Stephen M. Flatow

Done as a democrat

ea5522009b73bb75b5f1245726a16de0The scene on my television set was quite alarming. The discussion I was watching was a vote on Jerusalem and the faces of those in the seats who were voting were contorted in outright hatred as they shouted “no.”

I was not watching a program coming out of Europe where anti-Semitism is seeking to reach its pre-World War II levels.  No, it was the 2012 Democrat Party convention. The issue before the delegates was the restoration to a plank in the party’s platform that had in prior years stated “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel.” For some reason, that line had been left out of the platform and, as reported in the New York Times, “President Obama, seeking to quell a storm of criticism from Republicans and pro-Israel groups over his support for Israel, directed the Democratic Party to amend its platform to restore language declaring Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.”

How did the vote go? Actually, not so good, as the noes clearly numbered the yeas in the voice vote but after three votes the chairman declared the measure approved.

Like many Jewish baby boomers, I was a born Democrat. At the age of eight I sat on the living room floor and watched the 1956 convention that nominated Adlai Stevenson to oppose Dwight Eisenhower and eventually lose (again). In 1960, I heard my father’s concerns about John Kennedy, not the actual candidate, but his father Joseph who was remembered as being a bit too cozy with the Nazis before war broke out.

The 1960 Democratic convention featured many speeches.  To my 12-year old mind, maybe too many.  At one point Eleanor Roosevelt was at the podium. After a few minutes I asked why the old lady doesn’t sit down already. That comment received a vocal blast from my father who told me in no uncertain terms I should have respect for that “old lady” because she did more for the Jews than most elected officials. I was young and he was right.

I cast my first presidential vote in 1968 for Hubert Humphrey and was dismayed that the liberal Humphrey lost to the arch-Republican Richard Nixon. Another ballot went down the drain as I supported McGovern in 1972, but in Carter I knew we had a winner in 1976. After all, the man had campaigned across the country, he was a Navy man and had experience as a governor. Poor Gerald Ford, the unelected incumbent, was a regular feature on Saturday Night Live because of his clumsiness, and, with the economy in a tailspin, he had no choice.

But once Carter was elected, I began to think that the Democrat party he stood for was losing direction. He was feeble when it came to the Iranian hostage crisis and his manhandling of Israel in the Camp David meetings seemed to be too aggressive. And the president is the head of his party.

Fast forwarding to 2008 I wondered why I was hearing “take it from the wealthy” talk from the Democrats. When did the party become social democrats in the European version of the phrase? And when did we have a Democrat president who called for a smaller role for the United States in world affairs?

Yet, the Jewish voters jumped into line to vote for Obama not once, but twice. As I no longer had anything in common with my party, and especially because of the incident mentioned at the top of this piece, the party of Jefferson, Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy no longer holds an interest for me.

Putting aside the standard tripe that Mr. Obama has done more for Israel than any other president (as if he had a choice considering that American military aid to Israel must be spent in the US,) I’m afraid of what the future will bring. And with the way the Democrats are kicking up the dust over Bibi Netanyahu’s upcoming speech before a joint session of Congress, it doesn’t bode well.

I didn’t create the statement that “I didn’t leave the Democrat party, it left me,” but I wish I had.

About the Author
Stephen M. Flatow is president of the Religious Zionists of America- Mizrachi (not affiliated with any Israeli or American political party) and the father of Alisa Flatow who was murdered by Iranian sponsored Palestinian terrorists in April 1995. He is the author of "A Father's Story: My Fight For Justice Against Iranian Terror."