- Is it the part where they have no concern for the poor?
- Is it the part where they have no respect for individual autonomy?
- Is it the part where believing that you have obligations to the community, and the community to you, is socialism?
Those beliefs are at the core of the modern Republican Party. They also fly in the face of traditional Jewish values about responsibility to others and the respect of others.
In the Talmud, a prospective convert approached the two leading sages of the time, Hillel and Shammai. He asked that they teach him the Torah while standing on one foot. Shammai dismissed the man. He then went to Hillel. Hillel obliged him, stating:
What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation of this — go and study it! (Shabbat 31a)
How is this consistent with the rhetoric of “forceful rape” and “legitimate rape” and “voter fraud” and countless other indignities spewed by Republicans at those that are not white and male?
Remember, we had the New Deal and the social safety net before there was a New Deal and a social safety net. When the massive wave of Jewish immigration came in the 1880s, our community organized quasi-governmental institutions designed to provide assistance to the needy. It wasn’t much given that our community, as a whole, was mired in poverty, but it reflected our values.
How is the drive to eliminate assistance to the poor and the middle class so that the wealthy can get more tax cuts consistent with these values?
When it comes to social issues, Republicans love to speak of ‘Judeo-Christian’ values. Do you not understand that the ‘Judeo’ part of ‘Judeo-Christian’ is merely a fig leaf? If there was any conflict between Jewish values and Christian values, which one do you think those conservative Christians that dominate the Republican party would choose?
Finally, Republicans love to argue about how they’re ‘pro’-Israel. Do you really understand why they ‘support’ Israel? Do you understand that they only ‘support’ Israel to fulfill their apocalyptic fantasies? Do you understand that the religious wing that dominates their party believes that we must all be gathered there to facilitate Jesus’ second coming? Do you understand that they believe that we will then either convert or we will be killed and burn in Hell?
How does this constitute support for Israel? How is it anything other than supporting Israel for antisemitic reasons?
I am a proud member of the religious left. I wear a kippah srugah. I keep a kosher home. I daven (pray) three times every day. I put on tefillin. I am guided by the Jewish values that have been instilled in me since the day I was born. That is why I am a liberal. That is why I cannot understand how anyone proud of their Jewish heritage can support a political party that holds values so contrary to those that define our community.
So, please, my fellow Jews that happen to be Republicans, explain to me why. Explain to me how Republicans are our friends. Explain to me how Democrats are not. I’m waiting.