OK, maybe not “age old” but old:
Vote Democrat or Republican?
Many of my friends, it seems, are thumping the Republican drum. For instance, there’s the staunchly Republican former Chief of Staff for a Democratic Congressman; there’s Rob, a frequent commenter; there’s Adam, who insists being a Republican is only because Rudy’s jsut such a hottie, and Moishe, who’s been increasingly vocal about his insistence that questioning our administration about the war is wrong and that we’ve all “gotta support the team” (among other very hawkish attitudes).
I’d like to propose a thought, something to see what you guys say: We’re better off voting Democratic. (Please keep reading before you comment).
Let’s leave Israel out of this. As America’s only democratic ally in the Middle East, Israel will always enjoy the support of America (especially with the help of AIPAC, etc.). So the question of voting for a President who is “good for Israel” shouldn’t rate highly on the priority scale. As we’ve seen, Israel will take care of herself. Sure, Clinton pressured for peace, but that was because he had a willing partner in Rabin and his followers.
Let’s also leave the Iraq war out of this. We’re in it. It’s a mess. Nobody has a good solution for what to do about it, so it’s gonna suck regardless.
Now, I get that people will disagree about the particulars about certain things I write here. That’s fine, because ultimately, it won’t matter to my conclusion, as you’ll see.
1. Fiscal Policy: Everyone knows that Republicans hate poor people. Whatever, if it means I get to keep more of my money, I’m OK with that.
2. Social Policy: Everyone knows that Republicans hate minorities also. I’m not a minority, so I’m OK with that.
3. Foreign Policy: Here is where we start to get interesting. Personal feelings about fiscal and social policy (and joking) aside, our foreign and domestic policy intertwine. Much has been made of our energy policy. I know, this goes under “Domestic,” but bear with me for a second. Without getting into it, which I will do in a bit, our energy policy is terrible not only because of the environmental effects, but also (as I was arguing back in 2004, right Adam?) because of how it affects our foreign policy. If you read the New York Times op-ed page, you may have read Thomas L. Friedman or Bob Herbert ranting on about “financing both sides of the war on terror.” What I don’t understand is why more isn’t made of this. Every barrel of oil we buy from Saudi Arabia finances some Wahhabi madrassa, where they churn out terrorists like bunnies on crack. How can we fight the terrorists and finance them at the same time. If we are going to fight the war on terror (and I certainly think we should) then we have to fight it smartly. Every bomb we drop in Iraq (or in Lebanon) creates more terrorists. Every 10 year old who watches his father die, hears someone blame it on America (or Israel) will be holding a gun or wearing an explosive belt 6 years from now (if that long). We have to realize that simply bombing them back into the Stone Age isn’t the answer. Sure, it makes for riveting cowboy TV, but it’s just not a good solution. Unless we kill every Muslim (settle down, Moishe, it’s not that easy), we have to find a better way. Stopping the flow of money is a really, really good place to start. That means cutting our dependence on foreign oil. Now, I ask you honestly, who is more likely to accomplish that? A Republican who is financed by big business, maybe the auto industry, and quite possibly the oil industry, and maybe even (like our current President) has strong ties to the oil Sheiks in the House of Saud? Or a green Democrat like Al Gore? Seen in that light, who’s the better choice for our foreign policy, including national security?
Secondarily, if offensive strategies don’t work (and so-called “Western” appeasement and diplomatic strategies don’t work) then what do we do? (This doesn’t apply to Israel, who faces a threat of totally different nature, and must secure her borders in much different fashion, including pushing Hezbollah with force back behind the Litani. We don’t face that in America.) Well, if every dollar wasted in Iraq, who was not a legitimate threat to US soil, were instead funneled into national security interests domestically, we might truly be safer today then we were on 9/10/01. And maybe even without wiretapping. More police, more airport security. Sure, maybe more hassle getting on the train or plane, but more bomb-sniffers in subways, etc. Really protective measures. More likely to accomplish? Neither, sadly, since a Democrat would pull out of Iraq and not use the money on security and Republican wouldn’t pull out of Iraq. Alas.
4. Domestic: Aside from energy policy which is important for foreign policy, it’s also good for environmental policy. Al Gore may be boring, but he’s not stupid. We are ruining the planet. (And before you say, “eh, this won’t affect me, I’ll be dead by the time this happens” just make sure you aren’t in New Orleans. Or New York, for that matter. Have you seen the heat, humidity and crazy thunderstorms we’ve been having lately?)
Finally, my last point, and kind of the reason I started this: religious freedom. More and more, Republicans are allying themselves with evangelical Christians. People who call this “a Christian country” and bemoan the “War on Christmas.” I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: these people are not our (ie Jews’) friends. Every time they call America a Christian country, they are excluding you (unless you’re Christian, which might be like, one of my readers. Sorry, Nina. But they exclude your for other reasons.) That is a dangerous sentiment, meant to undercut some of the very basic protections that we enjoy here: the establishment clause and the free exercise clause. As Jews, we should be wary of any amount of government interference in religion, as well as anything remotely resembling government endorsement of religion, because it won’t be our religion that they endorse. Support prayer in public school? It won’t be Asher Yatzar. Support days celebrating Jesus? He’s not our savior. Support artwork depicting the Ten Commandments? Those aren’t our Ten Commandments. (Quick Side Point: in the Pilot episode of The West Wing, someone says “well, what is [the first commandment]?” and President Bartlett, making what was supposed to be a cameo that turned into a major role, comes in and says “I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt have no other gods before me.” And I wanted the Jews in the room (Toby and Josh) to say “well, sir, that’s part of the first and the second.” Because our first is “I am the Lord, thy God, who has taken you out of Egypt, from the house of bondage.”)
The question then, is, who is more likely to support Christian religion, and who is more likely to oppose it? More and more, Republicans are “playing to the base” and supporting (and being supported by) Christian groups. These are not our friends, and we should not elect them. Imagine Tom DeLay, who ran on a platform of being Christian. Is this someone a Jew should ever vote for?
People may respond (and have responded) that politics make for strange bedfellows, and we ally ourselves with Republicans like that so that we get people in office who are more like minded on fiscal and welfare matters. Meanwhile, we end up with President Jesus-Boy who, despite popular opinion, vetoes a bill that would be good for America based on religious grounds. At some point, that relationship based on fiscal like-mindedness is strained.
That’s why I say, we, as Jews, should avoid these people at all costs. Because, ultimately, they will enact religiously based policies that are essentially at odds with what we believe. And even worse, that threaten our welfare and our freedom, which we should cherish above all else (including our money).