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Posts Tagged ‘Republican Party’

A Republican Party that Looks Like America

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Getting an early start on primary season, Rand Paul stopped by New Hampshire and offered some sage advice for winning elections.  According to the article, “Senator Paul Rand urged New Hampshire Republicans to become more diversified.”

New Hampshire is 94.6% white, 2.9% Latino and 1.3% Black. I don’t know the exact diversity statistics for New Hampshire Republicans, but if they get a half-black and half-Latino guy in a wheelchair to run for something, they will probably have covered all the statistical bases.

“We need to grow bigger,” Rand Paul said. “If you want to be the party of white people, we’re winning all the white votes. We’re a diverse nation. We’re going to win when we look like America.”

Looking like America is common advice these days. What does America look like? For now it still looks more like New Hampshire than like California. And despite that, Democrats scored some big wins in New Hampshire in the last election.

Obama won New Hampshire 52 to 46 and it probably wasn’t the black vote that put him over the top. He picked up over 100,000 votes in Hillsborough County, which is 90 percent white. Clearly, despite Rand Paul’s optimism, Republicans aren’t winning all the white votes in New Hampshire. Or in Kentucky.

Rand Paul’s Kentucky looks a lot like New Hampshire. It’s 88.9% white. And its white Senator, who did not win all the white votes, decided to visit another white state to tell Republicans there that they needed to look more like America or California. Or someplace like that. Because the white vote was all locked down.

In his 2010 Senate election, Rand Paul won 59% of the white vote and his opponent won 86% of the black vote. Two years later, in the national electionRomney won 59% of the white vote and his opponent won 93% of the black vote. Both men scored the exact same percentage of the white vote.

Some might try to find a silver lining in that Rand Paul won 13 percent of the black vote, but he wasn’t running against a black candidate. In 2004, Bush won 12 percent of the Kentucky black vote. Nearly the same amount as Rand Paul. More importantly, he won 64 percent of the white vote and 58 percent of the female vote to Rand Paul’s 51 percent. The female vote is far more important, if you’re going to win elections, than picking up minority votes in New Hampshire or Kentucky.

While Rand Paul tours as some sort of expert on winning the minority vote, he has never actually won the minority vote. Similarly Rubio promises that illegal alien amnesty will turn the Latino tide for the GOP, when he could not win a straight majority of the non-Cuban Latino vote in his Senate election.

The Republican Party is suffering from a surplus of self-appointed experts in winning the minority vote who don’t actually win the minority vote. Their advice is stupid and destructive.

Romney did not lose because he lost the Latino vote. That’s a myth which has been discredited again and again, but still rises from the dead to push for an illegal alien amnesty, five times bigger than the last disastrous 1986 amnesty, so that next time around Republicans can lose by even bigger margins. But instead of trying to be diverse for the sake of diversity, the GOP might try doing what the other side did, increasing the turnout for its base by actually appealing to them.

The Republican National Convention in 2012 was a study in diversity. It was possibly even more diverse than the Democratic National Convention. It also didn’t work.

Diversity is familiar enough to be met with casual contempt. Every company trots out stock photos overflowing with stock minorities so that they can look like America or some part of America. It impresses absolutely no one. “Looking like America” is slang for racial tokenism which is both patronizing and insulting. And it’s the least innovative advice that could be imagined.

Common skin color alone does not win elections. If it did, the Republican Party could just push out countless white Democrats in precarious districts by running black candidates against them. The idea that skin color alone is representation is still the law and its emotional resonance is sometimes undeniable, but emotional identification is also based on more than just race. And representation cannot be reduced to racial diversity as a winning strategy.

How to Use a Midterm Victory

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

There are good reasons to be hopeful about the 2014 midterm election.  The second presidential midterm election has historically been murder.  With the exceptions of Clinton in 1998 and Reagan in 1986, the president in his second midterm has lost massively in the House of Representative: FDR (-71 seats), Ike (-49 seats), Nixon (-49 seats), Bush II (-31 seats.)

Except for Clinton in 1998, each of those midterms produced losses for the president’s party in the Senate (Reagan, in fact, lost the Senate in 1986).  Senate elections are affected by the particular class of senators elected six years before as well as the sentiments of voters in the particular midterm at hand.  That is why Republican Senate losses in 1986 were so bad: Republicans defending their seats in 1986 had last faced voters in the 1980 Reagan landslide.

