Jewish Democrats opposed bigotry by voting for corporate donors and bigotry

During the 115th Congress that concludes next month progressive and liberal activists claimed that the GOP was infested with bigots and religious fanatics that will disenfranchise minorities, amplify the voices of hate, empower the rich, and threaten the civil rights of the most vulnerable Americans. Despite this sensational and myopic view of American politics, let’s note that in their supposed role of providing a “voice to the voiceless”  the party has completely betrayed previous campaigns of “getting money out of politics“. More important than that, the Jewish Democrats that for years have railed against white nationalism, racism and Christian anti-Semitism on the Republican side have done the best job they could to empower a progressive stream of racism in their deluded quest to be adequate allies for social crusaders on the Left.

By analyzing the results of this election and how they were arrived at, the best image that can be taken of the Democratic Party is that it serves corporations and the wealthy in the suburbs while indulging the most reprehensible regressive left racism in minority and urban districts.

The Green wave won

There is no doubt that this analysis will meet the same eye rolling from the same people as before. I’ve continued, as an independent voter, to urge Americans of all races and backgrounds to vote for a candidate based on qualifications rather than party line or pandering. There have always been Jewish and pro-Israel voters that are willing to give their support to corrupt and incompetent candidates in exchange for their false assurances. The Democratic Party’s relationship to all minority communities, and that includes Jews can be summed up as: “Stars, hide your fires, Let not light see my black and deep desire.” (Macbeth Act 1, Scene 4).

Those that believe that it was an abiding and deep commitment to the poor and downtrodden that motivated the 2018 midterm campaign should consider these facts from OpenSecrets, a non-partisan organization that tracks campaign donations:

  • California’s 39th congressional district broke all records for a regularly cycled election race, and Democrat Gil Cisneros out spent Republican Young Kim by a 5-1 margin and lost. Kim is the first Korean American to be elected to Congress, and she replaces veteran incumbent Ed Royce.
  • Beto O’Rourke, the candidate called a rock star by ABC News in fawning coverage in the run-up to his election against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), was backed by almost $70 million in contributions, and holds on to $10 million for a potential future campaign now that he has lost.
  • Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts raised a staggering $34 million in a race she was expected to win walking away. This contains many individual contributions but also $36 thousand from Google parent company Alphabet, $30 thousand from media conglomerate Comcast which owns the NBC family of networks, and over $1 million from lawyers and law firms. While Warren has gained a following over her political career for “standing up to Wall Street” much money from financial firms is contributed through the PACs that end up giving the monies to her directly.

The Democrats are not for the working poor, racial minorities, or any other underclass, because they are not paying their campaign costs. This doesn’t make the Republican Party better, it means that they both act different to their voters while behaving the same way in real life. In 2016 Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer claimed that “for every blue collar Democrat we lose in Western PA (Pennsylvania) we will pick up two-three moderate Republicans in the suburbs of Philadelphia. And you can repeat that in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Illinois”.

This strategy failed in 2016 but helped the Democrats win suburban districts during this midterm cycle. Indeed, only one lower income (less than $50 thousand median income) district flipped to the Democrats in 2018, as opposed to 25 in the next two bracket ($50-$75 thousand and $75-$100 thousand), and three in the top bracket ($100 thousand or greater).  The Washington Post used the example of the Virginia 10th House District near Washington, DC as well as the Texas 32nd District near Dallas. In both districts the Republican incumbent was outspent by the Democrat, and both of them are strongholds of the upper middle class.

So progressives and liberals, and let’s include the Jewish voters among them, should consider this: How are they helping promote a more just and equitable society as they claim when the party that they vote for is only gaining support in wealthy and well-to-do districts?

Hashtag for the #Oppressed

Ahead of the midterms Tablet, a non-affiliated Jewish-themed magazine, published a guide to eight candidates it called the “Anti-Semitic eight“. Out of a sense of balance perhaps they chose to include four Democrats and four Republicans. But the reality is that two of the Republicans, Arthur Jones and John Fitzgerald, were unabashedly anti-Semitic Holocaust deniers, but they both ran in districts so heavily Democratic that they were blown out by a 3-1 margin. There was no danger that either one would ever be elected, and their names will likely be forgotten going forward. Another one, Lena Epstein, was called anti-Semitic for inviting a messianic Rabbi to a prayer vigil for the Pittsburgh shooting. She also claims to come from a “long line of loving Jewish Democrats. I am the first in my family to be a Republican”. The idea that her transgression over Pittsburgh merits her being lumped in with hard core hate mongers like Jones and Fitzgerald is laughable. The fourth Republican, the now re-elected Steve King, has been called a “white nationalist” for sharing tweets from personalities like British far-right vlogger Mark Collett regarding illegal immigration and refugees, but he has never made any statements specifically about the Jews.

On the Democratic side there is what I will continue to call the “Nakba Caucus”. These include Louis Farrakhan supporters Danny K. Davis of Illinois and Andre Carson of Indiana, both of whom were re-elected by crushing margins and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota who has claimed that “Israel has hypnotized the world”. All three of these were elected or re-elected. The only one mentioned on the Democratic side not elected was anti-Israel activist and journalist Leslie Cockburn who lost an open seat in Virginia to the Republican by a 47-53 margin. Former Nakba caucus member Keith Ellison was elected attorney general in Minnesota despite domestic violence allegations, and his long standing lies about his past in Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam.

But Tablet chooses a much more concrete definition for Democrats expressing anti-Jewish sentiment than it does with the Republicans. If the same elastic standard were applied across both parties, the Democratic field would include newly elected Michigan congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, New York’s media sensation Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Minnesota’s Betty McCollum, and failed Pennsylvania Democrat Scott Wallace. How did Jewish Democratic and community institutions respond to these candidates?

