Russian-Americans give Bob Turner his margin of victory

Russian-Americans give Bob Turner his margin of victory

By: Arkady Fridman & Ilya Galak, Citizens Magazine

Bob Turner on Brighton beach. Photo Ilya Galak

On September 13, 2011 history was made in Brooklyn. For the first time since 1923, a Republican won the southern congressional district known as NY-9, formerly represented by Anthony Weiner and prior to that Chuck Schumer. Much of the talk has been about the momentous switch of the Orthodox Jewish community to the Republican party, but there is another group whose move to the right has largely been ignored.

Bob Turner won the Russian-American vote by 9,000 votes, almost double his margin of victory. Without this vote, he would have lost both Queens and Brooklyn, and this would have been a much happier day for President Barack Obama and the Democrats. This comes on the heel of the Russian-American community giving the margin of victory to Congressman Michael Grimm in 2010. In both elections, without the Russian-American vote, the Republican would have lost by a significant margin.

Soviet émigrés have been steadily trending Republican as they established themselves in the United States and joining the middle class. But for many Russian Jews, who make up a large majority of the Russian-speaking community, it was Obama’s anti-Israel stance that was the final straw. Nearly 9 out of 10 Russian Jews have close relatives in Israel and proud Zionism is the norm. Seeing the President attack the Jewish state, and even walking out of a meeting with its Prime Minister, did not sit well with them.

Then they examined his policies. The President believes that poor can only be helped by the government and cannot move up to the middle class. But when Russian-Americans came to the United States they too were poor and within one generation became solidly middle class. They saw in themselves as proof that Obama and other liberals are wrong. Obama wanted change. But this community chose to come to the United States because they liked what it stood for, not because they wanted to see it “changed” to look more like the place they left. The hard liberalism of Barack Obama reminded them too much of the system they had hoped to leave behind when they came to America. Government control? Fighting and demonizing the successful and the businessmen? No, that’s not what these people came here for.

Some, however, say there may be another reason why Russian immigrants are now Republican.

“A lot of people say that Russian-Americans are voting Republican because they know Marxism is a failure,” said attorney David Storobin. “There is truth to it, but I think there’s a bigger issue, and it is patriotism.”

“As a child in the Soviet Union in the 1980s, I remember my family listening to American radio broadcasts into the Soviet Union. I was told that Americans will tell the truth and that Soviet news is just propaganda. For my family and for many others, Reagan became a hero when he said what we all knew and called the Soviet Union ‘The Evil Empire’ and the United States ‘The Shining City on a Hill.'”

“And then coming to this country, we really got more than what we ever hoped to get,” continued Mr. Storobin. “Twenty years ago when I first arrived in New York, I never even dreamed that some day I would start my own business. To this day, it still gives me chills to think about how much my life was turned around by this country welcoming me here. The US may have flaws, but there’s a reason everyone wants to come here and nobody wants to leave. This is the greatest country in the world, and until liberals realize that, until they stop excusing every attack by foreigners on America, they will not get my vote and they will not get the vote of my friends and family.”

But whatever the reason may be, Bob Turner won the Russian-American community with up to 90% of the vote. Today many can finally say, “we are Americans, we are patriots and we made history!”

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