I’m Having Trouble Shedding My Democratic Values

Like many Baalei Teshuva I was raised in a community that was mostly Democrat and now find myself in a mostly Republican voting Orthodox community. Although I have voted Republican in some previous Presidential elections, I still believe in many of the values and ideas that the Democrats represent.

Compassion for the poor and needy, which is consistent with Torah-values, seems to be more of a concern of the Democrats despite the appearance in recent years of Compassionate Conservatism.

Hesitancy to rely so much on unregulated markets seems to be sensible, especially given the recent markets collapse.

A less war-centered foreign policy seems logical given the limited successes of our recent conflicts and the unsustainable costs of continuing the current policy.

The current policy in the Middle East does not seem to have strengthened Israel’s position in the region. Clearly there are no easy solutions here, but I’m not sure either party has won the right to proclaim they are the “true” friend of Israel.

On the issue of Obama the man, versus McCain the man, if we put aside the mudslinging for a second, the issue seems to comes down to experience. It seems like Jewish History is replete with examples of young smart people successfully assuming great responsibilities.

All these issues are obviously much more complex than can be reflected in a blog post, but I’m not sure why I have to be apologetic because I am considering voting Democrat and find that some of their policies resonate with me.

I find much of the discussion on these issues in the community to be a little simplistic and I was hoping that perhaps this forum of thoughtful participants could possibly yield some fruitful discussion. Is anybody else still holding on to some Democratic values?


62 comments on “I’m Having Trouble Shedding My Democratic Values

  1. President Andrew Jackson, one of America’s greatest presidents ( along with Lincoln, TR, FDR, and HST) once was thwarted in one of his policies by the Supreme Court under the leadership of CJ John Marhsall, who delineated many of the legal doctrines that are taken for granted in the American system such as judicial review. Jackson remarked that Marshall had issued a decision, let him enforce it. By way of analogy, Senator Obama was elected President elect. Now, let us see if he can govern. It is far easier to be elected President than to be a great President.

  2. Hi. Ok, i understand. however, it was my impression that there was some question as to whether Obama had some huge radical, sinister undisclosed agenda. The fact that he: a) chose a Jew and b) chose an established Clinton staffer,
    is what leads me to feel that this development put some rest to some of those allegations and other things which have beedn swirling around.

  3. Many Jews with liberal/radical leanings have worked at various levels of the Obama campaign. The fact that they are Jewish gives me no particular comfort in view of their basic philosophy. Look at other such Jews in high executive, legislative, judicial, and staff positions who have—at best—done nothing to advance Jewish ideals or Israel’s well-being.

  4. from MSNBC:

    top priority would be picking a White House chief of staff to help manage the appointments to come. Democratic officials told the AP that Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel was offered the job, but it was not known whether he had accepted. A former aide in Bill Clinton’s White House, Emanuel was re-elected to Congress on Tuesday.

    Two campaign officials said the appointment of a chief of staff was not expected for at least a day.

    Instead, they said Obama would issue a written statement announcing that his transition team would be headed by John Podesta, who served as chief of staff under Clinton; Pete Rouse, who has been Obama’s chief of staff in the Senate; and Valerie Jarrett, a friend of the president-elect and campaign adviser.

    Rahm Emmanuel may be the next Chief of Staff. sounds prety good.

  5. Obama seems to have done rather well in carrrying the moment with his public address. I particularly liked his effort to avoid too much self-congratulation which can be common to victors in both parties. instead, he sought to reach across the aisle, and to seek bipartisanship. this is a moment and a mandate; the main thing is to not endanger it by tossing away consensus and doing too much of a partisan victory lap.

    the other thing to remember is that he has plenty of hard tasks ahead. he should not be subject to nitpicking by members of his own party on the left who may demand instant results, or those on the right who may not be ready to grant a little bit of idological leeway and flexibility. how this will all be dealt with remains to be seen. stay tuned. thanks.

  6. My father came to this country in 1938. He told my mother that people used to swoon when Hitler spoke. We should always beware of those who have people becoming cult members. It never bodes well.

