Soviet Refugees and Their Children Actually Dislike Trump, Sanders

There is an interesting article in The Atlantic this week examining the voting patterns of older Russian-American immigrants who escaped the Soviet Union. It’s titled, “Why Russian Immigrants Hate Bernie Sanders and Love Donald Trump“. Naturally, it piqued my interest given my family history and parents’ similar journey from Soviet-occupied Lithuania to the United States 30 years ago. So I read the article and did my best to absorb the subject matter.

This voting bloc, though small, inclines themselves to conservatism given how skeptical they are of big government, unwarranted 24/7 surveillance, high taxes, and anti-life measures. Those who’ve lived under tyranny–my parents included–refuse to support anyone (Left or Right) who seeks to resurrect this here in the United States.

The article gives an interesting glimpse into Russian-Jewish immigrants currently residing in the Bay Area, who echo similar sentiments to their compatriots residing in New York City. The majority of those profiled in the article were fiercely anti-communist, non-religious/religious, or politically conservative. They didn’t offer positive words for either Clinton or Sanders. When pressed about whom they supported for president on the Republican side, there responses were more mixed. Several expressed support for Ted Cruz, while others expressed support for Donald Trump.

The article did a decent job of demonstrating this group’s generally conservative inklings, but fell short on a few things:

Not all refugees from the former Soviet Union are Russian-Jewish but most are skeptical of tyrannical policies

While it’s easy to paint all Eastern European folks with the same broad brush–an egregious offense if applied to non-Russians–it failed to make this differentiation clear. Not all those who lived in the Soviet Union are ethnically Russian. Yet, a good portion of those who fled the Soviet Union, including Russia, generally vote Republican and identify as conservatives, libertarians, or anti-communists. Remember–the former Soviet Union occupied 15 different autonomous countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. The Kremlin imposed the Russian language on those it occupied, which is why many Americans assume every Eastern European person is Russian. (That’s not the case.) The Soviets notoriously oppressed all ethnicities, religions, or individuals deemed enemies of the state. Not all those residing in the Soviet Union were Russian, but had to reluctantly adopt the Russian language and culture to survive. This point should have been communicated better.

American voters from the former Soviet Union aren’t politically uniform, though they generally vote Republican 

While most voters comprising this group are generally anti-communist and skeptical of big government, it’s not uniformly conservative. As stated above, those who are more religious and conservative tend to prefer candidates like Ted Cruz. Those who generally aren’t religious nor politically active feel inclined to support Trump. And a good chunk of Soviet émigrés, especially those who had black market dealings or were part of academia, vote Democrat. Several interviewees lamented their children succumbing to “brainwashing” from American higher education–an alarming trend that immigrant children are becoming more removed from their parents’ experiences behind the Iron Curtain. While this voting bloc isn’t uniform, they generally pull the leaver for Republicans given their past experiences in the Old Country.

Soviet refugees (and their children) dislike big government statists and crony capitalists equally

Both big government and crony capitalist entities thrive off of government to survive and exist at the expense of taxpayers–but through slightly different means. The former wants the destruction of free enterprise, while the other system seeks to exploit free enterprise through government means. Bernie Sanders is an avowed student of Eugene V. Debs, a 20th-century era politician who ran for president under the Communist Party banner. Hillary Clinton is an avowed Alinskyite. Alternatively, “anti-establishment” American oligarch Donald Trump has been funding Democrats for 40 years, employs mob tactics, and doesn’t have one genuine once of conservatism in him. All three candidates have left a bad taste in Soviet refugees’ mouths (and millions of other mouths), politically-speaking.

Conrad Mazeika, 32, is a realtor based out of Orange County, California, who is skeptical about the Democrat candidates and Donald Trump. His family fled Soviet-occupied Lithuania prior to the USSR’s collapse. His great-grandfather Mykolas Biržiška signed onto Lithuania’s first Declaration of Independence on February 16, 1918.

“”Vienas velnias joja kitas velnias vairuoja” which translates to one devil comes in by horse and other devil comes in by car. This was in reference to the Nazi and Soviet political propaganda during World War II,” said Mazeika. “Lithuanians knew the game of both Socialists and Communists.”

Given his family history, he supports and plans to vote for Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) in California’s June 7th primary.

Washington, D.C. area resident and Russian-Jewish immigrant Lena Kirochko-Murray came to the U.S. with her parents from St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1989 at the age of 19. She founded an art school in New York City in 2001 called Bridgeview School of Fine Arts, which is primarily led by other Soviet immigrants from Georgia, Armenia, Ukraine, Russia, and Estonia. She, too, expressed doubt in all three candidates.

