Is America Great Enough for You Yet?

For the vast number of American Jews, Donald Trump and his followers have become the repository of bullying, intimidation, racism, anti-semitism, hypocrisy, authoritarianism, totalitarianism, anti-democracy and just plain ignorance.

So, I have decided to ask the question Bill Maher recently asked on his HBO show to those in our community who continue to either sit on the fence or outright support Trump: “Is America Great Enough for You Yet?”

With deaths growing daily from coronavirus, when thousands of lives could have been saved if Trump had acted earlier because he feared the virus’ impact on his re-election, with incompetence on testing and distribution of PPE rampant, how many more will sicken and die because Trump wishes to slow up testing because he does not like “the numbers”? How many more deaths will happen because Trump and his minions refuse to social distance and wear masks? How is it that the US now has more than 25% of all coronavirus illness and death in the world? Has Trump’s incompetence and avarice in dealing with the virus made America great enough for you yet?

Millions of Americans are without work and in economic distress because of Trump’s coldhearted calculus that it was far better to get the economy going again to help his re-election than to save lives and get the economy going based on testing, using masks, social distancing and obeying the CDC and his own Covid 19 Taskforce recommendations. Because of Trump’s pushing the rapid opening of the economy we are now in a pandemic resurgence causing more cases than ever before and spreading to young people. Trump’s own resistance to wearing a mask and making mask-wearing a political statement for his followers may cost upwards of an additional 33,000 deaths according to IHME projections. Trump has set the seeds for a further return of closures as the pandemic returns with a vengeance. Has this economic disaster made America great enough for you yet?

As anti-semitism grows as both the right and the left, neo-Nazis and white supremacists feel they have been given permission by Trump to come out from hiding to become publicly active and to see their hateful ideas endorsed by the president himself. The Trump administration’s enabling of these hate groups has coincided with a movement to move from words to acts of violence against Jews in the US. Under Trump’s watch, seventeen Jews have been murdered and levels of violence against Jews and Jewish institutions has increased from 2017 to now. The majority of the murders were perpetrated by white supremacists inspired by Trump divide America through propaganda of fear and hate using anti-Jewish “dog whistles” like “globalists”, use of Nazi symbols such as the Nazi eagle used in a campaign shirt, and a host of anti-Jewish based conspiracy theories and support of the Confederate symbols. While I do not accuse Trump of being anti-Jewish, I certainly accuse him and his supporters of enabling anti-Jewish hatred and racial hatred in general. Has this increase in anti-Jewish murder and hate made America Great enough for you yet?

Finally, there are the moral, ethical and value-based parts of our existence as Jews in America that Trump has attacked and diminished in the three and half years of his administration. Jewish support for the poor, the downtrodden, the ill, the underprivileged and the stranger in our society is at the core of Judaism is as Rabbi Hillel stated, “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor.” Trump’s attacks on immigrants, DOCA, on Asian, Latino and African American minorities is reminiscent of attacks on Jewish immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries leading to the closing of the US borders to Jewish immigration from the Nazis and directly to the Nazi’s “final solution” during the Holocaust. Trump’s use of “America First” during his campaign was reminiscent of Lindberg’s America First party and his anti-semitism. Has this all made America great yet?

The answer is no! America has diminished because of Trump and the Republicans. It is time to end this horror we are living in. It is time to bring back honor, trust, moral vision and above all else hope. We need to not only vote for Joe Biden, but we also must vote out of office all those who have been Trump enablers.

An earlier version of this editorial was published in the Sun Sentinel Jewish Journal on July 19, 2020

About the Author
Dr. Samuel M. Edelman has served as the first executive director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles. Currently he is one of the founding faculty members of the new Academic Council for Israel, and its executive director, and a member of the Academic Engagement Network (AEN).
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