Over the past several years, Soviet immigrants living in America have been divided over Donald Trump. His attempts to exploit their fear of socialism is not the only reason. Scarred by forced collectivism under the USSR, many Soviets see democratic values as an existential threat to their rights and individualism. To them, Trump represented the solution.
Other Soviets watched as Trump’s entry into office came with a simultaneous uptick in racist rhetoric and violence in the U.S. Instead of savior, to them, Trump was a triggering reminder of their time in the Soviet Union. Leading up to Trump’s run for reelection, this chasm was particularly evident on Facebook, where groups as vastly different as “Anti Trump Soviet Immigrants” and “Russian Speaking Americans for Trump” thrived. Ironically, the vastly ranging groups were started for one similar reason—to defend the America they know and love. The biggest difference is what, exactly, that America looks like, and how lived experiences in the USSR shaped that picture.
Despite all of the talk of Russia and American elections over the past four years, few investigations have tracked the political ideologies of Russian speakers in the U.S. and how they play out on social media.