I used to want to be a politician.
No wonder people think I’m crazy.
Politics has been on my mind for the past ten years. Back in 2004, I was living near John Kerry and his wife in Boston, so the 2004 general election hit close to home. The Democratic National Convention was also being held in Boston that year and I remember marveling at the amount of cops on horses that galloped down my street. Being fifteen-years-old, I wasn’t old enough to vote, but I was at an age where I began to think of my values. I wasn’t sexually active, but I supported birth control and a woman’s right to choose. I had gay friends, so I supported policies that would benefit them (Massachusetts began same-sex marriages in 2004). I didn’t think embryonic stem cells were people and I hated No Child Left Behind after dealing with its ramifications as a student in a public school. So who would be the political party most aligned with my beliefs? The Democratic Party.
John Kerry lost the 2004 general election, so when I turned eighteen, I registered to vote and voted in the 2008 primaries. Politics had become an exciting thing at my college with Barack Obama seemingly appearing out of nowhere and the prospect of having the first female president in Hillary Clinton. Of course, I didn’t realize at the time that my college was extremely apathetic about politics. The majority of girls at my college only voted for Obama because he was young. They couldn’t elaborate on his policies. My college was predominantly white and full of young adults, so age played more of a factor than race. For an education college, the fact that my college—students and administration alike—endorsed Obama, stunned me, as Clinton had better education policies. And at the end of the day, even with Obama going on to be the first (half) African-American president, he was still a man. Race is a socially constructed concept. Biological sex is not. (Nota bene: I am not referring to gender, which is a socially constructed concept.) Obama won in 2008 and life moved on. I helped to organize a viewing of the Inauguration Day ceremony with my college’s political caucus, but after Obama was officially the president, politics took a backseat at my college.
Politics may have taken a backseat at my college after Obama was elected, but politics was always at the forefront of my mind. I took Gender and Politics the second semester of my freshman year in 2008, so combined with the elections, I thrived on the excitement. My professor, Dr. B., the woman who had inspired my love of teaching, had once said that one doesn’t care about their rights until they lose them. Having lost my Title IX rights and my first, fourth and eighth amendment protections at the hands of a zealous administration that only cared about its image, I began to care about my rights. In 2009, I joined the Greater Boston Young Democrats (GBYD). I was also the first sophomore Student Policy Fellow from my college at the time and was interning in the Massachusetts State House for Representative Alice K. Wolf, a democrat in Cambridge. The State House had remained relatively calm the four months I had been there since it wasn’t an election year and I greatly enjoyed my experience. While the people who controlled leadership positions at my college did not care about my special status in the program (see my post “Masa Israel And My Second Chance,”) Representative Wolf inspired me to become a politician. How wrong I was to think I could do it.
More time passed. By early 2010, I was interning in the office of Congressman Stephen F. Lynch, my congressman. I had the choice for my advanced American Studies requirement to either take a class or do an internship. The choice was obvious. I didn’t agree with Congressman Lynch on several issues as he was a socially conservative democrat and I tend to be more liberal. Still, I figured if I was going to still run for office, I may as well get used to dealing with democrats I didn’t agree with. And, unlike Representative Wolf, Congressman Lynch could help me with a constituent problem as he was my Congressman and I was not one of Representative Wolf’s constituents. The first couple of months in the office were pretty calm, until the “Obamacare” phone calls started to come in. I didn’t understand what the big deal was because I had had health insurance before “Romneycare” had been implemented in Massachusetts. Some of the phones calls I had to take were nothing short of revolting. I had been told that Obama was a “fascist, black boy.” I had been told by one caller how he wanted to “hang the congressman with a noose.” All the other comments were about how “Obamacare” was “socialist” and “bad like the NHS.” And when constituents and non-constituents alike were yelling at me, my friends in the GBYD weren’t much better. Sure, I still attended their events and went to two conferences out of state, but they slammed me for interning for Congressman Lynch. I could tell them until I was blue in the face that I wasn’t getting paid, this internship was for credit, that I wanted to learn how to deal with a democrat I didn’t agree with on social issues and that I needed a recommendation to study abroad. It never changed their minds.
