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Opinion: NY-9 Outcome Should tell Republicans to Target Russian-Americans

Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - 12:56 PM

My mom is a Republican poll worker in Brooklyn.

She worked yesterday but not in the contentiously battled district of NY-9. She spent all day fending off pissed-off Russians who wanted to vote for Turner, accused poll workers of voter fraud because Turner wasn't on the ballot and threatened to call their lawyers over this miscarriage of justice.

She had to explain again and again that Turner wasn't running in their district. She explained over and over that she wasn't trying to deny them the right to vote for the Republican, that she is a Republican, that she'd love to provide them with the opportunity to vote for Turner but couldn't.

"Shto tibye zhalka?" they asked (translated, essentially, as: How does it hurt you to let us vote for our guy) so she ended up handing out ballots where people crossed out the candidates running and wrote in Turner. Russians, you can't stop 'em.

I don't know what turned the tide so strongly toward Turner and against Weprin. Maybe it was Israel. Maybe it was gay marriage. Maybe it was, as a friend of mine in NY-9 pointed out, that Weprin is a buffoon.

But I will say that it's truly impressive how the Turner side energized people and pulled off this election. Russians are apathetic voters, at best, and that they were so motivated to vote for Turner is amazing.

Republicans in Brooklyn would be smart to capitalize on this. Russians in America are natural conservatives. They lived under Communism, they've seen liberalism taken to its natural conclusion. There has been very little outreach from the Republican party to the Russian community in Brooklyn. Yesterday should change that.

Born in the Soviet Union and raised in Brooklyn, Karol Markowicz is a public relations consultant in NYC and a veteran of Republican campaigns in four states. She blogs about politics at Alarming News and about life in the city with her husband and baby at 212 BabyShe can be followed on Twitter.

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Comments [17]

Marcello from Brooklyn

To a.b.
I don't even know why I even bother to respond...
1) Although you make it sound as I did, I have never said the words that you place in quotation marks about Russians who benefit from distribution and are against socialism (in fact I don't think that social benefits are the same thing as Socialism). What I said on this issue, is that if you make a statement claiming that Russians use more social benefits than other groups, you need to include some evidence.
2) The examples of a woman who has been raped and cannot enjoy sex after that or of a former alcoholic who cannot enjoy the pleasure of a glass of wine, were meant to point out that Russians have experienced the extreme condition of a state-sponsored dictatorship and therefore, now they have a complete refusal of the role of the state having jumped from one extreme to another. If you have a deep personal history with something, chances are that you don't have an impartial , objective view of that something. For example, if your child has been murdered, chances are that you are not going to be a member of the jury at the trial because you don't have an impartial, distant and objective perspective on the murder.
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Sep. 30 2011 10:20 AM
Marcello from Brooklyn

3) I have no idea what you mean wth your example of the Civil War. I am not for forcing anything on anybody. I am for the democratic process where individuals present ideas on how to make society function and the people express their preferences through voting. But first of all, if you think that you can run a country in the 21st century through charity, you are even more delusional than you sound. Second, a democratic process involves a very crucial factor which is clear and honest information: you can have everybody to go to vote and you call that “democracy” but if nobody knows or understands what the hell is going on around them, it is not a “democracy”.
So if Republicans want to make sure that they concentrate even more wealth in the hands of rich people (who pay them to do exactly that), all they have to do is to go on tv and explain that they want to give a tax cut to everybody, because “people know better what to do with their money”. Who doesn't like a tax cut? But because the tax system is progressive, while the rich will get back thousands of dollars in rebates, middle class people would only get a few hundreds that make no difference in their life. And that is ok. But, in the meantime, now that a tax revenue has been cut, some public service that the middle class person used and valued (let's say the tuition discount for a public university...), is not available anymore and that same person has to pay more to send his kid to college offsetting the tax credit he got. The rich person doesn't care, since they can afford to send their kids to a Ivy League school.
So you see, I am all for letting people to decide whether or not to get a tax cut but I am also for putting the cards on the table in a clear and honest way and explaining what the consequences are for different social groups.
Do you want to privatize Social Security? Fine!! Let's have people to decide on it but let's also explain to the retirees of Florida that if you put your life savings in private accounts you can loose them all as it would have happened if Bush had his way before the collapse of 2008-09.
I am all for being free to choose how to live our life.
What I cannot stand is when somebody pisses on my head and then tells me that is raining.

