms of the lowest common denominator by the foreign bureaucrats now defining its future. On the other hand if Bosniaks are understood as partners by America’s and Canada’s political leaders, the bureaucrats will bend and adjust their efforts in Bosnia & Herzegovina to reflect that which is good and possible in progressive society. Bosniaks may be still under intimidation in Bosnia & Herzegovina, but we, who live here, are Americans or Canadians now. We will play the political game as it best serves our interests.