I've had some interesting feedback on my story last week on President Obama's “real” Jewish problem. No, it's not the problem of angry Jewish activists who think he's anti-Israel, but the disillusionment of many on the left over what they view as his overly centrist domestic policies.
Several readers who don't agree with the conservative mantra that “liberal” is something like “satanic” in meaning wrote to endorse the story's premise, but to argue that in the end, when faced with real election day choices this November and with the prospect of one or both Houses of Congress going to the Republicans, they'd get off their tuchises and go out and vote for Democrats no matter how disappointed they are with Obama.
But one Jewish liberal told me this: “The story is probably accurate, in the sense that in 2008, we saw a real outpouring of energy and activism by progressives in the Jewish community that we're not going to see in 2010, and maybe not in 2012. What galvanized people then was hope, not just opposition to the Republicans. A lot of that hope is gone, and so is a lot of the energy I witnessed.”
Another caller pointed out something I missed; the people I interviewed for the story were, for the most part, in their 50s and 60s – the old new left, if you will.
What about younger progressives, he asked? Lacking the starry-eyed expectations of progressives of an earlier era, this segment is more pragmatic and less likely to be disillusioned by the compromises Obama has made along the way, this caller argued.
Good point; I'd be interested in seeing some polling data on the subject of younger versus older progressives.
Finally, there was plenty of the predictable email arguing that Jewish liberals are quickly becoming irrelevant as Jews turn to the Republicans in growing numbers.
Sorry, I've heard that too many times in the past to believe it's going to happen anytime soon.
But I also think that long term, they're not just blowing smoke.
With the Orthodox becoming a much bigger proportion of the Jewish community, and with their strengthening loyalty to the Republicans, it seems to me that there will be a gradual and maybe accelerating shift to the GOP.
In 20 years, what percentage of American Jews will be Orthodox? You can bet it's going to be a lot more than the current 10-12 percent. And unless the Democrats can figure out a way to appeal to them, most will be voting Republican.
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