- Which candidate is supported by American Ukrainians and which candidate they match the most with?
Honestly, most friends of mine here who are of the Ukrainian ethnic origin do not publicize their voting preferences. One man, whom I have known for decades, now retired and in his early 70s, a first generation immigrant, says that he will vote for Trump. His only motivation is that he, having been born and raised in the former USSR, hates socialists, liberals, and democrats (considering them the same thing – he finds them all equally evil as “Fascists”). Another, a second generation immigrant, a private businessman in his late 40s, used to say that his favorite candidate was Rubio, because of this candidate’s seemingly strong anti-Russian stance. But it was a rather long time ago, so I am not sure whether he still has this plan. Yet another person, a younger man who is in his late 30s, a computer programmer, says that he has not made up his mind yet, but he will not vote for any Democrat; so, if Trump runs against any of them, he will vote for Trump (or for Cruz, or for Rubio, or for Kasich, or for whoever makes it to the final campaign). That’s pretty much it. I also have a few friends of the Ukrainian origin who, as far as I know them (and I have known them for many years), will likely vote for a Democratic nominee. However, they never talked with me about their plans for the November 2016 vote.
- What result of the election will be the most beneficial for Ukraine? To your mind, how US will change its policy towards Ukraine after the victory of any of the leading pair – Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump?
I am afraid this is the most difficult question. I am not quite sure how to answer. First, at the moment, both front-runners are saying things that their potential voters want to hear, and not necessarily things that they really plan to work on when they win the White House.
Mrs. Clinton talks a lot about “a tougher response” to the Russian shenanigans in Ukraine and Syria. However, as the Secretary of State during Obama’s first term, she was the number one designer of the policy of the so-called “reset” of the relations between the USA and Russia. To say that the “reset” policy was short-sighted would be a gross understatement; it was bizarre, it was obviously doomed from day one, and it cannot be forgiven.
As for Mr. Trump, he is, first and foremost, a businessman, a tycoon, a salesperson to the core. He often says that it is the responsibility of the European countries to deal with the events in Ukraine, not the responsibility of the USA. Again, it is difficult to judge, just how sincere he is, because that’s what his contingency of voters want him to say: they believe that the situation in the US is so bad that the US should stop all sorts of foreign aid and should not be involved in foreign affairs, rather, concentrating on the implementation of the closed borders policy. What is alarming is that Donald Trump’s “Russia Advisor,” Carter Page, has most serious connections to the Gazprom. And it is known here in the USA that Trump has a plan to build a number of his trademark “Trump Towers” in Russian cities.
In short, I cannot, unfortunately, say that anything might change to the better for Ukraine if either of these two wins.
- Probably the most controversial candidate is Donald Trump. European politicians named him a threat to peace and development. What do Ukrainian Americans think?
I cannot say for the Ukrainian Americans as a group. A number of those whom I know do consider Trump a threat. Only one of those whom I know seems to love him and support him unconditionally. Most of those whom I know did not discuss their opinion about Trump with me, so I can’t tell. In any case, the sample of the Ukrainian Americans I know is too small to make any conclusions. As for me, personally, I believe in the great American system of separation of powers and the system of checks and balances. The President of the USA has many powers, and yet he (she) is not a dictator.
- How much nowadays the American nation is involved in politics? In Ukraine, even people who are professionally distant from politics, follow the situation and actively discuss it. What about the majority of Americans? Do they continuously keep abreast of actual events or become interested in political issues just before the election?
My impression is that my generation (I am 58 years old) is, indeed, involved in politics to a bigger or smaller extent. On the other hand, the “Millenials” (those who were born in the 1980s and the 1990s) show interest every now and then, especially when it comes to the issues of race and gender equality, and the situation with college loans. However, most of them show no interest whatsoever to foreign politics. The mere concept that some country can be a threat to the USA and directly to them (save for ISIS) is deeply foreign to them. Like one friend of mine said, “they seem to have forgotten that there is evil in this world.”
- The events during current American elections seem to be intriguing. Speaking about continuation, could the elections conceal any surprises in the future or will be predictable?
Maybe I am wrong, but I do not expect any surprises. In the USA, there is this rigid two-party system, which is designed to cushion any surprise. I am no Kassandra, but my guess is, in November 2016 there will be a race between a Republican (likely, Trump or Cruz) and a Democrat (likely, H. Clinton or Sanders). As always, the outcome of this race will be decided in a few “battleground states” – the ones that have a serious share of electoral votes but aren’t traditionally Republican or Democrat. Depending on how these states will vote, the next president will be either Republican or Democrat. But, again, the wonderful system of checks and balances will hardly allow the next president to do anything unconventional, let alone daring or outrageous.