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August 1, 2015 / 16 Av, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘election’

Likud Primaries a Mess as Members Wait Hours to Vote

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

“They don’t know how to run a war, they don’t know how to run an election, what DOES the Likud know how to do?” muttered one cold Likud member, 45 minutes into her wait to reach the Likud primaries ballot boxes Sunday morning.

Voting got off to a sluggish start when technical difficulties – which some are attributing to hacking – brought almost all the computerized voting stations across Israel to a grinding halt Sunday, forcing many voters to wait upwards of 2 and a half hours to cast their ballots. At Jerusalem’s Binyanei HaUma convention center, patient and apologetic staff members told crowds they did not know when the voting booths would be open, bringing out a few chairs for elderly voters who found standing in the cold difficult.

Ethiopian candidate Avraham Negusie

Ethiopian candidate Avraham Negusie

Meanwhile, enthusiastic representatives of the 60 candidates vying for the 12 highest spots on the Likud party list handed out pamphlets, cards and stickers explaining the policies and opinions of the voters.  Candidates Avraham Negusie (hopeful representative for the Ethiopian sector) and Daniel Tauber (head of Likud Anglos), were on hand in person to meet and talk to voters.

As voters waited, they discussed current events, politics, and the cold weather.  One voter from Samaria, Yechiel, expressed his disapproval of the Prime Minister – and current Likud party chairman – Benjamin Netanyahu.  “I am disappointed in the ceasefire.  I think it will just end up being something that buys time for Hamas to refuel, maybe at best a pause in fighting,”  Yechiel said.  “I wish I could vote Netanyahu out today.  I don’t think I’ll even vote for Likud in the real national elections.”

Others expressed their support of Netanyahu, who stands to be re-elected as head of the party.  “I think the same as before the war,” Mordechai from East Jerusalem said.  “I think Bibi should be re-elected.  He is the best option by far, proven over time.  I hope he will continue to prove it over the next four years.”

When groups of voters finally started to be admitted, they were treated to a simple explanation of the procedure of voting at several mock voting booths set up on and staffed along the sides of the entrance.

At noon, voters who had arrived around 10am were brought to a new indoor line, where they were told that only 3 of the  80 voting computers were working, causing the line to inch forward slowly.  More chairs were brought to accommodate the elderly, as well as teary-eyed children who had been dragged along for an Israeli democratic experience.  Another staff member came by to apologize again, saying rumors were circulating that the booths would be held open until 2am to accommodate all the voters who had arrived to vote and been discouraged by the long wait times (in the end, the elections committee decided to extend voting for two hours until midnight).

JewishPress.com reporter Malkah Fleisher voting.

JewishPress.com reporter Malkah Fleisher voting.

At 12:50 PM, the author of this article was called into a voting booth, and got to the end of her turn to vote when she realized she had been assigned to the wrong geographic voting area.  Asking for assistance from the polite and attentive clerks in front of her booth, an election day attorney was called.

Without asking the permission of the voter (me) or the elections staff, the attorney proceeded to push touch-screen buttons, erasing the voter’s choices in an attempt to restart the process (even as the voter protested that it was very clear to her how to vote, and that she had done everything correctly).  “Let’s see what this does”, the attorney said, as she wiped out my votes.

The screen promptly froze.  The clerks expressed their disapproval for the unilateral action on the part of the attorney, and called for a technician to come and fix the problem.  A technician, who was on his cell phone, looked at the screen, and told the clerks to attempt an action they said they could not do, due to the freezing of the screen and subsequently their own computers, and rushed off.

The Jewish Vote: Same Old, Same Old

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

In the wake of the presidential election, American Jews must once again ask a fundamental question that seems to defy both societal trends and a clear resolution: why do Jews overwhelmingly support the Democratic candidate, year after year, election after election?

That is not to say that the Torah conflates with the Republican platform, but rather that the lack of balance in the Jewish world is striking.

This is not something new, but has been the pattern for more than eighty years. (Late-nineteenth century Jews voted primarily for Republicans, being especially fond of Abraham Lincoln.) It was the late sociologist Milton Himmelfarb who several decades ago noted that “Jews earn like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans,” i.e., they are part of the richest demographic but vote like the (then) poorest.

What continually fascinates is that, like the lure of Pennsylvania to Republican presidential candidates – it seems like it should vote for the Republican but never does – the Jewish vote tantalizes Republicans but never seems to materialize. Based on our race, status, education, employment, etc., Jews should be voting for Republicans but rarely do in significant numbers.

The Jewish vote remains the chimera of the political conservative. For more than eight decades the Jewish vote has averaged 75 percent for the Democrat, rarely deviating more than 5 percent above or below that figure. But until Herbert Hoover’s election in 1928, the Jewish vote fluctuated and was relatively balanced.

