As an American immigrant, the shift in the electoral system that I faced when I moved here was both exciting and confusing. Voting for a party rather than an individual forced me to think about my vote in an entirely different way, and the plethora of mid-sized parties (even the two “big” ones aren’t truly big anymore) rather than just two brought other elements into my election equation.
I am not a fan of Prime Minister Netanyahu, and I have already written about my disdain for his decision to push us into early elections and why I think he did it. But that is not what is determining my vote in the upcoming elections. I am no fan of the Herzog/Livni dynamic duo either.
Yet, I have many friends who have indicated they will likely be voting for one or the other of those two options. Which got me thinking a lot about why they are doing so, and about what that decision says about them.
At the national debate held February 26th, neither of these two parties deemed it worthy to share their political beliefs with the public. Some Zionist Union supporters claimed this was Netanyahu’s fault. If Herzog had joined the debate while Bibi did not, it would have made Herzog seem like he was playing with the little fish.
I say firstly that his appearance would instead have put pressure on Netanyahu to account for his absence. But more importantly, it would have given the public the chance to actually learn why we should give Herzog and Livni our votes. That’s a lot more important than how it might make him “appear.”
What about party platforms? Call me old fashioned, but I still expect my politicians to tell me what they plan to accomplish in office. The Likud has not even deemed the public worthy of hearing what they stand for. Their website contains no platform of any kind. Not even a statement of principles.
Labor, meanwhile, had a pie-in-the-sky statement of broad accomplishments they said they “would” do if elected. How would they do this? Good question. We’ll get back to you on that. To their credit, they recently updated their platform on their website. It focuses almost exclusively on economic issues, though they also include other social issues under that rubric.
Still, an examination of the platform shows that it remains a collection of largely broad claims, short on details. And where there are details, many appear to be little more than populist band-aids rather than solutions. Still, though very late in bringing their platform to the table (did they just now figure it out?), I’ll give them a few more points in this case.
So fine, we know a bit about what Labor+Livni stand for (let’s be honest — adding a couple of people to your list does not give you the right to rebrand the whole party). What does Likud stand for? In the absence of a platform, we must look at public statements to try to glean some idea. And what I have been hearing most from Bibi is, “Iran, Iran, Iran.”
In no way do I minimize the threat from Iran. The question, however, becomes: Is Bibi the only one who can deal with this threat effectively? He’s implying that is the case. That a vote for Bougie/Tzipi will doom the country to Iranian annihilation.
Similarly, Herzog/Livni would have us give them our votes because if Bibi stays in office, we will lose America as an ally. Which would equally destroy our country.
The slogans of the Z.U. and the Likud continue this pattern. They reveal what these two parties think this election should be about. Zionist Union says “It’s Us or Him” and Likud counters with “It’s Us or Them.” Both parties vying for votes by pitching themselves as an alternative, implying the other would be disastrous.
Getting back to my Likud- and Labor-voting friends, I asked them what made their decisions. While some admittedly claim an agreement with the party principles or their prior performances in government, most came back to this same issue.
Z.U. voters told me that by voting for anyone else, there was less of a chance of getting Bibi out of office. Likud supporters indicated they were scared of what Bougie and Livni would do as leaders of this country (not that any of them gave me concrete reasons for their fears).
So what does all of this add up to?
Vote for me because the alternative will be worse. How do I know? I just do. Trust me, they will be.
Well you know what? If I honestly were convinced that either of the two main alternatives would be drastically worse, I might consider voting for the other side. But frankly, I think either option will be bad. I’d rather try to increase the voice for the principles I believe in, hoping they will gain some ground within the Knesset framework.
I have never lived my life based on fear. I make decisions based on reason and hope. Some other parties in this election also practice the politics of fear, but a number actually stand for principles, plans and accomplishments.
When you place your vote next week, I encourage you to think about what your vote says about you. Are you a person who acts out of fear, or out of reason and hope?