Let’s get it out and get it over with. I am a Jewish Republican. When my relatives found out, they sat shiva for me.
As then-chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean, famously said on “Meet the Press:” “Our moral values, in contradiction to the Republicans, is we don’t think kids ought to go to bed hungry at night.”
Face it. We read and view information that confirms what we already know, and disregard information that contradicts our beliefs. You do. I do. We all do. Trust me.
If you’re like me, you’re burned out by the shrill tone of our (un)civil discourse. When we meet someone new, our antennae may pick up Democrat or Republican, but mentally we are determining friend or foe. Both sides believe the very life of the republic depends on winning on election day. In that charged atmosphere, we converse without hearing and understanding.
I love politics, I follow them avidly. But sometimes I just have to turn the channel. I can’t take it anymore.
But I love my country, and I love my people, the Jews. I care deeply about the future of both. So I’ve asked our editor to allow me to make the case that liberal Jews are reflexively voting against their own interests. He must have a sense of humor — he has generously allowed me a few columns.
I promise you it will be exhilarating and informative. No hate speech, no subtle twisting of truth. I will probably enrage you, but I will challenge you. I invite your letters. Look it up before you call me a liar.
I am devoting this column to finding our common ground. I hope you will find me if not convincing, at least intriguing. It’s a start.
First, we all want security: “Freedom from fear” as Norman Rockwell titled his painting of Mom and Dad tucking their little boy in at night. We can argue all day about the defense budget, or the nature of the threats against us, or the struggle over national security versus the Bill of Rights, but I don’t believe for a moment that Democrats want us to be overrun by barbarians.
Next, we all want prosperity. Prosperity is, after all, why Jews are here in America. Our ancestors sought economic opportunity denied them in anti-Semitic lands. The hope for prosperity is a Jewish as the sh’ma.
“I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy,” John Adams said.
An American Jew would say, “I must build a good business, that my daughter can go to Brandeis and be a music major.”
Finally, we believe in America and our uniquely American love of individual freedom and liberty. Before I go further, a brief aside.
Being a Jewish Republican in Seattle is extremely challenging. Just try to find a date. Five years ago I was single. In my quest to find a Jewish wife, I left my home in Bellevue and discovered the exotic mystical lands of Fremont and Wallingford. There are strange female creatures living there that call themselves Jews but believe in rocks, streams, and Priuses. I made the horrific discovery that some of them are among the few people alive who believe in Marx and Communism. I am not making this up. Lenin’s statue is ensconced quite comfortably on North 36th Street in Fremont. To my horror, no one is complaining.
So I have made the depressing discovery that, among Jews, one cannot take love of America for granted — America where Jews have so flourished and benefited from her freedoms.
If you do not believe in the exceptional nature of the American experience and its government, of, by and for the people, then you have been forever ruined by your expensive “education.” My wish for you is this: Find a better place to live and go there. I will send you an unabridged collection of Noam Chomsky lectures for your bedside. France is lovely this time of year.
America is exceptional. Our prosperity is a boon to all Americans and to mankind. The safety of life in America is an historical miracle when taken in context of human history. Can we agree on these precepts? I hope so.
If you have read this far, my liberal brothers and sisters, I thank you. Your comfort zone is stretched like a weather balloon at 50,000 feet. By pointing out our common ground, my hope is that we can have a discourse about our national issues in future columns.
Fasten your seatbelt. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.