In 2014, the Senate class strongly favors Republicans both by the number of seats each is defending (21 Democrats to 14 Republicans) and the particular states involved, which are predominately conservative and Republican.  Sensing this, many Senate Democrats from conservative states are retiring.  The chances of Republicans taking the Senate are very good.

Winning in House races and state government elections will depend upon turnout.  Those eager airheads who have now turned out for Obama in two presidential elections will find few reasons to go to the polls in November 2014, when Obama is a lame duck and is not on the ballot.

Voter fatigue, more important than any notional polls of presidential approval or voter intentions, may well hand Republicans the sort of major victory that has been the norm in a president’s second midterm.  The growing sense of unease, even among the otherwise docile establishment media, may combine into a major Republican victory in 2014, giving perhaps fifty-five or more Senate seats and perhaps 260 seats in the House (a gain of 24 seats).  If this happens, what should Republicans do?

First, Senate Republicans should very directly state that only strict constructionist jurists will be confirmed onto the federal bench.  In fact, Senate Republicans should make it clear that no radical leftists will be confirmed for any appointed to federal courts or independent regulatory agencies.  Democrats have done this for decades — just ask Robert Bork — and Republicans must do it, too.

Second, Senate Republicans ought to do what Harry Reid threatened to do:  adopt a rule which ends filibusters and always moves for cloture with fifty-one senate votes.  This would allow Republicans in Congress to actually pass bills which would be placed on Obama’s desk to sign or to veto.  Ideally, these bills should have unanimous Republican support and, perhaps, that of a few conservative Democrats as well.

Obama will never sign ever moderate conservative reforms, so the nation would see the president vetoing one bill after another, accomplishing nothing but obstruction.  Republicans ought to research these bills as they did with the Contract With America:  find out what bills appeal to Americans, and then pass those out of Congress.

Third, Republicans must conduct aggressive investigations of the myriad abuses of power by Obama and his lackeys.  The best way to do this is would be to create a Joint Congressional Special Committee composed of members of both houses of Congress and, of course, both political parties.  Those called to testify before this committee would think twice before lying or acting flippantly.  In fact, if only a few Democrats on this Joint Committee called the Obama administration to the carpet, then the political stakes could rise dramatically for Obama almost overnight.

Unless the president and his flacks behaved much more respectfully and much more seriously than they have so far — and that, of course, would involved miles of backtracking — a Contempt of Congress citation adopted by both houses with some bipartisan support would be a real possibility.

The goal should be to deny Obama: to deny him any real power to influence the judiciary and regulatory agencies, to deny him any legislative victories by compelling Obama to veto reasonable legislation supported by the American people, and to deny Obama the unmerited support of many Americans by showing him before joint congressional committees to be a mendacious and venal politician.  There is no need to try to do too much, but doing these three things is critical to turning our nation around.

Adelson: From Caricature to Life

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

In the interests of full disclosure, let me first offer that Sheldon Adelson and members of his family donated to my campaign for Congress when I ran last year (yes, I know I lost. But ‘Shmuley for President 2016’ is just three years away). Furthermore, as was widely reported, he and his wife Miriam donated to an independent Super Pac that backed my candidacy.

In addition, on June 4th in Times Square the organization of which I am Executive Director, This World: The Values Network, together with Rambam hospital in Haifa — one of the Middle East’s largest and most respected medical campuses — will be hosting an International Champions of Jewish Values Awards Gala. The honorees are some of the world’s most distinguished individuals, with Nobel Laureate (and my personal hero and mentor) Prof. Elie Wiesel being given the “Champion of Jewish Spirit” award, and my friend Dr. Mehmet Oz, the world’s most famous physician, being recognized as “Champion of Human life.” The award for “Champions of Jewish Identity” will go to Sheldon and Miriam Adelson who are being recognized for their vast contributions to Jewish identity worldwide.
Having offered that disclosure, I was happy to see that, as part of Adelson’s recent testimony in a breach of contract lawsuit filed by a former consultant, people were finally able to see the human being that lies behind the caricature.