Sep. 30 2011 10:17 AM
a.b.

To Marcello from Brooklyn:

"Or like a rape-victim who is incapable of enjoying sex ever again."

Here is the deal. The difference between sex and rape is FORCE. Same as between charity and government-run social program. Former is voluntary and good. Latter is forced.

Socialism is build on the premise that it is ok to FORCE people to do something if this something is "for the good of society".

This is exactly same ideology that liberals espouse. The difference between you and commies from the USSR is not "between sex and rape", - but between "rape at the gunpoint, and rape with the threat of a beating".

Now, onto RussianAmerican, - and his "it is so ironic when people who benefit from socialist distribution are against socialism..." theme.

Before the Civil War in the US there was a debate about slavery. One of the favorite argument of the slave-owners was "our slaves are better fed and clothed than so called- free workers in the North! Our slaves WANT to be enslaved!"

Funny, how you repeat the very same argument.

Sep. 25 2011 09:53 PM
Marcello from Brooklyn

"Guaranteed rations?".....
What??!!......
My God!....
Well, obviously, stupidity has no border but the Repubblican Party seems to be the irresistible magnet that catches them all. Americans, Russians, Chinese, it doesn't matter...
As long as they are dumb

Sep. 25 2011 12:56 PM
a.b.

People who left the USSR behind all agree that the Communist Party and Soviet Government were cruel masters.

But than there is a split, because some of us came here hoping to be free. And others same in search of a good and caring master.

Of course, the second type, like "RussianAmerican" above - they are surprised when others vote Republican. It is incomprehensible to them - hey, Democrats are GOOD masters! What's wrong with you people? Don't you want to have guaranteed rations? What else may you want?!

Sep. 25 2011 11:56 AM
Marcello from Brooklyn

Thank you very much to TE and Vinny (Vinny?...Really?..) for these two gems!...Two really intelligent comments that seem to be made specifically to demonstrate my two previous posts.
So... here is what I would like to ask Karol Marcowitz: Vinny here, is telling us that one reason for the way the election went is the “recent alliances of the Democratic Party with Islamists and their various terrorist front groups”. Would you like to comment on that Karol?... I would really love to hear what you have to say about this enlightened piece of wisdom! I am asking because I do think that you are, at least, smarter than that!... The question is do you have the spine to come back to the forum and tell your fellow Republican that is time to get back to planet Earth? Maybe you could start by asking Vinny where is the evidence for his “scoop”?...
How is that ?...

Then we have TE who tells us:
1 – That the term “Russians” indicates various ethnic groups. (Ok!....)
2 – That Russians in America are doing really well (“creating businesses...earning large salaries”...). Well, Great!...But had anyone in this forum claimed otherwise?
He also tells us that Russian-Americans are “graduating Ivy League” unlike some mysterious “community organizer”. Obviously, the mysterious community organizer was also the president of the Harvard Law Review so here, in perfect conservative styly, the link with reality start to slip.

And how to forget Lena who laments Obama's tendency to “spread the wealth” at a time when social inequality in the States is at a peak not seen since the 20's with the top 20% of the population owning 86% of all the assets? Here, take a look at this:
http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2011/03/21/rising-wealth-inequality-should-we-care/living-beyond-your-means-when-youre-not-rich
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Sep. 18 2011 10:33 AM
Marcello from Brooklyn

But what Vinny, TE and Marcowitz all have in common is one thing: they all believe that Socialism as they experienced is “liberalism taken to its extreme conclusions”.
It is very sad to see people from Russia showing the very same kind of ignorance typical of Americans. Especially given the fact they had to suffer because of it for so long you would think they would be able to make some distinction. So let me make it clear: Western Capitalism is the best socio-political and economic system ever tried by humans. No doubt about that. But the state has to play a role to insure that no social group abuses their position of strength like the rich and corporations tend to do here in the States with the complicity of Republicans. Russians have suffered at the ends of Socialism but to have affordable health care or access to education like in the rest of the developed world, IS NOT SOCIALISM !!!.. Do you get it??!!
There are degrees of reality! To drink a glass of water is not the same as to drown. To drink a glass of wine does not mean you are an alcoholic. To reject the kind of Socialism (the dictatorship of the many) that has oppressed Russians for so many years does not mean that you have to jump to the other extreme and embrace the latent fascism (the dictatorship of the few) that this Republican Party is trying to put forward.
You have been living with propaganda lies for years! Is it possible that you now fall for the opposite kind of lies and manipulation? Wake Up!!!...