  7. Lots of people want to know how could a majority of German electors slect Hitler who ended up making war on western Europe, USA and USSR, killing 6 millions Jews and 70 millions non-jews.. Public hysteria and mob panic have always resulted in BAD outcomes. The rules of political calculus are not hard even theough the results are no fashionable. Obama’s stated acions will empower terrorists in Iraq and Iran. Iran will continue to supply weapons to empower Hezb’Allah. Like Chamas, Hezb’Allah state their goal in to kill Jews. Voting for a a candidate who is wishy-washy is worse than the current situation. It is like giving bullets to NAZI thugs in 1930s. It is craven, reprehensible and out of touch with the reality of the middle east. Obama policy will cause the death of many Muslims and many Jews. Much more than any US administration so far.

  8. Steve M:

    1) The Torah position is very clear – stated most clearly by our sages who said “it is better for a man to skin carcasses in the marketplace than to live off the dole”.

    Another relevant quote is that “envy… removes a person from the world”.

    The platform of the Democrats is also very clear.

    – The tax plan proposed would issue “refunds” to people who do not pay any taxes.

    – the welfare state will be expanded with new “entitlements”.

    – the entire campaign has fanned the flames of envy with classical socialist rhetoric of class warfare.

    Facts are facts.

    The Democrats are running on a platform of wealth redistribution, carried out by a larger, more powerful government with more control over the private sector and people’s lives.

    There’s a word for that. It’s called socialism.

  9. (revised version, with corrections of typos) by the way, I did not mean to attack the website. sorry if it seemed like I did. I simply meant that this is obviously an overtly Jewish and somewhat religious website. It’s one thing to discuss the correct solution to our problems. It’s another to complain about our common civic obligations. obviously, that is still only my opinion; but I think it is somewhat ok for us to express opinions about which concepts are ok or somewhat less than great to put into the flow of discourse. I didn’t say those concepts should not be expressed, I was simply trying to point out that in my opinion some concepts do elevate our social discourse/fabric, and some do not. thanks.

  10. Hi Mark. yes. however, the difference (in my opinion, at least) is that I attacked a concept, and all those who might hold it. this is no different than all the people above who attack Democrats as “socialists” hypocrites, anti-religion, anti-community, etc etc.

    You’ll notice that i did not describe or criticize any specific poster as being dishonest in any way, or having possessed any similar vice.

    Hope that addresses the issue somewhat. i do appreciate your helpful and constructive posting. thanks.

  11. Steve, I think civil discourse makes lots of sense. With all due respect, is it possible that you helped escalate the mood of the thread with this statement:

    it really does not reflect well upon you or this website to be complaining so stridently about the common obligation incumbent upon all Americans to shoulder our country’s expenses.

    With this statement you attacked the people and the website because they stated a view you disagree with.

    Complaining about perceived unfair or unwise taxation is definitely within the realm of normal civil political discourse. Isn’t it?

  12. Bob Miller:

    I never said that they do. Please indicate any statement of mine where you think that I indicated that.

    Bob, obviously we disagree. Do you think it might be reasonable to focus on our discussion on political arguments for or against, rather than accusing each other? Why are you accusing me of intellectual dishonesty? Did i offend you? Why are you immediately escalating the mood of contentiousness?

    Folks, the tone and content of this entire thread makes clear the need for jews to practice more tolerance and acceptantce. It’s all well and good to say how much you oppose Sinat Chinam. Whoa, Sinat Chinam. We all hate that.

    Well it’s not enough to say that you oppose Sinat Chinam. You have to actually put that into practice, by WORKING to INCREASE the tolerance in ACTUAL conversations with SPECIFIC people whom you disagree with.

  13. The one reason we (meaning all social classes) in central Indiana have cheap electric power is the use of coal by the generating plants. The great champion of the oppressed, the false messiah Obama, thinks of the coal industry as something to tax and regulate out of existence.