“I agree we have problems, but I do not agree with Bernie’s or Hillary’s solutions, which is more government and even more federal government,” Kirochko-Murray said. “Until recently, we had a choice of moving around if you liked hippie Vermont or conservative Texas. The federal government is determined to take away that diversity by imposing the same thing on every single state. I am for limited federal government, whose primary goal is to protect me, a U.S. citizen, from foreign attacks. Everything else should be left to the states.”
Kirochko-Murray also expressed doubt in Trump because of his mobster ties and similarities to Russian oligarch Vladimir Putin.
“My main problem with Trump is his attack on freedom of speech by threatening libel suits,” she said. “I also have my suspicions about Trump’s omnivorous connections, like his ties with Brighton mafia businessmen. Actually, similar to Hillary Clinton, only she does it in politics, and he does it in business.”
George Barros is an American of immediate Ukrainian descent who is also skeptical of the Democrats and Trump. He previously worked on Capitol Hill for a Republican congressman who served on the House Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats.
“I strongly dislike both Trump and Sanders because they both, in many respects, encompass everything that was wrong with the USSR,” he said.
Barros added, “Sanders has fully embraced Soviet agitprop-style class warfare, cultural Marxism, and critical theory propaganda in his campaign methodology and rhetoric. In other words, instead of building bridges between the different echelons in American society, Sanders promotes instability by fueling the flames of social tension by playing the Soviet-style blame game–in economic, gender, and racial issues.”
“Throughout his career Sanders has not left a single opportunity to use Soviet-style agitprop to rile “the proletariat” unexploited,” Barros said. “Sanders is overtly anti-Western and uses the very propaganda techniques perfected by the Kremlin to undermine the West. Sanders wants to destroy the perceived “moral injustices” stemming from American income inequality, just as the Vladimir Lenin and Stalin so desired to do in the USSR. Just like Stalin, Sanders wants to use intimidation and the application of violence to deprive private citizens of their rightfully earned private property.”
 “Deprivation of property rights and forced collectivization intentionally resulted with over 11 million Ukrainian deaths. Stalin did not respect property rights, and neither does Sanders. As a descendant of Holodmor survivors, it worries me greatly that Americans are becoming progressively more comfortable with sacrificing the rights of the individual for the perceived “greater good” of the collective,” he added
Barros also cautioned fellow conservatives to be skeptical of Trump by not falling for his “strong-man” ways.
“Trump is an authoritarian who loves communist and Russian-style authoritarianism. This is overtly obvious from Trump’s endearing comments about Vladimir Putin and the Chinese government’s show of “strength” in the Tiananmen Square Massacre,” Barros said.
“For those conservatives craving a Putin style leader, please keep in mind that Putin controls everything that the Russian people see on the television and on the internet, that Russia has more red tape and bureaucracy than the U.S. government could ever dream of, that Putin employs a large and highly armed special police force whose only task is to protect himself and his government from the people, that Putin’s government is by far and away the number one employer in Russia, and that Putin oversees a socialized medical system (a system which Trump has praised). Putin has long ago perfected the role of Big Brother. Putin may be the unapologetic ‘strong-man’ type that Trump supporters crave, but he is totally in opposition to conservative ideals. Trump in his statements, temperament, and character has given me no confidence that he will defend the principles of limited government. His praise of dictators and authoritarianism are deeply concerning.”
While the Atlantic attempted to paint a specific caricature of Soviet immigrant voting patterns well, it could have done so more effectively. This is not a monolithic group, though they are generally skeptical of big government and crony capitalism. My family greatly dislikes all three aforementioned candidates because they boast tyrannical tendencies too reminiscent of the policies that plagued their homeland. Many other Soviet immigrants share the same fears, as well.
As a result, American voters should look to those who escaped tyranny to better understand why Trump, Sanders, and even Clinton boast views that are antithetical to freedom.

Feeding the Castro Regime With Crony Capitalism Won’t Make Cuba Free

Although the Cuban Embargo has been lifted, those engulfed by the Tropical Mirage still don’t enjoy full-fledged freedom.

On Sunday, President Obama landed in the island nation to “repair” U.S.-Cuban relations. Unsurprisingly, the media are celebrating the occasion with their usual romanticization of communist countries as they did with the 2012 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

Obama’s visit is not only historic, it’s quite predictable. Given his past association with radical Marxist figures, a visit to Cuba should make him feel at home.

In response to this, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) offered scathing words for those partying it up in Cuba whilst ignoring the plight of dissidents:

Meanwhile, political prisoners languishing in dungeons across the island will hear this message: Nobody has your back. You’re alone with your tormentors. The world has forgotten about you.