Sep. 18 2011 10:32 AM
Lena from Brooklyn, NY

There are Russian-American that use program, as was said, but at the same time the memory of what they run from still fresh. They and myself are victims of "spreading the wealth" and other popular parts of Obama agenda. Also they are smart enough to see what is going on with these programs since Obama came to the office. Happy that Davidzon Radio was mentioned, since it did play an important role in organizing Russian votes and educating Russians on election process. It is time for political machine to consider the importance of Russian votes and pay more attention to Russian-speaking community. Congrats to Republicans and Davidzon Radio!!!

Sep. 17 2011 10:03 AM
Vinny from Brooklyn

As a Republican and a Russian-American, I wish to share with the readers of this blog my personal experience during this special election in NY district 9. We are not idiots and when someone offers us a gift we'll take it. Whether this happens to be a rent controlled apartment or Medicaid benefits. We also understand that socialism and communism are societal evils and will vote with both our brains and our hearts. The Democratic party's recent alliances with Islamists and their various terrorist front groups have also played a role in this election. There are probably somewhere around 1/2 - 1 million of like minded Russian Americans in NYC. We'll have a repeat performance during the general elections of 2012 and NY may well go to the Republican candidate for POTUS. Personally, I am very proud of how Brooklyn voted during this special election.

Sep. 17 2011 03:51 AM
TE from Brooklyn

No, "Russian-American", we are not voting against our economic interest when we vote Republican.
We do that because we have seen, experienced, RAN FROM the results of the socialist system, the one Dems are so eager to impose on us. Socialist system that was done much more professionally and consistently, btw (oh my, the libs are incompetent even in that...)

Besides, saying we are as an ethnic group are bigger recipients of the government handouts than native-born Americans is a quite simply <b>libel</b>.
1st, a technical objection: Russian-speaking Americans are not members of ONE ethnic group. Not all of us are Slavs - and in NY most of us are Jews by genetic composition (if not by religion) Yes, I know it is a difficult concept to swallow for an American - but you call yourself Russian-American, so this must be clear to you. There are also Ukrainians, Georgians, Armenians etc etc etc - all calling ZRussian their native language.
2nd, if you are a Russian-American, you should be aware that we are the most upward immigrant group, socially and economically, Chinese have nothing on us. We earn large salaries and create businesses - because we work like crazy. Our children graduate Ivy League - on merit, unlike some community organizers I might name. And we never get AA privileges and never claim ourselves to victims, although we have been through so much injustice and persecution in our lived, the current "minorities" can only read about that in books.
Most of the Russian-American recipients of government programs are elderly or disabled - just like members of all other immigrant groups.
Don't you dare.

Sep. 16 2011 07:28 PM
Marcello from Brooklyn

Oh!!...How quaint!!... Karol Marcowitz wants the see the numbers!!...
Prompted by Stan LS, all of a sudden Markowitz seems to agree with him that the assertion that Russian-Americans use more social services than other groups needs to be backed up by some statistics to corroborate the statement.
Of course it does!! Almost anything that a serious “analyst” says or writes needs to be corroborated, a detail that Markowitz seems to forget most of the times except in those circumstances, like this one, when it may be self-serving.
In a few of her previous posts however, I invited her to do the very same thing but, at the time, the concept was not clear to her!...
She mentioned, for example, that the Arab spring was a direct consequence of Bush's decision to invade Iraq so, when I finally stopped laughing and got up from the floor, I asked her to show the basis of her statement. Needless to say, I am still waiting.
Even the very concept of “burden of proof” though is, in her mind, a “fluid” and “adaptable” thing. In this case she wants to see the evidence of RussianAmerican statement. But when it comes to things like global warming or (for most of her party...) evolution, then even the massive body of scientific work accumulated over the past decades simply would not do!...
And that brings us to the fact that, in my opinion, what defines a conservative, more than anything else, is not so much theirs stands on issues like abortion or taxes but the very way they are psychologically hard-wired. Their ability to constantly re-organize their interpretation of reality in order to make it fit their preconceptions.
(Continues Below)