On my last day in Congressman Lynch’s office, I was accepted to study abroad in London. I have referenced in several of my blog posts the difficulties I faced while living there, but I have never delved into the political difficulties. I enjoyed my internship with the Co-operative Party (jointly working with the Labour Party), although I found British politics difficult to understand; my area of expertise had been lamenting with the heavily pregnant office manager about how bad parental leave policies were in the US compared to the UK, a political situation I knew about firsthand dealing with teeny, tiny babies while working in a daycare in Boston. Not only did I have to transition to living in a country with socialist policies, I had to work with politicians who were not as emotionally engaged in issues that affected women and children as Representative Wolf and Congressman Lynch had been. This is not a reflection of the Co-operative Party itself, but a point about how the pedagogy at my college shapes the minds of its students. I was taught politics from the perspectives of women and children. Even if interning in political offices was different than my paid job as an Assistant Teacher at a daycare, I still tried to fulfill my college’s mission of helping to improve the lives of children and their families. This was not something I felt I was able to achieve at my internship in London, or with the people in my cohort, either.
My difficulties with my London cohort have also been mentioned several times on this blog. Things came to a head one night when I went out with the Dandelion, DJ, and two other people in our group, Jen and David L. The Dandelion and I had gone out earlier in the day so I could get a makeover. I can’t remember what transpired exactly, but as I was going on about something political, I stood in the middle of the street, and told the Dandelion that I didn’t want to talk about politics anymore. I had already felt isolated since the eleven other people in my cohort were in “cooler” fields (PR, news, fashion, etc.) and they had never worked with children, nor had they taken classes that were geared towards helping children. Needless to say, we clashed.
While the Dandelion, DJ, Jen, David L. and I passed around our hookah pipes at this lounge called Pasha, someone brought up conservatives in politics. I stayed silent, until all four people in my cohort stared at me. So as per usual, I said that as a woman, I would not support a conservative. The Dandelion began to go on about how conservatives were great. She was a liberal, mind you. When I said how deleterious George W. Bush’s policies had been, she went into a whole spiel about how great he was for Texas. I figured this was a home state pride thing for her being a Texan, so I started to stay how bad Ronald Reagan had been to try and change the subject. Again, the Dandelion defended him and screamed at me, “Haven’t you ever heard of Reaganomics?!” No, I had not been taught about Reaganomics; my college’s focus on Reagan had been how deregulation had been the reason why children saw so many commercials that were harmful to them and how him making the drinking age 21+ in the US lead to binge drinking in secret on college campuses. I looked over to David L. for help since he wasn’t 21 and London had allowed him (and DJ) the freedom to drink. David L. went on about Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), even though I had nothing against them; I never found the drinking age in America fair because I wasn’t stupid enough to drink and drive and didn’t think I should be punished under a law that has proven to not deter underage drinking. David L. eventually stopped while the Dandelion went to the bathroom. I began to cry because I was not used to the Dandelion raising her voice. I stopped before she came back and cried in her arms later on in the night after telling her I was done with politics. She said I couldn’t say that because I was mad at her, but rather that she was just trying to prove to me that if I couldn’t handle a debate with her, there was no way I could handle a debate in front of millions of people. It wasn’t until after coming back from the emergency room a month and a half later on Thanksgiving (where I received free medical care under the “evil” socialist NHS as political pundits called it) when David L. was proofreading a PowerPoint presentation I had to give about my internship. He told me it was too long and that I would never be a politician because while I was a good writer, I didn’t have charisma. I asked why this wouldn’t make me a politician and he said that I was a speechwriter, not a superstar. The public wanted a good speaker, which I wasn’t. I would never have the charismatic authority that politicians have. I never listened to David L. because I thought he was a bully. This time I did and I started the abandonment of my quest to run for office.
