Thursday, November 8, 2012

So.... Now What? A Personal Perspective....

So... What now? Last night... the question asked of me by a good friend. What now? The President was re-elected, CA has a super-majority of Dems. running the show, he said, "What do you think?" and I had to think on that for a few minutes. And then I had to think for a few minutes more.

Prior to the election I had really been into Middle East politics. Some friends and I founded Team Shalom here, along with other Jewish advocacy groups. This interest took the form of creating a weekly news series dedicated to multiple perspectives on the news called "Fry'd Daze". We ran it for over two years and decided that since no one was much interested after a time, that there was no real point in continuing. So I thought to myself; "Why not get back into that issue?", I mean I have friends and family there, I semi-know the language, I practice Israeli Martial Arts, I read their on-line newspapers (Haaretz and Ynet) every day, I get polling updates from Israel on a regular basis.

But then I was dissuaded in two ways. The first was by the situation itself. It is a mess (belagan in Hebrew). I am not happy with the Israeli Right, who not only pursue policies that I simply don't agree with, but helped form a coalition of racists, crazy people and morons (who simply can't discern fact from fiction and have even stated that Republicans are hippies compared to the people that President Obama supports) to push their cause in the U.S. And arguing against them is fine BUT from all I can see, and according to all of the polls coming out of Israel, they will retain power and do it rather easily. At the same time, I certainly have absolutely ZERO in common with those that support trashing Israel publicly to prove what "good Jews they are" along with I don't see anything that I can support coming from the Palestinian side. So, while I would love to advocate for the Israeli Center and Center-Left (Meretz, Avodah, Yesh-Atid and Tzipi Livni - whatever she is doing), they can't even get themselves together so what the heck am I advocating for?
The second thing that dissuaded me are my Israeli friends. They don't understand U.S. individual advocacy for their cause. They appreciate that I feel a connection to them but honestly, I never went through what they have been through and they have not been through what I went through. They care about Jews and Jewish identity, but to them, unless we are moving there or giving them money, honestly... it is not a big deal. It really is this... that convinced me that while I still have an interest in things, honestly... it is not and should not be my main focus. They are right, I am an American. I should worry about my own country before thinking about any other. Watching the Presidents brilliant victory speech brought a complete welling of national pride for our great nation. We did the right thing this year and for that I am grateful. Of course, I will still write on the subject but it is not up to me to tell Israelis what to do. Not from my happy little perch in beautiful California.
So... Now what? I think it is to help push the President's agenda forward in a progressive manner. NOT to become bitter at the incremental progress he makes but, to try to make sure that things like sane budgeting, environmental improvement, education enhancement continue on the path that the President has started.
Making sure that we get the reasonable healthcare that the Affordable Care Act is supposed to provide. Making sure that the President knows NOT to cave in to Speaker Boehner and the failed policy proposals of the Teahaddists. Making sure, that we as Americans get renewables front and center in our energy policy, and finally making sure that Seniors and those who need assistance the most don't lose their social safety net and have the ability to live their lives with dignity.

I want to see the President that I voted for, and what President Obama became in the last year and a half and that is my cause. A liberal/progressive system of government that allows for the better nature of Americans to shine through. Because of this election I have that hope. Now, it's time to make that real.

THIS is what I want:


  1. Here's my perspective on it:

    I am extremely happy with how this election turned out. I am more optimistic about our American future. I think we have a chance to move toward sensible taxation, a centrist foreign policy, preserving Obamacare, and many other no-brainers.

    I think the biggest issue now that we have a chance of moving this country forward is the one that should have been the biggest issue all along - climate change. I hope that Democrats can build on their new electoral success to start moving the Overton Window and eventually policy.

    When it comes to Israel, I think that I do have a critical mission going forward, which is to do what I can to keep the Democratic Party pro-Israel and committed to a two state solution. (On that note, one of the main questionable-on-Israel Democrats in Congress, Pete Stark, happily lost to another Democrat last night).

    For me, the one-sided anti-Israel people, whether they are "as a jew" types or not, are potentially dangerous, at least in liberal circles, because they are so dishonest and manipulative. On the other hand, I don't see the American right wing Jews as much of a problem, since they only have their own echo chambers, and even after pulling out all the stops this time they apparently didn't sway the Jewish vote much at all.

