Why are so many Russian Jews Republicans?

by on April 22, 2011 at 3:34 pm in Political Science, Religion | Permalink

I wouldn’t exactly describe my family this way, but here are some data (do read the whole article):

The most recent data, from the 2004 election, show that Russian Jews preferred Bush to Kerry by a margin of 3 to 1. Israel, national security, and the economy topped the list of concerns among Russian Jews, but there was also a cultural component to their preference; they were among the so-called Values Voters who voted Republican based on cultural wedge issues. A month before the election, 81 percent of Russian Jews supported a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages—nearly the inverse number of Jews nationally. They also expressed heavy opposition to affirmative action and showed less support for on-demand abortion, according to numbers compiled by the Research Institute for New Americans, which tracks the Russian-speaking community.

And here is more evidence.  Why might this be?  The stronger record of Republicans, in particular Reagan, as anti-communists is one obvious reason, but that doesn’t explain the broader conservative tendency.  The Russian Jews are not anti-gay marriage because the U.S. Republicans are.  The more hawkish stance of Republicans on Israel is another reason, but again that doesn’t seem to explain why the connection is such a fundamental one.  It doesn’t sound as if these Russian Jews are yearning to become Democrats, if only for the Israel issue.

I would suggest that many Russian Jews, compared to American Jews, are much less hesitant to affiliate with the American brand of Christianity found in the Republican Party.  Related strains of thought have been prevalent in Russia for a long time, yet for a long while their Christian nature was covered up by communist rule.  Furthermore attachment to Israel, rather than a lifelong felt contrast with American Christians, or strict Judaic observance, is the source of Jewish identity for many Russian Jews.  So affiliation with a fairly Christian party is not jarring for the Russian Jews and indeed it may be welcomed, especially if it dovetails with pro-Israel attitudes. 

The implied prediction is that Russian Jews who assimilate more in American life, and who marry Americans, are less likely to be Republicans.

I found this part of the article interesting:

Theirs is no country-club Republicanism. Russian Jews in New York, the nation’s largest Russian-Jewish community, numbering 350,000, are largely under-employed; a majority earns less than $30,000. (These numbers do not reflect under-education. The average Russian Jewish immigrant has more higher education that his average American Jewish counterpart.)

On related questions, here is Ilya Somin.  Here is another opinion:

“Russians respect power,” says Gary Shteyngart, a novelist who emigrated to New York from Leningrad at age 7. “Many immigrants give lip service to democracy but in the end they want some patriarchal white guy to run things with a strong hand. Feelings of oppression that began within the anti-Semitic confines of the Soviet Union are turned from a defensive to an offensive stance under the false perception that the Democratic Party is indistinguishable from the Communist Party of the USSR.”

I thank Natasha, a loyal MR reader, for the pointer.

jc April 22, 2011 at 3:39 pm

ayn rand was a russian jew

Steven King April 22, 2011 at 3:40 pm

“Save Russian Jews, collect valuable prizes!”

Sorry, couldn’t resist.

Steve Sailer April 22, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Dear Tyler:

I think you need to make more clear what you mean by “Russian Jews.” You appear to be using a different definition than the Census Bureau traditionally uses.

Most Jews in America are Russian Jews, in that their ancestors lived under the Czar. Thus, when the Census Bureau asks about “nationality,” because the Census is allowed to use the word “Jewish,” we find that “Russians” are typically the most educated and highest earning European-origin population.

Steve Sailer April 22, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Excuse me, I should have written that the Census Bureau is _not_ allowed to accept the word “Jewish” as an ethnicity or nationality or religion. The Census Bureau makes no attempts to count Jews — Jewish organizations rallied in the 1950s against a Census Bureau proposal to put a religion question on the 1960 Census.

D April 23, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Russian Jews are Jews who immigrated from Russia. Jews whose ancestors immigrated from Russia are another story.

Similarly Irish immigrants used about people in the present day doesn’t refer to Americans of Irish ancestry from the 19th century.

anonygoat April 29, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Yeah, but Russian Jewish is an ethnicity that people actually give when asked. If you asked me my father’s ancestry, I would say Russian Jewish. This post could seriously confuse people.

Steve Sailer April 22, 2011 at 4:02 pm

I know a Ukrainian immigrant born with a typical multisyllabic Ukrainian name. Here in California, she had her name legally changed to “Sunny Reagan.”

I bet she votes Republican.

Steve Sailer April 22, 2011 at 4:10 pm

Tyler writes: “I would suggest that many Russian Jews, compared to American Jews, are much less hesitant to affiliate with the American brand of Christianity found in the Republican Party.”

Tyler is, thus, conversely saying that much of the politics of American-born Jews is driven by anti-Christianism.

