'Being a Republican in a' blue 'state is dangerous': Russian-speaking politician on the US elections
Anton Sakharov came to the United States in the 1990s with his parents as an 11-year-old. Over the years of his life in the United States, he not only became a successful IT specialist, but also tried himself as a candidate for governor of Washington state.
«When I arrived, I almost did not know English, but, fortunately, I quickly filled this gap by going to a regular school along with other children. Yes, at certain moments it was very difficult for me, I had to immerse myself in a completely different language environment, but this could be overcome”, - he recalls.
Formation of views
After graduating from high school and receiving a bachelor's degree in finance from an American university, Anton began working in the IT field and, according to him, did not immediately begin to actively participate in politics.
«She was always interesting to me, but, like most people, I mainly paid attention to "big" politics - at the country or state level, did not follow local issues at the level of cities, counties or districts. I leaned towards the conservative side, but, for example, at the time of the elections George W. Bush (2004) haven't defined myself as a Republican yet", - the immigrant shares.
Anton Sakharov admits that after what he saw in his Soviet childhood and knew about the USSR from his parents, he was extremely negative about the idea of universal equalization.
«I remember how people received free goods or services of absolutely terrible quality, or had the same salary regardless of their actual work. My life experience in the USA proved the opposite - it is by working honestly that a person can achieve any heights. Therefore, when I began to notice an increase in the number of people who did not want to work, but who demand some kind of benefits for free, I began to lean more and more towards the Republican Party. During the presidency Barack Obama, in my opinion, a number of unnecessary state programs appeared that helped the wrong people who needed it. This directly affected taxation issues, since all these programs were financed from the budget. This was especially felt in California, where I lived at that time.", - says Anton.
The behavior of Barack Obama himself also did not arouse the sympathy of the immigrant.
«His ability to speak beautifully and at the same time to do nothing made me associate with the famous American "fake smile", behind which one cannot see the real attitude towards a person", - he admits.
Anton was given the opportunity to take part in real politics by accident. In 2016, when he was already living in Washington state, representatives of the local Republican Party came to his home and invited to participate in the primaries, which determined the composition of the electors, who, in turn, were to choose a candidate for the presidency.
«This was my first contact with real politics. When they talk in American schools about democracy and the fact that each of us can influence the outcome of elections, it is not so much about voting, but about participation in electoral mechanisms starting from the lowest level.. It's a shame that this aspect is not talked about in schools", - Anton shares.
At that time, according to the results of the primaries in Washington state, the Republicans were in the lead Ted Cruztherefore, local electors of other candidates did not make it to the next stage. However, the experience itself, according to Anton Sakharov, was really invaluable. As Anton notes, direct participation in political life is also possible in the role of an employee of the Precinct Committee Officer, or PCO, that is, a person active at the local community level.
«The PCO is an official title and this elective office exists in both the Democratic and Republican parties. They are responsible for collecting signatures and promoting the party within a particular neighborhood or street. It was these people who invited me to the primaries, without even knowing about my political views", - explains Anton.
Inspired by the first experience, the Russian immigrant tried to find his place in the party. Anton admits that at first it was difficult to do this. The Republican office in Washington state, he said, was not overly welcoming to young enthusiasts and was skeptical of his ideas. Anton was about to move away from active politics when one event that influenced him happened: the debate in the gubernatorial election between the Republican candidate Bill Bryant and the incumbent Democrat Governor Jay Inslee.
«I was very disappointed to see Bryant had neither fire nor desire to win. And I immediately realized that he would lose, if only because the impression was created: he, in principle, is not interested in winning. At the same time, he won the 2016 presidential election Donald Trump... In my opinion, his policy was the salvation of the country from an inevitable abyss. Then I finally had a desire to help him in his endeavors.", - Anton recalls.
According to him, in addition to the socialist trend, towards which the whole Western world is steadily moving, he was frightened by the growing influence of civil servants in the life of society and censorship in the press.
«Free press has practically disappeared in the USA. This trend peaked during the Trump era, but began long before that, in the 1990s. I remember, for example, that the liberal media called even a senator a racist John McCain... While reporters used to be famous for conducting serious investigations to establish the truth, today's American media are run by financial groups and work exclusively for money and in the interests of sponsors. Journalists are forced to choose one side or the other and stick to it instead of establishing the truth. As a result, the media are turning into a propaganda tool", Anton thinks.
Gradually, Anton Sakharov matured a decision - to try his hand at the struggle for the post of governor of Washington state.
«In our state there are open primaries for this position. This means that anyone who meets certain openly stated criteria can run for the Republican nominee, and anyone in the state who has the right to vote can vote for him."He explains.
The immigrant from Russia succeeded in a lot: out of 38 candidates, he was included in the top five contenders for the governor's post, and his portrait hung on the main page of the website of the local Republican Party.
«It was very difficult. At first the party did not accept me, and there are several reasons for this. First, I got the impression that the party is not interested in winning in our state, because, being in opposition, it had the opportunity to attract funding and at the same time not be responsible for the defeat, appealing to the fact that Washington is "blue" state. Trump in this sense changed the rules of the game, showing that it is possible to achieve real success, and I wanted to follow the same path.", - explains the former candidate.
Anton began active work on social networks, and, according to him, the number of supporters attracted in this way far exceeded other candidates.
«I was bold and said things that others were afraid to voice. In a word, the party could no longer ignore me, but, to be honest, they continued to put a spoke in my wheels. Other candidates, for example, stole my ideas, literally repeated my words without referring to me, etc. They called me and tried to dissuade me from participating in the primaries, and I don't even know which party these people were from. The media ignored me, perhaps fearing a candidate with a Russian surname. But even today it seems to me that if the party really supported me, today we would be a "red" state", - suggests Anton.
However, the Washington State Republican Party eventually approved another contender for the post of final governor. In part, Sakharov links her defeat in the state at the recent elections to this. Democrat Jay Inslee was re-elected Governor of Washington.
According to Anton, the Republican Party, unfortunately, has a fear of immigrants from other countries, while the Democrats actively welcome immigrants into their ranks. Excluded former candidate calls Ukrainian woman Victoria Sparts, elected congresswoman from the Republican Party in the recent election from Indiana. Another problem the former candidate calls the persecution against Republicans, especially supporters of Donald Trump in democratic states.
«People are harassed on social media, fired from their jobs, and their businesses go bankrupt. Employers are often pressured, called and threatened that if they do not fire an unwanted employee, a picket will be organized around the office of their company. To avoid this, people are forced to delete their social media accounts. I hope that this trend will not come to state repression, but the life of an individual may well be broken, as well as his children. I know of cases in Wisconsin where even winning candidates had to take their children out of school because they were bullied there.", - Anton shares.
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Anton faced similar costs during his campaign, he said.
«During an election rally in downtown Seattle, we were attacked by Antifa. Sometimes there were attacks on social networks due to the fact that I am from Russia and, obviously, therefore, I support Trump. Of course, if I passed the primaries, there would be more such attacks", - he admits.
In the near future, Anton does not plan to run for elective positions anymore, but he is in no hurry to unequivocally dissuade others.
«If a person wants to get involved in politics, I will support him. I think this is important, and it is definitely worth a try, but at the same time you need to be prepared for both loss and the consequences of your decision. Being a Republican in a blue state is dangerous enough", He warns.
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