 On the witness stand, Adelson was humorous, engaging, relaxed, endearing, and utterly himself.  “Even successful companies and wealthy people are entitled to justice,” he said, referring to his reasoning behind taking the stand in his own defense.  His testimony included affable one-liners that could have easily been mistaken for a late night talk show’s opening monologue.  “I came from the other side of the tracks,” he quipped.  “In fact, I came from so far on the other side, I didn’t know the tracks existed.” And again, “I would have been a rags-to-riches story, except my parents couldn’t afford the rags … So I’m a less-than-rags-to-riches story.”

Those of us who know Sheldon have always been amazed at how he is depicted by some in the media as a mean-spirited, heartless mogul pulling political strings and throwing his weight in campaigns in order to elect lawmakers who favor lower taxes.

That fraudulent caricature overlooks the true essence of a man who is one of the world’s most generous benefactors of charitable causes and one of the foremost Jewish philanthropists of all time.  The media neglect to mention that Adelson contributes hundreds of millions of dollars to programs such as Birthright Israel ($180 million), the Adelson Educational Campus ($80 million), Holocaust memory ($50 million to Yad Vashem), and Hebrew Senior Life in Boston ($20 million).

Adelson founded and supports the Adelson Drug Rehabilitation Clinics in Las Vegas and Tel Aviv, run by his wife, a highly respected authority in addiction medicine. Together, Sheldon and Miriam have committed hundreds of millions of dollars to approximately 200 scientists from nearly 70 medical research institutions via the Adelson Medical Foundation, with many of the scientists having lauded their financial support as having changed the ways in which medical research is conducted.  And this is just a snapshot of his charitable giving.

Sheldon and Miriam regularly welcome America’s “Wounded Warriors” for “Salute our Troops” stays at the Venetian and Palazzo hotels in Las Vegas.  The soldiers and their spouses are flown in and provided with weekend accommodations and VIP treatment in recognition of their service and sacrifice.

As a Rabbi I am particularly grateful to the Adelsons for the gargantuan sums they contribute toward programs that foster Jewish identity among the world’s Jewish youth, like Birthright Israel, and I write this column because, although people can strongly disagree with Sheldon’s politics, those of us working in the Jewish community should give thanks to those who love the Jewish people and dedicate their fortunes to seeing an ancient people survive and prosper.

I have twice led Birthright groups to Israel. The program is near miraculous. No people on earth offer its youth a free ten-day trip to an ancestral homeland so that they can soak in their ancient history and values. But without the Adelsons, Birthright would be offering the trip to just a fraction of the more than 350,000 who have already attended.

Yet, in spite of it all the world’s perception of Sheldon Adelson seems mostly shaped by his campaign contributions to the Republican Party. Even the 50,000 jobs he has created thorough Las Vegas Sands has not blighted the concerted assault on his name as he has been depicted as a GOP money man with little regard for the destitute or the poor. But if his agenda is, as some critics say, to hold on to his money, how does that explain the hundreds of millions he continually gives to charity? Could the explanation possibly be that he believes, with other Americans, that private philanthropy is more effective at solving social problems than government bureaucracies? Could it be that his promotion of conservative fiscal policies echoes, as a man who is self-made and whose father drove a cab, a belief in the dignity that comes from personal endeavor and self-reliance? Might it not be possible that he is one who believes that we all seek personal, financial, and spiritual redemption, although we prefer that it come first and foremost through our own devices? And even if people disagree with those conclusions and harbor a markedly different political philosophy, does he deserve to be hated for those principles?

Adelson is also condemned for his strong support of Israel and the more conservative policies of the Netanyahu government. But I too am an advocate of great caution in Israel’s relationship with its neighbors. As a Jew my Torah teaches me, as its first principle, that every Palestinian and Arab, like every Jew, is created in the divine image. We are all equally God’s children. But I share the conviction that Israel’s many attempts at peace and territorial concessions have led, not to an end of conflict, but tragically to dead Jews and a never-ending stream of rockets fired at Israeli hospitals and schools.

Let us also not forget that Adelson criticized many of the social values of the Republican Party (just as I did throughout my campaign) before it became fashionable to do so.