I think the broader ethnic term “anti-gentilism” would also be useful in this discussion. As far as I can tell, however, the word “anti-gentilism” doesn’t actually exist. (Didn’t Orwell have something to say about the political utility of the non-existence of words?)

lnm April 22, 2011 at 6:57 pm

Speaking as an american Jew, many american Jews (myself included) are concerned by the religious nature of Republican Party — especially the Christian right, 15% of the electorate (according to wikipedia) with a seemingly disproportionate amount of control of the Republican party. Stuff like school prayer doesn’t sit well with us for good reason. I realize school prayer isn’t likely to get very far, but the noise the Christian right makes about its issues causes reasonable concern.

lnm April 22, 2011 at 7:05 pm

The uneven capitalization wasn’t intentional. Perhaps it says something; perhaps it doesn’t.

Steve Sailer April 22, 2011 at 7:54 pm

But, as the venerable quip from Milton Himmelfarb above suggests, American Jews tended to be on the left long before the “Christian right” emerged as a coherent entity in the 1980 election. (In 1976, for example, born-again Christians voted heavily for Jimmy Carter.)

The conventional wisdom tends to view American Jews as merely passive victims reacting to more dynamic, more influential forces, such as that of the Christian fundamentalists of the fly-over states. A more realistic view put forward by UC Berkeley historian Yuri Slezkine in “The Jewish Century” recognizes Jewish dynamism as more of a driving force in any plausible understanding of the contemporary world.

lnm April 23, 2011 at 12:08 am

That’s true, and while I can’t speak to the historical causes of American Jews being against the Republican party, I will reiterate that the Christian right is currently a leading cause. I realize that I don’t have hard data, but I’ve seen Republican members of my family vote Democrat for exactly this reason. (My family had a long republican streak. I have a picture of my great grandfather — who ran for congress as a Republican — with Eisenhower above my desk.) The fact of that matter is that it’s much harder for Jews to vote for the current crop of religious nutjobs than it was to vote for Ike, Nelson Rockefeller, etc. Why Jews generally didn’t vote for Ike and the like is another matter.

Steve Sailer April 23, 2011 at 2:25 am

But the GOP’s share of the Jewish vote has been low for eight decades.

The standard way of discussing Jewish behavior in public is to explain it as a mere response by a marginal, discriminated-against group, huddled in Manhattan and Beverly Hills, to the provocations of the dominant majority ensconced in Waco and Provo. But, I think it’s more plausible to infer that American Jews have some degree of agency.

lnm April 23, 2011 at 10:24 am

I’ll probably make this my last reply since it sounds like we’re both in repetition mode, but I am kind of curious to understand your claim.

Is it that American Jews are in no way reacting to Republican positions, but are leading the anti-Republicans (Democrats) in away that doesn’t react to Republicans? (Politics and life is all about reactions, so I’m confused about why you claim the anti-Republican position of most American Jews is not a reaction — I can’t imagine it being independent Republican positions, which have changed over time; is your claim that the Republican changes are solely in reaction to Democratic position changes but not vice versa?).

Is your claim that some single motive has been leading the majority of American Jews to be anti-Republican for the last 80 years? A string of motives? If so, what motive(s)? (You don’t seem to name a driving force, but only say that whatever the force is, it is not a reaction.)

Is part of the claim that American Jews may currently say their opposition to the Republican party is due to the Christian right, but in fact it is driven by some other (known? unknown? ulterior?) motive?

Since this may be my last word, I’ll go back in to repeat mode. I can’t make claims about all of the last eight decades (I doubt any single motive could last that long), but the Christian right has been making American Jews uncomfortable with the Republican party since the Christian right really got started two to three decades ago. That is a fact. Throwing around vague theories of “reaction” vs “agency” doesn’t change that. To state the obvious, this response to the Christian right is necessarily a reaction because the Christian right came before American Jews’ opposition to it. I am sure this opposition is not the only reason that more American Jews aren’t Republicans, but it’s ridiculous to claim that it’s not a reason.

anonygoat April 29, 2011 at 2:55 pm

You know, when the Jews identified with the left, the *left* was associated with radical Christianity.

sestamibi April 29, 2011 at 4:47 pm

I’m Jewish. Not only was I GOP county chairman in a semi-rural locale with few of us around, but my successor was Jewish too!

I have NEVER heard an evangelical Christian promise to send us to the ovens the way Muslims do, and I have no problem with the “religious nature” of the GOP, because I share their values–especially when it comes to pro-life issues.

Meanwhile, our embrace of all the latest fashions in feminism, gay marriage, intermarriage, etc. have resulted in significant Jewish shrinkage since we have allowed our women not to breed. There are about as many Jews in America as there were back in 1950–in a population almost twice as large. Keep it up libs.

How about you Inm, are you male or female? How many kids do YOU have?

D April 23, 2011 at 9:39 pm

Anti-Gentilism? You mean Mormon hostility toward non-Mormons?

