Jakob Levin
Undergraduate Student at the University of Florida

The Death of the Two-Party System on Yom HaShoah

Picture taken by author (2017) at the Belzec Extermination Camp, once the killing ground for Polish Jews and other peoples Nazi ideology saw as subservient, in what was the Lublin District of Nazi-occupied Poland.
Freight train tracks leading to Auschwitz-Birkenau, Nazi Germany's largest concentration camp where over 1.1 million people met their deaths. By Dinos Michail—Getty Images

Why I registered as a Libertarian. And why you should too if you actually love America and you care about human rights.

January 6th is the ugliest stain on the United States’ moral character since Jim Crow and is perhaps only rivaled by this country’s emphatic embrace of chattel slavery. As April 7th marks the beginning of the Jewish commemoration of Yom HaShoah (Day of the Holocaust if translated directly to Hebrew) and this year, American Jews have an opportunity to remember and actively commemorate the largest persecution in our people’s collective history.

The parallel between the memory of Nazi destruction of Europe’s Jews and neo-Nazis storming the United States Capitol building to halt the relinquishing of power by the President is only there if you choose not to see it. After all, as the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum points out, the Reichstag Fire –initiated by the Nazis and blamed on Communist forces– led to the infamous Reichstag Decree “abolished a number of constitutional protections and paved the way for Nazi dictatorship”. I recently wrote in an article for the Florida Political Review, “Florida’s preeminent student political journal”, that there were three primary armed militant groups that took command of the siege; all organizations with direct ties to those closest to Donald Trump.

It is quite fair to say, based on how vehemently the former president spread absurdities about a stolen election because of his deep emotional trauma that psychologist and his niece has endlessly described, if had the insurrection succeeded that claims by his supporters and him that there were any intentions that were not fascistic is patently false. The ideological connection between the aforementioned organizations and their Dear Leader, with that of the regime that necessitated a Yom HaShoah at all, is why I argued in this article that post-1/6 Trumpists must only be engaged with “with the full weight of logic and truth” instead of through violence. It is also why despite –which the same article notes– that I am now a registered member of the Libertarian Party of Florida; and why I ask everyone who cares about this country’s well-being, whether before 1/6 you made the moral choice or have now come to terms with the reality of Trumpist politics, to join me.

The support for Trumpism among the QAnon crazed evangelicals who seek to establish a purely white and Christian ethno-state and religious Jews seems entirely antithetical to the purpose of Yom HaShoah and, I would argue, Jewish values that enshrine human rights to all people of this world. It is not really if also taken in context with the decline of religious association over the past 30 years. Roughly since the 1992 election, religious people in America have channeled their rage against modernity into political participation. In turn, the past 30 years have also seen tribal politics unbeknownst to this country, which begs the central question of Shadi Hamid’s Atlantic article: “Will the quest for secular redemption through politics doom the American idea?” A redemption of their values and spirit inspires the religious person to turn inward towards their faith in search of guidance, and through this, we can understand why so many Jews in America are unwilling to fundamentally ingrain the memory of the Shoah through their actions.

As David Boaz notes in his book Libertarianism: A Primer, libertarianism is evident as a human construct throughout history and was born out of the shift of modernity towards the 20th century. He writes that “in much of the world, the advocates of liberty are still called liberals” but here in America, both mainstream political parties have espoused grandiose plans founded in freedoms that fail to match the reality of American’s daily lives.

Today’s tribal politics are the inevitable outcome of a century-long ideological battle between Republicans and Democrats sweeping visions of change for the society and state. Republicans fear-monger immigrants arriving at the border and Democrats refuse to even use the term ‘border security’ because it legitimizes, to them, Republican terror-politics. But Libertarians believe the state should decriminalize immigration since the free movement of people across borders is a prime factor in the facilitation of an equitable free-market economy.

The fundamental belief in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is in rapid decline around the globe. Undoubtedly hastened by the ascent of Donald Trump and his politics as a legitimate brand in America, illiberalism and fascism portends themselves as the Messianic answer for the world’s realist problems. They deserve pragmatic answers. Despite this, as Yascha Mounk notes, “The United States has, for now, pulled back from the brink. ” The next presidential election is a long way away, more than enough time for illiberalism to fade away in America as seditionists are tried and society returns to a semblance of normalcy following the deadliest pandemic in America’s history since 1918.

On this Yom HaShoah, let us reflect not only on the destruction of Europe’s Jews but on America’s ultimate sin. When the head of the Republican Party of Texas and militant groups in Georgia advocate for secession and have adopted the Nazi usage of the Protocols as their primal advertisement campaign, the lessons to be learned from Nazi brutality clearly have not been taught. When even Jewish day schools who boast they are the ‘best in the nation’ fail this lesson, there must be radical changes to society. The changes do not lay in blind faith, rather, rational thought and an embrace of modernity. Libertarianism provides this antidote to America’s political ills.

About the Author
Shalom! I'm Jakob Levin and I am currently a fourth-year at the University of Florida pursuing a B.A. in Political Science. I hail from Plantation, Florida, where I attended the Posnack School for 13 years but now that I am a Gator, I call Gainesville home (I am currently in Jerusalem studying at the Hebrew University for the semester). I am open-minded, driven, and passionate about topics that intersect with my American-Jewish identities. I study topics that deal with the parallels between modern anti-Semitism and American political extremism, and issues relating to security and conflict in the Middle East and North Africa. I write on issues pertaining to constitutional law, political violence, elections, and governance.
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