As someone involved in Jewish communal and public affairs, who has advised him to be more proactive in responding to media distortions (as a world-renowned Jewish philanthropist he owes it both to himself and the Jewish community), I have had the opportunity to get to know Adelson on a personal and professional level. Above all is his commitment to family. Here is a man who chose to have two sons at a later age when most men of his wealth are basking in their success on yachts and villas along the French Riviera.

But as a child of divorce perhaps what leads me to most respect Sheldon is the steadfast love and respect on display for his wife at all times. Indeed, in his testimony many of his witticisms were about how much he obeys his wife. When Judge Rob Bare, instructed Adelson to “do one thing at a time” and focus on the line of questioning while refraining from taking notes on the stand, his response was, “Your honor, I think you have something in common with my wife.  She doesn’t want me to do two things at once.”

In a world where many men who make fortunes find it difficult to sustain a commitment to a woman, it’s inspiring to see a billionaire who believes his foremost achievement is his marriage to his wife.

Winning the Minority Vote

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

After the 2012 Waterloo, Republican consultants retreated to some party boats and hotels, and began planning their comeback. Bereft of ideas, they took the media’s explanations for why they lost at face values. What they have delivered is a liberal’s eye diagnosis of why they lost and so they debuted a plan to win over Latinos with amnesty and to end their negative image with a new gentler look.

Mostly what they have proven is that they are even more clueless than they were a year ago.

Senator Marco Rubio seems like a nice guy, but if the Republicans are counting on him to deliver the Latino vote, they might want to take a closer look at his Senate win. While Rubio did indeed win the Cuban Latino vote, he only won 39 percent of the non-Cuban Latino vote. That’s the same Latino margin of victory as Rick Perry got. It’s the usual best score that Republicans get among Latinos.

Marco Rubio could be a guy named Mark Richardson for all the impact that he made among Latino voters. But that’s because the “Latino” vote is a ridiculous oversimplification. Latinos consist of Cubans, Puerto Ricans and Mexicans, to name just a few. And they don’t necessarily align.

Mayor Bloomberg ran against a Puerto Rican candidate and won the Mexican vote. Bloomberg may speak Spanish about as well as your Aunt Sally, but that didn’t really matter because he didn’t waste a lot of time telling stories about growing up poor in the slums of San Juan. Instead he worked with Mexican community leaders who were tired of being sidelined by Puerto Ricans, and advertised heavily on their radio stations and in their papers.

Race is certainly a factor, but it’s not the only factor. Most Black voters initially supported Hillary Clinton. If Herman Cain ran against Hillary Clinton in 2016, Clinton would beat him by a high margin. A Zogby poll shows Rubio beating Clinton among Latino voters, but how well that poll would hold up after Latino leaders have spent enough time getting the word out is another matter. Clinton beat Obama among Latino voters on Super Tuesday. Assuming that she won’t do the same to Rubio only because of his race is a risky bet.

There are two types of minority groups in the United States. Segregated and integrated. The more integrated a group becomes, the less of a bloc vote it is. A bloc vote is not simply a consistent pattern, it is the result of a segregated community that interfaces with the rest of the country through its leaders and local media. And those two interfaces are key.

It doesn’t really matter how many Latinos speak at the Republican National Convention or how many Republican senators sign on to Amnesty. These events will, for the most part, be processed through the filter of those community leaders and their associated newspapers and radio stations. Republicans imagine that they’re addressing Latinos, but aside from Univision appearances they mostly don’t even have access to them.

The percentage of the Latino vote that is accessible to Republicans largely comes from those Latinos who have integrated and are in the Middle Class. That is why the Republicans did so much better with the Latino vote in Ohio than Virginia. Median income and English language skills remain a fairly reliable predictor of the Republican vote.

Winning the minority vote is not simply about policy or diversity. That is an elementary lesson of the urban political machine that the Republican Party has bizarrely forgotten, even though it’s a lesson that goes back a century and a half in American politics. Diversity is not about finding binders of qualified candidates, but about elevating community leaders from minority groups who can deliver a share of the vote from their community.

