I have grown weary of the broken record that is post-election analysis, with opinions ranging from the Republicans’ “ideology problem” to the more common “messaging failure” hypotheses. We have all heard the national debates surrounding the Republican Party’s failures, and the common thread is hard to ignore: it appears to some that conservatives are too hostile to women, immigrants, and young people – or just incapable of effectively reaching out to them. I’d like to challenge either notion by introducing myself as a young woman from an immigrant family – and a dedicated conservative. To those who insist that the above descriptors are mutually exclusive, I submit to you my perspective on the importance of conservatism, particularly for immigrants.
After countless dead-end debates with liberals who respond to factual data by feigning indignation (it’s not fair!), I have come to the conclusion that the closest we may ever get to determining right versus wrong is by listening to the immigrant who has willingly chosen to give up the homeland and become an American. These immigrants pay steep filing fees, wait for months or years at a time, and take all the tedious and often frustrating steps in order to legally lay down their roots in the United States. These are the people who embrace the difficulties of the immigration process because they believe in American exceptionalism and trust that suffering and sacrifice will lead them to the very dream that too many native-born Americans take for granted. We would be naïve not to consider their experiences.
A quick look at trends in voting and partisanship brings to light a very important contrast: Cuban-Americans, Vietnamese-Americans, and immigrants from the former Soviet Union, including Russian Jews, are just a few of the ethnic groups that overwhelmingly favor Republican candidates, while during the last election President Obama was endorsed by Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, the daughter of Cuba’s President Raul Castro, and Russia’s Vladimir Putin. The same dictators that expressed such a strong preference also drove away the immigrants that are now telling America what not to do. The real challenge for the Republican Party is to make the low-information masses actually listen to the message.
Some of the most ardent supporters of socialism that I have ever met are young American college students whose experience with this topic is largely based on a general feeling that subversive ideologies are sexy. Immigrants could explain to these idealists that increased tax revenues are not actually used for the good of the people, but instead pay Joe Biden’s European hotel tabs and Michelle Obama’s lavish vacations. To diverge from this vague ideological fixation, allow me to present the example of my parents, who lived under socialism in the former Soviet Union and can tell you about the miserable routine of standing in long lines for a loaf of bread or entering a supermarket and seeing nothing but rows of empty shelves. We can all agree that a system in which people need special connections to obtain products as simple as toilet paper is not a system within which anyone wants to live. Socialized medicine, you say? My parents can tell you about the long wait times and the apathetic doctors who had little interest in helping anyone because of the lack of private market incentives that might have otherwise led to better quality of care. Perhaps you’d like to know that the only efficient way to receive medical care in this kind of system was by paying bribes directly to the doctors, which literally meant slipping money into their pockets. The corruption extended to all parts of society, as underpaid workers stole from government-owned factories and warehouses and then sold those products on the black market. Corruption corroded entrepreneurial souls who were forced to work in a shadow economy. As society crumbled and rotted, so did the infrastructure.
I was born in Armenia just before the collapse of the Soviet Union, a time we refer to as the “dark years” due to devastating shortages of electricity and resources. The newly independent republics of the former Soviet Union were poor, corrupt and many have remained that way decades later. As stated in the New York Times article linked above, “One reason these voters tend to support Republicans is that they see them as more ardent warriors against the kind of big-government, business-stifling programs that soured their lives in the Soviet Union.” Since anticommunist sentiment and distaste for tyranny is a defining feature in the voting patterns of these immigrants – especially since the Democrats’ policies are paving the way for the creeping dangers of socialism – conservative outlets would be wise to pass the microphone to these patriots. There is no greater solution to the Republicans’ messaging problem than to let America’s freedom-loving immigrants take on the responsibility of sounding the warning bells and spreading the message.
Let me be perfectly clear.
The only way that our enemies can truly destroy America is by building socialism on our shores. To preserve our nation, we must learn from the exceptional ‘Americans by choice’ who courageously crossed oceans to help our shining city shine brighter.