  14. Ben-David:

    Please do not use halacha to support or oppose the economic policies of either party. If you have political points, you can obviously make them, and they are quite welcome here.

    There is no halachic basis for labeling the progressive income tax system as being halachic or non-halachic.

    Nor is there any factual basis for labeling the Democratic “socialist” or any other such label.

  15. By the way, it’s conservatives who support tax breaks for the rich of dubious logic or benefit, a loss of common obligation and effort, and ruinous economic policies which are creating the current economic conditions. sorry, but that’s a fact.

  16. Listen you all, a lot of you supported the Iraq War, right?

    Well do you also agree that somebody should pay for it?

    A lot of 19-year-old went over there and got KILLED. they have paid the price. their families are still paying the price.

    it really does not reflect well upon you or this website to be complaining so stridently about the common obligation incumbent upon all Americans to shoulder our country’s expenses.

    Would you rather borrow even more money (now over $1 trillion) from China and Japan?

  17. Probably almost everyone who reads this blog grew up in a home with strong Democratic, liberal values. We have parents who adored FDR, loved JFK & RFK. But somewhere along the way, the party got kidnapped.

    And that’s where we’re holding now, wondering what happened to this nice party we once knew.

  18. I have a mentally-retarded son who lives at home with my wife and I and gives us a lot of nachas. He loves Shabbos especially, and never speaks lashon hara, and I mean never. Obama/Democratic liberals believe that whether to abort him for being retarded was our choice. I also believe that most of them think he should have been aborted. A lot of vicious comments were made about Sarah Palin having her Down’s syndrom baby. On the other hand, I believe that Obama liberals eventually will ban shechitah as too cruel to animals — because the rights of animals must be respected. I think that gay marriage legalization and open military service will lead to the ostracism and condemnation of Jews who disapprove of homosexual relations as “bigoted” and as “primitive” as “Southern Crackers” were on race. I also believe that when we get old and depend on National Health insurance that euthanasia will be practised at increasingly earlier stages of terminal illnesses to conserve financial resources — because we are all entitled to the right of equal health care. The Jewish view of life as sacred will be deemed primitive and extragavant. In short, I think liberalism is leading to a life that is “nasty and brutish” and inimical to a Torah-based lifestyle.

    Stephen H. Weiner

  19. Boy am I glad I missed this post – I am having enough of these conversations with friends and family. And it’s increasingly hard to keep it civil. A few points:

    1) Judaism’s concern for the weak does not include wealth redistribution OR confiscation of private property.

    The Torah lists several commandments of charity – in addition to tithes, we are instructed to leave a corner of the field unharvested, and to let gleaners gather stray stalks and fruits during the harvest.

    Why is this? It is to put the emphasis on work rather than handouts.

    Able-bodied workers are expected to harvest that corner of the field – showing their skill to potential employers, and leaving the “easier pickings” for the less able. Able-bodied women unable to do the heavy work of harvest, can glean.

    Only those unable to work are entitled to receive tithes of fully processed food.

    The Torah describes quite clearly a system of “Workfare” rather than socialism – which is what liberalism has devolved into.

    Which leads to:

    2) Yehoshua’s post about how “I didn’t leave the democratic party, it left me” basically sums up my position.

    When earlier generations of American Jews gravitated to liberalism, being politically liberal did not mean being a socialist.

    Nor did it mean being opposed to Judaic values, or to any public expression of religion.

    Unfortunately the Democratic party has been overtaken by its more extreme left wing – especially so this election cycle. Which leads to:

    3) Those Jews truly concerned with the separation of church and state have to look very hard at the heavy-handed way in which the new Church of Secularism operates.

    We have already seen small businesspeople, academics, and others forced to adhere to a politically-correct worldview that is incompatible with Torah Judaism.

    We have already seen a freelance photographer and a Methodist church brought before the court because they refused to “serve” gay couples. The court revoked the tax-exempt status of the church’s property.

    This in states that did not yet have marriage rights for gays.

    What will happen to synagogues and day schools under such a politically correct regime?