It’s not pretty, but it is practical politics. Lincoln understood it and applied that methodology right down to the appointment of generals. The Democrats built an entire network of votes in every state by taking their urban political machine national. But the Republicans seem to think that it’s enough to have someone out there speaking Spanish. It’s a nice touch and the urban political machines used it. Mayor George B. McClellan, Jr., the son of General MacClellan, spoke a bewildering number of the languages that his constituents did. Mayor LaGuardia also juggled languages. But those are campaign tricks. They are not how the vote is delivered.

Which Genius in the GOP Came Up With This One?

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

There was a time in the 80s when standup comedians were required by law to wear loud blazers and louder ties and to demand answers to life’s unanswerable questions about senseless products, airline regulations and the other inconveniences of modern life. “Who were the geniuses who came up with that one?” was their demand.

The Republican Party, which has been a joke for almost as long as it has been a party, is in the hands of those same geniuses. Fresh off two defeats in presidential elections, they have come up with the plan of all plans to get back on top.

First, they will nuke their own grassroots by raising money to attack deviant Tea Party candidates and protect true conservatives who support amnesty, tax shelters and tax hikes. Considering that the Tea Party was responsible for the first Republican victories since 2004, how is spending money going after it bound to attract voters and improve prospects for more victories in 2014.

Second, they will add 11 million Democratic voters to the rolls through amnesty for illegal aliens as part of a brilliant plan to stop being a national party and settle down to fighting pitched battles for local council seats. Even the geniuses behind the election polling and ORCA should be able to win a few those. And if they can’t, then it’ll be time to raise more money to keep down some of those pesky Tea Party types trying to run for school boards while saying politically incorrect things.

Fortunately there is a clear path to victory. All we have to do is convince the Party of Consultants that all is lost and that they should come out as Democrats now. If they do that, then the Democratic Party will be a useless ruin within a decade. If they don’t do that, the Republican Party will have the same policies as the Democratic Party, except for the part where it wins elections.

The establishment wanted Romney in ’12. And they got him. They assured us that he was the only electable candidate. And when he lost, they told us that he didn’t fail, the country failed him. And if a campaign built on Staples couldn’t catch fire, it must have been due to the descent of the country into a nation of takers.

And they have a plan for ’16. They’ll run an immigration friendly candidate like Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio to win the Latino vote. Sure, Rubio lost the non-Cuban Latino vote in Florida, and unless the entire population of Cuba gets imported to the United States and legalized between now and ’16, he’ll only win, at best, as much of the Latino vote as Bush did, or as Rick Perry did, which isn’t enough to win an election, especially once you’ve legalized the 10 percent of Mexico that lives north of the Rio Grande. But after they blow that one, the geniuses will step up to the plate and blame the Tea Party for a loss by another of their perfect candidates because during the primaries Rubio or Bush was forced to disavow Amnesty II or Amnesty III.

The Republican Party of ’12 looks a lot like the Democratic Party of ’88. It’s outdated and running on fumes. All its slogans are tired and its leaders seem completely out of touch. Even the most unfair attacks stick to it, because it has no momentum. It isn’t going anywhere because it’s enclosed in a shell of outdated ideas and tired figures from its past who prevent anyone from coming to the fore. That same state of affairs led to the unlikely candidacy of Bill Clinton among the Democrats, but assuming that an obscure southern governor will battle his way through the Republican primaries to reveal a talent for national politics may be hoping for too much. And if he did, the establishment would spend their cash reserves to crush him in favor of a reliable choice like Paul Tsongas.

It didn’t have to be this way. The Tea Party gave the GOP a shot in the arm. Suddenly it was acting and thinking like a revolutionary party. There were ideas in the air, energy on the ground and anger coalescing into action. And then it all got shut down for four months of infomercials about Staples because the establishment had gotten what it wanted and decided to play it safe before the big game.

The Republican Party has no ideas. Its only ideas involve deciding which liberal platform to “evolve” its way up to and how to sell that “evolution” to the base. And a lack of ideas comes from a lack of beliefs.

There comes a time in every struggle when a man wonders why he’s doing this. And if the only answer is to win, then he isn’t really fighting for anything. He’s being competitive. Or he’s fighting to make money. Or because it’s all he knows. All three attributes describe the Republican Party now. Its leadership does not believe in anything. It believes in winning in that abstract corporate competitive way. It doesn’t really know why it’s fighting though, except that the other guys will make a mess.