Coming home from London was fairly simple. I rejoined the GBYD and they were happy I had been the only person in my London cohort to vote absentee for the 2010 midterms. I still attended their events and even met my (now) ex-boyfriend at one of them, but due to an awkward breakup, I had avoided the meetings until I stopped going completely. I had also been looking to get my master’s degree in Political Science, until I decided against it. Nannying was not what I wanted to do, but with a bachelor’s degree that gave me knowledge without making money, I took whatever job I could get. While I had been happy to have gotten into a master’s program for Public Policy in 2012, I had also decided against that at the advice of my Birthrighters.
Birthright was an interesting place to be political. I had been nervous about being around people who didn’t have education backgrounds (as had been my case with my London cohort), but since we were all Jewish, we had something in common, whereas I had absolutely nothing in common with my London cohort. I had only been back in Boston for four months before Operation Pillar of Defense happened and I had to be on the defensive about Israel. It had only been a few days after I had gotten home from my ten-month program in Israel this past year when Operation Protective Edge had commenced. I was on the defensive like never before, wondering how people could chastise a country that they have never been to. Was I an expert on the situation? No. But as I have maintained before, unlike the 99% of people who were spewing their anti-Jewish trash, not only had I visited Israel, but I lived there, and, more specifically, I lived in Netanya, a city that was bombed on an almost daily basis by Palestinian suicide bombers during the Second Intifada. I may not be an expert on Israel, but I damn well know more about Israel than these anti-Jewish zealots. And for these people to have the audacity to tell me what to think about my second home? There are no words.
What had been the most shocking to me in the anti-Jewish comments I would see online during Operation Protective Edge were not what the words contained but who had been saying them. They were not words from people who put the Jews in gas chambers. They were not the words from people who kicked Jews out of country after country time and time again. They were the words from democrats, ranging from the people I follow on Tumblr, the liberal-leaning websites and my friends on Facebook. The Democratic Party, the party that espouses a belief that women have the right to choose, that GLBTQQI people deserve the same rights as heterosexual people, that religious freedom is important, that healthcare should be a right for all and that we need gun control completely abandoned Israel, the ONLY country in the Middle East that carries these values. Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. Never mind that a woman can get an abortion in Israel. Never mind that gay people don’t get hanged in Israel. Never mind that Muslim women have more rights in a Jewish country than in the 50+ Muslim countries in the world. Never mind the fact one can be as Jewish as they want in Israel. Never mind that Israelis have access to healthcare in a system not broken like America’s. Never mind that Israel has strict gun control laws, school shootings are a rarity and the Knesset actually passes gun control legislation. No, these things don’t matter to the party that I have belonged to for seven and a half years.
I fail to comprehend why several democrats have abandoned a country that supports what they believe. I learned in my Kol Voice Fellowship that after one of the (several) times Israel had been attacked, Israel adopted a stance that she would never be defeated. Is this good for the citizens of the country? Yes. Is this good for PR? No. I know democrats tend to support the underdog, but after Operation Protective Edge, I noticed that they were not actually paying attention to the historical context of this war. How any sane-minded person could think of Hamas as the underdog completely baffled me. But then it hit me; the democrats were using numbers, not reason. I saw this when one of my democratic friends posted a link on Facebook about the differences in numbers between the people killed in Gaza and the people killed in Israel. All he said on the post was, “Some perspective…” No one liked or commented on the post, but here was a post of such sheer ignorance. This post completely ignored ANY of the actual reasons behind this war and why there were fewer deaths in Israel. This post didn’t mention that Israel put its money towards bomb shelters, alarms and the Iron Dome. The post didn’t mention that Hamas was using children as human shields or telling people to ignore the warnings that the IDF gave out saying when they were going to attack (find me another army that does that). The post didn’t mention that Hamas was hiding weapons in civilian buildings and that the useless hacks at the United Nothings Rocket Warehousing Agency had found weapons in schools in Gaza three times. The post didn’t mention the thousands of rockets that were pouring into Israel every day. Numbers are not what matter here, my darling democrats. It’s about intent. I guess if the democrats want to only go after numbers, then they must not want to see the surviving bomber of last year’s Boston Marathon bombings put away since the bombs he and his brother planted only killed three people. Get it together, democrats. It didn’t matter if no one got killed or if no one suffered injuries; it’s the intent that matters. But I suppose facts get in the way of Jewish hatred.