    We have already seen a Canadian priest fined and publicly humiliated for quoting OUR Bible’s verses about homosexuality in a newspaper.

    Jews – especially Torah-true Jews – have to get past the stereotypical liberal notions of who their allies and enemies are – and look at where the real threat is coming from.

    It isn’t Christians who will limit the Jews’ ability to live according to their conscience.

    It is the new Grand Inquisitors of political correctness – also known as “Obama’s voter base”.

  20. “there is actual truth, just not in politics”

    I vote for that.

    “a bogeyman of intentional dependency”



    Now what are you guys agruing about?!

    YMR – thanx for the link.

    As to the overall issue — has anyone picked up that Mr. O has ocassionally referred to the passuk about being his “brother’s keeper” and certainly has dilineated a philosophy imbued with that idea. Now isn’t it fascinating that when H’ asks Kayn that question, we never hear an answer?

    Better yet, the name of K’s foe, in English, is CAIN, as in Mc……..

  21. The media have made Obama support very trendy
    The Democrat dogma is not only anti-halacha but also anti 7 mitzvot bnei Noach.
    The only way an orthodox Jew can support Obama is by engaging in denial and wishful thinking
    (or equivalent doses of ignorance)
    Here is a link to explain http://njop.org/html/NOACH5766-2005.html

  22. They would be wrong just as you might be. And yes, there is actual truth, just not in politics.

    Creating a bogeyman of intentional dependency does nothing but shut the ears of a reasonable individual who might otherwise see the truth of the actual point that the liberal agenda does create such dependency.

  23. David Linn wrote, ” I don’t think that they believe it is failed and harmful but ok since it will get them elected.”

    Any close look at the past would confirm that it failed and was harmful, but their ulterior motives / yetzer hara have helped them to rationalize and ignore past failures.

  24. I guess we can agreed to disagree. While I agree that the agenda is a failed one, I don’t think that they believe it is failed and harmful but ok since it will get them elected.

  25. They both want power, but the Democrats use the specific methodology of “social concern with a hidden agenda” that I described in the context of this discussion.

    No Jew should have any illusions that the liberal Democratic social agenda reflects halachic values and priorities.

  26. Bob, when it comes to either party, there’s no difference when it comes to the leadership on this point, they both will do what it takes to get elected, no?

    Those who know my politics are probably shocked that I am defending the Democrat party.

  27. David, WADR, Democatic voters have all sorts of motivations, but the Democratic political leadership has only one.

  28. A Jew owes loyalty to Torah. Political ideologies are shallow way to express real values. Presenting your political preferences as a faith is irrational strategy for Jews. Democrat dogma rejects Torah values far more aggressively than Republican dogma. As for the literal meaning of democracy, it may be good to remember the majority of the German electors voted Hitler into power. Embrace tolerance and merit as much as you like but history tells Jews to fear secular messianic leaders who take power in an economic downturn.

  29. I am an “evolved” BT Republican. I don’t know and don’t care how I got here but that is the reality. I grew up in a solid Democratic home in NY- I didn’t even know Republicans existed until 20 years ago. But as I matured both religiously and spiritually, the Republican Party seems to resonate much closer to my world view than the Democratic Party does and the gap just continues to grow.

    We are truly a stiffed neck people if we cannot take a man like Obama at his words…. He has flat out in word and deed endorsed judicial activism – in particular tilting the playing field in favor of poor and needy. This concept is totally and explicitly contrary to Torah and the implications are terrible (e.g., Gay Marriage). Add to his list third trimester abortion, redistribution of wealth to non wage earners (not just tax increases), and hints at reparations to blacks for slavery (2001 interview).

    As for my fellow Jews who are still hung up about the separation of church and state as core fall issue – get real- the world has completely changed. Yes you were correct up until a few years ago, but the bottom line is that liberalism is the NEW CHURCH (along with football) in America. It eclipses Christianity. It’s creed is environmentalism, political correctness, pacifism. Littering or parking in a handicapped spot is a much more severe crime today than blasphemy and sodomy. My 17 year old daughter can get an abortion on demand without parental consent but cannot get a Tylenol in school without the nurse calling me. This is MADNESS and it is manifested by the liberalism incumbent in the Democratic Party and its face is Barak Obama.