It needs to be emphasized that the focus is not on those Jews who are capable of choosing a candidate in either party (as I have done on occasion), but on the significant number of Jews who can never vote for a Republican and will always vote for the Democrat. Their polling booth needs only one lever. It just cannot be that the Democrat is always the superior candidate to the Republican.

In the 2012 election, nearly 70 percent of Jews voted for President Obama, slightly down from the last election (78 percent) but very much in line with other immigrant communities like Hispanics (71 percent) or Asians (73 percent).

But Jews are no longer a predominantly immigrant community, so why do the voting patterns of newcomers, or outsiders to the political system, persist among the Jews, who are in the mainstream of the establishment? And why are Orthodox Jewish voting patterns almost the mirror opposite of the non-Orthodox, with more Orthodox Jews voting for Mitt Romney and, give or take a particular race, for Republicans generally?

* * * * *

First, Democrats are widely perceived as the party of the poor, the downtrodden and the outcast, and Jews – persecuted for most of our existence – have a natural sympathy for the underdog. As charity is a great virtue (and a fundamental commandment) in Jewish life, Jews especially are drawn to a system that appears charitable on the surface – the redistribution of income from the wealthy to the poor – and government is seen as the vehicle of that charitable distribution.

The weakness in that argument, of course, is that Jews do believe in charity, but primarily as a private endeavor. The tithing obligation, or the dispensing of gifts to the poor in biblical times, were all private ventures, and not publicly coerced.

Notwithstanding that at different times in history the Jewish community itself intervened and assessed wealthy members a sum of money to care for society’s poor, that was always considered a last resort and not particularly efficient. The king never levied taxes to care for the poor, though the religious establishment might. Charity as a private act lends moral perfection to the donor; the same cannot be said for a coercive taxation system that distributes only a small sum of the monies collected to the poor.

(Those who view taxation as a form of charity are certainly welcome to pay the higher tax rate proposed by the administration, which is indeed permissible under federal law and would entirely eliminate the current controversy in Washington about the best means of avoiding the fiscal cliff.)

Of course, it would be unacceptable in a Jewish context to have a permanent impoverished class – multi-generational families of welfare recipients – as it should be in an American context. The trillions of dollars spent since Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society initiated the War on Poverty has in fact exacerbated poverty, not alleviated it, with more poor in both real and proportionate terms today than when the programs started.

The Decline and Fall of the American Empire

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

The most charitable way of explaining the election results of 2012 is that Americans voted for the status quo – for the incumbent President and for a divided Congress. They must enjoy gridlock, partisanship, incompetence, economic stagnation and avoidance of responsibility. And fewer people voted. At the time of this writing (election day), with almost all the votes counted, President Obama has won fewer votes than John McCain won in 2008, and more than ten million off his own 2008 total.

But as we awake from the nightmare, it is important to eschew the facile explanations for the Romney defeat that will prevail among the chattering classes. Romney did not lose because of the effects of Hurricane Sandy that devastated this area, nor did he lose because he ran a poor campaign, nor did he lose because the Republicans could have chosen better candidates, nor did he lose because Obama benefited from a slight uptick in the economy due to the business cycle.

Romney lost because he didn’t get enough votes to win.

That might seem obvious, but not for the obvious reasons. Romney lost because the conservative virtues – the traditional American virtues – of liberty, hard work, free enterprise, private initiative and aspirations to moral greatness – no longer inspire or animate a majority of the electorate. The notion of the “Reagan Democrat” is one cliché that should be permanently retired.

Ronald Reagan himself could not win an election in today’s America.

The simplest reason why Romney lost was because it is impossible to compete against free stuff. Every businessman knows this; that is why the “loss leader” or the giveaway is such a powerful marketing tool. Obama’s America is one in which free stuff is given away: the adults among the 47,000,000 on food stamps clearly recognized for whom they should vote, and so they did, by the tens of millions; those who – courtesy of Obama – receive two full years of unemployment benefits (which, of course, both disincentivizes looking for work and also motivates people to work off the books while collecting their windfall) surely know for whom to vote; so too those who anticipate “free” health care, who expect the government to pay their mortgages, who look for the government to give them jobs. The lure of free stuff is irresistible.

Imagine two restaurants side by side. One sells its customers fine cuisine at a reasonable price, and the other offers a free buffet, all-you-can-eat as long as supplies last. Few – including me – could resist the attraction of the free food. Now imagine that the second restaurant stays in business because the first restaurant is forced to provide it with the food for the free buffet, and we have the current economy, until, at least, the first restaurant decides to go out of business. (Then, the government takes over the provision of free food to its patrons.)

