Dear Michael,(Can I call you Michael? We’re mishpucha, right?)I hear you voted for Barack Obama in ‘08, but that you’ll be voting for Mitt Romney this time. I hear this, because the Romney campaign has told me, loudly.
First of all: Far be it from me to suggest that you don’t have a right to be disappointed in the guy you voted for! I’ve been disappointed with this president a time or two myself, and what is democracy if not the opportunity to express that disappointment in the voting booth? You don’t like the bums? Vote the bums out, I say!
But here’s what I will say, and if you’ve got a glass of tea, I’d be grateful.
You say you’ve decided to change your vote for a number of reasons, but the Romney campaign has zeroed in on one very specific thing hasn’t it? We see that specific thing right under your name on the screen: “Democrat. Jewish. Voted for Obama.”
The Romney campaign likes you not for your economic opinions or that nice kugel you brought them, but rather because you’re a Jew who will say “Fie!” on the President. You’re a Jew who will help them and the GOP writ large further the narrative (as financed by the likes of Sheldon Adelson) that a) Jews are abandoning Obama and b) Jews vote on Israel.
But Michael. Michael, Michael, Michael! You and I both know that neither of those things are true!
We learned in the 2012 Jewish Values Survey that two-thirds of our community wants to see Obama re-elected, a percentage that was supported just last month by Gallup. Given that historically, some three-quarters of the Jewish vote goes to Democrats (as was the case with Obama in 2008), for the Romney campaign to suggest that you’re somehow representative of anything is… if I’m going to be honest here, in spite of the tea?... laughable.
Furthermore, Israel is not—by any measure or in any reading of reality—the issue that drives Jewish voting. According to the Jewish Values Survey, only 4% of us put it at the top of our list. Four percent! That’s, like, what? You, Adelson and your families, maybe. Ok, extended families.
I suspect that this ad wasn’t really aimed at our community though—because surely the Romney campaign can Google those data just as easily as I can. I suspect that the ad with the words “Michael Goldstein. Democrat. Jewish. Voted for Obama.” emblazoned across the bottom is really intended for two groups: uber-wealthy Jews like Adelson, and the GOP’s right-wing Christian base.
Adelson et al want to buy a new reality (as they tried with Newt Gingrich in January), and the Romney campaign is happy to do the CGI work. Moreover, though he’s not likely to swing many Democrats, Romney knows he has a problem with his party’s evangelical base—coming out swinging on Israel is a great way to appeal to those Christians. What I’m saying here is: You’re not so much giving Romney a shtetl pass, as a Bible Belt pass.
Which, you know: Up to you! But don’t expect to convince a lot of Jews. What can I say? Be well, if you’re fasting on Sunday I hope it goes easily, and when September rolls around, shana tova!
Oops! I almost forgot! I mentioned that I’ve been disappointed by the President, too! I should tell you why.
Barack Obama came into office having talked about the need for a just two state peace (and if you didn’t know that he meant “1967 borders,” I can only suggest you haven’t been following the news since about 1993), and the very first phone call he placed from the Oval Office was to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
I thought I had every reason to believe that the Obama White House was going to take bold steps to advance a fair and durable two-state agreement. It has not. That has been an enormous, indeed, a heart-wrenching disappointment.
I’m holding out hope for the second term.