    I know the Republicans have a ton of baggage, they are incompetent and they are to blame for a good deal of the current woes – but what the Democrats represent is abhorrent. I implore my fellow Jews- do not cut off your nose to spite your face by voting for Obama and his party.

  30. Although most of the Orthodox Community at Penn is conservative, I remember in the last presidential election talking to a friend about how I felt like I was doing something wrong by voting democrat. She was a very frum BT, much frummer than I was (even though we were at a secular university, she didn’t talk to guys, and for her junior and senior years she actually boarded with an Orthodox family who lived in Bala Cynwyd). And she told me that she still votes democrat. I didn’t feel bad after that.

    (Of course, now I’m at Harvard where everyone is a liberal…)

  31. Bob, WADR, and this comes from someone who is a registered Republican and fairly to the right, I think that your “purpose” point is off base. While I agree that much of the nature of the liberal social agenda fosters a perpetual dependency, I don’t think that is the intention of the agenda. I don’t think its purposefully designed to ensure a voting bloc any more than conservative economic plans are designed solely to benefit the wealthy and ensure their vote.

  32. WADR, as an enrolled Democrat who considers himself a neo-conservative on many issues, I think that this post ignores the fact that the same Torah has both Shmittah and Yovel-two Mitzvos that one can are argue represent almost contradictory social agendas. IMO, it is tempting but a huge mistake to identify Torah Judaism with the evangelical right’s stance as well aa those of its other partners on the so-called “social issues.”

  33. What are the essential nature and purpose of the Democrats’ reputed concern for the needy and disadvantaged?

    1. Its nature is to foster a PERMANENT DEPENDENCY of the recipients (individuals and communities)on government largesse—with taxpayer money—instead of enabling them to stand up on their own two feet to prosper independently.

    2. Its purpose is to ADDICT the dependent citizens to government aid channelled specifically through Democrats, so that these citizens will VOTE Democratic permanently and keep Democratic politicians in POWER.

    Any resemblances between the above and the Jewish ideals of Chessed and Tzedakah and personal responsibility are superficial and/or coincidental.

  34. Bravo, Yehoshua. For many of us, it appears that liberals and conservatives have switched places, especially in terms of Israel. Once it was the Democratic party that were our best friends, and Israel was considered an important allie, a country to be proud of. Now the liberal establishment has taken on the cause of “the most oppressed people in the world*”, the Palestineans. Is it any wonder that so many frum people are therefore uncomfortable with their idealogy?

    *quote from Barak Obama

  35. Very well put, Yehoshua, although of course there is a broad scope of conservative and liberal policy and ideology where the lines aren’t so clear cut. One could argue too that the Republican and Democratic parties are neither precisely conservative nor liberal, respectively. I’m not saying the labels and the way you characterize them aren’t useful, only that the categories aren’t always so neat.

  36. I grew up in a liberal home, but I became a conservative even before I became observant. Though my ideals didn’t change, I realized that the policies I once supported very often had the opposite effects.

    For example, I support helping the poor and downtrodden. However, excessive welfare policies create a dependence on government that removes incentives for people to become self-sufficient. Instead of a “safety net” welfare had become an entitlement. This is bad for society, especially for the poor people who became dependent.

    I support minorities. However, affirmative action often exacerbates the problem rather than fixing it. Black students were accepted into universities to which they otherwise wouldn’t be, which lead to both a higher drop out rate and a cloud of suspicion over every black as an “affirmative action” student. Moreover, the Democrats oppose school choice policies that would go a long way toward helping poor, inner-city blacks in grade school, when it would really help.

    These days, it’s conservatives who support fighting evil and promoting democracy, rather than Obama who supports a form of neo-isolationism.

    It’s conservatives who support the free expression of religion as opposed to liberals who think “separation of church and state” means “separation of religion and public life”.