A party without ideas borrows them from its enemies. The big idea that the Republican establishment has is to be more like the Democrats. They just can’t decide which area they want to imitate them in the most. But the one thing they do know is that they need to get those annoying conservative ideas off the stage first.

Going after the Tea Party is sound strategy for the establishment, not from the standpoint of winning elections, but of keeping their jobs. If you lose, then you need someone to blame. The establishment is protecting its scalps by claiming the scalps of the reformers who might give them the boot. That’s one way of winning a circular firing squad. And of losing all the elections that follow.

Without ideas or beliefs, the Republican Party stands for very little except being the Party of Staples, and while Staples seems like a very nice store, it’s not really enough to base a whole country on. If the United States is to be reduced to a superstore full of office supplies, then America is no more exceptional than a stack of writing paper, four rulers and some office furniture shoddily made in a factory in some polluted Chinese megalopolis.

As the Staples Party, the Republicans are interested in importing more cheap labor into the country. It may not be good for the country, but it is good for the people who sign their checks and that’s good enough. And if Amnesty destroys the Republican Party, then they’ll find someone else to make their checks out to. Influence can always be bought, even in totalitarian countries, ethics and ideas cannot.

The Republican Party is an organization at war with its base. The Republican leadership and its backers think big. Their base thinks small. That inability to think small, to echo the concerns of ordinary people lost two elections. Reagan and Bush won, in no small part, because they appeared to be part of the small world of ordinary people. They shared their culture and concerns. They gave signs of being able to think small, and though the media ridiculed them for it as buffoons and dopes, Bonzo and the Bushisms had the last laugh. But that sensibility never sank into the leadership.

The establishment has failed to come to terms with the fact that the GOP cannot be a party of urban liberals and has been the exact opposite of that for some time. It can’t even be the party of wealthy people who live in liberal areas and agree with liberals on many things, except national defense and excessive regulation. The Republican Party can either become one with its base, or it can either try beating it off with a stick some more while waiting around for Meghan McCain to deliver the new hip conservative movement.

The Republican Party has spent so much time trying to win over swing voters that it has lost sight of the fact that it is presiding over an empty hall, a vast echoing space in which nothing is happening. The Tea Party may be the last hope of the GOP, its final chance to connect with a base, gain some fresh energy and ideas, and emerge in fighting shape in ’14 and ’16. And if it can’t do that, then there’s always room on the standup comedy circuit of the big empty hall.

A longer version of this article originally published at Sultan Knish, under the title, “Who Were the Geniuses Who Came Up with This One?

From the US to Israel, Conservatives Stumble

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

The disastrous results in Israel’s election are yet another example of the Right cannibalizing itself. It’s not the first time this happened in Israeli political history or American political history or European political history. It’s an ongoing theme whose motto is still, “No enemies to the left.”

What the “mainstream” conservatives fear most of all is a drift to the right. Some of this is the whimper of whipped dogs. Every party to the right of Stalin has had to spend decades fending off accusations that it was the second coming of the Third Reich, the KKK and Genghis Khan. The Pavlovian training has taken hold and every conservative echelon is expert at going into damage control mode when it senses that its own right might do something that would give the left fuel for their accusations.

But there’s another factor at work here. It’s cultural. Mainstream conservatives have become another arm of the urban technocracy. They want many of the same things that liberals do, but with less regulations and more tax shelters. They aren’t interested in major changes, only the minor ones that will keep the system going. Even when they are dedicated reformers, their vision extends no further than a bunch of high tech cities full of immigrants going to universities and then inventing things.

They are competent, rather than imaginative. The Left repeatedly outmaneuvers them because the Left is always pushing to the Left, while they are content to put a chair against the door and wait for those crazy hippies to get off the LSD, cut their hair and give up. But to their surprise the Left never does.

The leaders of mainstream conservatism aren’t angry, and they dismiss the people who are as loons. When the left does something oppressive or defeats them, they don’t get mad, they get ironically amused. They make detached observations citing Trollope. They are as much a part of the jet setting elite, as their liberal colleagues, and they have an exit strategy, whether it’s Singapore or Thailand.

