Clinton, Obama, McCain?
By Robert Strybel, Polish/Polonian Affairs writer
ul. Kaniowska 24
01-529 Warsaw, Poland
Like US citizens of every background, come November, Americans of Polish
descent will be faced by a major decision. Some have already decided whom to
vote for, others are still weighing their options and still others don’t plan
to cast their ballot. “Politicians are a bunch of crooks. They’ll promise you
the moon and then steal you blind once they get into office!” That is the way
the non-voters often justify their absence.
At this stage, can anyone answer the question contained in the headline above?
Is there even such a thing as a “Polonian electorate” or a “Polish-American
vote”? Around the mid-20th century the answer would have been
obvious. Starting more or less with FDR’s New Deal, Polish immigrants and their
American-born offspring usually voted a straight Democratic. That was also true
of other immigrant communities, Afro-Americans (formerly called colored people
or Negroes), southerners and union members regardless of their ethnic
That began changing during the violent
1960s and ‘70s which were marked by assassinations, the emerging drug culture
and anti-war protests which were seen by many as simply anti-American. In the
1968 presidential race, Republican Richard Nixon Democrat Hubert Humphrey by
only a narrow margin, But by 1972 the Democratic Party was being increasingly
associated with radical celebrities (such as pro-Vietnamese Jane Fonda),
flag-burners, pro-abortionists and violent fringe groups such as the Black
Panthers, Black Muslims and Weathermen.
Had Polish-American Edmund Muskie
(Marciszewski) secured his party’s nomination, that would have undoubtedly
helped keep many Polonian voters in the Democratic fold. But the choice of
leftist George McGovern turned off a great many Polish Americans who cast their
backlash vote for Nixon. Polonia’s pro-Republican stance became more firmly
grounded during the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and George Bush, Sr, both of
whom were seen as aiding the cause of Poland’s
But now it is 2008, and Blacks, Jews,
Latinos, trade-unionists and most Hollywood types have
by and large remained Democratic sympathizers. With Polish Americans and voters
with other East, Central and Southern European roots, political loyalties are
more diversified. Some say that most Polish Americans have made the transition
into the middle class and do not perceive themselves as a separate electorate
with specific needs. The fact remains, however, that groups with a political
agenda that pressure candidates over their issues and concerns are the ones
that get listened and catered to by the political establishment.
Issues of potential interest to Polish-American voters might include the
Immigration-law reform enabling Polish immigrants to obtain legal status –
permanent residence or US citizenship;
more Federal Government appointments, including cabinet posts, for Polish
prosecution of anti-Polonism through the creation of a special Polish
anti-defamation unit at the US State Department similar to that which now
student, academic and cultural exchange programs with Poland;
¨ Increased US military
aid for Poland in exchange for its agreement to host parts of the anti-missile
shield on Polish territory.
business opportunities for Polish companies in the United States;
¨ Making good
on the F-16 offset program, whereby the US pledged
to promote investments in Poland in
exchange for Poland’s purchase of F-16 jet fighter planes;
of Poland in the visa-waiver program, enabling Poles to visit the US without
having to apply for an American visa; the US is now the only NATO country that
still discriminates Poles in this way.
still have time to make up their minds whom to vote for. Hillary Clinton and
Barack Obama are both expected to conduct a leftist liberal policy, favored by
the pro-homosexual and abortion-rights lobbies and are competing as to which of
them will end America’s military involvement in Iraq sooner. Conservative John
McCain, 70, is more likely to provide military aid to Poland and
carry out immigration reform, but a major strike against him is his age.
To demonstrate that Polish Americans
constitute a bloc of politically aware and responsible voters, a group of young
Polonian based in the Boston area
have launched an interesting nationwide campaign called PoloniaVotes2008. Its
purpose is to secure at least one million declarations from eligible Pol-Am
voters which will greatly enhance our community’s political clout vis-à-vis the
three main presidential contenders. To take part without having to declare your
political preference, complete the brief declaration found at www.poloniavotes2008.com.
Additional information may be obtained by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or
phoning 1-(800) 668-9667.