The Republican party is not that much more Christian than the Democratic party. Both parties are best described as secular with some religious trimmings.

(Also Orwell had something to say about people obsessed with the Jews)

R J Fairbanks April 22, 2011 at 4:17 pm

No data on this handy, but Russian Jews, many “recently” immigrated, are reputedly a primary constituency of Israel’s most hawkish (re: policy about Arabs, expansion into West Bank, etc) political parties. So a similar effect may be in play there, too.

D April 23, 2011 at 9:42 pm

The Lieberman party trends towards hawkish rhetoric. But in Israel most immigrant parties do. Immigrants are more conservative there than the native born Israelis.

Why that is might be an interesting question to explore.

Steve Sailer April 22, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Tyler is engaging, in a kind of round-about way, of raising the more important question of why American-born Ashkenazis, in the words of Milton Himmelfarb in the 1960s, “live like Episcopalians but vote like Puerto Ricans.”

Now that Jews make up, according to the Jewish Telegraph Agency of Israel in 2009, about 35% of the Forbes 400, this _is_ a curious question.

D April 23, 2011 at 9:43 pm

Episcopalians are not exactly a reliable right wing vote either.

Dennis Tuchler April 22, 2011 at 4:34 pm

By “Russian Jews”, I assume you mean immigrés, or the children of such newcomers. Do you mean from Russia or do you include Ukranians? Do you distinguish between those who practice Orthodox Judaism and those who do not? Most of the social democrats I have known are Jews whose families came from the Ukraine or Russia (many with Germanic family names) and are non-practitioners of the religion. All of them were Zionists and were insulted when anyone suggested that Israel’s interests and those of the US diverged in important ways. One, a student of mine, intimated that he would prefer Israel’s interests to those of the US. I suggested he reconsider his citizenship in the United States. He didn’t respond positively.

D April 23, 2011 at 9:45 pm

Russian Jews is usually used to refer broadly to Jews from the Soviet Union.

Your anecdotal claims are not terribly helpful. Liberal Jews have been trending away from Zionism for some time.

Todd April 22, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Are Haitian immigrants overwhelmingly in favor of voodoo economics?

No, that would be a Laffer.

Elvin April 22, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Over at Commentary magazine in 2009, they asked, “Why are Jews Liberals?”. I consider Commentary to be neo-conservative with a specialization on Jewish and Israeli issues.

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/article/why-are-jews-liberals—a-symposium/

Steve Sailer April 22, 2011 at 8:57 pm

In this Commentary symposium, Michael Medved writes:

For most American Jews, the core of their Jewish identity isn’t solidarity with Israel; it’s rejection of Christianity. This observation may help to explain the otherwise puzzling political preferences of the Jewish community explored in Norman Podhoretz’s book. Jewish voters don’t embrace candidates based on their support for the state of Israel as much as they passionately oppose candidates based on their identification with Christianity—especially the fervent evangelicalism of the dreaded “Christian Right.” …

This political pattern reflects the fact that opposition to Christianity—not love for Judaism, Jews, or Israel—remains the sole unifying element in an increasingly fractious and secularized community.
Imagine a dialogue between Woody Allen and a youthful, idealistic emissary of the Hasidic Chabad movement—who might well be the proud father of nine religiously devout children. Both the movie director and the Lubavitcher may be publicly identified as Jews, but they share nothing in terms of religious belief, political outlook, family values, or, for that matter, taste in movies. The one area where they find common ground—and differ (together) from the majority of their fellow citizens—is their dismissal of New Testament theology, with its messianic claims for Jesus.

Anyone who doubts that rejection of Jesus has replaced acceptance of Torah (or commitment to Israel) as the eekur sach—the essential element—of American Jewish identity should pause to consider an uncomfortable question. What is the one political or religious position that makes a Jew utterly unwelcome in the organized community? We accept atheist Jews, Buddhist Jews, pro-Palestinian Jews, Communist Jews, homosexual Jews, and even sanction Hindu-Jewish meditation societies. “Jews for Jesus,” however, or “Messianic Jews” face resistance and exclusion everywhere. In Left-leaning congregations, many rabbis welcome stridently anti-Israel speakers and even Palestinian apologists for Islamo-Nazi terror. But if they invited a “Messianic Jewish” missionary, they’d face indignant denunciation from their boards and, very probably, condemnation by their national denominational leadership. It is far more acceptable in the Jewish community today to denounce Israel (or the United States), to deny the existence of God, or to deride the validity of Torah than it is to affirm Jesus as Lord and Savior.

For many Americans, the last remaining scrap of Jewish distinctiveness involves our denial of New Testament claims, so any support for those claims becomes a threat to the very essence of our Jewish identity. Many Jews therefore view enthusiastic Christian believers—no matter how reliably they support Israel and American Jews—as enemies by definition.