The democrats were no better this summer than when they had the audacity to compare the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri to what was happening in Gaza. While the situation looked like Gaza prima facie, again, the democrats failed to see the intent behind each situation. In Ferguson, the African-Americans want to have the same rights as white people. In Gaza, they want to kill Jews not just in Israel, but around the world. In Ferguson, the protestors did not deserve to be tear-gassed because they were not breaking the law. In Gaza, they throw Molotov cocktails and stones at the IDF and civilians driving their cars. The African-Americans are not blowing themselves up in malls or restaurants, firing rockets into the predominantly white cities in Missouri or digging tunnels underneath the ground to kill whites. Big, big difference, democrats. But my party doesn’t see that. And now after the decision was made to not indict Officer Darren Wilson, I have seen these asinine comparisons (particularly on Tumblr) again.
I get that it’s “trendy” to hate Israel. Hamas, no question, plays the PR game very well and has somehow managed to convince the world that they’re the underdog. This is why I always laugh when people say that the Jews control the media. You find me one liberal news station that has a pro-Israel slant. This summer has shown me some of the vilest and misguided things I have ever heard about Israel, and, more to the point, Jews. Can the democrats please tell me where they get off telling Israel what to do with her borders when America can’t control her own? Where do they get off absolving Hamas of ANY responsibility? Where do they get off calling the IDF baby killers when the American military killed thousands of children in Iraq and Afghanistan while looking for the so-called weapons of mass destruction? (Oh, I forgot; the American military isn’t Jewish, and neither is America, so they can do whatever they want.) And on a more personal note, where do the democrats get off telling me, my friends in and out of Masa who have lived in Israel, what to think and do about the country that is the only country that will protect the Jews? Sorry, democrats, but you have no right to tell me, my friends or the citizens of Israel what to think when a.) you have never been there, b.) you aren’t Jewish and c.) you have absolutely no idea what it’s like to have your neighbors firing rockets into your country or blowing you up in malls and restaurants when Canada and Mexico have never harmed you, nor DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED a group of people who have called for the complete annihilation of your people. And until the day Mexico or Canada starts doing this, you need to leave Israel alone.
I’m resurfacing after three months. I’m not sure why. It just seems like the thing to do today. Being a person who completely overthinks everything, I decided to forgo analyzing coming back to my blog and instead, just do it.
Which I guess brings us to me. And that is way too complicated for an initial blog post after so much time away. I am struggling. Physically with the weather changes and being sick. Mentally with my party’s complete abandonment of the only democracy in the Middle East. Call it anger. Call it bewilderment. Call it whatever you may be inclined to call it. It is what it is and I still fruitlessly attempt to get through it. I suppose coming to this blog that started last year when I wanted to talk about my experience as a young twenty-something teaching English in Netanya will help. It’s difficult to say. Yet, for some reason, here I am. I am looking for the party I still call mine and the democrats who have the guts to stand up for Israel.
Thanksgiving arrives today. I spent it in London last year with my sister, Devon and her boyfriend, Will. We will all be at my grandparents’ house this year and so I will hear the criticisms of how I’m not thin enough, how I don’t have a “real job,” and still being asked why I gave up running for office.
I used to say that I gave up running for office because of the political isolation in London.
I used to say that I gave up running for office because I was bullied in elementary school, my first high school, college and in London and if I couldn’t handle bullying by a few hundred people, how could I candle being bullied by millions?
I used to say that I gave up running for office because politics is nothing more than a popularity contest.
But no. These are not compelling reasons anymore.
So when my grandmother tells me today how she had such high hopes for me as a politician, I will tell her that I cannot run for office because I committed political suicide.
I didn’t commit political suicide by cheating on a spouse, stealing money or passing an asinine law. I didn’t commit political suicide by lying to the public about something .
I committed political suicide for one simple reason—
And that is that I am a democrat who supports Israel.