They aren’t liberals themselves, but their conservatism is an outmoded thing that was only fit for a conservative society. In a conservative society, they are the old guard. In a liberal society, they are still the old guard, standing for the values of moderation, civility and not getting too worked up about things that can’t be changed. In a liberal society, what they conserve is not conservatism, but the liberalism of their youth.

The one thing that worries them is the ascendance of the right. They don’t much like their own base. It’s angry, noisy and ignorant. It doesn’t understand the rules of the game. And it represents a threat to their careers.

They may draw cartoons and sing a few songs, but they aren’t revolutionaries. They don’t want a culture war. And they don’t really want to change the way things are. They may not approve of the politics of their children, and they gasp in horror at debt ratios and proposals to privatize things, but overall they like the way things are. And they imagine that it can remain that way, hanging forever in mid-air, never going further left or further right, a perfect balance that will endure for all time.

They have a simple arrangement with the Right. They pledge allegiance, faintly, to its beliefs, mouth the right words during elections, promise to ban abortion, build settlements, and then they shake their heads ruefully and go back to the club regretting the necessity for participating in this clown show. Between elections they sometimes put their intellectual firepower at the disposal of these ideas, though never when these ideas appear to be polling badly, especially with the young.

In exchange the Right, the real Right, those angry people with quaint ideas about personal freedom, moral revival and national greatness, are expected to know their place. And their place is behind the sawhorses at the rally and in line at the voting booth. When that changes, then they attack their own right with far more vehemence and violence than they ever employ against the Left.

The Left does not worry them all that much. In a way the left has become their career. The opposition defines their work. Its radicalism ensures that they will always have a base, no matter where that base comes from.

Jewish Values are the Salvation of the Republican Party

Monday, November 19th, 2012

A ‘malignant weapon’. That was the phrase used by a friend of mine — a national TV host who inclines toward Republicans but this year voted Democrat, to describe how Republicans use religion. “Why has religion made Republicans harsh. Shouldn’t it give them a soft heart?”

The congressional campaign I ran was based on the idea that the economic malaise in America was due to a values erosion. So long as we obsess over abortion, gay marriage, and contraception to the exclusion of any other values, we cannot fix our problems. I ran to start the process of replacing the austerity of some of the Christian social values, which have defined the GOP for decades, with the positive and life-affirming values of Judaism.

I also knew, from my many lectures before women’s groups, that the sexual obsession that has come to define Republican social values could cost the GOP the election. At the start of my campaign, one Republican leader told me, “Americans want to hear about the economy, not values issues.” He was right. But little did he realize that extremist social values rhetoric would wound Republicans. There is now a consensus that the GOP’s alienation of women due to the social sexual obsession, as well as the alienation of Latinos due to their position on immigration, did incalculable harm to the GOP.

Here is what confuses me about Republican Jewish donors. They give the party their money when their values are probably even more relevant at this juncture. Why do those Jews who support the party generously not clamor for a greater infusion of Jewish values that would change the conversation away from values that alienate to values that inspire?

I care about the Republican Party because of its strong emphasis on the dignity that comes from economic opportunity and self-reliance, a robust foreign policy that holds dictators accountable for slaughtering their people, its emphasis on school choice, and strong support for Israel. And anyone who cares about the party knows that it can no longer postpone a serious reexamination of its sexual values obsession. My great teacher, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, advocated a ten point plan for people to start leading more spiritual lives. Only one of those ten was about sex, namely, the laws of Jewish family purity. That’s ten percent focus on sex. But the Republican trifecta of abortion, gay marriage, and contraception, is one hundred percent about sex. How strange is that?

And for those Democrats who are gloating about the Republican loss, with all due respect, at least the Republicans are trying to highlight moral issues, even if they’re misguided. The Democrats do not offend with their values because, with the exception of economic values issues, they barely discuss the subject. Here, then, is what the GOP must do to rebuild itself.

