My response to the question, Why did Obama garner 78% of the Jewish vote?
Initially, I might have responded, Yes, and why do we drive on a parkway and park on a driveway or why are men less emotional or at least less demonstrative than women?
But I read a piece very helpfully titled Why Are American Jews So Liberal? by a Professor Laurence D. Cooper, chairman of the department political science at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn.
I could just post the link, but in so doing, I would effectively be eliminating my middleman self from the process, and I certainly don't want to do that.
The first part of his explanation has a parallel in the American South. Up until the eighties, the Democratic Party held the South in a tight grip. Indeed, here in Kentucky, notwithstanding the presidential elections, the Democratic party still holds an inexplicable spell over some deeply religious and deeply rural parts of the state.
The prevalence of Democrats in the South, of course, dates to the 1800's, when belonging to the Democratic party was as essential to being "Southern" as believing in Christ was to being Christian. (As was being a Christian to being a Democrat. Figure that one out.)
So it is with American Jewry. The Jews of America are obviously the descendants of European Jews who were classically liberal in part as a measure of defense and a measure of reaction to European "conservatism."
This piece by Cooper was almost as instructive regarding the history of conservatism and liberalism as his explanation for Jewish liberalism.
It's necessary to point out that American conservatism is not European conservatism, especially not the Euro-cons of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. That strain of conservatism was particularly and often viciously anti-Semitic. There are several facets to this. Catholicism was obviously largely antipathetic toward Jews/Judaism. And unfortunately, Protestantism, beginning with Martin Luther, was little, if any, more sympathetic. Among the conservative dogma you'll find Luther's assertion that Jews should be driven to conversion under pain of exile or punishment. You'll find a paranoia of Jewish financial manipulation and the Jewish refusal to assimilate into other European cultures. (You'll find this concern, in fact, in a milder form even in the writing of the great G.K. Chesterton.)
Particularly ingrained in the psyche of the American Jew along with the persecution implemented by hypocritical Catholics and Protestants is the memory of the only group that, as a general whole, defended them; the humanistic left. It is a sickening miscarriage of Christianity that humanism, esteeming individual worth on its own dubious atheistic grounds, was the default protector of the hunted Jew. But too often, such is the contradictory example we provide the world.
You might think that the Holocaust, committed on ethnic grounds, and paved with the rationale of Nietzsche, would have been an effective counterbalance to the increasing secularization of the Jewish race. But then you would have to consider how Hitler is spun these days, i.e., an extreme right wing dictator who exploited racial antipathy to further his cause. What parallel is he given in recent American history? George Wallace, David Duke. Granted, Louis Farrakhan and Jeremiah Wright have said things every bit as incendiary as "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever," but the label of racist has not been applied as often, consistently or effectively to Democratic racists and thus you have the modern association of Wallace with Hitler, while Wright and Farrakhan get off simply being tuned out when they start talking about "Jewish bloodsuckers" -Farrakhan, and "the United States of K.K.K.A." -Wright, the barely former ex Black Muslim and disciple of Louis Farrakhan, and then tuned back in when they begin spouting liberation theology.
One particularly puzzling aspect of the Jewish voting demographic is, of course, the traditional position of the GOP maintaining strong support for the nation of Israel, while the Democrats are anywhere from ambivalent to strongly condemning of anything Israel does.
Well, American Jews are not Israeli Jews. Note, for example the recent poll showing 75% of Israelis support some sort of military action against Iran whether the U.S. approves or not.
Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Rahm Emmanuel.
The point is that Israeli Jews do not have the luxury of misguided dependence on belabored diplomacy or "no pre-conditioned talks."
So, my answer, based on what I read from Cooper, to the question Why do Jews vote Democratic? is, the Republicans, once again, have made a sorry hash of salesmanship while the Democrats, aided by the larger portion of the media, have convinced another valuable demographic that the GOP is white, tight and racist.
The other portions of his explanation will have to wait.
Book Review: Peace for Today
11 months ago