The Russian-speaking immigrant community is obviously too small for it to be an important factor in any elections, but if you were ever curious who it voted for and why, I will provide an answer in this post.
The absolute majority of Russian-speaking immigrants is rabidly conservative. And when I say the “majority”, I mean everybody except me and N. This is probably the only immigrant group that fully and passionately identifies with the anti-immigrant stance of the US Republicans.
So why does the immigrant group that finds it harder than any other to adapt to the life in the US always vote for the party of people who dislike immigrants?
Here are some answers:
1. Racism. The Aryan Brotherhood would be shocked to hear the amount of racist garbage a quiet, nerdy Russian-speaking immigrant (from here on referred to as RSI) who is a college professor of chemistry or a nurse can unleash within the space of one minute. One of the reasons I avoid RSIs is that I can’t deal with the racist comments that come out of their mouths two minutes after we get introduced to each other.
2. RSIs come share a history that is so cruel and painful that the idea of social compassion is alien to them. It is useless to try to bring up the suffering of the poor, the unemployed, the disabled, the needy. The everybody-for-himself dog-eat-dog mentality is so deeply ingrained that the idea that somebody somewhere might get help is rejected out of hand.
3. The Cold War mentality and rhetoric are embraced passionately by the RSIs. The absolute majority of them are miserable as immigrants. They cannot, of course, accept that their decision to emigrate was a mistake, so they console themselves with the myth of American exceptionalism and support the US invasions of other countries.
4. The RSIs lead a very feminist existence yet compensate for that by promoting a passionately anti-feminist discourse.
5. If there is any sentiment that is more vicious than the RSI racism, it is its homophobia. As a result, the idea of gay rights is personally traumatizing to the US RSIs.
6. The concept of paying taxes is historically alien to an RSI. Paying taxes that would go into any form of a social safety net is even more alien.
7. On a more metaphysical level, the RSIs are bothered by the idea of change because, historically, they have experienced too much instability. The greatest personal transformation they have gone through (the emigration) turned out to be a mistake. This is why they cling to conservatism.
8. The words “socialism” and “communism” carry a very personal and painful set of connotations for an RSI for reasons that I hope I don’t have to explain.
9. An immigrant community that is as deeply alienated from its new country as the RSI community will always try to identify with the political movement that manages to sell itself as representing the most authentic local values and lifestyles. Voting Republican permits an RSI to feel like, for that single moment of casting a vote, s/he finally belongs.
10. RSIs very rarely speak English well. As a result, the only English-language TV and radio they can access linguistically is the least sophisticated one. And we can all guess which channels and stations are the simplest to understand on the level of language competency.