    It’s conservatives who support the weakest among us, including the elderly and the unborn, while it’s liberals who think abortion is just another “choice” and those who don’t have a certain “quality of life” can be eliminated.

    It’s conservatives who support free speech rather than liberals who support college campus “speech codes” and the so-called “Fairness Doctrine” to control speech on talk radio.

    Like I said, my values haven’t changed — support for poor and minorities, the weak and defenseless, oppressed peoples around the world, free speech, freedom of religion, etc. — it’s just that I realized that it’s the conservatives who promote policies consistent with those values, not the liberals.

  37. Which is why many of us prefer think in terms of liberal, moderate, conservative, and variations therein. I’m still a registered Democrat, and do vote that way on many local slates. As a resident of NY, where primaries are only by party registration, I prefer keeping it that way to be able to cast my vote against people such as Al Sharpton.

  38. the problem is not Democratic or Republican values. The problem is any assumption that Republican values have some sort of a lock on our community’s loyalty, owing to some belief that Democratic values are intrinsically wrong.

    The Democratic Party has many valid ideas, many of which are being vindicated by current economic events.

  39. I have no party loyalty. Parties change, people change, the world changes. So what’s the point? If fewer people have party loyalty, politicians have to work harder for our votes. That makes sense to me.

    Who says that you need to shed your Democratic values because you are more religious now? Who says that the Democrats will actually be in line with them in any given election? In other words sometimes Republicans behave in ways that are not truly conservative and the same holds for dems. So you can hold on to your Democratic values, while your party loses its way for a while. Maybe they will find their way back. Maybe not.

    The two-party system is far too clunky to assume that the Democrat on the ticket will actually be in line with the views of many, many Democrats. Same holds true for Republicans. So I don’t think you should stress. Just be open-minded.

  40. Personally, becoming more politically conservative proceeded my becoming more observant by a good decade. It cleared out a lot of the preconceptions about religion that I had when I was younger and made it easier to accept a more religiously based set of values.

    I’ve also noticed a disproportionate number of Republicans deciding to study in Israel among the younger BT (at various stages) set right now. That’s just my personal experience though so should be taken with a grain of salt.

  41. You don’t have to shed your Democratic values! Many of them are in line with Jewish values, and you can make your own decision about each issue. I think that people confuse social conservatism with political conservatism, and the radio hosts capitalize on that. First they hook you by being firm about valuing the life of an unborn child, for example, and once you trust them, they persuade you that it’s bad for tax dollars to help the less fortunate among us. (I’m simplifying the phenomenon, of course.) I’m not sure what compassionate conservatism is supposed to be, but there sure is a lot of suffering out there. And Reagan’s trickle-down economy still hasn’t trickled down.

    As for the current problems with the economy, it’s very complicated, and there’s plenty of blame to spread around: the Democrats for pushing Fannie and Freddie to loan more, and the Republicans for deregulating.

    Concerning Israel, the U.S. has consistently had a balanced position, and it’s very unlikely that any president will change that. Note that although we have seen more and more of Jimmy Carter’s anti-Semitism, he is the only president to have helped broker a lasting peace treaty.

    Obama has displayed good judgement regarding the war and the economy, and has not resorted to mudslinging in the campaign. We might even gain some sorely needed moral leadership from him. For example, he has stated that fathers should stick around and raise their children.

  42. I’m an “FFB” and have always generally leaned more towards Democratic positions. I actually used to have a horrible impression of Republicans, but luckily over the last few years met a few unimpeachably moral people who tend Rightwards politically. So i now know that people who disagree with my political instincts are usually also making decisions based on what they feel is the best decision for helping people in society, just as i am, even though they come to different conclusions.

    Depending which particular Jewish values and obligations you highlight, you can find support for a wide range of political policies and parties.

  43. “don’t think that being frum means you’ll know all the answers” (#7)

    Oh Noooooooooo!