They will not be on TV, rubbing elbows with the Obamas or left-wing politicians like Nancy Pelosi. There will be no mojitos at the U.S. Embassy for them. Raul Castro denies their very existence.

Cruz, who boasts half-Cuban ancestry, offered these words at a campaign stop in Arizona yesterday:

“For decades, leftists and Hollywood liberals have made the pilgrimage to Cuba to pay homage to Fidel Castro and Raúl Castro,” Cruz said. “It’s very chic, it’s very chichi for leftists to celebrate vicious communist dictators.”

“I cannot wait as president to visit Cuba,” he said. “But when I visit Cuba, it will be a free Cuba. It will be a Cuba without Raúl Castro, without Fidel Castro. And I can’t wait to celebrate with the people of Cuba 90 miles off America’s shore.”

Politicians of immediate Cuban descent from both parties have denounced Obama’s trip to Cuba, as well.
During a joint press conference with President Obama yesterday, Raul Castro chastised the U.S. for holding Guantanamo Bay hostage and for denying our citizens “free” education and healthcare. Castro also denied imprisoning Cuban citizens:

Let’s put Cuba into perspective, shall we?

According to Heritage Foundation’s 2016 Index of Economic Freedom, Cuba ranks 177 out of  178 countries examined. Here’s what has happened in the island nation since December 2014:

Much-touted “free-market reforms” have largely involved only cosmetic changes. The rule of law remains subject to political influence and the overriding interests of the Communist Party. The judiciary’s autonomy is severely impeded by the centralization of power in the one-party state.

After Obama’s arrival in Cuba, nearly 200 dissidents – including members of the anti-Castro group Ladies in White (Damas en Blanco) – were arrested for protesting the Castro regime.

Prominent Cuban dissident Armando Valladares, who spent 22 years as a political prisoner in Cuba for refusing to pledge allegiance to Castrosuggested Obama’s visit “provides an endless trove of propaganda material that helps lend legitimacy to the Castro regime, whose agenda of late consists of courting big corporations desperately needed to boost a failed experiment in socialism on the one hand, and bulldozing house churches on the other.” Over 8,000 dissidents were arrested in 2015. (The new Cuba awfully reminds of the old one, no?)

“Free” healthcare in Cuba is a result of government-run healthcare. In exchange for “free” healthcare, citizens are beholden to the state for their health needs. University of Oklahoma professor Katherine Hirschfield spent nine months in the late 1990’s examining Cuba’s healthcare system which she documented in her paper “Re-Examining the Cuban Health Care System: Towards a Qualitative Critique” (2007). Here are her findings:

There is no right to privacy in the physician-patient relationship in Cuba, no patients’ right of informed consent, no right to refuse treatment, and no right to protest or sue for malpractice. As a result, medical care in Cuba has the potential to be intensely dehumanizing.

Are food and water readily accessible to Cubans?  Food rationing still dominates the landscape.

Despite the hardships Cubans face, some individuals don’t mind the status quo. “The Wonder List with Bill Weir” on CNN broadcasted an episode on Cuba Sunday confirming this. Several Cubans featured demonstrably sipped the commie Kool-Aid. One individual, rapper and musician Daya Suarez, told Weir she feared capitalism because the availability of private property will make Cuba less safe as autonomous individuals will desire guns, she claimed before. Another individual, an urban developer, said the influx of American dollars won’t convince Cubans to implement free market reforms. Several other interviewees dismissed the liberalization of Cuba’s collectivist policies because they fear it will lead to “extravagance” on the island.

Given ambivalence towards the Castro regime by some Cubans and the continuation of totalitarian policies, why should our tourism dollars fund this? Like big government policies, crony capitalism won’t pivot Cuba toward freedom.

What’s Cuba to do? Cuba should take a page from my ancestral homeland Lithuania. Like Cuba, my ancestral homeland was heavily influenced by the Soviet Union because the Kremlin illegally occupied it in 1939. My parents recall being forced to sing  “Cuba Lyuba” (Cuba, My Love) to show solidarity with the USSR’s beloved Caribbean sister. (They obviously hated it.) Like Cuba, Lithuania also endured food rationing, universal healthcare, a police state, state-controlled industries, and non-existent freedoms for many decades. Things changed on August 23, 1989, when freedom presented itself once again with the Baltic Way. This demonstration helped propel the Berlin Wall Fall shortly after. On March 11, 1990, Lithuania formally broke away from the former USSR–making it the first occupied country to do so. Today, Lithuania enjoys relative freedom and is the 13th most economically prosperous country in the world. If Lithuania was able to declare its independence from totalitarianism, Cuba is certainly capable of rejecting it too.

