Republicans and Meshugeneh Jewish Voters

One reason that the Republicans are losing is that they don’t understand why people do not vote for them. Don Feder of GrasstopsUSA.com has a post, which is being echoed by other conservatives, which writes off GOP attempts at attracting the Jewish vote as unsuccessful because “dumb Jews” don’t vote as he things we should. As with the GOP losses nationally this year, the repulsion towards the Republican Party felt by the vast majority of Jewish voters has nothing to do with being dumb as Feder claims. The problem is the Republican message.

Republicans repeat their scare tactics so many times that it appears they actually believe what they say. Feder begins (before getting to the point where he writes off Jews as being dumb):

Back in the 1980s, during the euphoria of the Reagan-era, Neo-cons like Norman Podhoretz and Irving Kristol predicted a seismic shift in Jewish voting patterns.

Once American Jews discovered that voting Republican was crucial for the survival of the Jewish state, they’d naturally align themselves with the party that actually believes in national security, we were assured.

Their argument, going back at least to the 1980’s, is that we must vote for Republicans or Israel is doomed. Some neoconservatives buy this argument, but the vast majority of Jewish voters do not. It appears that Israel has actually survived under Democrats as well as Republicans. Feder’s argument is a corollary of the argument that we must vote for Republicans to be safe from terrorism. Does Feder think that all those living in New York and Washington, D.C, the major targets of terrorism in recent years, are also voting Democratic because they are dumb?

Republicans risk remaining a minority party as long as they pursue a foreign policy which increases the risks of terrorist attacks, and which undermines our national security. Threats that Israel will be destroyed if Democrats are in office fall in the same category as other Republican threats that we will be killed by terrorists if Democrats are elected, that Democrats will take away people’s guns and bibles, or this year that Obama will redistribute the wealth. Republicans are not going to receive the support of Jewish voters, along with other educated voters, as long as they resort to such scare tactics.

Feder quotes a survey on the attitude of Jewish voters to mistakenly conclude that “a significant segment of the Jewish community either doesn’t give a damn about Israel or is delusional.” A more realistic explanation is that Jewish voters did not base their votes upon Israel as they didn’t buy for a second the arguments that Israel would be any safer with John McCain as president. If anything, Israel, along with the rest of the world, would be less safe with John McCain in office. This left Jewish voters free to vote against Republicans based upon the many other issues where they are wrong.

Feder then resorts to the same McCarthyist tactics we have seen from the Republicans (and some Democrats). The attacks based upon distortions of Obama’s relations to people such as Reverend Wright have long been debunked, and those who resorted to such repulsive tactics were justifiably the ones that lost support, but in the primaries and the general election. As long as the Republicans continue to practice McCarthyism of this type they will have considerable difficulty receiving the support of Jewish and other educated voters.

If we are considering associations, Obama’s associations with people whose political views he has denounced is irrelevant. The choice of Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff provides far more meaningful evidence of the actual policies to be expected from an Obama administration.

Feder concludes:

The Republican Jewish Coalition should close its doors. Its budget, and anything else the GOP spends on wooing Jewish voters, should be equally divided between building more Orthodox Jewish day schools (thereby encouraging the Orthodox to have more children) and transporting evangelical Christians to the polls on Election Day.

That would do more to help Israel and to assure Jewish survival than the money wasted quadrennially on trying to bring a message of reason to the mega-meshugeneh.

He is half right. It is a waste of money for Republicans to seek the Jewish vote as long as they pursue extremist policies, and as long as they practice scare tactics and McCarthyism which alienate educated voters. Rather than writing that Jewish voters are dumb, delusional, or meshugeneh Republicans need to reassess both their policies and their tactics.

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8 Comments

  1. 1
    Mona Charen says:

    Jews obviously need an attitude adjustment…

    Thanking Christians and more [Mona Charen]
    Daniel Pipes, Cliff May, David Horowitz, and yours truly, ably led by Michael Medved and sponsored by the Jewish Policy Center, talked of Iran, terrorism, and why Jews should be more grateful to Christians, among many other topics a couple of weeks ago at a suburban Cleveland synagogue.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    It is not the majority of Jews who need an attitude adjustment. Most know better than to vote for Republicans.