    So I'm thinking that my political activity going forward, in addition to supporting centrist and center-left Democrats generally, is basically going to be built around two main pillars 1) environmentalism, particularly climate change, and 2) opposing extreme anti-Zionism.

    1. Sounds good.. I disagree with you on Right Wing Jews. I think they are just as bad in many ways (though not all ways) as the fake "human rights" advocates. One of them just today wrote this heinous justification of hatred:

      If Israel is sometimes harsh with the local Arab population it is because the Arabs outnumber the Jews fifty or sixty to one in the Middle East and they simply refuse to allow those Jews to live in peace, free from ongoing harassment, genocidal incitement, and outright murder.

      and another wrote that Government should tremble before Big Business:

      Look, it ain’t 1895 any more. Does the American government tremble because of Ford, General Motors, U.S. Steel, Standard Oil of New Jersey, the Pennsylvania Railroad and other mighty enterprises many of which have collapsed completely?

      No. It is the opposite, the corporations tremble before the government regulators who have the power to tie them into knots. And their main response is not to fight but to flee abroad.

      Oh, mighty General Motors saved by the great Obama (hooray! Hooray! For the great messiah of business) with billions of your taxpaying dollars in order to create employment…in China!

      These ideas of a relying on lies and hate to return to the "Gilded Age" are disgusting (to say the least).

      I do agree with your commentary on a centrist foreign policy. I like that idea.

    2. There are lots of reasons I'd say right-wing Jews are very much a problem; here's a sampling:

      1) They're right-wing. Whether or not they're Jewish, that makes them a problem.

      2) They spent $40 million trying to make this the year that the Republicans finally won the Jewish vote, and the degree to which they "succeeded" is nil -- the confidence interval around the proportion of Jews who voted for Obama this year is going to overlap with the confidence interval around the proportion who voted for Obama in 2008, regardless of what sample you use, which means there was no statistically significant change. Imagine if they had spent that money on something useful, like making Jewish day schools or camps more affordable, helping send more young adults on Birthright, investing in the country's infrastructure, developing clean energy technology, or creating real jobs rather than political campaign jobs.

      3) They provide the cover that lets the Israel Sux caucus get away with all the lies they spread, as well as for the allegedly neutral third parties who tolerate the Israel Sux caucus.

    3. You guys both kind of made my point here though. The right wing Jews are fanatics and extremists, no doubt, on Israel and domestic issues, but as demonstrated by this election they do not have much of an effect on the discourse. The Jewish vote didn't hardly move. Hell, I have one family member who switched in the other direction this time. This is exactly my point. The right wing Jews are annoying but not a threat.

      Could their money have been better spent towards social goods and charity, rather than right wing political causes? Of course. But the same could be said any time anyone donates to Karl Rove, or for that matter spends $300 on sneakers or $2000 on a chunk of carbon on a ring. So what? That is not a standard that is meaningful, and wasting their own money is hardly a reason to consider a group a threat or a problem.

      The real threat is the Israel Sux Caucus. They have the numbers and the drive.

  2. (livosh1)
    Good diary, volley. However, I respectfully disagree with you to the extent that you consider your choice to be one of "either-or." True, the current Israeli leadership leaves much to be desired. And the leadership on the other side sucks (on its best days). But, Israel is and will continue to be an important ally in the world, and its existence and survival will always be of importance to Jews and others. So, as tempting as it is to throw up our hands at what looks like a futile effort and focus our efforts elsewhere, doing so will only ensure a clearer playing field for the Israel Sux Crowd and the bigoted ODSers to spew their extreme hatred. And clearly that is what they want (indeed, in so many ways they are two peas in a pod). I intend to stay involved in Progressive Zionist dialogues and forums, both on the web and elsewhere (in fact, I'm attending one tomorrow night!). It is frustrating that the crazies on both sides seem to dominate the debate, but if we don't speak up we essentially are giving a pass to bigotry and hatred. I think that this issue is one of many that deserves our efforts, notwithstanding how incredibly frustrating it can be at times.

    1. Food for thought man... I appreciate it.