  • In July Democratic Jewish Outreach of Pennsylvania reversed a previous statement and proceeded to endorse Scott Wallace notwithstanding his foundation’s sponsorship of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign against Israel. This is perplexing given that his opponent Brian Fitzpatrick is a centrist Republican, former FBI agent, and the brother of the previous holder Mike Fitzpatrick who was a staunch ally of the US-Israel relationship.There is no reason that DJOP couldn’t have remained neutral. Fitzpatrick would proceed to narrowly win the race.
  • The Palestinian-American Tlaib’s endorsement was withdrawn in August by progressive Jewish lobbyists J Street after she revealed in an interview that she supports BDS, a One State Solution, and the Right of Return of Palestinian refugees to Israel. But the real question is what on earth motivated them to endorse her to begin with?
  • McCollum condemned Israel for practicing apartheid at the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights conference in September where she received their Congressional Leadership Award. There was no Minnesota area, or national Jewish media coverage of her statements. This is by its strictest definition anti-Zionism, not anti-Judaism, but in either case McCollum won a decisive victory with 66% of the vote in her suburban Twin Cities district that has elected a Democrat every cycle since 1949.
  • Media darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has given a very muddled and confusing message on Israel and Palestine, while not issuing any blanket anti-Jewish statements. Nevertheless, as a member of the Democratic Socialists of America she takes part in an organization that explicitly endorses the BDS campaign and rallies against Israel.
  • In the Florida gubernatorial election Democrats ran Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. Gillum attacked his GOP opponent Ron DeSantis as a racist for claiming that electing a Democrat would “monkey up” the economy with socialism. However, Gillum himself has supported Dream Defenders and CAIR that endorse BDS, and is a graduate of the Rockwood Leadership Institute which is affiliated with the anti-Zionist New Israel Fund. Gillum also has criticized the US moving of its embassy to Jerusalem and blamed Gaza border violence on this Trump Administration decision.

The character and motivation of the Democrat and Republican candidates with respect with Jews or Israel is not exactly the same, but nuance does not provide an excuse for voters pulling the wool over their own eyes. Jewish Democrats have since 2016 argued that anti-Semitism is growing within the Trump Admistration, not among their own party. Many of them claim that their job is to ensure that there is wide bipartisan support for Israel in Congress and for that reason they reject calls to #WalkAway from the Democratic Party.

But if this incoming crop of Democrats is any indication, their mission is failing. Granted, as noted previously many of the Democrats newly elected in the House are suburban bourgeoisie corporate backed candidates and not radicals like Ocasio-Cortez or Tlaib. But these districts will likely also be the most vulnerable in 2020 when the presidential election will bring more voters out for the Republicans. By contrast the radicals are unlikely to ever face a substantial challenge ever again. Indeed, Tlaib’s predecessor John Conyers served for 52 years between 1965 and 2017 and was only dethroned by a sexual harassment scandal. The worst result he ever received was 77%. Even the most “anti-Semitic” Republican currently serving, Steve King, could never dream of such support and has to fight for dear life to get re-elected in his swing district.

Corporate liberalism is not progressive

So given this outlook it is difficult to understand why Jewish Democrats continue to tout their strategy. After all, the party is drifting more toward the anti-Israel side, not away from it and their efforts have not yielded any results. Smelling blood in the water, progressive Democrats and DSA activists will likely primary more established Democrats in safe districts of Illinois, New York, California, and other Democratic dominated states and increase their share in Congress in 2020. Do Jewish Democrats have anything to offer in terms of policy as an alternative to them? Can they explain their continued support in suburban areas for corporate-backed Democrats like Jennifer Wexton and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia? The progressive Democrat and the self-identifying Jewish pro-Israel Democrat seem to be two completely different species supporting conflicting agendas within the same party. And it is clear which agenda is winning.

These are open questions to a voting public that is a hopeless cause. I do not expect Jewish voters to stop voting Democrat, because it is clear from their behaviour that they are gluttons for punishment. For eight years they excused President Obama’s appeasement of America’s foreign enemies from China to Iran, and justified his rocky relationship with Israel by blaming Benjamin Netanyahu and pointing at foreign aid figures. Now that Donald Trump is in office no good deed goes unpunished. Many of them are now motivated to oppose Trump due to his hard line stance on illegal immigration, an issue that they could have cared less about under any of the previous presidents. I do not recall any Jewish demonstrations like this one from June against President Clinton when he rightfully condemned illegal immigration in 1995 when he bragged about deporting twice as many illegal aliens as before. This is artificial plastic surgery compassion at its worst and it illustrates an unavoidable truth that their supposed pro-Israel support for the Democrats is a deception that they play against themselves and the other Jewish Americans that vote for other parties. It certainly will not motivate independents like me that oppose defense spending, foreign conflicts, corporate internet and social media censorship, and a host of other issues that both parties cooperate on to the detriment of a free society. If anything, there is more to offer from Republican, Green and Libertarian candidates in some states than from Democrats on those issues.

There was no “Blue Wave” this year but Democrats got what they asked for thanks to self-important residents of suburbia choosing Nancy Pelosi as the “new” Speaker of the House for the next two years. Yet if anyone is expecting the elderly Pelosi, who frequently has verbal and memory gaffes including calling Trump “President Bush” repeatedly and unintentionally, to represent a competent foil to the White House, they should remember how inept she was from 2008-10 under President Obama. But as for their votes being a contribution toward keeping support for Israel bipartisan and mitigating anti-Semitism in any form, that charade has already been exposed.

About the Author
Ramón Epstein writes analysis of political and social issues from a libertarian perspective. He also writes for the Hard News Network.
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