Steve Sailer April 22, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Contra Michael Medved, however, on the question of “Why Are American-Born Ashkenazis Mostly Liberal?” I would argue that religious aversion is roughly matched in importance by a second force, ethnic aversion. Positing Jewish religious bias against Christians explains a lot, but it can’t do a good job of explaining liberal Jewish anxiety over movements like the Tea Party and Immigration Restrictionism, which are non-religious but are ethnically dominated by white gentiles.

Having read countless fundraising appeals by the Southern Poverty Law Center, I’ve noticed that the SPLC finds it particularly profitable to demonize non-religious gentile environmentalists who call for immigration restriction to preserve the environment, such as Richard Lamm, three-times Democratic governor of Colorado, and John Tanton, recently subjected to a guilt-by-association article on the front page of the NYT, a main conduit for SPLC propaganda.

D April 23, 2011 at 9:47 pm

If Jewish identity was dominated by aversion to Christianity or non-Jews in general, the intermarriage rate would be far lower.

Such an explanation is clearly not valid.

anonygoat April 29, 2011 at 3:02 pm

Steve,

In addition to the inter-marriage problem you have the much bigger problem of the Jews supporting globalism, a crusade associated with messianic Christianity at the time when it was most associated with messianic Christianity. As the kids say, WTF?

DD April 30, 2011 at 10:27 am

D, you do realize that an outmarriage rate of 50% for a group that is 3% of the population, isn’t much, right? Suppose you have 400 people and only 12 of them are Jews. Out of these, you will get 3 Jewish couples and only 6 Jews will marry non-Jews.

Pierre-Louis April 22, 2011 at 5:08 pm

cuban americans are also mostly republicans… I guess it’s just an anti-communism thing…

JSK April 22, 2011 at 6:36 pm

Also the vietnamese I think.

D April 23, 2011 at 9:48 pm

True.

People reject systems that they were persecuted under, even related cousin systems.

G April 22, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Shteyngart’s comment is a little glib, but not far from the truth. My very personal experience is that it’s also a combination of strong traditionalism (in terms of family values, thus the anti-same sex marriages attitudes) and opposition to a welfare state (when it’s convenient). This converges with the typical conservative talking points.

Richard Slater April 22, 2011 at 5:18 pm

No great surprise here; Russian Jews in Israel seem to make up the bulk of the Israeli far right as well, everything from Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu to Israeli Nazis (oh they exist, and they all are the children of recent Russian immigrants to Israel).

Josh W. April 22, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Pointer from Natasha, your wife?

liberalarts April 22, 2011 at 5:37 pm

@Pierre-Louis: do you or does anyone know if Cuban Americans (whether they could vote yet or not) were Democratic Party supporters in 1964, before the party divisions of the Viet Nam war?

joan April 22, 2011 at 5:46 pm

Culture/nationalty is more important the Religion and Russians like strong authoritarian government, that is why they elected Putin.

Andrey April 22, 2011 at 10:07 pm

Um… In Russia election of Putin seems to be widely regarded as situation without any real choice. Competitors seemed even worse than Putin, “administrative resource” was used to force people to vote and there were allegations of fraud as well.
In my perception Russia pretended to vote, officials pretended to count, Putin pretended to win and then we pretended he is a president.

Marian Kechlibar April 23, 2011 at 9:30 am

“In my perception Russia pretended to vote, officials pretended to count, Putin pretended to win and then we pretended he is a president.”

I just love Slavic black humor. Anglo-Saxon culture just cannot produce it, given that they have never been under tyranny since the Middle Ages.

Elan April 22, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Tyler, this is an interesting question, but when I saw it I knew it would attract toxic comments from your friend Steve Sailer.

Come on, “anti-gentilism”? Not that old canard again. The vast majority of Jews who don’t live in cloistered Hasidic communities don’t see non-Jews as the other because, well, they are 98% of the population after all. It’s hard to make generalizations about 98% of the U.S. population.

D April 23, 2011 at 9:50 pm

Hard, but it can be quite convenient when you need an “Other” to fit into a conspiracy theory.

Jewish success makes them into a convenient other.

Hassan Syed April 22, 2011 at 5:53 pm

A few points here.

1.) Russian Jews tend to like the Christians that like them. This is probably true of Iranian [or other Mizrahi Jews] as well. Older Ashkenazis are still wary.

2.) Russian Jews are also largely represented on the right in Israel, those who choose the US instead of Israel would still be maintain the same preferences regardless of where they chose to move to.

3.) Anti-communism. Not anywhere like Cubans or Vietnamese.

4.) Republicans have, at least after 9/11, been the more pro-Israel party. Russian Jews are less likely to be involved in hippie peace organizations.

5.) Community is more hawkish on Israel’s foreign policy. Mizrahi Jews will be the same way in comparison to more traditional US Ashkenazi Jews.