1.     Repudiate the religious extremists who are obsessed with abortion, rape, and sex. If candidates want to speak about legitimate rape or divinely-sanctioned rape, let them do so from an asylum. Not as official representatives of the Republican Party. If they want to obsess over sex and reduce all of America’s greatness to a trifecta of social sexual obsession, they can. They can create the “All-sex-all-the-time Party.” But get this conversation out of the GOP. The Republican Party represents more than opposition to abortion, gay marriage, and contraception. Judaism, for the record, allows contraception, believes that sex is for intimacy and pleasure as well as procreation, and has a far more lenient position on abortion than Catholics or Evangelicals. And since the Christian position on abortion is based on the Hebrew Bible, specifically Exodus 21:22, the time has perhaps come for Christians to look to the Jews for a different understanding of this text.

2.     Preach positive inspirational values that lead to altruistic citizenry. Bring the values conversation out of the bedroom and show Americans you’re prepared to talk about values in the boardroom and the living room. Stop talking exclusively about gay marriage and focus on saving heterosexual marriage. Make marital counseling tax deductible. Pass legislation creating a year of national service so America raises generations of more altruistic youth. If the Republican argument is that Democrats are winning elections because they have become the ‘Free Stuff Party,’ then counter by making the GOP into the ‘Serve America’ party. Embrace and co-opt the JFK’s credo of asking more about what we can give to our country rather than take from it.

3.     Embrace the Biblical Teaching of Loving the Stranger. No one should come into this country by breaking the law. But there might be something personally virtuous in a man or woman who steals across the Rio Grande at great risk to feed their babies and send money back to poor families. America has to stop illegal immigration. But that doesn’t mean it has to demonize illegal immigrants. We need to distinguish between those who steal into our country to blow up buildings and those who come in because they regard America as a land of opportunity. Stop ignoring the twelve million undocumented workers who form a shadow economy and who are not paying taxes while benefiting from living here. Mass deportation is unrealistic and immoral. Penalize them for having broken the law, but give them a path to remain here and contribute.

4.     Focus on legal immigration from Latin American countries, as opposed to Europe. As my friend Robert Goldbaum, who was a Romney surrogate, told me, Latin American immigrants want to come to America because they love its opportunities and want to work. This is different from the entitlement-addled economies of Europe whose immigrants are used to, and expect, government programs. Latino immigrants are deeply in sync with American values of hard work and entrepreneurship. The Republican Party should be taking the lead in pushing for far higher quotas for Latino immigrants as opposed to other regions.

5.     Show the black community that Republicans understand the history of adversity African-Americans have faced. There is little chance that many African-Americans will vote Republican right now. But it makes no difference. The Republican Party should undertake a grand gesture to give the lie once and for all that it is a party insensitive to black concerns. This is, after all, the party of Lincoln. The Republican house should sponsor a bill for the construction of a monument on the national mall commemorating the greatest American evil of all, namely slavery, to demonstrate Republicans are attuned to African-American history and suffering. But while we commemorate the past, we move forward to the future. The Democratic Party often takes the Black community for granted, as I saw in my own race where my challenger did not even turn up for the NAACP candidates’ forum. President Obama skipped the NAACP convention as well. Drive home Republican emphasis on school vouchers and how the Democratic Party has caved to the teacher’s unions to put teacher tenure before children’s education. In my campaigning, most African-American parents whom I met strongly supported vouchers, charter schools, and school choice.

6.     Women, women, women, and more women. Destroy the myth that the Republican Party is hostile to women. According to Gallup, the 20-point gender gap in this presidential election set an all-time record. Republicans should stop obsessing on the uteruses of young women and instead pledge to reduce abortion by focusing on the Guttmacher Institute’s data that 85% of all abortions take place outside of marriage. Strengthen marriage, educate men to respect women, and you’ll automatically and significantly reduce the number of abortions. Stop making this a legal battle.

7.    Have more kids. For a party that so strongly opposes abortion, we sure aren’t having enough kids. People believe the Republican Party is the rich people’s party. This is an unfair and inaccurate characterization. But what is certainly true is that while immigrant communities (most of whom vote Democrat) continue to have large families, those who are better off economically have fewer children, statistically. Stop complaining about immigrants. The more Americans the better. But the growth of the indigenous population, of people reared from birth in this great nation, is just as important.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/america-rabbi-shmuley-boteach/jewish-values-are-the-salvation-of-the-republican-party/2012/11/19/

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