Americans should look forward to the day Cuba achieves her independence. Communism was unacceptable in the 20th century and should remain unacceptable today. Freedom, however, isn’t achieved by feeding into or giving legitimacy to the Castro regime; freedom in Cuba will be achieved when those facing oppression successfully topple their oppressors, declare their independence, and wholly reject collectivism.


Ex-Soviet Citizen Garry Kasparov Schools Bernie Sanders on Socialism

Americans who are most receptive to socialism are those who have yet to experience it firsthand. Such is the case with socialist U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and many Democrats today.

The Democrat presidential candidate isn’t shy about his support for wealth redistribution or  a 90 percent income tax rate to make society more “equitable.” In fact, his affinity for collectivist policies only grew after honeymooning in the so-called workers paradise, the now-defunct Soviet Union.

Why does a washed-out Bolshevik septuagenarian have widespread appeal among young leftists? Like his comrades in academia and the media, Sanders has cast a magical socialist spell on Millennials with “cool” promises of free college tuition, cradle-to-grave dependency, student loan forgiveness, and unicorns-for-all.

Heaven forbid someone who lived behind the Iron Curtain and later fled it educate Comrade Sanders and his supporters about the grim realities of big government policies!

Thankfully, one outspoken survivor of Soviet communism – Garry Kasparov- is bold enough to challenge Sanders’ rallying cry for socialism in America. The former world chess champion and freedom activist took it to his Facebook page to address the problem with socialism–which then prompted a massive firestorm on social media shortly after:

In a follow up to his viral Facebook post, Mr. Kasparov elaborated on the harsh realities of socialism he endured and saw firsthand in the Soviet Union in The Daily Beast yesterday:

A society that relies too heavily on redistributing wealth eventually runs out of wealth to redistribute. The historical record is clear. It’s capitalism that brought billions of people out of poverty in the 20th century. It’s socialism that enslaved them and impoverished them. Of course Senator Sanders does not want to turn America into a totalitarian state like the one I grew up in. But it’s a valuable example of the inevitable failure of a state-run economy and distribution system.

Kasparov is absolutely correct in his analysis of socialism’s deleterious effects. As the late Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher once said, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”

Much to the dismay of Sanders and his supporters, socialism touts “equality”– the equitable sharing of misery, not equal opportunities. (I would know–my family escaped Soviet-occupied Lithuania 30 years ago.) Except for the elites comprising the Soviet politburo, the majority of people who endured collectivism in the former USSR were subjected to low incomes or worse–poverty, gulag imprisonment, or death. Private property was seized by the state. Competition was crushed. Food shortages defined the landscape. (It’s a fact: life behind the Iron Curtain wasn’t rosy or fun.) That’s why free enterprise, Kasparov argues, is the perfect antidote to the abject poverty produced in collectivist societies–and he’s right. Free enterprise is the greatest anti-poverty program ever created–benefitting millions like my parents who came to the United States in search of greater freedom and greater opportunities.

Kasparov then explained the Soviet Union ultimately failed because it couldn’t effectively compete with American free enterprise:

Yes, the free market can be cruel and it is by definition unequal. It has winners and losers. It also sparks the spirit of creativity that humanity desperately needs to flourish in our ever-increasing billions. Failure is an essential part of innovation and the free market. Of every 10 new companies, perhaps nine will fail in brutal Darwinian competition. A centrally-planned economy cannot imitate this engine of creative destruction because you cannot plan for failure. You cannot predestine which two college dropouts in a garage will produce the next Apple.

Mr. Kasparov prefers free enterprise to a centrally-planned economy because the latter utterly failed and led to ruin in his former homeland. Sure, the Soviet Union may have had some great gymnasts, cosmonauts, and vodka distillers–but they pale in comparison to America’s countless innovators. The Soviet Union never could have produced the iPhone, Uber, or Starbucks; only America has bred an environment that invites creativity, ingenuity, and individual success to flourish.

Sanders supporters cling to their safe spaces, echo chambers, and trigger warnings to avoid the realization that socialism, when implemented and tried, fails. It’s troubling they dismiss Garry Kasparov’s telling account of life behind the Iron Curtain.

Over 100 million people died at the hands of totalitarian and collectivist regimes in Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America in the 20th century. The false notion of “equality” found in these societies ultimately divided people, permitted crimes against humanity, and resulted in misery–all in the name of socialism.

No, socialism doesn’t need to be retried or “perfected” once again in a place–let alone here in the United States. It should be rejected and permanently thrown into the dustbin of history.