6.) Some older Ashkenazi Jews do hold ancestral affinity for Democrats for WWII and recognition of Israel by Truman. Democrats remained the more pro-Israel party till around 1980 and didn’t become it again until like 2000.

7.) Experiences derived from the Holocaust could encourage a more permissive world-view, “Live and Let Live”.

8.) More flexible voting habits in general compared to older Ashkenazi Jews, less rigidly liberal.

DK April 22, 2011 at 6:04 pm

I take it that under “Russian Jews” Tyler means recent Jewish immigrants from the USSR. Here is why:

They are traditionalists. Their social ideal is USA circa 1950s. They know first-hand what redistributionist policies ultimately lead to – and they vote against the party that is more likely to pursue such policies. Back at home they saw how physically empty the proclamations of universal equality and brotherhood are and they are no more likely to fall for the similar propaganda here. Hence the strongest possible disdain for things like affirmative action and political correctness. As a result, Jews from the USSR don’t vote for Republicans so much as they vote against Democrats.

sash April 22, 2011 at 6:06 pm

simple: Jews who emigrated from Czarist Russia-liberals; jews who emigrated from communist/post -communist Russia, conservative.

D April 23, 2011 at 9:51 pm

This is probably the best and simple explanation.

Jews fleeing Czarist Russia were escaping a right wing system and affiliated with labor unions and liberal education systems.

Jews leaving behind the Soviet Union were leaving behind a left wing system and are affiliating with the party that protects free enterprise.

dirk April 22, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Russian Jews lack the stereotypical Jewish sense of humor. Humorlessness and Republicans go together like peanut-butter and chocolate.

Andrey April 22, 2011 at 10:12 pm

“Russian Jews lack the stereotypical Jewish sense of humor.”
It doesn’t look that way to me. Either they have lost it in transit, or we have very different anecdotal evidence.

Also you can’t imagine how difficult it is to translate jokes.

D April 23, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Russian Jewish humor was/is directed at the corruption and secrecy of socialist totalitarianism

Jonathan Hall April 22, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Because they already lived with socialism.

ad*m April 22, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Rather, the question should have been why most native (to the US) Jews are so liberal.

I am a Jew whose family fled from communist / revolutionary Russia to Europe in 1917, most of this family then perishing in the Shoah, and who himself moved with his family from Europe to the US a decade ago because of Islamist extremism in Europe. And no, my parents did not become liberal because of anti-nazism, they remained anti-communist, and I am even less liberal than they are. So the premise that ‘Russian Jews in the US’ are Republican because of their anti-communism does not seem likely to me.

The naivete of most liberal Jews here is truly astounding to me. They are naive about communism, naive about nazism, and naive about Europe and European culture to the extreme, more so than non-Jewish Americans.

Steve Sailer April 22, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Yuri Slezkine, professor of history at UC Berkeley, wrote a 2004 book, The Jewish Century, touching on his mother’s side of his family’s experiences as Jews in the Soviet Union. The book was very well reviewed in the Jewish press, but was almost completely ignored by the mainstream press. Slezkine pointed out that, in terms of hiring for prestigious jobs, the Soviet government was, indeed, good for the Jews, especially from 1917 to 1937. From 1937 to 1947, Stalin’s murders of top officials in the Soviet Union had disparate impact on Jews because they were so over-represented in high ranks, but anti-Semitic disparate treatment remained rare (with a few obvious examples, like the replacement of Litvinov as foreign minister in 1939 by Molotov for the purpose of doing the deal with von Ribbentrop).

The founding of Israel, however, excited Soviet Jewish Communists in 1947-48, which attracted Stalin’s paranoia, and led to anti-Semitic disparate treatment, which continued at varying levels until the end of the Soviet Union.

Slezkine makes clear that American Jews tended to lag in their awareness of what was going on in the Soviet Union, and that many kept their original view that, whatever it’s other faults, the Soviet Union was good for the Jews long after events warranted. In fact, the 1967 Six Days War, in which Israel triumphed over Soviet-armed Arab states, came as a vastly belated wake-up call for many American Jews.

http://www.amazon.com/Jewish-Century-Yuri-Slezkine/dp/0691119953

newson April 22, 2011 at 8:36 pm
DK April 22, 2011 at 10:10 pm

attracted Stalin’s paranoia, and led to anti-Semitic disparate treatment, which continued at varying levels until the end of the Soviet Union.

Jews’ situation in the late USSR was almost exactly like that of Asians in today’s USA (jobs and university admissions in particular) – on one hand there was silent informal but persistent discrimination against them, yet they were very obviously over-represented in most cognitively demanding fields.

D April 23, 2011 at 9:54 pm

It depends on how you define anti-semitism.

If you define it as ethnic persecution, it existed but not to the extent of Nazi Germany.

