Don't Peg Me Politically
11/05/2012 - 12:41
Noah Yaffe
Sorry, God said nothing about GDP growth at Sinai. Getty Images
Sorry, God said nothing about GDP growth at Sinai. Getty Images

You're Jewish right? Oh! You must be voting Baritt Robamny.

Hmm, interesting theory. But unless we're voting against an evil candidate, say something out of 1930's European Facism, I don't want to be politically pegged just because I'm Jewish. I may share the same religion as you but I intend to make up my own mind, thank you.

However, I do continue to wonder, is there a 'Jewish' position on American politics?

Well, taking off my Party hat for a moment (even though I do enjoy a good party), I'd say yes. But it's very narrow.

And after a good deal of thought, I've only come up with five non-controversial Jewish issues on the national level. Helping the downtrodden, the freedom to practice religious rituals, support of allied foreign countries -- including the State of Israel, electing just judges for our nation, and basic animal cruelty restrictions.

So let's look at our presidential candidates.

Given that both Presidential candidates pay lip-service to Israel, haven't cracked down on their constituents' observance of Yom Kippur, would appoint worthy Supreme Court Justices, personally give millions to charity, support a slew of social programs, and haven't been caught eating a limb off a living animal, I hold that Judaism has no particular preference between President Obama and Governor Romney. The "Jewish View" is largely irrelevant because we live in a good and decent country with good and decent candidates.

Sorry, but in this election, Judaism can't make your decision for you.

That is -- unless you have incorporated your secular preference for a particular government system into your religion. I'll bet that many of you have, thinking that Judaism supports either Republicans or Democrats. But just as we should not establish a Jewish theocracy in this nation, we should not let secular preferences corrupt the teachings of Judaism.

In a modern sacrilegious statement, Jewish issues don't necessarily include tax increases/cuts, pro-life/pro-choice, traditional/same-sex marriage, unemployment, or economic growth. God's voice did not boom at Sinai, "Thou shalt maintain real, per-capita GDP at 3% year over year."

Let's take welfare as an example, an issue that many christen 'Jewish'.

Judaism undeniably says we should help those less fortunate. We are to tithe and we are to welcome the stranger -- regardless of circumstance. But it says nothing about Democrats erecting a federal system to tax those over a certain income and give it to the poor. Nor is there a recommendation that Republicans abolish taxes and encourage people to donate their earnings voluntarily. Both systems, however, help the poor and are therefore Jewishly valid.

And that's the whole point. Two clashing secular political systems can both operate on the Jewish value to take care of the needy.

If you think one system works better than the other, that's great! But it's not a Jewish position. It's your secular belief that one party's approach is better than the other's.

I ask you to be mindful of what your religion says, and more importantly, what it does not. Please do not burden Judaism with your political leanings. Take Judaism's beliefs and  values and figure out which candidates are best applying them. And then respect the viewpoints of your fellow Jews who have a different vision of America.

I think then we'll have a far more peaceful election cycle in our homes and synagogues.

All that being said, I admit I'm voting for Robamny.

Noah Yaffe lives in the Los Angeles-SFV Moishe House, holds a degree in Economics from UC Davis, and thoroughly enjoys life.

Comments

What a fabulous article! Terrific writing too! Mrs Silber is qvelling! ;)

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