  44. I think any Political Correctness is bad whether it is the frum “Obama is Bad” or the secular Jewish mindset “all Jews must vote for liberal Democrats.” I don’t think Obama will be a disaster if he is elected next week which is certain and frankly I’m more fearful of a sabre rattler like John McCain. For the record I voted early in my home state of Illinois and opted to vote for Constitution Party candidate Chuck Baldwin for President.

  45. As an employee of an Orthodox Jewish Public policy organization I really wanted to put in my thoughts on this post.

    You don’t have to shed your democratic values completely. In fact, many of our most dedicated and senior employees and constituents consider themselves “Democrats”. The only thing we all agree on is the “left” and “liberal” ideologies prevalent in the Democratic Party (and republican party to a degree). For example, the 9th circuit court of appeals, has made some decisions that threaten the moral fabric of our society. This is what many dislike about the democratic party, the fact that it has embraced many of these far left ideologies.

  46. My perception of Barry’s post was the view that not only do people change in religious observance when then become BT’s, but there seem to be other accompanying changes as well. Besides politics, there’s secular culture, reading material, et al.

    That being said, it’s difficult for me to say for sure that I wouldn’t have ended up in the same place politically anyway. As I’ve grown up, the issues that are important to me have changed as well. In fact, an acquaintance from many years ago took me to task because she was astounded that I wasn’t holdig in the same place as when we were 20. My response to her was that if I had’t grown and evolved in all those years (won’t say how many LOL), that would be pretty pathetic.

    So Barry, it’s hard to determine whether this is a religiously motivated political alignment, or a drift in a direction that just seems to be more in sync with with religious people because of key issues like gay marriage, abortion, and the general laxity of society overall. We’ll be reading about just such a society in a few week’s.

  47. A fellow BT David Klinghoffer just wrote a whole book about this. The short answer: “liberalism is the political expression of materialism.”

    He’s got an essay summary of his argument here:

    (Incidentally, the website hosting this essay is hosted on is a VERY liberal, secular Jewish cultural magazine. Read the comments, let’s just say they’re less than polite.)

    His book is at: http://www.amazon.com/How-Would-God-Vote-Conservative/dp/0385515421/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1225217257&sr=8-1

  48. i will openly say first off that i am the person least inclined to engage or even follow any sort of political debate. it just doesn’t work…

    but i’m wondering whether this post was really meant to express apologies and ambivalence about endorsing democrats as opposed to republicans like i guess so many other frum people are (though i didn’t even know that – just to illustrate my self-description…:) – or was it maybe meant to be an expression of feeling like, as frum people, we have to tow the line to the extent of all voting the same way and maybe i’m not comfortable voting this way just because everyone else does…?

    maybe i’ve misread it. i see that all other respondents did not pick up on this. but there sounds like there is some angst there.

    as an admittedly, unabashedly un-political person, allow me to lead you one step back from the specifics of the pro-con, this one vs. that one thing: as americans, we have the right and the duty to express our views. and we certainly want to let our values shape those views. we’ll all try and figure out which way the nevuah should go, this time and every time. but we won’t really know. there is no right answer. but it’s ok because, having done my hishtadlus, that’s all that’s expected of me and Hashem runs the world. that’s it.

    so….back to Barry’s angst – if it is there – my answer is, gee, do your best, and if democrat sits better with you, no one is going to refuse your kid for a shidduch because of that, or blame you if the president ends up doing something stupid. relax, do your best, don’t think that being frum means you’ll know all the answers, or that you’ll be to blame, or that you must do whatever all the rest of us (maybe) will do – it’s ok.

    go for it.

  49. “And that, yes, they may have an agenda, but it’s based on a total misinterpretation of Tanach, so therefore, why should I be bothered?”

    The separation of church and state is what has keep Jews safe in America all these years. Anyone who things that fundamentalist Christians are good for the Jews has obviously never lived in a community where “Christian” is considered a synonym for “good” (meaning, of course, that anyone who is not Christian is bad/evil). There are areas in America where they still believe that Jews have horns on their heads (making us less than human) and that we are “Christ killers” and “devil worshipers.”