If you define it as religious persecution, then it certainly was a strong and pervasive force.

jc2 April 22, 2011 at 8:07 pm

Yeah, in my entirely anecdotal experience it really does boil down to anti-communist sentiment. The Russian Jews I know despise communism and – channeling Bryan Caplan here – wonder why Americans don’t seem to care about (or even care to learn much about) associated atrocities. They are quite outspoken and seem to appreciate liberty and think we, in America, take it very much for granted.

I’ve often wondered if my friends in this category are a somewhat representative sample or not.

(Fwiw – not much, because it’s again entirely anecdotal – friends of mine from former Soviet satellites are also vehemently anti-communist, but not necessarily as pro-liberty. They’re just still pissed at the communists.)

newson April 22, 2011 at 8:18 pm

kevin macdonald’s views on neoconservatism as a jewish movement:
http://www.toqonline.com/archives/v4n2/TOQv4n2MacDonald.pdf

D April 23, 2011 at 9:54 pm

is there any movement Kevin McDonald doesn’t think is a Jewish movement? Up to and including his own bowel movements

Martin Bormann April 23, 2011 at 11:30 pm

Wow, I’m dazzled by your eloquence.

dirk April 22, 2011 at 9:40 pm

You have to give Tyler credit for taking on topics he knows will get unPC responses and allowing people to comment. I’ve been placed in comment moderation here for making too many offensive comments, yet at least I’m allowed to comment. Most sites have banned me. Even Roissy has banned me for not towing the Sailer party line.

dirk April 22, 2011 at 9:43 pm

EconLog has banned me and my comments there werent even very offensive.

Natasha Cowen April 22, 2011 at 11:01 pm

People who emigrated from the Soviet Union and remember it well equate Democrats with socialists and are therefore siding with the opposite side. Just came back from a dinner with some Chinese who told me that 80% of Chinese are doing the same. Cubans too, of course.
And for those who are curious, I AM a loyal MR reader.

babar April 23, 2011 at 12:53 am

i have noticed the same thing anecdotally about russian jews. twelve years ago the russian jews i worked with favored bush over gore because they saw the democratic party as socialist and they despised communism. to my brain there are all kinds of non-sequitirs in that logic (for instance could you honestly compare bill clinton and andropov?), but i couldn’t an argument together that would open anyone’s mind. as a secondary issue they liked bush and most other republican politicians over dems because of their macho swagger.

mulp April 22, 2011 at 11:16 pm

Reading the above I was baffled having worked for more than a decade with a number of Russian Jews. Then I read the article. Ok, I’ve never known a Russian Jew who wasn’t willing or able to make the sacrifice to leave Russia before the Soviet Union broke up. The article talks about Russians who left during the “democratic” years of Russia, not those who left during the days of authoritarian rule.

My friend Ben who left with his family in the 70s told me how at each stage in resettlement they received aid, welfare, that was more generous than anything they had experienced before. When he returned in the 80s, he said he not only couldn’t tell his Moscow friends what was normal in the US because he didn’t want to depress them because their deprivation was increasing, he also knew they would never believe him. He didn’t think Reagan’s policies were wise. Then after the collapse, he saw that for most Russians, things got worse. He essentially predicted the return of authoritarianism because the “democratic” Russia created massive inequality and both great wealth but also real poverty, and even those better off than before were so bothered by those with such great apparent wealth while others were so poor wished for a return to the past.

I’m guessing that even after leaving Russia of the 90s, that drive to return to the past, even the past imagined and not experienced, would make conservative Republicanism very attractive. Getting back, somehow, to that kitchen of the 1970 Moscow expo that Nixon was showing off.

TGGP April 22, 2011 at 11:48 pm

One of the Russian Jews I knew in college seemed very conservative, but of the Russian nationalist sort. The others seemed less political. I have Russian Jewish co-worker, much older than me, who immigrated here around 91 and he seems very liberal.

I didn’t break it down to the level of immigrants, but I used the GSS to contrast the theories of Kevin MacDonald and Half Sigma (race/ethnicity vs religion) on Jewish liberalism here, calling it for HS. But the opinions of Jews overall may differ from those of the most influential (foreign policy being the most well known example).

Norman April 23, 2011 at 1:18 am

Russian Jews know BS when they see it because that’s what the Soviet Union was all about. The Dems zoom you; the GOP talks logic and maturity.

Dan April 23, 2011 at 2:27 am

One ought look at the differences between Jews in America and Jews in Canada. The Jewish population in Canada votes overwhelmingly for the Conservative Party for its pro-Israel stance; Harper has given speeches time and time again about how Canada will stand with Israel no matter what.

Canadian Jews tend to be more Jewish, if that is quantifiable, than American Jews. Russian Jews in America are likely the same.

Marian Kechlibar April 23, 2011 at 9:39 am

I would say that the same pattern holds among gentile immigrants from the Eastern Bloc, especially if they are old enough to remember communism.