Sep. 16 2011 11:39 AM
Marcello from Brooklyn

As for the Russians, I personally know many of them and the vast majority is conservative. Having lived through the horrors of communist dictatorship they are ideologically scarred so, now that they have arrived in America, most of them jump to the opposite extreme of the political spectrum just like a person who has been an alcoholic all his life, when stops drinking altogether is incapable of appreciating the pleasure of a glass of wine with dinner. Or like a rape-victim who is incapable of enjoying sex ever again.
Just like Markowitz, many of them may identify the communist regime they endured as “liberalism taken to its extreme conclusion”.
I think it's unbelievable that somebody could make such an absurd and ignorant statement in public and continue to write in a forum. For the sake of corroboration, I would invite you to go and take a look at international statistics like those of the Legatum Insitute of London (where, by the way, housing is really expensive even without rent control...) or the World Health Organization and see how many Western European countries that champion the degree of liberalism that you abhor, are at the top of the health and prosperity statistics often several positions in front of the United States.
So to Markowitz and to all the Russians who share her views, I woudl say that the first rule of democracy, now that you can enjoy it, is to learn and understand the reality that surrounds us so that when we are called to pronounce ourselves on it, we can make informed decisions and hopefully show up in the same voting district where our candidate is running.

Sep. 16 2011 11:38 AM

I have a large number of Russian American relatives, friends, and aquaintances. Amongst the first generation imigrants it is very common to find strong affiliation to all the positions held by FOX News. And just as there are few facts distributed by that organization, there are equally few facts stated by the people in this group that I've tried to engage in a discussion. They seem to regard it as a given that everyone is trying to steal their money and that the rich are always right.

Sep. 16 2011 11:33 AM
Karol from NYC

RussianAmerican, I agree with Stan that I think your evidence that Russians use services "more" than other people might be anecdotal (and I also dispute that Social Security is a service, it's a system you pay into yourself and cross your fingers will be around when you need it). But I know what you mean, everyone has a great-uncle Syoma that is scheming on Medicaid, but just because you don't know people in other immigrant (or natural American) communities doing the same doesn't mean they aren't. Would love to see some numbers on this.

But anyway, I don't see how it's voting against their economic self- interest to take advantage of available programs (ie: free money) and also vote Republican. For one thing, Russians spent 80 years maneuvering the system under Communism. If there's a hole in it, and there always is when the government is running the show, they'll find it. That's a good reason to be Republican, taking money away from the government and letting people keep more of what they make so it isn't redistributed through programs they know to be porous and corrupt. But secondly, I vote Republican and, for example, I think rent control is responsible for the ridiculous housing prices in NY. If we let the free market decide apt prices, they'd go down because there would be more supply without the rent control. But I would DEFINITELY accept my rent controlled apartment any day of the week. I'm no idiot. If we have a ridiculous system that isn't going anywhere despite my opposition, why *wouldn't* I take advantage of it? Mia Farrow has a rent-controlled apt but I shouldn't? Lunacy!

Finally, it's weird that you see Russians as some sort of sheep who vote for whom the radio tells them to. By that logic the next elections in the Russian areas will be won by who does the biggest ad buys on this radio station, right? We'll see if that really works out.

Sep. 15 2011 09:44 AM
Stan LS from Brooklyn, NY

RussianAmerican, "... more than even native born Americans..." - is that the case now? What are the stats? Surely you are not just making this up and have the numbers to back that assertion up.

Sep. 15 2011 12:01 AM
RussianAmerican

Yes, many Russians voted for Turner. It should be noted, however, that there was a large ad campaign on Russian radio (620 am), spurring many voters to head to the polls. So, the GOP is, in fact, reaching out to the Russian community.

I also find it ironic that many Russians are Republicans since they, as a group, and more than even native born Americans, enjoy the fruits of Democratic programs (medicaid, Social Security, etc). But there they go, voting against their economic self interest. just because they heard it on the radio.

Sep. 14 2011 07:13 PM
tracy from manhattan

verrrry interesting...

Sep. 14 2011 03:39 PM

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