    Thanking Christians is a rather meaningless comment ideologically since there are Christians with a wide variety of views (as there are some Jews with conservative views). If by thanking Christians you mean right-wing Christians, the view of most Jewish voters on this is pretty clear.

  3. 3
    Rob in Michigan says:

    I’m not Jewish, nor any religion so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

    Perhaps Jewish voters voted for the Democrats because… gasp… they’re NOT LIVING IN ISRAEL! Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Israel is important to Jews the world over as a religiously significant spiritual homeland. However, is Israel providing them jobs, saving their dwindling retirement accounts, or having any significant impact on U.S. domestic policies which impact their day to day realities? No…, because Israel is an ally of our country and not our country. They probably voted for what was best for the United States of America… the country in which they live and work.
    And what will always be best for Israel, is a strong and wealthy America. So, you see, they are supporting Israel by rejecting Republican scare-tactics and using common sense.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    Rob,

    That does come pretty close to what I said above with one difference. If Jews really thought Israel was in danger then this would be an important issue, even to Jews not living in Israel. However as most Jews (beyond some prominent exceptions with the neocons) do not believe Israel is any safer with a Republican government, Jews can vote based upon what is best for the United States.

  5. 5
    Jeremy Pober says:

    Ron,
    I think you’re right about a majority of practicing Jews caring to some extent about Israel. But a lot of self-identified ethnic Jews, such as myself, are secular and, like Rob suggests, consider ourselves Americans first and only–I’d include myself here.
    I love our separation of Church and State, and feel that Israel’s lack thereof is a problem. I obviously don’t want to see Israel–or any other country–eradicated, but I think the US’s being unquestioningly pro-Israel is actually a deterrent to rational foreign policy at times.
    I may be an outlier, or it may be that most secular ethnic Jews such as myself don’t self-identify as “Jewish” for polling purposes, but I don’t think I’m alone in this mindset.

  6. 6
    Ron Chusid says:

    Jeremy,

    Thinking back to times such as the start of the Yom Kippur war in ’73 when, if only at the start, Israel did appear to be in some danger, there was fairly strong support for Israel including from ethnic, secular Jews.

    The difference now is that Israel isn’t seen as being in that type of danger so there is no need to base voting upon Israel (especially as the Republicans offer no advantage over the Democrats with regards to Israel).

    Some might differ, but for the most part I think there would be strong Jewish support for the safety of Israel if it was seen as being in such danger–which is not the same as supporting Israel on all issues. It is just that the question is not really relevant to current voting decisions.

    The lack of separation of church and state in Israel is a concern and I would certainly not want to see it compromised here as it is in Israel. On the other hand, Tel Aviv has a reputation for being a quite secular area.

  7. 7
    Jeremy Pober says:

    Ron,
    Perhaps it’s a generational thing–I wasn’t alive in 1973, so I don’t remember that. If Israel were in danger of being destroyed, I probably would favor US intervention, but that might or might not be the result of a tie I feel to the area. I’m pretty unilaterally against countries getting destroyed. So I don’t know whether the generational gap means that me or my generation just aren’t aware of the levels of support we harbor for Israel (which is quite possible) or that our generation separates being Jewish from being Israeli or being an Israeli sympathizer more than those who can remember 1973.

  8. 8
    Diane DP says:

    Why would Jews vote for Republicans?
    They are not valued except for their vote.
    They are seen by republicans as a people who need to have a religious conversion and are there for only one purpose, and that is to fulfill the requirements for the Rapture?

    Why would Catholics and Jews align themselves with the Republican religious right? I can’t understand it.
    They see their religion as the one true religion and our religious beliefs would not be tolerated because they are not the “true beliefs”.

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