The communist regime was partially based on relentless propaganda, stuffing everything from textbooks to train tickets with words and images of “progress, peace, equality, fairness, hopeful future, victory of the workers” etc. With exception of high mountains or a desert, you just could not escape the barrage.

Of course, everyone who wasn’t entirely gullible also saw the reality: tyranny, poverty, chronic shortages, KGB and its sister organizations, slow technological and infrastructural slide towards the third world, etc.
In minds of such people, propaganda is inextricably linked to Big Lies and Orwellian dystopia.

If such person visits some “progressive” site, all the old memories will kick in. The natural reaction to concepts like affirmative action or collectivization of various economy sectors (say, healthcare) in name of “the society” is, then, visceral and deep distrust, and the first thought is: “Which crooks are going to profit from scheme like this?”

Marian Kechlibar April 23, 2011 at 9:43 am

One thing that Americans do not understand about the nations that survived communism is the totally different attitude toward public institutions.

Americans generally tend to trust their elected officials, police, IRS etc., and it takes some seriously bad experience to flip them.

On the other hand, from Prague to Vladivostok, the default position of voters against their rulers is: “a mafioso pack that is here to parasit upon us with all means possible, and looks only after their own interest”. Politician is a synonym for an untrustworthy person.

Even in Czechia, which is a western country by standards of living, polls indicate that being a politician is about the least respected job, at the very bottom of the ladder, together with prostitutes, toilet cleaners and morticians.

(If you ask who rules the top: doctors, teachers and scientists. All groups are, incidentally, percieved to have inadequately small salaries).

DK April 23, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Marian Kechlibars takes the award for enunciating it best:

the same pattern holds among gentile immigrants from the Eastern Bloc … In minds of such people, propaganda is inextricably linked to Big Lies and Orwellian dystopia … The natural reaction to concepts like affirmative action or collectivization of various economy sectors … is: “Which crooks are going to profit from scheme like this?” … from Prague to Vladivostok, the default position of voters against their rulers is: “a mafioso pack that is here to parasit upon us with all means possible, and looks only after their own interest”. Politician is a synonym for an untrustworthy person.

And they are absolutely correct in their assessment.

curmudgeonly troll April 23, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Central Asian Jews historically had some negative experience with Muslims.

hate Muslims + hate Communists + love Israel + not too fond of blacks + don’t really ‘get’ liberal Democracy = loyal to GOP

TGGP April 23, 2011 at 5:17 pm

lnm, here’s my version of the history of American two-party politics and how Jews related to it. The Democratic party began as the party of the southern elite, and in the very beginning were associated with sympathy for France over England and lack of Christian orthodoxy. Before universal manhood suffrage, their opponents tended to be urban mercantile elites. In the more democratic era, the Democratic party came to rely on urban immigrants. But most the population was still rural and of native stock, and the Republican party found its base in them (who also tended to be enthusiastic Protestants, perhaps analogous to the “religious right” today) while maintaining links to industrial leaders. Jews were urban immigrants, and many (particularly eastern europeans) came in already adhering to various strains of socialism and radical labor unionism. As time went on, power within the Democratic party shifted from southern domination toward the increasingly large urban political machines. Jews were among the most successful immigrants and rose above their working class origins to obtain university educations in large numbers (particularly after quotas were dropped). The Jacksonian spoils system was replaced with a more permanent civil service, and during the Progressive era required larger numbers of more educated bureaucrats to administer the country. They started becoming particularly influential within the Democratic party at that time, and the New Deal only amplified that. As mentioned, many were sympathetic toward the communist revolution which had taken place in their former homeland (or that of their parents). When the Republican party started positioning itself as opposed to the perceived softness of the Democrats on communism, they tended to line up on the other side and defend accused spies such as Alger Hiss or the Rosenbergs. With the memory of the civil war fading, the connection of the south to the Democratic party made less sense, but the one-party system persisted out of inertia. Pointing out the hypocrisy of claiming to represent freedom while perpetuating imperialism abroad and segregation in the south was unpopular when Charles Lindberg did it against the allies during WW2, but more acceptable when the communist bloc started using that line against the west during the cold war. The New Left which came to dominance on college campuses took just that line, leading to a split within the Democratic party. The “McGovern coalition” was not yet big enough to win presidential elections, but it would only grow with time, and indeed was made up of the same groups which put Obama over the top (assisted by a lousy economy). The “Religious right” didn’t really become a distinct political force until the 1970s, when controversial court decisions on abortion and school prayer were handed down. Catholics were the main anti-abortion force at the time, and while Catholicism had long been associated with the Democratic party, the prominence of liberal secularists within it made them less amenable to pro-life arguments. Initially even evangelicals & Richard Nixon tolerated abortion, but lots of political work by pro-life Catholics and their allies eventually resulted in it being a litmus test. Still, during the seventies the “social issue” was crime. Fast forward to today when crime & communism are non-issues, and the Republicans are the party of evangelicals, southerners, rural denizens, generally older married white folks, and those with higher income than expected given their education. The Democrats are the party of assorted minorities, folks put off by evangelical Christianity, the young & unmarried, urbanites and those with higher education than expected given their income.

