As I re-read the title of this column, I can’t believe I said that. But I did. And I mean it. Not because I love her or agree with her political perspective. I don’t. But because her opponent is so unqualified, I’d sooner see Donald Duck as President than Donald Trump since they both have about the same degree of qualification. And I actually like Donald Duck.
I wish I could say that every other sane person see this the way I do. I wish I could say that all Jews feel this way. I wish I could say that this is the obvious choice among Orthodox Jews. But I can’t say any of that. I can’t even say that I haven’t been tempted myself to vote for Trump since on the issues, most of his claimed positions are closer to my own than Clinton’s. But as I said I cannot vote for a candidate that is so completely unqualified for President no matter how closely his stated views are to mine. Views that seem to change with the wind.
For the first time in my memory, Orthodox Jews are completely divided on who to vote for. In the past, that decision was based on 2 things. a) What’s good for the country, and b) What’s good for Israel or the Jews.
In the case of Trump I’m not sure we can count on either of those conditions. Although as I said I like the stated positions he’s taken on most issues… I don’t know if he can be trusted. Furthermore even if I were to believe he is sincere his lack of experience in office can force him to change once he gets there and speaks to expert advisers available only to the President in important Cabinet offices like ‘State’ and ‘Defense’.
Just to take one example. If his promise to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is met with clear State Department evidence that would make such a move harmful to US interests, he probably won’t do it. (I’m not saying that doing this would harm US interests. Just presenting a hypothetical about Trump’s lack of experience that would force him to renege on a promise.)
Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer has made the following point in how to decide who to vote for. Vote for the policy – not the person. He says that how each candidate feels about the issues is what matters. Although character does matter – since neither candidate has much of one, vote on what their policies would be. Without saying so, it sounds like he will be supporting Trump. Much the same thing was said by Rabbi Yaakov Menken and Rabbi Dov Fischer who are openly supporting Trump.
That would be fine if Trump had a clue about what he was doing. Or at least didn’t make ridiculous promises like building a wall on the long border between Mexico and the US and promising that Mexico would pay for it. Or promising that he would support Israeli settlements and at the same time say he was going to be even handed in negotiating peace between Palestinians and Israelis. The truth is that we have no clue what he will do once in office.
A lot has been made about future Supreme Court choices. Trump’s list of possible considerations has gotten the approval of the conservative politicians that know them. But there is no guarantee that Trump will select any of them. And even if he does, there is no guarantee that as justices they would vote the way conservatives think they would. President Reagan appointed Republican Anthony Kennedy as a Supreme Court Justice – thinking he was a reliable conservative vote. But Justice Kennedy is only a reliable swing vote.
There is so much visceral hatred for Clinton among so many of my fellow Orthodox Jews that they cannot bring themselves to vote for her. They look at Trump and see the ‘anti-Clinton’. Blinding themselves to the complete inadequacy this man would bring to this office. While admitting that his public comments about women, illegal immigrants, Musimms, the handicapped are vile, they dismiss them all saying they are irrelevant and not indicative of how he would govern. And since his stated policies are more in line with their own, he should be the one to vote for.
Rabbi Yosef Bechhofer has another perspective. He was recently profiled as a voter in a JTA article. He too is disgusted by the 2 major party candidates. He will be voting his conscience by choosing Evan McMullin, a write-in conservative candidate from Utah (His running mate is a Jewish woman). Rabbi Bechhofer says that one must vote their ideals and McMullin’s views most closely represents his. Normally I would agree with him. But a vote for anyone beside Clinton is a vote for Trump. Her lead in the polls is shrinking. A Trump Presidency would be far more anathematic to my ideology than a Clinton Presidency.
There are obvious questions about honesty and integrity. Both candidates leave a lot to be desired in that department. But if I had to choose the lesser of 2 evils – it would have to be Clinton. There have been a lot of lies coming out of the mouths of both candidates. But the biggest lie belongs to Trump by orders of magnitude!
I refer you to Trump University. Would those considering voting for Donald Trump advocate Trump University as a legitimate enterprise of any kind? Much less a university? Does a man that defrauded so many people out of their hard earned money to ‘attend’ his now defunct ‘school’ worthy of being the President of the United States?! Can such a man be trusted to lead this country? To set foreign policy? To fix the economy? I wouldn’t trust him to fix my plumbing!
What about the supposed disaster that Clinton would bring upon the US, Israel, and even the world? I don’t see that happening at all. True she has moved to the left on certain issues. But I don’t see her as a leftist on all issues. What I do however see is a sane, organized, and experienced individual that will not put the US or Israel at risk with the kind of scattershot thinking that characterizes Donald Trump!
What about Israel, one may ask? Clinton’s views are no more anti Israel than Obama’s are. Which aren’t really any more anti Israel than those of Israel’s left of center politicians. Like Isaac Herzog and his Zionist Union Party.
There are also indications that Clinton’s policies with respect to Israel – including its relations with its current government – will be far more favorable than Obama’s. Same thing with Iran. What about all the anti Israel advice she has received from some of her advisers? It appears that she has rejected it.
What about her participation as Secretary of State in the failed foreign policies of the Obama administration? Like the ‘line in the sand’ he ignored. Which encouraged Assad to massacre his own people. Which has led to the greatest refugee crisis since the Holocaust? (…although nowhere near it)? Or the premature withdrawal of American troops in Iraq that led to the rise of ISIS?
What about her support of the overthrow of Ghadafi which led to an anarchy in Libya. Which is now infested with ISIS operatives. What about Benghazi? What about Russian aggression against the Ukriane without fear of US intervention? What about her support of a deal with Iran that lifted crippling sanctions against them and allows them to seek nuclear weapons freely in the not too distant future? And in the process giving them tens of billions of dollars which they can (and probably will) use in support of terror?
What about all those e-mails she has lied about – deleting tens of thousands of them instead of turning them over to the FBI? What about the re-opened investigation of her by the FBI? What about all those lies she has told over the course of her 30 years in the public eye?
Ordinarily that would have been more than enough to vote for her opponent. But considering who – and what her opponent is… I have no choice. I have made a decision to vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton.
It is with great reluctance and dismay that I am casting my vote for someone with so much negative baggage. Someone I truly dislike. She is the most hated major party Presidential candidate in my lifetime and perhaps in all of American history. (More than Trump according to a recent poll I saw this morning). I disagree with her policies on a variety of issues. She has a condescending air about her. And I don’t think all that much of her running mate Tim Kaine either. But if she doesn’t win, chaos will certainly ensue.