The defining moment of the whole campaign was the revelation (by the amoral Obama team) of the secretly-recorded video in which Romney acknowledged the difficulty of winning an election in which “47% of the people” start off against him because they pay no taxes and just receive money – “free stuff” – from the government. Almost half of the population has no skin in the game – they don’t care about high taxes, promoting business, or creating jobs, nor do they care that the money for their free stuff is being borrowed from their children and from the Chinese. They just want the free stuff that comes their way at someone else’s expense. In the end, that 47% leaves very little margin for error for any Republican, and does not bode well for the future.

It is impossible to imagine a conservative candidate winning against such overwhelming odds. People do vote their pocketbooks. In essence, the people vote for a Congress who will not raise their taxes, and for a President who will give them free stuff, never mind who has to pay for it.

That suggests the second reason why Romney lost: the inescapable conclusion that, as Winston Churchill stated so tartly, “the best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” Voters – a clear majority – are easily swayed by emotion and raw populism. Said another way, too many people vote with their hearts and not their heads. That is why Obama did not have to produce a second term agenda, or even defend his first-term record. He needed only to portray Mitt Romney as a rapacious capitalist who throws elderly women over a cliff, when he is not just snatching away their cancer medication, while starving the poor and cutting taxes for the rich. Obama could get away with saying that “Romney wants the rich to play by a different set of rules” – without ever defining what those different rules were; with saying that the “rich should pay their fair share” – without ever defining what a “fair share” is; with saying that Romney wants the poor, elderly and sick to “fend for themselves” – without even acknowledging that all these government programs are going bankrupt, their current insolvency only papered over by deficit spending. How could Obama get away with such rants to squealing sign-wavers? See Churchill, above.

What We Lost in This Election

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Now that we have lost the election of 2012, where our champion, a third-rate imitation of Ronald Reagan, without either his charm or his principles, who believed in absolutely nothing except being the best salesman he could be; let’s pause to reflect on all the things we lost out on through his defeat.

When we lose something, a relationship or a job, the grief comes from what we thought we had and what we imagined it was, not from what it truly was. Perspective means getting a true sense of what we had and what we never had to begin with.

So let’s look at what we might have had with President Mitt Romney.

We lost the chance to have universal health care, with the mandate, become a principle that every conservative was duty-bound to defend.

Oh I know. Mitt Romney was going to repeal ObamaCare. And he was. And by “repeal”, I mean he would have tinkered with it a bit and turned it into RomneyCare. And for the next four to eight years, it would have been heresy to ever suggest that we opposed universal health care with a mandate. Once Romney did that, it would have turned out that we only opposed universal health care with a mandate when it was badly enacted, without regard for businesses, by a Democrat.

We lost the chance to have a Republican president deliver weapons to Syrian Jihadists. Not to mention apply more sanctions to Iran in order to force it to the negotiating table. We could have been so privileged as to have a Republican president execute these two items of Obama’s agenda. Instead we’re stuck with a Democrat doing it.

Of course President Mitt Romney would not have done these things out of a deep abiding hatred for America and a sympathy for terrorists. But he would have still done them anyway. He wouldn’t have understood what he was doing, but his foreign policy would still have been sixty percent of Obama’s foreign policy, without the conscious malice. It would have been an improvement in that regard and only in that regard.

Those of you pro-Israeli types who imagine that a President Romney would have taken the boot off Israel’s neck, would have been shocked when a month after taking office, his Secretary of State would have commenced condemning Israeli “settlements” in Jerusalem. Just like it was in the days of the Bush Administration.

But, Romney would have been different, you say. He had a great rapport with Netanyahu. And Bush had a great rapport with Sharon. He had an even better one with Saudi Arabia. The same would have been true of Romney.

Still Romney would have appointed conservatives to the Supreme Court. And there you may even be right. I wouldn’t place any bets on it though. Oh we probably wouldn’t have gotten any Wise Latinas on his watch, but then again we might have, but I wouldn’t count on too many members of the Federalist Society ending up on the bench either.

Romney would at least have been pro-business. So was George W. Bush. And how well did he deal with the problems of government overreach? It’s all well and good to be pro-business, but even a former businessman who becomes a president, sees problems from the government’s end, not from the standpoint of a businessman.

And, for that matter, if you doubt any of this, do look back on the Bush years and consider that Romney would have been worse in every area than Bush. It’s human nature not to believe that, but it’s so. And if the election had gone another way, in a few months you would have seen it for yourselves.