Elan, if it’s an “old canard” then why did Sailer have to come up with a neologism? Going by the general rule that stereotypes and old frequent observations are accurate, anti-Christianity is a well known tendency, thus lending extra credence to my analysis of the GSS.

Tyler Cowen April 24, 2011 at 8:10 am

It seems some comments here were deleted by mistake, I only meant to delete one of them, bugs in working the new system, apologies!

Alex, (the Russian Jew) April 24, 2011 at 1:11 pm

American Jews mostly vote for Democrats because it is a tradition. Historically Democratic party served interests of minorities better and was less exclusive.
Russian Jews (those who came post 1970) started voting republican only recently. Two reasons, first the Republican party projected itself as a tougher one. Second, Republicans projected themselves as Americans that are doing well & Russian – Jewish immigrants want to be associated with Americans that are successful.

The ironic and sad part, most of us that were born in the USSR and understood ins and outs of the system and completed education in here can see that our country (!) – the United States is becoming somewhat similar to USSR. And it has to less to do with government social programs and a lot to do with the role of connections when it comes to determination of how successful someone is.

American (and real capitalism) is all about social mobility and American dream, which is given one works hard enough and somewhat lucky they can move up and they can move up “big.” In the rest of the world, it is mostly the connections one has that allow to move up or define how successful someone is. And we are moving into that direction from capitalism and market system to some mixture of the Capitalism and Feudalism.

I believe the reason of the death of American Dream (reduced social mobility) is the lack of competition in the political arena. Right now there is only one party, it does not represent most Americans but represents the willing and able to abuse it – whoever can pay for a successful lobbing campaign. And as long as we continue with the du- poly which in a way became a monopoly serving well connected and big corporate business, we will continue on the pass of reduction in social mobility until ether we become what the Russia is today – a crony capitalist country where the selected few control it all and have it all.

Barkley Rosser April 25, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Personally I prefer the term “post-Soviet Jews,” given the large numbers who are actually from Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Balkan states, trans-Caucasian states, and even Central Asian states. But, given that most know Russian, I know that label will stick.

As for the matter of humor, I have heard it claimed that there are no good jokes in Russia anymore because all the Jews left (which may itself be a Russian Jewish joke, but of course not all have left, and there are still some jokes, even if one might complain about the quality of the current batch.).

Polybius April 26, 2011 at 9:32 pm

I didn’t read through the replies but the obvious reason for Russian Jews to vote for Republicans is the same as it is for any Russian or Eastern European who has moved/fled here. The Democrats are socialists of the sort that were overthrown in Eastern Europe not long ago. Their ideas, principles, rhetoric and goals are all the same. The wasted decades and penury that was the Soviet block is still a fresh enough memory for them to understand what Obama is and to see through the crap that the left spouts.

We are hell bent on heading into insolvency and we are currently using every means available to make that day come as quickly as possible. Along with that comes loss of more and more freedoms as the government pries into every corner trying to scrape up money and deflect blame by demonizing its enemies in the private sphere.

Chavez is complaining about speculators causing food and energy prices to rise in Venezuela after he ruined his oil industry through nationalization and placed price controls on agriculture so that there is no incentive to grow anything. The same thing is happening here with Obama railing against oil speculators after every single thing he has done since being elected has had the effect of driving up energy prices. His health care plan effectively nationalizes 1/6 of the economy and eliminates all innovation and choice in how our health care is provided. When that system fails it will be used as an excuse for even more invasions of our rights and privacy. The ratchet turns but one way.

That is how it works. Every tin horn, leftwing dictator uses the same playbook. The pattern and failure mode is the same every time out. The Eastern Europeans have seen this from the front row so they know when it is happening again. It must be an absolute nightmare for them to think they finally made it out only to have the monster of socialism show up on our shores..

jane April 30, 2011 at 1:19 am

I’m a Russian Jew born in Moscow and this total misses the point. It’s true most of are Republican. It has nothing to do with our views on Christianity or even our deep support of Israel. It’s because we witnessed one country destroyed by Socialism and we don’t want to see it happen in the US. It’s that simple. We hate big government socialists. Nothing less nothing more.

Seth May 10, 2011 at 8:08 pm

It isn’t just Russian Americans who lean more towards the Republican party, but also Cuban Americans. Because the Democratic party has in many ways adopted some socialist views, as there are many socialist within the Democratic party. To many immigrants coming from countries where government ran everything- when they come here and listen to Democratic candidates speak, or look at their policies. They mirror the same symptoms of the disease that made them want to leave their country.

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