The Star-Tribune has run a couple of A1 stories on Boris Miksic, full of tantalizing details about a glocal trend that is still little noticed. Namely that individual immigrants and diaspora communities in the U.S. are starting to exert very considerable influence on the politics and societies of their home countries.
In some cases, as with Miksic, it is individuals who are are single-handedly using the wealth and status they achieved in the U.S., to try to improve conditions in their home countries. In other cases, the diaspora communities (such as with Sudan, Ethiopia, Mexico, and Cambodia) as a whole are bonding together to push politics one way or another in the home country.
Why did Miksic decide to return to Croatia instead of investing his wealth in the country that made him rich? After all, earlier generations of immigrants who succeeded in the U.S. tended to stay here and contribute their wealth and talents to American society. Are we now entering a period where successful immigrants think first of using their wealth and status to help their original homeland? It's not necessarily a bad thing. Plenty of countries, Croatia among them, need help building their economies in a competitive world.
So why did Miksic return to Croatia to run for President? For one thing, he tells the Strib that Minnesota's former governor, Rudy Perpich, the son of Croatian immigrants, encouraged him to. For another, he makes the economic argument, pointing out that Croatia has roughly the same population as Minnesota but has only one-fifth the size of economy. Now there is a powerful glocal comparison.
Miksic also mobilized the Croat diaspora in the United States, many of whom maintain their Croat citizenship, to vote in the Croatian presidential election. Again, a powerful trend to watch -- diasporas actually voting in faraway elections. It happened in Iraq's recent elections as well. And in the U.S. presidential election, voters in Ohio's Clark County were bombarded with letters from Europeans who asked the Ohioans to vote for John Kerry for the sake of better U.S.-European elections and for world peace.
In today's world, all politics is glocal. (Published on 2/11/2005)