    The issue isn’t Democrat vs. Republican. Both have contains ideas that are good for the Jews and not so good for the Jews. Unfortunately both sides are also eroding the separation of church and state which helps helps keep Jews in “less enlightened” parts of the country safe.

  50. As some folks here who are my “Facebook friends” may have noticed, I’ve been engaged in some very lively discussions about Obama with some of my secular friends. Maybe this is a litmus test of being assimilated into the frum world, because I honestly am having difficulty understanding how a Jew can be so blind to Obama’s very questionable associations.

    If I had a dollar for every email I’d received about “how Palin is dangerous to the Jews”, from people who know nothing about Judaism, I’d be set for a comfortable retirement! Generally, I’ve responded to them that Christians have been our strongest supporters. And that, yes, they may have an agenda, but it’s based on a total misinterpretation of Tanach, so therefore, why should I be bothered?

    One friend, in response to my issues with Obama’s socialist platform, asked if I’m wealthy. Hooray, that gave me an opportunity to post a wonderful article from Lori Palatnik http://www.simpletoremember.com/growth/Pirkei_Avos_Who_Is_Rich.htm.

  51. I don’t see the aveira in supporting Obama or for that matter, being a liberal democrat. The Torah embraces supposed democratic values, justice, caring for the underpriviledged sectors of society, and racism is completely antithetical to Torah values, although it has sadly become all to acceptable in our communities. In an article published a few months ago in the Modia Avi Klar declared that our role as Jews is to make friends with whoever gets in. With Obama coming with a double digit lead, it is shortsighted for the Jewish community to throw its support behind McCain. We need a friend in the White House, not a foe.

  52. Barry,

    Though, I’m not one, I know many orthodox democrats.

    Even if one accepts your characterization of the republican ideology in the items above. (Which I do not.) You’ve biased the argument in the items you’ve chosen to highlight. Other issues, which you’ve left out, such as morality, gay marriage, abortion, and excessive welfare tell a different story with regard to Jewish values and the democrat party, especially the left wing of the party which more and more is coming to represent them.

    On the issue of Obama the man, yes experience, or near complete lack thereof in his case, is a major concern. I don’t think referencing inexperienced biblical figures is all that valid as, primarily, they had G-d and the Torah to guide them. Obama only has his far-left, near Marxist, background to guide him.

    On that issue, another concern, and to my mind the major concern, is his foundational associations and mentorships from Jeremiah Wright (a last minute media-generated repudiation is all but meaningless next to a 20 year history), to William Ayers, to Rashid Khalidi which give one no rational reason to believe that he has the wherewithal to govern anywhere near the center.

    I strongly urge everyone to read Josh Muravchick’s article Obama’s Leftism in Commentary Magazine. Josh is a real journalist and not some right-wing hack. So while you may not agree with him you should be able to respect the information he provides and the conclusions he reaches.

  53. Barry,

    Your assumptions are incorrect.

    1. A recent study showed that conservatives give more to charity than liberals. Joe Biden’s tax returns show this to be the case. Democrats don’t care more about the poor – they want to keep them poor and dependent on government handouts so they will remain a loyal constituency.

    2. The market collapse was not due to unregulated markets but to Democratic interference in the markets, which allowed Frannie Mae and Freddie Mac to buy all these bad mortgages, thereby increasing their sale.

    3. As for Obama, this is not just an issue of experience (although that is an issue). He has surrounded himself for years with friends, colleagues, associates, mentors, and now advisors who are anti-Israel. His own statements betray his lack of understanding of the situation here.

    I was also raised in a family that always voted Democratic. I made the break on my own when I first voted in 1980, based on Jimmy Carter’s record and Ronald Reagan’s ideas. I have not always been satisfied with the Republicans, especially on Israel, but I find their stances to be much closer to my own Torah views on many issues. McCain is not my first choice, but compared to Obama there is no doiubt in my mind that he is the better candidate for Jews, both in Israel and America.

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