The 2012 election was of course a disaster. A complete and thorough disaster. But it was a disaster because Obama and his cronies won. Not because Mitt Romney lost. Mitt Romney filled a void. He stepped into a spot that we needed, became a symbol and then he failed, because he was only a man, and worse still he was a blue state politician who was light on principles and heavy on being a people person.

What we lost in this election was not a chance for better leadership, but a chance to remove a bad leader. But what we gained was an end to complicity in the actions and policies of this administration. What we gained was a chance to use this defeat to launch a movement that can actually win an election by confronting the issues.

Obama Wins Close National Vote, Mandate Denied, US Future Dim

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

It hasn’t been a long night. Around 10 PM Eastern, someone on one of the channels I had been following said that President Obama’s motorcade was getting ready to take him to his election center, in Chicago. It meant that the Democrats were certain about their presidential win.

I could feel the anguish emanating from our own chat line here, at the JewishPress.com. I was hearing similar cries of woe from a few open Skype lines on my desktop. Towards the end there, I think many of us started believing that a Romney win was a real possibility. A Dick Morris prediction of a Romney landslide win we ran here got close to 30 thousand page views in half a day. Regardless of its very loose connection to reality on this planet, the story expressed the yearnings of so many who flocked to our website in search of a voice to reflect their own.

The Democrats have retained control over the Senate, with 51 seats plus two independents. Not the kind of numbers that can break a filibuster. The Republicans will keep the House, with a net loss in the single digits. This means Obama had no coat tails whatsoever in this election. He barely got over the hedge himself. He has won better than 300 delegates to the Electoral College, but that does not mean that he received a mandate from the people. He won by a squeak.

I believe the Republicans have achieved their most basic goal this time around, namely, that their presidential candidate—who was destined to lose to an incumbent—wouldn’t perform so atrociously that his defeat would coat-tail the Republican House with it down in flames. Remember Governor Perry? Speaker Gingrich? Congresswoman Michele Bachmann? So Romney delivered the bare minimum that was expected of him: Don’t make matters even worse. That was the reason the party leaders, along with the Bush clan and Karl Rove were so adamant about supporting Romney – they and the billion dollar budget they brought in with them.

The fact that Romney almost won the presidency while he was at it was above and beyond their initial expectations. I think Romney spent much of the campaign playing to tie rather than win. It was only when he met the enemy in the first debate and drew blood that he realized he could actually make it. That’s my hunch.

Political Science majors should take note of the miracle performed by Obama Tuesday. Until this year, no incumbent president since FDR in 1940 has won re-election with unemployment over 7.2%. Well, Obama has broken the mold, winning despite unemployment hovering at between 7.6 and 7.9%. This means there were additional circumstances that weighed in his favor. I believe two factors were in play:

1. America is losing its White majority. It is sinking fast, and this year it is 72.4% White. Back in 2000, it was 75.1% white (In 2011, White new births were outnumbered by non-White 50.5% to 49.5%). Since Romney lost by such a small margin (roughly a million votes nationwide), it means that had this election been held in 2004—all other things staying the same—it would have been a Republican victory.

A good friend suggested to me early Tuesday morning that the Republicans were experiencing the broken glass effect, meaning they would crawl over broken glass to vote their choice, that’s how much they hated Obama. But my wife commented that, judging by the images of long lines of African American and Hispanic voters standing in line in Florida, Virginia and Ohio, it appears they, too, would be perfectly willing to take the crunch. That’s how much they feared Romney.

2. The Republican Party has to regain the center for real. Let’s face it, Romney was working hard to appear like a benign centrist, but you can’t be against the Dream Act and against abortion rights in this country and hope to be considered a centrist. I’m afraid that with its zeal to embrace the authentic Tea Party candidates, the Evangelicals, and the NRA crowd, the GOP has edged out the last of its liberal and moderate stars. This works well for the red states and even for local races in many blue states, but if the GOP wants to govern, it has to rediscover its businessmen/women, its bankers and its moderate intellectuals, or it won’t stand a chance to win presidential politics ever again.

PM Netanyahu Congratulates US President-Elect Obama

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

From the Government Press Office:

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu congratulates US President Barack Obama on his election victory. The Prime Minister said,”The strategic alliance between Israel and the US is stronger than ever. I will continue to work with President Obama in order to assure the interests that are vital to the security of the citizens of Israel.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu, this afternoon (Wednesday, 7 November 2012), will meet with US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro.

Barack Obama Pic Flies Across Social Media

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

President Barack Obama, who has won a second term as President of the United States, tweeted a victory photo which has garnered over 440,000 retweets across Twitter and over 1.6 million Likes on Facebook:

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/barack-obama-pic-flies-across-social-media/2012/11/07/

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