Today, Israel goes to the polls for a third time. Tomorrow, citizens in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia as well as Democrats abroad will cast their vote in the Democratic primaries. And next Monday night we usher in Purim, the holiday named for the lots that Haman cast.
While a conscious election is not a random selection, the idea of choosing from many to make a singular decision brings these two elections and the Jewish holiday together. But as we know, at any given moment, no single course lays ahead.
Candidates have choices. We see that in their actions and in their words.
In Israel, parties lay down pre-conditions of who they will and will not sit with, and in doing so, seem to set Israel on an unending loop of elections. Perhaps this time will be different.
In the United States, at AIPAC, we have all but two candidates speaking live or by video. While Elizabeth Warren and Sanders choose not to address the conference all the other candidates chose to speak. Joe Biden’s speech was particularly worth watching. In it, he states how peace is critically needed and very clearly points out how both Israel and Palestinians make achieving it that much more difficult.
In the story of Purim, Haman cast lots to choose a date in which to kill all the Jews in ancient Persia, and when his plot was foiled, his random choice became the date chosen for his demise.
By next week, when we celebrate Purim, we should know the basic outcomes of the elections held this week. While Israel’s will give us the number of seats for each party, coalition building may take time and the final shape of the government will not be known. And while the US’s will give us the outcome of the Super Tuesday primaries, of which a significant number of delegates will be determined, it will not tell the entire story. The majority will follow, with 13 more states’ primaries in March, 11 in April, seven in May and six in June.
Voters have choices too. What is important, no matter which election you vote in, is to think about who you are voting for and what that person or party can or cannot do for the country. Whether or not you vote strategically or with your heart, learn what you can about your choices before you cast your ballot. Educate yourself. And if you do choose to vote strategically, my sole advice would be not to base your vote on polls, but on other considerations. Polls require pollsters to have chosen a large enough and truly representative enough sample and for interviewees to choose to tell the truth. Instead, I would suggest that beyond looking at positions and platforms, consider the likely impacts and repercussions should any given candidate or party receive more votes.
Most importantly, vote. Make your choice and cast your lots. And may our elections reflect the selections that each of our countries truly need.