I always considered myself to be a one issue voter here in the USA. That issue is Israel. So, in utter simplicity, if the candidate is proIsrael, I’m supportive. And the reverse is also true.
However, in recent years there has been much more nuance within the Jewish world, much of it generational and much of it based on religious practice. So, if you support Bibi, who’s your American candidate of choice? If you are J Street do you support the same candidates as if you are AIPAC? And, of course, there are narrow self-definitions that intrude. Life is complicated and politics even more so!
But, all that has been off my radar screen since this cycle’s election campaign has been so obscene, tasteless, devoid of policy statements and dominated by a Republican candidate who is beyond despicable but is yet capturing millions of votes and headed straight towards the nomination despite all the punditry that indicated the impossibility of this actually happening. His name is Donald Trump.
He has no experience to prepare him for the job as the most powerful person in the world. That seems to be the sole criterion that his supporters can muster. Would they seek out a surgeon with such a background? Or a car mechanic? Or even a window washer? I wouldn’t.
Like many, when Trump first began his campaign, I assumed the electorate would quickly douse his arrogance and reject him overwhelmingly. After all, what does he offer? He’s a conniving, bombastic businessman with limited success in even that arena, but with a powerful ability for self-promotion. Who wouldn’t see through that?
And his crass attacks on his competitors continue to be nothing less than shocking. Just yesterday he spoke about the eating habits of a competitor. Really relevant to US foreign policy? His gutter talk, invitations to violence, egomania, all documented endlessly. Who would vote for him?
He behaves like a nasty third-grader. I’ve heard him say he started it in response to a rebuke. As a school teacher, I taught some nasty third-graders; that was a common retort.
So how do we find ourselves here? And how do we find our fellow Jews saluting, applauding and giving standing ovations to a man who I fear will be a demagogue? Haven’t we learned anything from history? I fear not.
For me, this election means voting for the least likely to do harm vis a vis Israel. Polls have shown that many voters dislike ALL of the candidates, a remarkably sad commentary. I will make my choice, but there is no chance that it will be Donald Trump.