Today I resign as a lifelong Democrat, but I cannot embrace Republicans either

Today, as an American Jew, the son of a Holocaust Survivor who fled the Nazis, came to this country, enlisted in the US Army to fight the Nazis, married an American Jewish feminist, became educated and then a distinguished physician and scientist and who raised my brother and myself in an ecumenical, progressive environment,  I am resigning my life-long commitment as a Democrat.

I have voted for every Democratic candidate for President since my first election in 1968 and straight tickets for the most part, ever since. I have supported several Republicans over the years, but very few in recent years. Republicans such as Arlen Spector, Jacob Javits, Nelson Rockefeller, Lowell Weiker, Olympia Snow and others appealed to me.

I believed, and still do,  in many of the progressive ideals of the Democratic party; but I am angry, stymied and feeling betrayed by the abandonment of the party over the last 10 years of Israel and the Jewish progressives in the party.

Three events within the past two days have triggered this decision.

The first is the Iran “Deal.”

I have completed my reading of the accord and the analysis of several experts from the right and left whose opinions I respect and trust. My analysis is that this deal, given the bad actors involved, will have all of the success as Neville Chamberlain’s “peace in our time” accords with the Nazis. From every angle I can examine, this was appeasement and not diplomacy. One could argue most convincingly.that not only did it not remove the Iranian threat of developing nuclear weapons, it insured that Iran, as the world’s largest sponsor of terrorism, would grow into an even more powerful threat to destabilize the Middle East region and be a threat to America, Europe and their allies. When Israel and Saudia Arabia, as well as other Arab countries are saying this is a bad deal, it must be a bad deal.

The second reason has to do with the betrayal of people for whom I voted not showing more backbone and resolve in terms of dealing with the current existential threats to Western democracy and world peace. As a matter of disclosure, I enthusiastically voted for Carter, Clinton, Kerry and Obama with the hopes that their progressive domestic policies would be helpful to our own country and their global visions of peace and harmony would be infectious throughout the world.

I delighted in Obama’s receiving the Nobel Peace Prize and thought that the world would respect such a promise of hope for peace in our time, only to watch Obama’s policies aided by Hillary Clinton and John Kerry’s ineptitudes make the world a far more dangerous place. Let me be very very clear, I did not see the prospect of any Republican candidate making the situation any much better and perhaps even worse. To be honest and in retrospect I have felt in the past 20 years I have always been voting for the lesser of the evils. Consequently, as an American Jew, I feel betrayed by these Democrats and exhausted in my defense of their actions which have now culminated in the bad deal with Iran.

The third reason also has to do with the current Democrat prospects for President and their embracing of the Iran Deal.

Bernie Sanders, who issued a statement supporting the agreement, admitted he hadn’t read it. I was very inclined to support Sanders whose progressive domestic agenda is music to my ears, but whose lack of understanding of the existential issues facing the tribe into which he was born is disappointingly apparent and very frustrating.

Hillary Clinton, who is trying to emerge as having been a tough, hawkish, no-nonsense Secretary of State who initiated these talks with the promise of dismantling the Iranian nuclear program praises the agreement while courting Jewish dollars for her campaign.

Biden, who has always had strong Jewish support has been mute and looked distressed as he stood by Obama during the announcement. All he has to do is distance himself from the Obama-Kerry fiasco and he could get a ground swell of support.

I am not hearing any Democrat candidate for presidency show the courage to speak out against this deal because of the awful terms of the agreement and the problems is creates. My own assessment of the agreement is that it creates as many problems as it attempts to resolve and only leaves our allies with decreasing options to defend themselves from an increasing threat.

Having said all of this, Republicans are right to denounce this agreement as a bad deal and failure of diplomacy, as do the Israel people and Jews and Arabs of good conscience throughout the world. But let me be clear that that doesn’t automatically mean I will become a Republican. I have issues with Republican domestic issues of long standing few of which seem to be mediated by any of the current gaggle of candidates.

So, as an independent, here is what I am looking for in a presidential candidate whom I can support not only with my vote, but with my resources. I am looking for a domestically progressive candidate who will address American economic growth and productivity, immigration reform, health care improvement (expanding ACA), educational reform (improving and expanding educational opportunities in the public education sector), judicial,  penal and justice reforms to reduce crime and recidivism, a broader commitment to civil and human rights at home and abroad and providing equal opportunity for all to reduce and possibly eliminate poverty and a safety net for our most vulnerable citizens — the young, the elderly, the infirm and those who are set back for one reason or another.

At the same time, I am looking for a no-nonsense foreign policy person who understands both political science and military history, diplomacy and enemies who are real threats to free peoples. America needs to be restored to its position of leadership in the world in terms of being a beacon for freedom and land of opportunity with those willing to work and value American ideals. I value diversity and believe we must accommodate those who wish to help build America, but I reject bringing in immigrants whose sole desire is to make America an extension of their homeland from whose oppression they say they are trying to escape.

Currently there is no candidate espousing these ideals either Republican or Democrat. I realize I am part of a greying demographic…a 69 year old American Jew. But let me be clear: this is not about me…this is about the future of my four children and four grandchildren in the current expanding and popular demographic of voters. I want their choices expanded to include candidates who reflect the values we have taught them and which they so well represent as well.

About the Author
Retired College Professor, President Emeritus & Co-Founder Scholars for Peace in the Middle East. Founding Publisher and Editor Kol Central Pa; Philadelphia JCRC; Academic Engagement Network, Residing in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania
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