From the days of FDR, the vast majority of American Jews have identified with the Democratic Party almost if it were their religion. This included most especially secular Jews like me whose blasé attitude toward their faith and toward religious observance in general made such a replacement all the more important emotionally. This same Jewish majority also identified with the cause of social justice and, as Barack Obama among many others has noted, were some of the most active participants in the civil rights movement of the Fifties and Sixties. That was all how it should have been and was a perfectly logical and praiseworthy epoch in the development of our country.
Hello – those days are over! The events leading up to Monday’s anti-Ahmadinejad demonstration by Jewish organizations at the UN put the final nail in an already long-moldering coffin. Jews should no longer align themselves with the Democratic Party any more than they should align with the Republicans. They should act and think for themselves, devoid of ideological or partisan bias. They should first be Americans, not Democratic Party Americans.
The reasons for this are many, but paramount among them is that being hostage to one political party is tantamount to giving up your freedom and relinquishing your ability to confront reality and act in your own interest, not to mention the interest of others. Many Jewish Americans still do this for reasons that are at best sentimental and nostalgic, and at worst self-destructive. But a tipping point may be approaching. The virtual night of the long knives played out between the Democratic Party and various Jewish organizations surrounding the Iran demonstration, including allegations that party operatives were threatening the loss of tax exempt status over Sarah Palin’s appearance, with more unpleasant revelations undoubtedly to come, is obviously causing people to reconsider this allegiance to the Democratic Party that approaches fealty.
I urge my fellow Jews to keep thinking about this and not to retreat into the cocoon-like safety of an outmoded tradition. Change is difficult. But remember that Hillary Clinton – that paragon of the Democratic Party, a woman who calls herself a “progressive” (oh, desecration of the English language!) – was willing to forego the protest of the man who is arguably the most significant enemy of the Jews since Hitler for partisan and (most likely) personal pique reasons. How morally repellent is that!
And then Joseph Biden told us he was busy–too busy to protest a nuclear-armed madman who fervently believes that his mysterious Twelfth Imam (Mahdi) is destined to unite a chaotic globe under Allah. (And don’t tell me that evangelicals believe similar things. If you think there is an equation between evangelicals and Khomeinist Islamists, you need a cold bath.)
No, those Democrats thought of themselves and their party first, the citizens of this country and the world later. When Republicans behave in a similar reprehensible manner, we should condemn them with all ferocity. But fellow Jews, stop being slaves to the Democratic Party. End this illicit love affair – not just for your own good, but for the good of humanity.